Category Archives: Google

Mayday? Again?

The third time’s the charm, the idiom basically dictating that the third attempt at something is likely to yield the results desired, apparently didn’t sit well with Google.

The algorithm change which happened April 28th – May 3rd, nicknamed Mayday, showed a shift in long tailed search results. It’s been hashed, and rehashed all over the web, but basically put, it was done on purpose, it was done for quality purposes, and it’s completely algorithmical; no human interaction at all.

Since the Mayday change, there have been 3 more seeming drastic shifts in the SERPs, with some seeing changes as little as 10% shift, to as much as an 80% drop in results. Reports of spam sites taking front page placements, poorly written, poorly constructed, and ad filled pages replacing formerly authoritive, professional sites. The shifts being discussed have all been around long tail returns, with the shorter queries having only slightly adjusted.

After all the ideas have been discussed, the tin foil hat theories disected, there emerges one common, agreed upon result: the first week of July will be a doozy.

Can Google SEO?

Google, the king of the web, the go to guys in the realm of search, and the players holding all the cards, was put to their own test. Just some of the self imposed questions for Google:

How many of Google’s web pages use a descriptive title tag? Do we use description meta tags? Heading tags? While we always try to focus on the user, could our products use an SEO tune up?

So how did they do? The report was published on their own webmaster blog, but it will be just a couple of the more interesting points we’ll touch on. Google always works for the user, to improve the users experience. They don’t work for their own ends, on how to rank or be found online, Googling is a verb now, so it’s not hard to find them. Some of their fixes they found which were needed included 404s, broken links, URLs were confusing in some places, and better titles and description tags for their pages.

As described in their own SEO report card :

Google’s SEO Report Card aims to identify potential areas for improvement in Google’s product pages. If
implemented, these improvements could:
• help users find our pages more easily in search engines
• fix bugs that annoy visitors and hurt our pages’ performance in search engines
• serve as a good model for outside webmasters and companies

They took 100 pages of different Google products, and ranked them following common SEO strategies. They found interesting numbers such as, 33% of their products had descriptive meta tags. Only 1/3 of their pages had proper snippet text, terribly low number for the company who relies on that tag, in order to pass on the summary of a page to a user.

They found that only 10% of their pages had proper titles, in length and format. They have some confusing URLs which could be redirected for ease of use, and that nearly half of their images alt text needed improvement. 301s, 404,s and proper tags missing oh my!

The entire report is an insightful read, and it’s plain to see that even when you’re the king of search, you can still make mistakes from time to time.

You can read the report for yourself here I recommend the read.

Basically Google

Recently Google produced a short video where in they dug into a few sites with checking out their optimization. People submitted sites for review, and Matt Cutts showed just a few of the things that are stand out points in the SEO game.

In essence, they really just covered the best practices rules of SEO, but as always it was great to hear them.

Be sure to use text on your page - Google Bot can’t see images the way a user can, so you need to have text on your page. Text also helps with your content and about selecting your keywords to attact searchers. Keeping your content original, and with the option of having user generated content as filler is also good.

Focus is better - If you have multiple sites, it’s better in the long run for you to focus on your main site as opposed to any others so as not to dilute your time and/or skills. Focusing your time, and energy, into building, SEO’ing, and maintaining a single site will pay off better than trying to spread your self out.

Titles, Metas, and Layout - All are very important, the title tag was a topic point multiple times within the presentation. It seems a lot of companies construct, or implement poor titles on their sites and pages within their sites. A good practice is for your titles to include the keyword(s) for that page. The meta keywords tag, while not indexed, is not ignored, and the description tag is important, so be sure not to blank it. If your page has no meta description tag, Google will do it’s best to try and find a description from your page text to use on the SERPs, but, no one knows your content like you do, right? And layout, if you’re going to build a site and promote it to your patrons, be mindful of it’s layout. If you place the quality content too far down the page, you run the risk of people using that back button before they discover just how valuable your website truly is.

If you use a Content Management System - Keep it up to date!! They spent a good deal of time on this topic as well, as CMS are prone to attack. The more popular one is, the higher the inherent risk. By keeping your CMS up to date, you lessen the risk of successful hacks on your website.

SEO spells success, Canada finally gets it.

So Canada finally gets it, SEO I mean, they must do as CTV has covered a story about it. A guy in Ottawa has even started a club, WOW only 10 years after the rest of the world. He says

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) can make or break your online business and personal web activities”.

What it means is how to set things up so that people can find you when they do an online search and 90% of the time that is a Google search. It is the difference between showing up on the first page of results or the 10th page.

Well I never.

He follows with “It’s website combat our there,” “You have to battle to get people to find you rather than your competition.” His top two pieces of advice: “Be sure your site is focused on your firms key facts; don’t try to do too many things so it’s easy for people to find what they need. Second, do something that is going to wow people within 30 seconds of arriving on your home page.”

