In the taxi on the way to the airport yesterday, the driver made the sort of offhand, clichéd remark that nobody ever takes seriously: “What would we do without computers?” Always one to take things seriously, though, I jumped at the bait. What would I do without computers?
Everything about my life would be different. Obviously, I couldn’t do the work that I do — and that’s probably true for you too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this column. I would also need a replacement for my social media addictions.
Everything about my life would be different — and that’s true for most people. If we didn’t have cell phones, our lives would be dramatically different. If we didn’t have television, our lives would be dramatically different.
But now imagine that we didn’t have Google. Imagine a Terminator came back from the future to kill Google before it became self-aware. Imagine that it found the global jeadquarters in Mountain View and managed to destroy Google’s “brain.” (Don’t you love that no matter how distributed and redundant our actual technology gets, every artificially intelligent movie bad guy always has a single “brain” that can be destroyed in a shower of sparks and dramatic effects?) Or maybe the Terminator just unplugs it. Whatever. Bottom line, we wake up tomorrow and there’s no Google.
For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s actually restrict ourselves for a moment to the idea of a world without Google search. Relax — we’ve still got YouTube.
Here’s what I believe would happen from a consumer perspective: there would be a brief and reasonably harsh shudder — and then we would go on as normal. The hundreds of Lilliputian search engines nipping at Google’s heels would rush in to fill the vacuum. Searches from your address bar? No problem. SERPs with images? No problem. Mobile search? No problem.
The commercial ecosystem, of course, would be dramatically undermined. All of the entities that have built their businesses on the idea of an ever-dominant Google would have to quickly and accurately reallocate spending to the most dominant of the new pretenders. Publishers would have to switch networks. Sites using Google custom search would have to offer another way to navigate.
But here is where it gets interesting for me: the strategy wouldn’t really change.
A company investing in text ads would still invest in text ads, because text ads will still be an effective, measurable way to advertise. A publisher tapped into the Google network would tap into a different network — but it would still tap into a network. Keyword identification and SEO would go on as normal, just with different players.
As integrated as Google has become in our lives, its functions are still replaceable. That “competition’s only one click away” idea is actually true, in theory. We stick with Google because we love it, not because we can’t get satisfaction anywhere else.
The best relationships are always those that exist out of continually renewed choice. Google has a lot of “habit capital” it would have to burn through before people started questioning that choice, but at the end of the day, it’s not really that hard to find another way to search.
If there were no Google? We’d simply have a different logo at the top of the page.
For years, Microsoft has been struggling to chip away at Google’s dominance in the search engine market. And for years, they have been largely unsuccessful, mainly because their own search engine, Microsoft Live Search, produced unwanted and often irrelevant results.
But a few weeks ago, Microsoft released Bing, an updated version of Live Search, in their newest attempt to knock Google off its pedestal.
Although Bing is partially a rebranding of Live Search, it does include new features like instant previews of Web sites and videos.
Microsoft is so committed to Bing’s success that it will launch an astronomical $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign. That’s more than four times Google’s entire advertising budget last year.
It’s been hard to determine how Microsoft’s newcomer is stacking up against its two greatest competitors, Google and Yahoo!. According to StatCounter, one of the world’s largest Web analytics companies, Bing temporarily overtook Yahoo! in terms of market share. Currently, however, Google has 81.5 percent of the search engine market, with Yahoo! at 9.39 percent and Bing at 4.82 percent.
But one Microsoft employee, Michael Kordahi, thinks that some users might be prejudiced against Bing because of Google’s perceived brand name superiority.
He created a blind search engine that shows the search results of Google, Yahoo! and Bing in three nondescript columns. The Web site then invites users to vote for the most relevant results.
Unfortunately, the results were too erratic to name any consistent winner, prompting Kordahi to conclude that “some douche is gaming the system.”
I must confess that, as someone who has had bad experiences with Live Search, I prefer Google. Before I could adequately review the usefulness of Bing, I thought I should first experiment with the blind search engine myself.
So, in completely unscientific fashion, I typed in ten random searches – five single words and five phrases – and picked the results I thought were most valuable and applicable.
And the results were somewhat surprising: While Google crushed the competition with six votes, Bing received a surprising three votes, and Yahoo! just one vote.
It seems I find Microsoft’s search engine a fairly legitimate contender in the battle for supremacy, although Google is still the undisputed champion.
But how do Bing’s other search capabilities like News and Maps compare against Google’s?
