Basics of Image Search Optimization

by Mark Maynem

In March 2009 Google image search was labeled as Google’s fourth hottest property by Hitwise. The report went on to show that Google image search attributed 5.79% to the company’s monthly market share of visits. With this type of data and developments in universal search the smart search marketer will leverage this area to his or her advantage.

Before undertaking image search optimization many search marketers will evaluate its value in relation to its clients. Will the value of this activity be higher than another SEO activity? This is important, as image optimization can be time consuming and lends itself to being more beneficial to some sites than others.

Image Optimization Tips

Filenames – Include the keyword you are targeting within the file name. Remember to use hyphens for spaces between the keywords.

Image Formatting – Make sure you use the correct image formats. For example save photos as JPG files etc.

Image Quality – Use good quality images, which will read well when shown in a thumbnail format. Poor quality images are unlikely to get click throughs.

Strings – Avoid using strings in image urls. Make your image urls as a readable as possible to human beings. Continue reading


Palm Springs SEO Services

After many requests, I am pleased to offer the following personal search engine optimization training services to businesses in the Palm Springs area, including Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio. For those outside of the area, consulting and website reviews can be done by phone, e-mail and even Skype.

Personal Site Overviews by Phone

I am now offering Personal Site Overviews by phone at a cost of $50 per 30 minute session. During the telephone session we will go over your site from a Search Engine Optimization point of view and I will make suggestions that should help you with your SEO efforts. In addition, prior to the call I will take a look at your site and provide you with a report of basic things that can be done to help your site rank better.

To schedule an appointment, simply e-mail me and we’ll set you up with a time and I’ll send you an e-mail invoice. Payment for the service is by PayPal or check and appointments won’t honored until payment has been completed.

The call can be made through Skype or telephone, whichever works best for you.

Recession Buster Website SEO Review

Included in the site review:

  • Study of your site for issues that could be keeping your rankings and traffic low.
  • A PDF report of your site’s status and recommendations for improvement.
  • E-mail mentoring with Richard V. Burckhardt, The Web Optimist of Palm Springs, for any questions arising from the report.

Charge: $500

Frequently minor tweaks and changes can result in improved search engine rankings and traffic!

Please allow two weeks for the review. Naturally, I will try to get it completed and sent sooner.

In-House SEO Workshop

As previously announced on the Palm Springs SEO Workshops page, this two-hour workshop is held in your local office for groups of three or more (up to 20). Internet access is required at the location.

  • On page optimization (Meta tags, navigation, etc.)
  • Off page optimization (Links, competition)
  • Site clinic (I critique YOUR site)</li%

Why More Traffic Just Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Guest Post by Tom Shivers

The focus of SEO should be audience engagement
The focus of SEO should be audience engagement.

With more complex algorithms that factor in local, personal and universal search features, search rankings are not always consistent. Today’s results often depend on a user’s location, their search history and their behavior with the search results – sometimes you can see different search results for the same search terms, even on two different computers in the same location.

One question many businesses have when hunting for a search engine optimization (SEO) company is, “Will this company know us and our audience well enough to turn our web business into something profitable, worthy of our investment?” Unfortunately, it’s not easy to discern the answer before you are three months into an agreement.

Web Traffic vs. Engagement

Is the goal of SEO to get as much traffic as possible to a website? Many SEO companies will lead you to believe that more traffic is all there is to it. Granted, getting more traffic is a part of it, but more eyeballs on a web page do not necessarily mean achieving your business goals.

Look at your web analytics – specifically the keywords that brought in the majority of traffic – then evaluate the quality of this traffic over the past month or quarter.  A high bounce rate and low average time on site for visits from a particular keyword can indicate one or all of these:

  • Searcher cannot find anything relevant to her keyword and bounces.

  • Searcher may find something relevant, but the page does not communicate directly with her intent… so she bounces.

  • The keyword is not relevant for the site.

 Let me suggest that the focus of SEO should be audience engagement, rather than traffic. According to Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified, “Engagement is an estimate of the depth of visitor interaction against a clearly defined set of goals.” That’s pretty clear: Without specific goals, driving more traffic to your website sounds like a good option.

Continue reading


LinkedIn Tip for SEO Job Seekers

Example of the LinkedIn Job is a terrific resource for networking, keeping up with folks and finding resources. For me, it has become a tool that I use in my day to day work and is, well, indispensable.

