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Today’s ask an SEO question comes from Kate in Louisville, who wrote:
“I work for a company that builds microsites for clients.
What factors do I need to focus on when there’s a dip in organic traffic?
In Q4 2023, for example, we did a rebrand and meta data was altered.
Would this have a massive impact on traffic going forward?”
Strictly speaking, there’s nothing different when it comes to how search engines treat a microsite versus a regular website.
They still look at URLs, links, titles, content, and hundreds of other ranking factors so the same SEO best practices for diagnosing a rankings drop will apply to microsites, too.Let’s First Talk About Traffic Drops
I want to share some thoughts on microsites in general, but before we do that let’s look at how to handle that traffic drop.
The specific answer to your metadata question is: Maybe.
The good news is, that changing it back and seeing what happens is a really easy and quick test to perform.
The first thing to do when there’s a dip in traffic with any site is to understand where the traffic dip occurred.
Is it a specific query or set of queries? is it a specific page or group of pages? Is it sitewide?
Look for patterns. It might be one “style” of the keyword (for example, keywords around a specific section of the site) or it might be a certain page template.
This information can steer you where to look.
Once you figure out where the traffic drop is, search for that query/page and see what happens.
If you aren’t showing up at all, check your site for a technical issue.
If you are showing up, did somebody else jump your position?
If you have lost rankings, you should first ask what changes were made to the page.
Often an unwanted title tag or content change or random technical issue could be at fault.
Assuming there’s no change at fault, the next step requires some soul searching.
Ask yourself: “Is this really the best result for a user? if I was searching this query, is this what I would want? Is it better than what’s outranking me?”
Often times as SEO pros we think in terms of push marketing – ” how can I get this page to rank for this query” but true success comes from a pull marketing mentality of understanding what the user is trying to do and creating something that accomplishes that.
We’re seeing this a lot lately with the Google core updates.
Search queries that used to return product description pages now return recommendations and curated lists of the best products in that category.
Google has decided that these pages better serve the user than a single product page.
If something like this is happening in your area, the only solution is to re-evaluate your content in the context of the query and what the engines are showing.
Usually, this isn’t quick or cheap, but it’s the best way to succeed.Okay, Let’s Talk About Microsites
Except for a few rare cases, I’m not a big fan of microsites.
Big brands love them because they can hire a cheaper/faster vendor to come in for some smaller project and keep it separate from their main website’s codebase, budgets, processes, etc. – but there are many drawbacks.
That just seems like a lot of unnecessary overhead that introduces more jump-off points for conversion.
It can also be an analytics tracking nightmare.
From a strictly SEO perspective, a microsite is starting over without any of the PageRank, link juice, or domain authority of the main website.
Whether you believe in such metrics or not, links still matter – and often microsites have fewer links to their pages than if they were placed on the main domain.
The other issue is competition. Too often a microsite done by another agency doesn’t collaborate with the agency doing the main website, and they end up competing for the same keywords.
In some spaces that can be a good idea, to own the search result and push down other pages – but the key here is to have a plan and collaborate with the main site.
Owning multiple search results or pushing something else down for ORM (online reputation management) could be one of the reasons why you’d want a microsite.
Paid search could also be another reason.
In general though, if there isn’t a good reason for a microsite, I’d recommend just creating a new page or section on the main website.
When in doubt, let the user experience dictate the decision, not SEO.
If it’s going to be branded differently or there is a good reason to keep users apart, do a microsite.
If not, you’ll have stronger rankings and more success by including it in the main domain.
Featured Image: Soagraphics/Shutterstock
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Prepare yourself—the Pluto debate has returned, and people are not going to be able to shut up about it. Pluto might be about to regain its planethood.
It might feel like scientists are jerking you around. A decade ago they all decided that Pluto wasn’t a planet—it was actually a dwarf planet—and now all of a sudden they want to change it back? Maybe you even think that this just goes to show how meaningless it all was to begin with. Planet, dwarf planet—it’s all a made-up system determined by some esoteric group anyway.
But categories do matter, and so do the definitions we use to arrive at those categories. The fact that people (even experts like the scientists at NASA) go back and forth on what definitions we should use doesn’t make them less meaningful. It just means that we’re still learning. That’s what science is all about: we have to be able to adjust our definitions to fit our understanding. And this whole Pluto business is a perfect example.
