Category Archives: Google

Learn the lesson of SEO Mistakes

With JC Penny & Overstock.com getting penalized from Google for trying to outfox the search engines, what lesson can you learn from these stumbles?

Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand. Let me say this again, Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand.  

Today, countless organizations—small businesses especially—are being told that their fortunes will improve if they learn to harness the magical powers of SEO. If you own or operate a Web site for your business, the come-ons are no doubt familiar: “I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines,” goes one popular one.

Do organizations fall for these pitches? They sure do. In fact, entire industries have become enamoured with SEO. Take the media business. Today, many publishing companies are putting more investment into search gimmicks than in quality content. The result? Fewer impactful features, more animated slide shows and plenty of SEO-optimized headlines, including one from The Washington Post that read simply, “SEO headline here.”

Infatuation with SEO and related technologies extends to companies of all types. According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), North American spending on search marketing is growing nearly 15 percent annually and will top $17 billion this year. This is in addition to the vast sums spent on SEO technology and consulting.

With these figures search has seized the attention of scores of business executives worldwide, Sooner or later, every competitive company will develop or invest in SEO capabilities. When this happens, distinguishing your organization with basic SEO technology and knowledge will become very difficult.

There are signs that some SEO companies are having to go to greater extremes to produce results for their clients. Is the sun is about to set on SEO. It might, but don’t cancel your contract with your SEO provider just yet, For the foreseeable future, SEO technology will remain a very valuable business tool, but only if you keep a competitive advantage. For that, you’re going to have to focus on business basics, including your innovation, prices and operational excellence.

Some thoughts echoed from Inder Sidhu the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco

Google’s Personalized Algorithm

So there’s this thing called the internet and people are able to create their own little slice of it to tell their story or maybe even to sell themselves! It’s an amazing tool, sadly it bears the responsibility of granting anonymity to those using it, and as such it’s becoming more and more crowded with imprudent users. Massive sites of good, bad and just plain terrible information. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you want to find, you can’t help but have dozens of trash and spam results to filter through to find those nuggets of wisdom.

Well, Google has listened to your cries for spam control. And with their recent Panda (Farmer) update, it’s helped clean up as much as 12% of the overall searches performed with the service. When you’re talking in the billions of searches per month, 12% turns out to be a rather significant number. And yet, that still leaves 88% of the searches performed which may still be plagued by spam sites, scraper sites and poor quality sites. Well, Google has listened again, and now even more control of your personal search experience has emerged.

Now as you perform a search, a new option to shape your experience, block all results has been implemented. It may sound like it’s just too simple, but it does in fact allow users to form their own modified algorithm of sorts. Not interested in E-How.com? You can now choose to block those results from your searches. After you’ve blocked a url, simply reenter your search terms and voila! Cleansed and purged from your future results.

The search engines are in the business of bringing you, the user, what you want from the web. The added amenities that they provide, whether it be maps, documents, pictures, or Facebook integrations are bonuses designed to help further shape and enhance your user experience. Just like the new feature of blocking searched sites with Google.

Google’s Mobile Dominance

It’s the newest multi-billion dollar industry, with only 5% of it’s market being currently tapped as a resource and who owns the biggest slice of the pie? According to a report released last week from banking and investment firm Macquarie Group, Google is absolutely dominating the mobile search share in the US with 98% of the market.

Even Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO admitted that the mobile arm of the company is growing faster than was expected and completely surpassed all of the internal projections of growth. In a somewhat disturbing pattern in the mobile market however, it has shown that costs per click (CPC) are higher, with a lower click through rate (CTR) in the big picture. The average CPC on mobile is 13% more expensive than the PC version while the click through rate is around 30% lower than PC users. To be successful in mobile you need to be relevant, consistent and a way to grab those impulsive searchers. That one dollar adsense ad you put up is now going to cost you $1.13, and if your copy isn’t eye catching or compelling enough to bring the customer to you, it’s the beginning of an expensive lesson.

Organic search engine optimization boasts the highest return on investment in the marketing world today. With measurable results, proactive and engaging marketing can drive your company to it’s limits for productivity. Finding a truly competant SEO expert in the most recent world might seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but it’s much more akin to a needle in a haystack. There’s a thousand impersonators out there, but only a handful who can truly get the job done. SEO performed by the experts is like leaving a fingerprint on a website, the real players know when work has been done properly.