But, it can also be a powerful tool in your job search. And yes, there are a ton of SEOs out there looking. I found this out first hand when the company I work for advertised for an assistant for me. LinkedIn already provides the option of a customizable Job Search application for the right navigation area of your account (image left). For example, you can plug in your job title (SEO in this case) and your zip code to find local opportunities. So, for instance, today I find 10 jobs in the LinkedIn network and 453 on the web for a non-localized search.

However, to expand your search even more, don’t limit yourself to this application. Instead, try the Search Jobs section of the search field at the top of every LinkedIn page (image below). Searching for “SEO” as a keyword will bring a wider range of results. As I write this, I get 101 LinkedIn network jobs and 3,274 on the web (again, a non-localized search).  A big difference!

Where to find the LinkedIn Job Search

And, by using the Advanced Search option, you can customize your search to include different criteria like industry, language, etc. It is a quite powerful tool.

Good luck!


The Best of The Web Optimist 2008

Richard V. Burckhardt, aka The Web OptimistThe year has passed so rapidly that I can’t believe we’re already at the end of 2008! The Web Optimist blog is an outlet for me to pass on things that I learn in my real job as an SEO (as I have the time) and I’ve published a total of 90 posts this past year, some in-depth articles and some just quicky “did-you-know-this?” items.

Here’s what I consider the best of The Web Optimist over the past year (in no particular order). You might not agree, but hey, it’s my blog. 😉

1. S E O Tools & Tips Want a look at what I consider essential tools for my day job as an SEO? Here’s what I use in my personal arsenal.

2. Robots.txt: Powerful but Picky! – The robots.txt file is a powerful tool, but you’ve got to be extremely careful with it. This post discusses one of it’s little idiosyncrasies that could easily trip you up. That’s my Lost in Space toy robot in my back yard in the photo. Yep, I wanted to be Will Robinson growing up! Such a geek!

3. Shopping Site Essentials Got an ecommerce site and think you can do it on your own without product listings on shopping search sites? If so, you are missing out on a MAJOR opportunity to expand your product and brand exposure around the globe. Yes, it costs money to be in most of them, but you can strike gold if you know what you are doing. This post gives you some tips to get you started.

4. Beginning Viral Marketing Want to get a campaign started that will spread like a virus but don’t have a clue how to start? Videos? Social sites? Freebies? Here are 14 clues to help you get going.

5. Grabbing the Longtail – No, I’m not talking about a cat, here. In this article I point you in the direction of ranking for multi-word search phrases, getting cheaper PPC traffic and increasing your site visits without a lot of work.

6. User Content GenerationUser generated content basically turns your customers and site visitors into SEOs for you while generating fresh keyword rich content for the spiders to devour. You just need to know how to get them to contribute and this post provides some great pointers to encourage the process.

7. Online Retail Optimization: Will It Blend? You can’t just post your product pages on the web and expect them to rank as well as they did in the days of ten blue links on the search results pages. There’s a lot more competition now that Blended Search (another term for Universal Search) has become the norm. To compete, you’ll need to optimize images, videos, feeds and more.

8. Google Personalized SearchThe search giant has put a new spin on rankings by personalizing search results when you are logged into your Google account. To rank well for users who are signed in, you’ve got to get sticky and this post shows you how.

9. Annoying Speed Bumps on the Information SuperhighwayC’mon, folks. Using the Internet should be easy. So why do hotels, software, hardware, web sites and even the search engines make things so hard? This is one of my rants on things that should be simple but aren’t.

10. Brand With Your Head, Not Your GutUsing past experience with the local tourism bureau, I discuss online branding and how politics and misguided reliance on a name rather than a brand can trip up a campaign.

11. Will Trust Kill the Algorithm?I’ve heard a lot of comments about whether Google is going social lately. The answer is a resounding yes and I blogged about it a year ago.

12. Is Universal Search Harder?Despite the big push towards including everything AND the kitchen sink in search results, Universal Search can actually make finding what you are looking for more difficult. Sure would be nice to have an off switch!

And, I left the best for last because it wasn’t originally published on The Web Optimist, rather I guest posted over at Search Engine Journal. My 55 Quick S E O Tips Even Your Mother Would Love has been reposted here as Free eBook: 65 Quick S E O Tips Even Your Mother Would Love featuring ten more tips and a downloadable PDF file. Look for that to grow to 100 tips very soon when I update Mom’s tips in 2009!

I add to the blog as I have time. Thanks to all of you who have come back as return readers, commented, e-mailed and joined as Twitter followers. We’ll see what 2009 brings!

Happy New Year, folks!