Obviously he’s been reading blogs and visiting the tech shows and listen to people at search engine land and the likes, I bet he’s even bought the SEO Book.

The story finishes with the statement, Be Google-friendly as Google gives more and more weight to mentions on social sites or how many times your material is on Twitter. He says the new web world is the “Klondike gold rush of 2010, yet 95% of the people I talk to have no idea of how much search activity is passing them by.” Google has more than 200 million visitors every day.

To be honest, crap like this totally pisses me off, just another dink jumping on the bandwagon trying to promote a new marketing club, get speeches and take easy dollars.

How many people do you hear talking, blogging and writing about SEO? shitloads.

How many of these individuals or company’s actually rank on the search engines for what they do and talk about? not many. Deeeeerrrrrr!

Search engines like Google and the others are great for doing due diligence, if these so called marketing and seo experts are as good as they tell everyone, surely they will be at the top of the search engines right?

Lets see SEO World Expert

Check out Yahoo's Pulse

Yahoo has been trying for months to make itself the ultimate start page for Internet users; you can already view your Facebook and Twitter feeds using Yahoo’s “Quick View” feature, but Yahoo Pulse aims to provide an improved interface and offer new kinds of integration with both Yahoo and Yahoo Mail.

Wall Street Journal reports: “A new service called Yahoo Pulse will one-up Google Buzz by offering privacy tools and integration with Facebook newsfeeds on the Yahoo home page”

Notably, Yahoo Pulse will have a privacy menu that will apply to multiple services. That feature will be an important draw for some users, given that Facebook has dealt with a big privacy backlash in recent weeks. Just don’t expect it to add completely new privacy features to your Facebook account.

The privacy angle is also important when you consider that Google — Yahoo’s chief rival — made some major privacy errors that greatly hindered the launch of Google Buzz, a very similar service. Those mistakes, and the lack of Facebook integration stopped Buzz from becoming a killer application. Pulse is Yahoo’s answer to Buzz; hopefully it learned from its Googles missteps.

The way it looks, and how it interacts with Facebook have not yet been revealed, but it’s all expected to launch within the next few days.

What’s the Package?
According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Yahoo is rebranding its Yahoo Profiles feature to be Yahoo Pulse, which is currently unavailable but expected to launch in a few days”

Pulse will eventually exist as a hub for Yahoo members, to connect with others and post information about themselves. It’ll also aggregate social network info, allowing users to browse Facebook updates for example. Yahoo plans to add other social networks in the future. These integrations will spread across most Yahoo pages, including the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Mail, News, Sports, Answers, omg!, TV, and Music.

Should Google Worry?
In short: no. It seems nothing will knock Google off its Stand. Google receives more than 50 percent more visitors than Yahoo, according to Hitwise data, and even with these few tricks to gain share — including partnering with Microsoft — it’s unlikely that it’ll come anywhere close to Google.

Now, that doesn’t mean Yahoo won’t nab a chunk of Google’s glory. Facebook recently beat Google to become the most popular site in the world. So naturally, the Facebook-Yahoo marriage can only boost usage.

What About Privacy?
Lately when you hear Facebook, you may begin questioning how much privacy you have. Yahoo came prepared for such an event: Yahoo Pulse will supposedly simplify user’s privacy settings. But, Whether or not you’ll have to adjust settings in both Yahoo and Facebook has yet to be seen.

Google – Street View in Germany

Google admitted they’ve made a mistake, they apologized, and worked with a few countries to handle and destroy the mistakenly corrected data. The biggest impasse however, is still with their collection of data in Germany.

Google was given a deadline for handing over a hard drive with the data collected, so that it could be analyzed and determined the severity of the charges; if any, are brought against Google. They even tried to stave off the deadline by using Germanys own laws against their demands, citing that to turn over the hard drive, would be breaking their laws. But, an agreement has been reached, and the data will be turned over for inspection.

Google plans to publish the results of an audit into the street view gathering practice, and made note that the erroneous code snippet which captured the data may have been a 20% time project by an employee. Their Street View code was orginally built while driving around the Stanford University campus checking for WiFi connections. Googles “20% time” block, which is basically free work time for their employees to work on projects of their own, will remain, and there are no current plans for an internal audit of current projects.

CEO Eric Schmidt said: “It would be a terrible thing to put a chilling effect on creativity”

If the code was accidentally left in, which was developed within the guidelines of the free work period for Googles employees, it may be a tiny enough loophole for the company to squeek through. I wonder how much 20% is worth these days..

Google on the move!

Google has been blessed by the FCC, and purchased AdMob to setup advertising for smart phones. Initially, it looked as if the FCC may try and block the purchase, as the acquisition of AdMob may have given Google to firm an upper hand, but after speaking to the other players in the industry, decided to allow the union.