Well, I certainly found that the Bing homepage looks pretty. The search bar is superimposed on a beautiful panoramic stock photo that changes every day. Each picture is embedded with invisible squares about the picture that users can click on for more information.
But while this design is certainly unique, Bing’s hide-and-go-seek feature is basically self-promotion masquerading as helpful innovation.
Each square merely redirects users to a search through Bing. For example, clicking on “Learn more about Flag Day” directs the user to a Bing search of “Flag Day.”
But Bing does have some helpful, interesting features.
Unlike Google, Bing’s image search displays the results in one giant scrollable window, thereby eliminating the annoying need to click on multiple pages. And Bing Cashback offers buyers to receive a small percentage back of payments they have made on participating Web sites.
These are Bing’s best features, however, and ultimately Bing still plays second fiddle.
Bing News lacks all the customizability, readability and wealth of information that exists in Google News. Bing only features 14 translatable languages to Google’s 41.
And while Bing Maps is speckled with aesthetically pleasing mountains and forests, it cannot easily display directions and locations like Google Maps.
We must remember, though, while developers have made significant blunders along the way, Bing is still being improved.
They failed to realize, for example, that Bing can mean “sickness” in Chinese (the nationality of Bing’s biggest audience), prompted a name change to “Biying,” meaning “must respond,” which Microsoft is coyly marketing as a “decision engine.”
And they received criticism when Bing’s filtering mechanism could not adequately block porn in its parental settings, which was quickly rectified when the company consulted 25 security vendors for assistance.
Microsoft is certainly improving its image as a legitimate search engine competitor. But the company needs much more innovative firepower before successfully waging war against the Google Empire.
The UK’s search engine marketing spend grew 11% year on year during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a report.
Search spend increased by 14% between the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2008, according to a Search Engine Performance Report.
This reflects the trend for consumers and marketers to increase online activity during the busy Christmas trading period.
Google grew its overall UK market share from 82.6% to 88.2% year on year, largely as a result of its Google Content network which grew by 300% year on year.
The increase in market share by Google was in part at Yahoo!’s expense. Its market share dropped from 13.9% to 8.4% year on year.
Microsoft Live Search was able to maintain its presence in the UK market at 3.4% market share.
The increased level of search spend during Q4 can be in large part attributed to the strength of the online retail channel in price comparison and shopping efficiency, particularly for more established online brands who increased spend to reach revenue goals.
Get ready SEOs… in 2009, it’s not all about search engine webpage rankings anymore! According to Google, they will officially be launching their Universal Search model in early 2009 to make users’ search experience as simple and straightforward as possible.
So what does that mean for the SEO world? The search game is not all about ranking #1 in the results anymore. Considering that there could be 2 videos, a series of images, and a map of local businesses ABOVE your top (SERP) webpage ranking, it’s time to turn those optimization efforts to new fields.
As Google incorporates Universal Search into its results in 2009, all types of web content will begin to appear on page one – not just web pages. Before you know it, whitepapers, images, news stories, products, and videos will permanently infiltrate search results.
Pope Benedict XVI can look forward to engaging himself in new age media technology. The Vatican is all set to announce the details of the venture, as Google and the Pope have now come together in order to create a new channel for Pope Benedict XVI, which he will call his own.
This channel will be used for the direct posting of all the texts and videos of the Pope and his speeches as recorded by The Vatican television and radio. The head of the Vatican department of Social Communications, Claudio Maria Celli has organised a news conference referred to as “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship”, on Friday. The Managing Director of Media Solutions for Google, Henrique de Castro will also be present at the conference to give out more details on the venture of the Pope.
The Vatican has long since entered the world of technological media and been a part of it. In 1995, the late John Paul II worked towards the launch of The Vatican’s own website. This website was powered by three computers that were named after the archangels. Both The Vatican newspaper and radio have their own website, even though some do believe that the internet is a bad influence.
It must be Winnipeg, Manitoba’s best kept secret having a former Google Director here in the city. While company’s struggle with the economic downturn to keep their businesses afloat, others are flourishing with there online presence. While a recession looms, online sales were at a all time high in December in Canada.
According to Forbes magazine, a Page 1 ranking with Google is the holy grail for any business.
So why then isn’t every business in Winnipeg knocking down the doors of the offices of the Google Guy here?
He has made millions of dollars online for companies worldwide, helped governments get elected and made millionaires out of one man band businesses.
What was he thinking setting up a head office in Winnipeg?
I spoke with the Ex Google Guy who sold out in 2004 to the search engine. I asked what he saw in Winnipeg to make him move here.
