Sorry for the lack of posts, here are some updates

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been quite busy the last few months and was involved in many projects day and night. Blogging isn’t the only thing I was less involved in, I also spent less time going out and also visiting friends. This is worst than not blogging. So, I’ve decided to reorganize the way I work and also try to delegate effectively and finding new partners to work with.

I should have posted that months ago but it’s better late than never (actually I did that but only on my bio page): I no longer work for Gameloft, I left about a year ago. At that time, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep doing SEO in-house or with an agency. I thought I would do some freelancing while trying to decide what I really wanted to do. It turns out I enjoyed working on my own and decided to keep providing SEO consulting services as a freelance. I’m still based in Paris, which is perfect for networking and finding new clients.

I did do some mobile SEO stuff but not much, it’s not that I didn’t want to, but at that time, not too many mobile content companies wanted to invest in mobile SEO.

I enjoy freelancing, I’ve been able to work on some exciting projects and I have decided to go to the next step create an SEO agency. (By the way, Freelance Folder is awesome, thanks Ritu!) Working on your own is nice but I realize I rather work with other people, it’s important to create a synergy, this leads to better ideas and more effectiveness. I have partnered with an ex-colleague of mine and we’re about to launch our company very soon.

Also, although I don’t have time for blogging, I’ve become more active on Twitter, which I’ve been using to keep in touch with different friends from the SEO industry, since I also spend less time on forums and reading blogs. Here’s my Twitter account:

I will try and post a blog post with some “tips” regarding SEO consulting and also on how to choose your clients, what you should include in your contracts, etc., I’ve learned quite a lot while working as a freelance, trust me it ain’t always that fun 🙂

Thank you.

Matt Cutts on the future of search: “Mobile will be big”

In the latest GWC video on YouTube, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam team, is answering a question about the future of search in the next few years.

According to him, search as we know it today is nowhere near done.

He explains that Google’s main ambition is to index more kind of contents, such as books, online calendars, and everything “in the cloud”.

He ended the video with a few words about mobile search. Since there are more than 4 billion mobile phones in the world versus 1 billion desktop computers, he sees a lot of potential growth in that area of search. “You’re going to see all kind of changes but mobile is going to be a big part of it”.

Let’s look forward to it.

Source: Google Webmaster Central Channel on YouTube.

Facebook Should Add A “Don’t Like” Button

In February, Facebook introduced a new feature called “Like”, which allows your friends or fans to tell you that they like the content you’re sharing.

The good thing about that button is that you can quickly let someone know that you enjoyed what he or she posted, but I know that the downside is that it creates less discussions, it’s easier to click on “Like” than expressing what you liked about the shared content with some words.

But what is truly missing is a “Don’t Like” button, I don’t know why Facebook hasn’t implemented such a feature yet.

For example, Depeche Mode has a page on Facebook. They’ve just announced the cancellation of some of their concerts in Brazil. And what’s really strange is that as of right now, 422 people “Liked” this on Facebook :

What does that mean? Are these people happy to hear that they won’t get to see the band?

Facebook tried to imitate Digg with its “Like” button, but I really think they should also add a “Don’t like” button, it will create more discussions and quickly allow posters to know the reaction of their friends/fans.

It will also help reducing the amount of shitty content that people share on Facebook 🙂

Mobile Site Owners Should Abandon Password Masking

In his latest “Alertbox”, Jakob Nielsen recommends that websites stops masking passwords as users type them. He outlines the drawbacks of password masking and explains that this causes login problems and lost business:

* Users make more errors when they can’t see what they’re typing while filling in a form. They therefore feel less confident. This double degradation of the user experience means that people are more likely to give up and never log in to your site at all, leading to lost business. (Or, in the case of intranets, increased support calls.)
* The more uncertain users feel about typing passwords, the more likely they are to (a) employ overly simple passwords and/or (b) copy-paste passwords from a file on their computer. Both behaviors lead to a true loss of security.

He also explains that password masking was “a particularly nasty usability problem” on mobile devices.

Dennis Bournique raised that issue last year and also felt that password masking was not necessary on mobile sites.

Indeed, with such a small device on your hand and a tiny screen, who is going to see what you are typing? If you’re using password protected sites on your phone, I’m sure you often do many attempts before typing your password correctly (I know I do with Bloglines or Gmail).

Nielsen recommends abondonning this feature on web sites, and also on mobile sites. Personnaly, I’m not sure this is good idea for desktop web sites, Nielsen forgot to mention that you often log in to a web site while many people can look at your screen (think open-space offices, internet cafés, etc).

But for mobile websites, this makes perfect sense and will provide a more enjoyable experience.

PR Sculpting Now Obsolete: So What? Why You Shouldn’t Worry

So Google apparently hasn’t officially confirmed that yet, but now every SEO on the planet is aware of its decision to ignore PageRank sculpting.

If you used nofollow to change how PR flowed within your site, or even Javascript links, that era of easy optimization may be over.

I always knew it would be discounted one day, it was just a matter of time. This technique was so publicized and so abused that Google had to step in.

So the question is: should we start worrying about how we’re going to sculpt PageRank now? Would it be impossible to obtain the same kind of results without PR sculpting (or at least the methods we used to use)?

The answer is a straight NO. In fact, no SEO needs to worry at all.

Remember back in 2005 when every SEO was using link exchange techniques to build links and increase their PageRank? What happened when Google decided to discount these types of links? Did we all give up our optimization campaigns? Nope, we just learned the new rules of the game, we built better links which lead to better SERPs and better websites (at least outgoing links on a page were more useful to the user than reciprocate links).