The actual definition they’re proposing is “a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameters.” In plain language, they suggest “round objects in space that are smaller than stars.” That’s a pretty broad term. It would mean that all the things we think of as planets would now also have smaller planets orbiting around them. Our own moon would be considered a planet, as would all the moons orbiting other worlds. So maybe at this point you’re wondering if this is all a little too much. Moons becoming planets? Come on.
But these scientists aren’t arguing for the broad new definition simply because they want to rabble rouse in Pluto’s defense—they’re arguing that our current definition isn’t based on the qualities that truly matter in planetary study. What makes a planet a planet isn’t its location or its size, they say. What matters is what the planet is actually like.
When the International Astronomical Union (IAU) defined “planet” back in 2006, they landed on this: a celestial body orbiting our Sun with enough mass to make it round in shape and to clear its own orbit of other objects. That means that any newly discovered “planet” outside of our solar system isn’t technically speaking a planet, but an exoplanet. The New Horizons scientists take issue with that. They also think that requiring a planet to clear its orbit is unreasonable, because it requires planets with wide orbits to be very large. If Earth were in Pluto’s orbit, it wouldn’t be able to clear all the objects out of its orbital path either. Plus, even the orbits that are “clear” are often cluttered with transient small objects, so you could argue that no “planets” actually meet this measure of success.
All of this is part of their larger argument: a planet isn’t a planet because it’s in a particular orbit or because it has a particular size. A planet is a planet because of its physical properties. We study planets because they have ice volcanos and flowing lakes of methane and roiling magnetic fields—not because they sweep cosmic debris out of their way as they circle the sun. The categories we use to make sense of our world are only useful if they describe things in a meaningful way.
The Norgay and Hillary mountains on Pluto, as seen by the New Horizons mission. NASA
This is not to say that the New Horizons scientists have come up with the best definition. Plenty of researchers think that the size of a celestial body should matter, not just its shape. Our current eight planets are significantly larger than all the other bodies in the solar system (except for the Sun, of course), and many astronomers like Mike Brown—the man responsible for Pluto’s “demotion”—think that’s significant. And we haven’t even gotten to the geological aspects. Is it important whether the body has an atmosphere? Pluto has an atmosphere and a complex geological surface with mountains and glaciers, but so do some comets.
So what should it mean to be a planet? The IAU clearly thought that location and size are important aspects of planethood. The New Horizons team doesn’t. And that’s fine. We’re allowed to disagree about what we think is meaningful—just having the debate is inherently important, because it means that we’re thinking seriously about our world(s). It’s easy to take sides based on our own nostalgia, but wanting Pluto to be a planet because we grew up with nine planets isn’t a meaningful reason.
And if it’s hard for you to get fired up about the scientific rationales for defining planethood one way or another, try starting with a debate you can get entrenched in: is a hot dog a sandwich? Take a moment to consider it. Maybe you think that it is, because a sandwich is anything that has filling between two pieces of bread product. Does it matter what kind of bread product? Flour tortillas are bread products, so is a quesadilla a sandwich or a layer cake with filling? What about an open-faced sandwich? That only has one piece of bread. If you think that an open-faced sandwich is still a sandwich, then maybe a pizza is a sandwich too—they’re both just bread products with toppings. Does it make any sense to have hot dogs and pizza both be sandwiches? That just seems wrong, so maybe we should come up with a definition that separates them. Maybe it has to do with the type of bread product you use or the toppings you put on it.
It doesn’t really matter whether a hot dog is a sandwich. But all those silly questions are actually about a more fundamental question: what does it mean for something to be a sandwich? What do we think are the important aspects of sandwich-hood? In a sense, those are the same questions that astronomers are asking themselves about Pluto. Or that geologists are asking themselves about whether there’s an eighth continent. What matters in the end isn’t whether Pluto is a planet or whether there are eight continents or whether a hot dog is a sandwich—what matters is that we consider our world carefully. That we think not just about what Pluto is like as a celestial body, but about how we think about celestial bodies and their place in the universe. It’s about deciding what’s important.
And just so we’re clear: hot dogs are not sandwiches.
Jay Freeman, better known as saurik, recently gave a TED talk on the philosophy of mobile software. He compared the iPhone’s App Store and the jailbreak mentality to how consumers buy and modify cars. He made the case for what he has based his career on: that consumers do not want the software limitations that Apple maintains on iOS.