Richard Burckhardt: Search Blogger of the Day

The Web Optimist gives Dazzlin Donna a thumbs up!Wow. Donna Fontenot (aka DazzlinDonna) has a post called Richard Burkhardt: Search Blogger of the Day where she points out my recent post Reciprocal Linking for Ranking is Anything But Dead and my “interestingly different about page.”

Thanks Donna! I’m honored! Of course, it’s Burckhardt, not Burkhardt. What can I say? My ancestors just wanted to be different!



The Fonz is Cool. Cuil, Not So Much.

The Fonz is CoolThe buzz the past few days has largely centered around the new search engine,, created by some former Googlers, including SMX West 2008 Keynote Speaker Louis Monier.

For those of you not geeky enough to know, Cuil is pronounced “cool” which could be a problem for the upstart search engine. I can already hear the uninformed trying to explain about this new search engine they found . . . pronounced “swill” or “sewill” or “kwill” and so forth. Not real good for easy branding.

And, judging from my initial attempts and searching with, Fonzie is cool,, well, not so much.

We all remember The Fonz in his black leather jacket and slicked back black hair, the epitome of cool in the 1950s based TV show Happy Days.’s interface is also jet black, simplicity itself, though strangely not centered on the screen (at least not on mine). Type your query and off you go. interface

I’ve heard that the new search engine claims to have the largest index on the planet. I’m seeing old and even off-kilter content that needs to be removed or fixed. For instance, I ran a search for “FramesDirect” since I do SEO for to see what would come up with. They were gracious enough to make our home page first in their results, but one of the other results on the page pointed to and described the site’s lens option page using an image for a “Corvette Black Book” which obviously came from another site. result with mystery image

I then ran a search for “richard v burckhardt” and who the heck are these guys? just can't get the pictures right

In another case, the Cuil results included a page on the site that was 301 redirected something like two years ago.

A search for “eyeglasses” resulted in coming in first place. No offense to the competition, but that site has been down for several months with a single “Under Construction” page in place. I believe in the power of back links, and will have some powerful keyword rich anchor text for “eyeglasses” in its back links by virtue of the domain name. But, a search engine that ranks a single page that is under construction and has been for months in the top spot needs some algo work.

That said, the search engine has a nice clean interface, with images and related search tabs at the top of the results. Better yet, doesn’t collect any information from you. If you are concerned about privacy, you’ll like this feature.

If wants to be The Fonz of search engines, it just needs some refinement, which I’m sure will come with time. After all, slicked back hair and black leather jackets got stale in the 1960s, kind of like some of Cuil’s current index.

Time for a Beatle haircut!


Reciprocal Linking for Ranking is Anything But Dead

Over the past couple of years I’ve heard the mantra that the value of reciprocal linking is diminishing daily, to the point where it’s no longer worth the time and effort.

Even Google’s Matt Cutts has said, “As Google changes algorithms over time, excessive reciprocal links will probably carry less weight.”

In fact, one of my own quick search engine optimization tips is: The acid test for a potential link is if there is a natural, logical reason for that site to link to you. If not, then you don’t want the link.

If Google’s recent rankings are any evidence, then that mantra is dead wrong and Matt, it ain’t working!

Over the past few months I have noticed that fairly new sites with thousands of reciprocal links, frequently using keyword phrases for anchor text, have come out of nowhere to rank extremely well, sometimes dominating their space. Some are just using power reciprocal linking. Others are combining thousands of reciprocal links with another supposedly dead black hat technique, triangular linking, sometimes called a mini-net.

For this article, I’ll use an example of a site using purely reciprocal links to power it.

Here’s one site that didn’t show up in Google Trends until about March and is now ranking #2 for “sunglasses” in the Google serps.

Google Trends for reciprocal link driven site

The site itself is pleasant enough, but until recently, the only way to contact whoever is running it was using an e-mail form. No address or location information is given, nor is any information about who owns it, just that it is incorporated in Toronto. All I can tell from a domain check is that it was registered with and the I.P. is in Albany, New York. They don’t appear to want you to have much information about them. Only recently have they added a telephone number so that orders can be placed by phone.

Not what I would call a trusted, authority site.

What appears to be driving the rankings for this site is the sheer volume of backlinks to it, mostly from reciprocal linking. The site includes a link page that lists hundreds of their link buddies, almost none theme related. The links are from every variety, size and flavor of web site, blog and directory out there.

So much for the value of link theme.