Back to PR sculpting: you get the point, it’s not the end of the world. If Google really starts to depreciate it, that means that all webmasters are now on an equal footing.

To beat your competitors, you just need to be smarter. Instead of throwing nofollow tags on your “Contact” of “About Us” page links on your 5 page site (which really was useless and could raise flags easily), you’ll now have to organize links in a more clever way.

Based on your keyword research data, add links to your primary pages from your homepage and other important pages in terms of linking value (or link juice, anchor text value, PR, whatever).

At the end it will be the same, but unlike nofollow or Javascript techniques, that technique is not borderline and is perfectly acceptable by Google.

Every webmaster seemed to be using PR sculpting these days, but not all of them are going to be motivated enough to build better internal links, that’s your chance to beat them if you’re smart enough.

Building Mobile Friendly Websites: A Google Presentation

During Google Searchmasters Conference 2009, one of the presentations was about Mobile Web Design. The presentation, named “Building Mobile Friendly Websites” and held by Ankit Gupta, helped Indian webmasters understand why there is a need for mobile websites and provided guidance on how to build mobile friendly sites.

Here are some of the tips that were provided to the audience:

– Keep it simple: don’t use many internal links, minimal use cases, task oriented

– Always have a link to go back to the home page and to the previous page

– Make sure it is usable if stylesheets are disabled or not supported

– It was suggested to test your site with XHTML validators such as

Do’s and Don’t’s for a mobile XHTML website :

* Do
o Make use of accesskeys
o Resize images based on device size
o Use a good semantic structure (h1 before h2, etc)
o Make sure that the right doctype is being set
o Make sure that correct encoding is used

* Do not
o Use iframes and tables
o Use fancy form elements and multipart data
o Uploads
o Keep multiple scrolls
o Have links to unsupported doctypes
o Use pop ups

The presentation aslo talked about Mobile SEO, and explained how Google Mobile worked, that is, how it chooses which sites to include in its mobile index. Here is what was mentioned:

* Google classifies a website as mobile enabled based on certain signals like page layout, markups used, etc.

* When a user searches for “Mobile” websites only
o Only if the website is classified as Mobile websites by Google, it will show up

* When a user searches for “Everything”
o Google blends mobile websites with regular desktop websites
o Mobile websites get a boost if certain quality metrics hold

I explained in this post how Google blends mobile search results with regular web results, which you can read if you want to know more. Regarding the “quality metrics” mentioned in the last bullet above, I would have loved reading more specific details, but I would say these metrics include links and trafic.

You can watch a full video of this presentation on YouTube:

The slides of the presentation are available here:

Google Allows Mobile Site Owners to Embed a Search Box and Share Revenue

Sometimes a company just needs to provide a new service or functionality, even if it’s a very basic one, but unique, to grab more market share and crush its competitors.

Google just did that yesterday. They announced that any mobile site owner can now embed a Google Mobile Search box to its site. By “any”, they really meant anyone, and yes, even mobile carriers. You know, the ones who accept to sign deals with mobile search engines in order to place their search box on their mobile portals, and then share the ad revenue coming from that.

Today, we’re happy to announce a new AdSense product for both mobile network operators and mobile website owners across the globe. AdSense for mobile search is a quick and easy way for carriers and mobile publishers to embed a Google search box on their mobile portals and web sites. Whether they are day-dreaming of Hawaii or trying to find the perfect Valentine’s day gift, mobile phone users will get instant access to Google search including comprehensive web search, local, image, and news results — all formatted for their phones. Mobile operators and website owners share in the ad revenue generated by searches originating from their sites.

For Google, that means an immediate increase in its mobile search market share. Should many carriers accept to embed this search box, Google would be observing its competitors trying to catch up to them while counting their mobile search dollars.

This new feature means that Google doesn’t need to have that many sales representative contacting carriers anymore to set up search partnerships: built it and they shall come.

AdMob Not The First To Provide Download Tracking for iPhone Apps

AdMob announced yesterday that it will allow for the the first time iPhone applications developers to track clicks on ads that lead to a download of an application.

Let me tell you that this claim is wrong, AdMob is not the first to provide this kind of tracking.

I cannot tell you who was the first to allow advertisers to track downloads of applications coming from clicks on banners (or text links), but I know for fact that you could already do that with affiliate marketing solutions providers such as Linkshare or TradeDoubler, under the iTunes Affiliation Program.

With this program, you can link to any song, album, videos or iPhone/iPod Touch applications available in the iTunes Store. I’ve been setting up these programs and it works like a charm. With TradeDoubler, you can even run Google AdWords Mobile campaigns and know exactly what keywords lead to a click and then download of your iPhone app.

So, if you want to use affiliate links for your own applications, well, you can! You’ll get tracking:clicks on your ads will be reported in Linkshare/Tradedoubler reports, plus you’ll get a commission, for example with Linkshare the commission is 5%. So in Fact, when you sell an iPhone app, you’ll not get a 70% but a 75% revenue share…

I’m not saying that AdMob shouldn’t be used; but after reading their press release I felt like I needed to comment on the fact that it is not the first company to provide this feature.

It’s good to have other companies allowing you to do this, this way you won’t invest your money blindly on advertising, I can only recommend you to try them all, to see which one you feel the most confortable with as far as what tracking details are available, personally I’m happy with Linkshare and TradeDoubler.