The first half of saurik’s TED talk explains the state of the car industry, and the consumer approach to buying and modifying cars. His comparison is interesting, and it definitely merits his point about Apple’s App Store philosophy…
Saurik described how some buyers of cars don’t mind keeping their car the exact way that they bought it. However, he made the case that most buyers of cars like to add and modify the look and features of their investment; whether it be the color, seats, or stereo system. He argued that this same mentality needs to be applied to the App Store.
In Hacker News, saurik wrote a post clarifying the points of his TED talk,
“The idea is that the App Store is designed to install “applications”: units of software that typically involve an icon on some kind of launcher that opens a window into some new functionality the device previously did not have.
These programs are not just apps: they are extensions to other applications on the device. We also see this in the form of custom launchers, dialers, and widgets: Android has numerous ways that developers can extend the core functionality of the handset in ways that escape the trap that is the icon.”
The goal of saurik’s talk was to basically praise the jailbreak mentality, which makes sense. Whether or not his assumptions about consumers tendencies are based in factual, statistical evidence, there is definitely a point to what he had to say.
“Go look at your average jailbroken iPhone: the stuff people are developing and installing is amazing. There are almost no limits to what you can change on the device; it isn’t open source, but it is damned close. No system feature or application is immune to the influence of small and large changes. And, if you really insist that open isn’t open until it is open source you can gut the bootloader and install Android on the thing thanks to the iDroid project.
This is why I absolutely hate it when I read people focusing on rejected applications or “opening up” the app store. In a future where Apple did exactly what you are asking them to do almost nothing will have changed: people will still need to jailbreak their phones and developers will still be writing and distributing all of this cool software using Cydia.”
Saurik actually came to Apple’s defense in his post after the TED talk. He talked about the reasons that Apple denies apps, and that there are legal reasons why Apple has to function the way it does. In fact, he believes that Cydia is not like the App Store at all. There are very few actual “apps” in Cydia, mostly hardware and software tweaks.
In the end, saurik wants people to stop pleading for Apple to open up the App Store like the Android Marketplace.
“So please… PLEASE… I implore you: drop the battle to get Apple to open up their App Store. Instead, work on getting Apple to open up their device (and, in the case of desktop Mac OS X, to maintain the reasonable open-ness of their MacBook line of computers). Until users are able to install whatever software they wish on the hardware that they own we will not truly have won back any of our freedom.”
I encourage you to watch saurik’s 13 minute TED talk. He makes an insightful presentation from an intriguing point of view.
What do you think about what he had to say? Do you agree with what he says; that the OS needs to be opened up instead of simply the App Store?
It’s been a pleasure to watch Google Talk enter the over-saturated niche of popular instant messages and then quickly dominate. I am Google Talk user myself. I can vaguely understand why I ultimately chose it over other IMs I would use; probably because most of my contacts have only one thing in common: Gtalk.
So today I am sharing a few best tips on how to make the most of your Gtalk:Featured tip 1: use Google Talk as a translator:
Translate using Google Talk (the feature runs on Google Translate). Just add any of the bots below (there may be many more) and send them messages of the text you want to translate):
from Arabic into English from German into English from French into English from Greek into English from Spanish into English from Japanese into English from Korean into English from Dutch into English from Russian into English from Chinese into EnglishFeatured tip 2: use Gtalk as a free and easy website live chat client:
You can place Gtalk button on your site and let your site visitors contact you using it. Create your Google Talk badge here;Featured Google Talk client: Digsby
DigsBy is by far my favorite third-party Google talk application not because it offers some extra-ordinary Gmail possibilities (well, it does have some cool GTalk enhancements) but because it integrates all my major IMs and social media networks in one handy tool. The platform it supports include:
IMs: GTalk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat;
Email notifications: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL mail;
Social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace.
Some cool features I am personally using:
For each social network add as many accounts as you want;
Sort Gtalk (and other) contacts into groups (!);
Set tracking for any GTalk buddy: e.g. get notified when some person signs in or changes the status message;
See all the contact info when hovering over;
Sort contacts by name, status,
Reply right from the pop-up;
Manage multiple conversations with tabbed conversation windows;
Set your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status right from Digsby;
Synchronize your settings and accounts between computers.
Featured FireFox extension: gTalk Sidebar
gTalk Sidebar is a handy FireFox addon that integrates Google Talk with FireFox.