Becoming an expert in SEO isn’t a matter of taking an online course, attending a seminar or reading a book. It’s about cutting your teeth by attempting to rank your own sites, earning your wings by surpassing all other players in competetive niches because you’re just that good. You don’t pick up SEO overnight, you don’t learn it by watching the pros and you certainly do not venture into the market without prior experience and knowledge.

Simple Content & Advocate Questions Answered

Content You have 2 options: 

1) Good content without promotion

or

2)  Good content with promotion. 

#2 wins every single time.  As long as there is a profit motive for good content, there is a profit motive for promoting it.  SEO is one tool.  SMO is another.

Advocates

So why does word of mouth from brand advocates work?

Consumers trust Word of Mouth. Which means conversion rates are higher.
You don’t pay advocates. There are costs of course, but you’re not paying advocates to make referrals.
Brand Advocates are not just for Christmas. Paid clicks are ‘perishable’ advocates are not.

I’d add a couple of other reasons myself:

Advocates are integrated marketers. They are online, offline and through the line. They don’t differentiate the way your agency or media campaigns do.

They give your marketing campaigns wings. Advocates are often spurred to advocate your products and services when they come across your marketing messages. They increase coverage and impact of your other marketing activity.

Advocacy means UGC. Brand Advocates write nice things online about your brand. They create keyword rich content just because they love you. And we all know what search engines love.
Longer and Deeper love. One other benefit of identifying and cultivating your brand advocates is of course that they are likely to stay more loyal for longer – so your CRM gets a boost too.

So advocates are great, but how do you find them? aren’t they as elusive as a four leaf clover?

The answer is so simple it hurts. You ask them! The simplest survey question of them all ”How likely are you to recommend us?” – and BINGO, you know who your advocates are. Now you just need to cultivate them.

“Traditional marketing has companies speak to many to reach one. Today we speak to one to reach many.”

Big Brother Google?

In a little shown display of power, Google excercized it’s mobile muscle on it’s Android operating system over the last few days. It came to the attention of the mobile team of malicious software being made available on the market, and they quickly stepped in to isolate and destroy the offending apps.

What they did next, was show how much control that they have remotely to your Android software. I’ve read estimates that tens of thousands of users were affected by the software, and with the flick of a switch, Google removed the software from the infected devices. They remotely uninstalled the software from the handsets and for a final resolution recommend resetting the phones to factory default for good measure.

The Android Marketplace is being updated with better tools to manage applications, but the largest point made I noticed was the control Google was able to exert on their mobile operating system. It’s a touchy subject of privacy when users are subject to a websites constantly changing privacy policy ala Facebook, but it opens up a whole new can of worms when your mobile device is openly controllable from a remote location due to it’s operating system.

Local Search Marketing – Leads to your door

The world absolutely cannot beat a proverbial path to your door if they can’t even find you. That’s where your smart local search marketing straegies comes into play. When it comes to “being found” ask yourself whether you want to be a dot or a pushpin on Google Maps? It makes a huge difference especially to the people who are in the buying mode.

Here are a few tips to get you started on the road to adding Google Maps local search to your marketing repertoire.

1. Let your fingers do the walking, as the Yellow Pages campaigns used to tout, and walk them right over to your keyboard and find your Google browser, using Firefox, of course. Find your Places page in Google Maps, and claim your listing.

This is your first step toward becoming a savvy local search marketer. You need an owner-verified listing. You will find a page already populated for you by Google. The information may be wrong. Sign in with your G-mail account.

2. Keyword research applies to your traditional search strategy for your website. The rules and parameters for local search are completely different and a traditional search engine optimization (SEO) consulting firm may not understand local search at all.

Think like a prospect looking for your business from their phone. How would you find yourself? Your company name, business address and primary phone should be correct. Referred to as NAP, this information must always be consistent across the Internet; in Web directories, on other sites and on your own website. If people come to your place of business, then do not use P.O. boxes in your listing.

3.Choose at least one business category from the list of choices offered by Google. This will help Google legitimize and properly list your business. You can add others, using smart keyword choices that describe your business offerings.

4. On your Google Places dashboard, add a couple of Internet coupons. I suggest unique offers so you can track results. Equally important, Google’s algorithm supposedly gives your listing a boost if you have coupons.

