A special thanks goes out to WebBizIdeas.com for consistently showing the demand for the new forum and for agreeing to be the moderator.
To kick off the new forum I wanted to share with you an interview I did with Amanda Watlington. Amanda is a renowned expert on blogs, podcasting, and the language and psychology of search. Amanda is also a guest speaker at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies Toronto 2009. I'll be going again this year and look forward to attending her workshop.
Here is what I asked Amanda:
1) What are you 3 favorite tools website owners should know about that you would consider “hidden gems”?
There are lots of tools that a website owner should know about. I personally advocate trying a large number of tools and then determining which suits the individual’s workflow best. Here are three tools that I consider really powerful: Spyfu for keyword research. It is an excellent second line of research that enhances and enriches the data gathered from Keyword Discovery or Wordtracker. With Spyfu, I particularly like the Keyword Kombat feature that lets me clearly see comparative strengths and weaknesses relative to competitors.
A second tool that I consider valuable is Crazy Egg. I use this tool on a regular basis to check how users are interacting with my pages. This gives me quite a few insights into how I can improve conversion and improve the user’s experience.
I must include in my tool kit the Web Developer Plug-in for Firefox. It is a super tool for analyzing sites. I use this in conjunction with YSlow to understand how a site is performing.
2) In your opinion, how important is it for website owners to reduce their page load time and do you recommend they enable gzip compression?
Page load time is important for both users and search engines. Users want to receive the information immediately and are increasingly impatient. Speed issues also impact search. Every site has a “crawl budget,” and performance issues can impede how much of a large site is crawled. Managing performance is essential to indexing for large sites. Gzip compression is a recommended speed enhancement. The choice and recommendation would, of course, depend on the site. As I indicated above I use YSlow as part of my tools for evaluating sites. Speed is an issue.
3) LinkedIn, Twitter,YouTube, Digg, or Facebook? If website owners could only pick one to invest their time into, which would you pick and why?
My choice would be YouTube since the sheer volume of traffic that comes to the site is so huge. YouTube’s traffic is the second largest online. It is also readily optimizable so the site owner can ensure take measures to get maximum performance from their videos. If I was looking to promote my business, YouTube is the place that I would choose to target.
Twitter is the current media darling, but I’m not sure that I would recommend it at this time over YouTube. As a professional, I would urge the website owner to have a personal LinkedIn account and a Facebook page. Both are good networking tools. I personally prefer LinkedIn.
4) What change in the search engine world over the past year has had the biggest impact on your business?
The biggest impacts have come from the global recession. As a result I have seen an increase in the demand for SEO services as businesses that previously were prepared to spend lots of money on SEM are now reconsidering the virtues of SEO. Many are taking budget from other marketing efforts to put them into SEO and SEM. There is also an increasing demand that search deliver results.
5) Which session (apart from yours) are you most looking forward to at SES Toronto and why?
I am keenly interested in the future and use conferences to tune up my radar for what is the next big thing. For this reason I am looking forward to the session entitled “Follow the Carrot: Cool Mobile Apps.” As search migrates to the phone we all need to understand mobile marketing.
Overall, the session line up is so good that it will be difficult to chose one session vs. another being held at the same time. I am moderating the session “SEO Then & Now: What's the Same? What's New?” which should be very interesting, but at the same time there is also a session entitled “Signals: What Relevancy Indicators Are Search Engineers Watching For Today?” that should be an excellent forward-looking session. Overall, this should be a terrific conference.
If anybody is planning on attending SES Toronto 2009 let me know and I'd love to connect with you! You can learn more about the event at http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/toronto/