Use Alt+G shortcut to open it, and use it as default desktop application.
Uhura recounts her epic Star Trek talk with MLK Jr for Neil deGrasse Tyson
Today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2013, actress Nichelle Nichols – better known as Uhura from Star Trek: the original series, spoke with space exploration evangelist Neil deGrasse Tyson about her one legendary encounter with MLK, Jr., himself. While some of you Star Trek factoid aficionados may already know, it’s important today of all days to understand the importance of not only what Uhura represented to the future of our society on her own, but what her one talk with Martin Luther King, Jr. meant for the world as well. Listen in and/or read what this chat was all about and keep the spirit alive with a drop on over to Netflix for some cool original series action (they’re all up!)
What Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura represented to the world back when Star Trek’s original television show was originally on the air was a strong, black, female presence on the bridge. The bridge being up front and center of the Enterprise, the spaceship around which the entire show centered. As StarTalkRadio host Niel deGrasse Tyson recounts:
“The original Star Trek series was created, as many of you know, by Gene Roddenberry and was groundbreaking on many fronts. For me the most important feature of that show was that the deck of the starship Enterprise was international. Lieutenant Uhura herself represented – again this is the future – the United States of Africa. Not only was she there but there was representation from Asia, from Europe, from the Americans, and even planet Vulcan – of course, in the guise of Spock.
The point is, if you were a science fiction fan of the day, and you viewed how authors and producers portrayed the future, it was a future that did not include people of color. A really frightening prospect if you happened to have been a person of color.
And now comes the series of Star Trek, and you see a woman who is dignified, who has poise, who is not somebody’s maid, and who is in fact an educated communications officer of the deck of the starship Enterprise. And is fourth in command, by the way. And your vision of the future can change overnight.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Speaking about her aspirations for being a stage actress and ultimately hitting Broadway with her skills as a dancer and a singer as well, Nichols made it clear that she originally planned to only be on the show for a short while. At the end of the first season, in fact, she handed in her resignation to Roddenberry, who tried to convince her that her part was “more than just a role” and with choice words such as “don’t you see what I’m trying to do here” he implored that she take the weekend to think about her decision.
The weekend in question, Nichols was a celebrity guest (that Saturday night) at an NAACP fundraiser in Beverly Hills, California. This was 1967, by the way, right after the first season of Star Trek had completed filming. Nichols recounts what happened after she’d been formally greeted by the crowd:
“Just as I’m getting seated and getting ready to turn to the other celebrities, one of the promoters walked up from behind and said ‘Miss Nichols, sorry to bother you’, I said ‘no problem’, and he said ‘well there’s someone who wants to meet you, and he says’s he’s your greatest fan.’ And I’m smiling and I say ‘of course’ and I’m getting up to turn and say ‘where is he?’ and he says ‘right over here.’ And I’m thinking it’s a Trekker, you know, maybe it’s a child, maybe a little man – someone that just wants to congratulate me.
And so, delighted, I turn, and I see this man across the room with this brilliant smile – which you didn’t often see on his face. And I remember thinking to myself ‘whoever this little Trekker is, they’re going to have to wait, because this is my leader’ – Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with a smile on his face. And I never met the man, you know, this like I’m starting to tremble.
And he walks to me with this smile, he says – and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, ‘Miss Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ I thought – ‘what an incredible moment.’ I just, was flabbergasted. And he begins to speak about my role on television, and the power of Star Trek, and how important it is.
In the meantime, for the first time in my life, I had no words to say. I could speak anyway, I’m shaking in front of this man. And he is saying how important Star Trek is to the future. That this man who has written this, who has produced this, has seen the future – and we are there, because you are there.
He said “you have one of the most important roles. This is a first. It’s non-stereotypical, it’s brilliance, it’s beauty, and it’s intelligence. And you do it with warmth and grace.”
And I’m just standing there watching him and listening to him, and I’m thinking the only visions I’ve seen of this man, really, are nightly on the news with marching, and black people in the south, marching and demanding their rights to sit at a lunch counter. And having fire hoses turns on them, attack dogs turn on them, men, women, and children, and this man leading them and marching and the face of all this. Being arrested.