Here’s what Yahoo! Site Explorer sees:

Backlinks for this reciprocal link driven site

See that correctly? This site has 184,079 links to it! By comparison, I did the same backlink check for the Coca-Cola web site, a trusted site with a long history and authority. It only has 87,971 backlinks.

Clearly, reciprocal links are still working and well for many sites that otherwise would be left in the dust by longer established sites with more history and backlinks with theme focus.

I still don’t recommend this magnitude of reciprocal linking, though. Google is supposed to consider massive link trading to be spam, even though it currently appears to be ignoring it’s own statement:

“A spike may indicate either a topical phenomenon (e.g., a hot topic) or an attempt to spam search engine 125 by, for example, trading or purchasing links.”

Apparently, if you can get enough links of any kind, you can still power your way to the top in Google.

At least for the moment.


Director of SEO

Here’s a great job opportunity in Minnesota that I thought I would share:

Job Title: Director of SEO


Our client, the world leader in online legal information and interactive marketing services is looking for a Director of SEO to manage a team of 35 SEO professionals and continue to build a world class internal SEO department. This person must have proven experience of being able to influence internal stakeholders throughout the organization on the importance of SEO and it’s effects. They must be independently driven with the ability to lead many people.

About the Role:

The Director of SEO will be responsible for leading the fulfillment of all SEO projects and initiatives across all brands. They will need to strategize with the various teams throughout the company and develop education tools and guidelines for the organization in order to optimize every element of their SEO strategy. In this position you will also be responsible for staying current with the Search Engine community, by attending conferences and analyzing the risk/reward associated with new pursuing trends.


Our client is looking for someone with at least 5 years of experience within the search industry to lead a team of 35 search specialists. You must be a strong leader who can manage multiple priorities across multiple business areas. The ability to influence your peers and act as an agent of change is critical to this position.

Major Areas of Accountability:

• Responsible for the leadership of SEO fulfillment for all products.
• Responsible for leading and setting direction for SEO data analysis and reporting.
• Develop research, analysis and strategy initiatives and strategy, and development of the team to execute on those strategies.
• Collaborate with Product Development, Portal and Engineering teams. Provide leadership to optimize various site elements, site structure, architecture, linking and content, and to ensure that new products and enhancements meet SEO requirements.
• Provide leadership for the creation of educational tools and guidelines across the organization.
• Research current trends within Search Engine community – Attend relevant conferences to gather insights from search engine representatives and professionals. Continually monitor new advancements in SEO and evaluation the risk/reward of integration.
• Communicate specific SEO requirements to business/product stakeholders.
• Research emerging technologies for opportunities to expand.

Responsibility for the Work of Others:

• Team of 35 Search Specialists executing SEO fulfillment and analysis.

Financial Responsibility:

• $3 million


Education, Knowledge and Skills

• Minimum of 5 years experience within the search, SEO/SEM, or web analytics environment
• Demonstrated leadership experience of direct and indirect staff in a Web environment with time sensitive responses to changing market trends.
• Strong leadership skills and proficiency in leading multiple priorities across organizations.
• Strong influence and change skills and demonstrated ability to articulate and gain support with leaders across a business.
• Excellent written and verbal communication.
• Proven leadership to lead and influence a wide variety of constituent groups.

Contact: (800) 829-0072,,


Google “Do you mean…?” Results Baffling

Lately I’ve noticed that the “Do you mean keyword?” results in Google vary quite a bit from a toolbar or search box search. For instance, let’s take a search for “rayban sunglasses” as an example. Most folks search for “ray ban sunglasses” (with the brand name as two words), but there is still a large number of searchers looking for the brand name as a single word.

Here’s what I get as I write this:

Image of search for rayban sunglasses

You’ll see that the Ray Ban sunglasses catalog page for comes up #3. Nice, but notice the “Do you mean ray ban sunglasses?” link at the top.

The Google Do You Mean link

Click on that and you’ll get this:

Google ray ban sunglasses result

Still a nice #3 ranking, right? Well, maybe not. Do the exact same search for “ray ban sunglasses” in the Google search bar:

Google search bar

This is what happens. A totally different result:

Google results from search bar

The page drops to position 6.

At first, I thought this might simply be a case of different data servers serving up different results in much the same way you can get different results from search bar searching. But, it appears to be consistent. Each and every time I click on a “Do you mean…?” link I will get one result and then a totally different one from a search bar query.

Is Google favoring pages in the “Do you mean…” links for some reason? I tried this in several different browsers (Firefox, IE7, Opera, Safari), not signed into Google with cleared caches and get the same actions every time.