5. Citations and reviews from Web sources across the Internet will automatically feed into your Google Places page and give you a boost in landing in Google’s Lucky Seven listings, or in their blended listings in a Web search.

Want a real life example? Go to Google Maps and search for coffee shops in Marlborough. Starbucks has claimed their Places pages. Dunkin Donuts has not, and you can see the difference when you look at their pages. Some are marked as pushpins, others as dots on the map. Some well-known haunts such as Main Street Cafe or even Panera don’t even show up!

Unless you have been living under a rock like the guy in the Geico commercial, the value of “local search” to your business should be fairly obvious. While most baby boomers are still catching on to the new world of digital marketing (and many more are hopelessly lost) the Gen-Xs, Gen-Ys and the echo boomers certainly know how to find just about everything they need right from their smart phone.
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Calling Foul on Google

In the last few days there’s been a small problem for some Gmail users, as we’ve mentioned here. And Google has come out and said “Oops, our bad” and are working on correcting the error. In the last couple of weeks in addition, the search algorithm driving the Google machine was tweaked to try and clean up the search results.

The tweak, nicknamed “Farmer” is basically designed to begin weeding content farm, scraper sites and spam sites from the search results. These websites typically abuse the current hot trends on line to drive false SEO campaigns to themselves and/or their clients for visibility. The coding change however, has had a rather unwanted side effect as well however. There’s a handful of sites which have been mistakenly affected by the new algorithm change. And again, Google is saying “Oops, our bad” and manually correcting any mistaken rankings changes. So if your site has been affected recently, say the last 2 weeks or so, by the algorithm shift, it may be worth your while to hit your webmaster tools and submit for a reconsideration.

In a recent case of the big kid throwing their weight around, Yelp has spoken out against Google Places pages, saying that it’s in direct competition with Yelps services. Now in the past, Google tried to snatch up Yelp for a cool $500 million, and after they declined Google went out and voila! Google Places makes it’s appearance. The way it works currently, is on Google Places you’ll find Yelp reviews, properly linked back to their site and Yelp hasn’t said anything about it. But Google as of late (according to Yelp) has decided that it’s not enough and have decided to invoke the playground rule of “play my way, it’s my ball”. So as of this writing Yelp faces the possibility of being taken from the index, Google Places listings and all, unless they bow to the Google Giant. The most troubling part about the whole affair however I think, is with everything considered Google will be completely crushing it’s own mantra of “Don’t be evil” by kicking a valid competitor from the index. Here’s hoping they actually decide to take the high road and get that stick out of their you know what.

The False Search Share

It shouldn’t be any real surprise that Charlie Sheen is a member in the trending topics of the day much like he has in the last few days. There’s also the trending topic of the Dior designer who’s being dropped by the fashion icon for their ranting of Jews and love of Hitler. It’s never a large surprise personally to find strange topics dominating the trending lists, but there are some news topics that surprise me from time to time.

Take for instance, the news from Statcounter that Yahoo has fallen to last place in the search wars, overtaken by Bing. At just under 4% search share, Yahoo reportedly fell to Bing who came in with 4.3% search share. Statcounter showed Google’s search dominance flying at it’s average of 89.9% of the search market. These are global search numbers, so they’re talking in the billions of queries. When you get a little closer to home, Yahoo is still leading Bing in the US.

The reason why all of these numbers don’t mean a thing, is there are really only 2 players now in the search market; Bing and Google. In 2009 Yahoo announced that Bing would power it’s search results and that they were going to join forces to try and take on the Google machine. Currently Bing is giving Yahoo results in the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. It’s Bing search pages and results, with a bright shiny Yahoo wrapper on it. It doesn’t matter how you try and portray it, it’s Bing and Google in the search game now.

Google erased Gmail accounts

If you logged into your Gmail account to find your inbox empty, you’re not alone.

More than 100,000 users of Google Inc.’s email service had their accounts accidentally deleted, including all records of sent and received messages.

Google says it began investigating reports of problems Sunday after users complained that emails, folders and contact lists going back years had completely disappeared, as if their accounts had been reset.

As of Monday morning, Google said it is continuing to investigate the problem. It is not known when full service for affected users will be restored.