There’s some real marketability soon to come for users of AdSense for mobile apps. With the format of “click-to-call” as the framework, it will make the use rather simple.

“It’s clear that mobile advertising is becoming a much larger part of our clients’ and partners’ strategies and with this acquisition, it’s now a central part of our own business,” said Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management for Google.

Advertisers may use click-to-call ads to include a local business or national phone number directly in their ad text. Users can then click to call the business via phone.

Simple isn’t it? You write compelling ad text, pay for your shot at coming up in mobile search results much like an AdSense format, and voila! Instant business generation. How trendy are you? If you want to cover all your bases, and use both Googles mobile advertising model, and Apples version (iAd), early indications point to Apple charging upwards of $1 million for an iAd campaign. It’s your advertising dollar, how will you spend it?

Googles Pies

In an article I read some time ago, and has been debated, recycled, and somewhat scoffed over, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz uttered the memorable words :

Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do..

It’s a rather bold statement made from one of the most unlikely sources, but it’s been said.

Every user has their own style and use for the internet. Some where along the way, you will need to look for information. Now, whether or not you use Yahoo, Bing, or Google to perform your search, you will try and find the answers which suit you best. Google just happens to be the best at search. It’s what their business was started on, and as per Google’s President of Global Sales Operations Nikesh Arora retort to the comments:

If we are a one trick pony, we have a pretty good trick.

But just because they built their house on search, that by no means has been their only business venture. Youtube, Gmail, Adwords, cloud computing, cell technology, fibre optic technologies, are just a handful of the offerings which Google brings to the world table in terms of ventures.

It was put into perspective best perhaps, by a chart constructed by Nick Bolton of the New York Times. Looks like Google actually has more pies in the oven than Yahoo does, and who is it that needs to diversify?

Home Sweet Google?

On the web, there’s a fairly basic rule of survival; adapt, or disappear. It would stand to reason then, that one of the biggest names on the net, Google, could be viewed as the kings of change, as well as search. And, well.. they’re doing it again.

With more feathers in their cap than most birds have on them, Google is adding a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. Some of the bigger ideas being brought forward are their contributions and innovations into web video and television. The business model idea which Google uses, provide the a paid service, for free, has fed them well since their birth. It stands to reason that their new toys would allow the same.

The jewel making the most buzz during their conference, would have to be their own offering of a video playing software, as an alternative to the sometimes sketchy performance of Flash. The Google variant, dubbed VP8, is being provided as an open source alternative, with royalty free use, all rolled up with an open source audio platform to boot. Currently, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera support the format, but IE and Safari, do not. Flash however, can still play the content generated, a new WebM standard, so the browsers aren’t totally in the dark. Only iPhone and iPad users who won’t have the option of having Flash on their devices, will be left in the lurch.

And just because you don’t think of them enough, there’s Google TV in the works. A new set top type box from Sony HDTV’s and Blu-ray players, and Logitech set top boxes, will let you search cable, internet or satellite than a normal program guide can. It uses the Chrome web browser (Flash enabled), so it can play pretty much all video content currently available on the web, Hulu included; provided Hulu doesn’t block out the browser. Tie into that it’s powered by the Android software, and you can incorporate the apps, current and future, into your use. Is this the Google way to shake things up in the television market like they did webmail? Time will tell.

Google video, Google TV, Google cell phones, Google Google Google.. Interesting thought; Google plus WalMart teaming up to provide consumer goods..

The Google Two Step

Been a rough week for Google and their Street View app they’ve been working on pushing out in Germany. After being found of having collected wi-fi data from unsecured networks (keyword being unsecured), and been given the proverbial swat on the nose with a newspaper, things are heating up back home in the USA.

Only this past Wednesday did the US government start to show signs that they’ve noticed what Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, and Ireland have been calling out about Googles data collection.

Germany wants an untouched hard drive, data intact, just to see what, and how much Google collected from the networks scanned. Big G has until May 26th to comply. France and Italy have both started their own investigations into the matter, France is reviewing the matter before proceeding and Italy wants to know the when and the why of the matter, and if any of it has been sold. Ireland has passed on the matter, being content in the fact that Google has deleted the data, destroyed the hard drives, all while under the watch of a third party, as has the U.K.’s Information Commissioner.

So now that the FTC is involved in the case back in the States, what is their stance? As from Reuters :

Both the FTC and the Justice Department are reportedly “interested in looking into the data collection”

Not exactly knock the doors down and seize what’s going on in hand. Maybe it’s more of a “let’s see if maybe this isn’t such a bad thing..” move?

Was it a mistake to collect the data? Was it on purpose and Google got caught with their hand in the cookie jar? Only they really know. I do have to admit, the most interesting point of the article to me, was how with all of the countries mentioned : Italy, Ireland, France, UK, Germany, and the US, it sure looks like home.