Sun, sand, sea, and SEO

I spent two days last week in the paradise island of Camotes in Cebu for a talk on optimizing news websites for search engines and a training on using WordPress for the staff of Sunnex, the department that runs the Sun.Star website.

I’m the online editor of Sun.Star Cebu, a member of Sun.Star Network Online, and my role on the website is limited to overseeing updating of content for our paper’s website. I am not involved in the technical side of the website operations albeit I send suggestions once in a while. It might not be evident to outsiders but Sun.Star has different departments with different work cultures.

Camotes Island IT IS a testament to Camotes’ beauty that no matter how tiring and energy-sapping it was in the days leading to the seminar, we left the island wanting to come back immediately. Click on photo to enlarge.

For a long time, I’ve had a nagging suspicion that Sun.Star suffers from a Google penalty over something that is a result of a server configuration. I warned the staff about this before but did not have the evidence to back it up. I’d see it to be the case once in while when doing searches but I’ve never before had the chance to raise it to Sunnex.

Last week, I was able to confirm this while doing a search, for my presentation, to show the effect of a particular ‘negative crawling/ranking attribute.’ I don’t think I’m at a liberty to tell what this is but the solution is dead simple and the website should see substantial improvements in rankings and earnings if it’s able to fix this.

Last year, I suggested (and pissed off people who didn’t want “outsiders” to raise suggestions) a particular ad optimization tweak and made a bold prediction—that the Sun.Star website’s earnings will double if they follow my suggestion. I actually encountered resistance on that very simple ad optimization and was verbally abused. The earnings more than doubled since then. For my troubles, I’m now richer—but only in karma points in some online journalism heaven. They didn’t even have to spend for a lousy certificate or consume saliva to thank me for it.

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The Chronicles of Narnia and the gift from Google

Marlen and I bought a boxed set of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia two weeks ago as a Christmas present for ourselves. It was the only copy left in SM City Cebu. We said we wouldn’t be opening it before Christmas. It’s Christmas and I’m reading the seventh book. Our resolve was good only for a few days.
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Early this week I saw a package on my desk in the newsroom. It was the gift set Google gave out to bigger publishers using AdSense. It wasn’t for me, silly. It was for the AdSense account of Sun.Star and was sent to the account executive in charge of the program. I drooled over the wireless optical mini mouse and the LED light.

Cybercafe Experiments included in AdSense e-book

I saw a curious entry in my traffic logs over the weekend. It seemed a few visitors to this site came from a PDF link. When I checked it out, it was a compilation of AdSense case studies by Joel Comm and my blog was among the sites discussed in the e-book.


The case study was based on the previous design of this blog (which I changed just last week). There are good observations in the e-book. When I clicked on the traffic link, the PDF was immediately downloaded. I don’t know if this was supposed to be a paid e-book and I was just able to bypass the gateway because I had the full URL to the file or this was something distributed for free.

The e-book says:

Max has done a fantastic job with his choice of colors…

I’ve looked at Max’s site over several days, and I’ve yet to see a close connection between the topics Max was discussing on the blog and the ads he received.

This is a common problem with blogs, especially those that change topics frequently.

The e-book suggests that I keep one topic per page or that I pepper my titles with keywords. The one topic per page suggestion is not something that I could implement. This blog is about my experiments with blogs, CMS, wikis and anything that catches my fancy–thus the eclectic makeup. These are the blog’s reasons for existence.