Every night I ever saw him I said, ‘they’re gonna kill him. It wont happen past this time.’ But it did, and so he became this power, of hope. And here I am playing this character – that I’m going to give up – and I said to him, ‘Dr. King thank you so much, I’m going to miss my co-stars’ – before I could say ‘because’, he said ‘what are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘I’ve just told Gene that I’m leaving the show after the first season. Because I’ve received’ – and he said ‘you cannot.’
My mouth just dropped, and he said, ‘you cannot leave. Do you understand, it has been heavenly ordained. This is God’s gift, and onus for you. You have changed the face of television. Forever. Because this is not a black role, it is not a female role – anyone can fill that role.’ He said, ‘it can be filled by a woman of any color, a man of any color, it can be filled by another Klingon or an alien.’ He said, ‘this is a unique role and a unique point in time that breathes the life of what we are marching for: equality.’ He says, ‘besides, you’re Chief Communications Officer, you’re fourth in command!’
I’m thinking, ‘nobody told me that.’ He knows Star Trek is built on the Air Force, on the rankings, so he knew the rank. And he said, ‘you have no idea the esteem that we hold for you.’ And I start shivering. And I’m just looking at him, and my mouth was quivering. And he said, ‘Nichelle, you have no idea the power of television. This man has shown us, in the 23rd century, this man has created a reality. And because it’s in the 23rd century and you are Chief Communications Officer – 4th in command on a starship on a 5 year mission going where no man or woman has gone before. It means that what we are doing today is just the beginning of where we’re going.’
‘You cannot leave,’ and then he smiles again, and says ‘besides, Star Trek is the only show that my wife Coretta and I allow our children to stay up late and watch. And Nichelle, I can’t go back and tell them this, because you are their hero.'” – Nichelle Nichols
Needless to say, Nichols went back to Roddenberry and asked to stay with the show. She recounted the words King had spoken to her to Roddenberry and, with tears rolling down his face, he said, “God bless Dr. Martin Luther King, someone realizes what I’m trying to achieve.”
Have a peek at SlashGear’s full Star Trek tag portal for more of one of the greatest science fiction universes ever to have been birthed, and have a happy MLK day all day long!
You Don’t Care About Privacy
Ironically, many of Google’s most recent problems stemmed from the search company’s attempts to make privacy agreements more approachable. The firm’s profligate approach to public betas had left it operating eighty, ninety different products, each of which had brought its own impenetrable policy. Google moved to harmonize them, or at least the majority, into a single document, and in doing so brought some of the less palatable elements into the light.
Privacy-minded folk have perhaps taken most umbrage at the liberties Google takes in juggling your information between its services. Google’s argument is that in doing so it can create wonderful, intuitive mashups of data – take location and weather and calendar and contacts and suggest you take an umbrella for your meeting with Chad this afternoon, and incidentally no need to rush as Chad is stuck in traffic anyway – and, incidentally, that those liberties have always been in place, simply spread across multiple documents.
The argument against it is that all of a sudden our digital lives are the data plaything of a huge firm, the only reassurances about which we have are its “Don’t be evil” unofficial motto and the legal cudgel of the FTC, European Commission and a few other fine-imposing agencies. Our outrage is, to some extent, that of the self-entitled, ignorant child: desperate to believe we are individually important enough that Google makes special effort to dig through our digital keepsakes, too lazy and ill-understanding to read and unravel the legalese of the privacy policies we expect to be loaded in our favor.
[aquote]If we’re not willing to look after ourselves, should we expect others to?[/aquote]
We want Google’s free products, Path’s easy sense of community; we seethe when one service won’t talk to another without umpteen hoops to jump through. Yes, uploading our address book willy-nilly is foolish practice, but let’s not forget that the vast majority of apps that took a heavy-handed approach to how they shuttled our contacts off to its servers, also warned that just that could take place. We simply didn’t read it; we didn’t even try. Most of us hit “Agree” on the terms-of-service as quickly as possible, eager to get past the wrapping and into the meat of the service itself. If we’re not willing to look after ourselves, should we expect others to?
We need decipherable privacy policies, not scapegoating; a sense of personal responsibility for the safety of our own data, rather than grandstanding and public finger-pointing after the event. Problem is, we’ve demonstrated ourselves very willing to divorce ourselves of responsibility, and all too eager to wail like indignant banshees when we’re told someone has ended up taking the liberties we’ve left all the doors open to. How can we expect the companies whose services we use – so often demand for free, no less – to safeguard us, when we resolutely refuse to do so ourselves?
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