Opportunity he tells me and lots of it, but the people here don’t realize it yet. You have large, well-respected corporations here with very limited web presence, websites that could be monetized in abundance, all with low overheads.
So why aren’t people knocking down your door?
I think they are a little backwards when it comes to the Internet. They are stuck in there old fashion ways and traditional media, with like minded people that have no expertize apart from what they read about on forums or books. Google doesn’t tell you how it works in books or forums, that’s why there are very few REAL experts out there.
We only take one client in each niche market and we don’t advertise that much, the people that know KNOW.
Everywhere web designers, students, copy writers, guys who have been on a 3 day SEO course are jumping on the gravy train because they can see big bucks to be made. All of a sudden all these firms are experts on the Internet, but do they have the client’s best interest in mind. It’s a joke really but that’s life.
Winnipeg is the jewel in the crown. Cream always rises to the top:-)
A College internship at an interactive marketing company ended up the ticket to a promising career for one of its 22 year old students. During the internship, he learned a skill known as search engine optimization In August, he was snapped up by a public relations and advertising agency in Denver, and given the title of search engine optimization director.
This was a story in the New York Times
The birth of the Internet gave rise to jobs in areas like Web development and design. And as companies and consumers flocked to the Web, jobs in Internet marketing soon followed. Search engine optimization, part of Internet marketing, is what companies use to drive traffic to Web sites in the hope that consumers will buy a product or service, for example, or subscribe to a publication.
This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis, Why is everyone all of a sudden an SEO Expert, they read a few blogs, go on day course somewhere and all of a sudden they know all there is know about search engine optimization.
If only it was that easy,.
All the SEO’s I know personally, most are well known and documented on the web who have been doing this for the last 10 years, long before it had a name.
They all earn in excess of $1million a year, admittedly some write there own books, some write get rich marketing schemes that plays to peoples greed, are they bothered when earning $10 million a year, probably not.
The question I ask myself is this, if it was you earning this kind of money on an annual basis, would you tell everyone how it was really done?
I didn’t think so, You have your answer.
You can learn good practices by reading forums and blogs, you can read the guidelines set out by Google, Yahoo etc, learn about social media and even web designing, but I have yet to read the full story on how it is done by anybody.
The big hitters will always be the big hitters, WHY, money in the bank baby.
What would we do without Google?
Google’s motto to “organize the world’s information to make it universally accessible” is perhaps the one defining characteristic that we can rely on.
The fact that we can debate whether Google lives up to its other motto – “do no evil” – means that we cannot really rely on them to be virtuous.
But we can rely on them to organize the world’s information, and they’ve done that fairly well. At least, theyve done it better than anyone else. If it meant being evil to do that successfully, would be willing to live with the evil?
I think we could advance the argument that most people who consider Google the evil empire probably do so on the basis of some perceived action by Google that has been unfavorable to them or someone they know. In other words, if you operate a website and youve been de-cached or your Google AdSense account was discontinued, etc.
But Google doesnt just penalize people without cause. There is usually a violation of policy somewhere, and if there wasn’t then I’d bet my last dollar that Google would reinstate the individual to favorable status if it was brought to their attention.
That doesn’t mean the search engine hasn’t, and won’t, do evil things. It does mean that they take their mission to organize the world’s information seriously.
So I ask again, what would we do without Google? It was Google who taught us that back links count. It was Google that brought us the wholesale opportunity to advertise our businesses and choose what we are willing to pay for a lead.
It was Google that made us realize that search engine spam can be tackled at the source and while they aren’t perfect at defeating it they do a nice job.
I know that Google is constantly seeking improvement. Sometimes they fail and institute policies that backfire or that don’t work. But they are organizing the world’s information pretty well and I know that if I need to know something really important I can search Google and within minutes have that pressing question answered. Without Google, I’d be living at the library.
Bring in the humans
To this point, the Web has been, by its nature, technology driven. Google is the most successful company of the Internet era thanks to its algorithm, a piece of technology adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff. Most of the leaps and bounds online have been in the realm of technology, whether it’s ad networks deciding marketing message placement by sniffing out users’ prior behavior or finely tuned measurement. Expect more advancement on those fronts, yet a greater emphasis on giving digital marketing a human face.
The algorithm is already getting a human touch with sites like Buzzfeed and Mahalo. Even Google is coming around to this notion by letting users tell it which sites are more relevant to them, a seemingly small step but one unthinkable for the engineer-driven Google just a couple years ago. New tools like Twitter will only increase the drive for people to connect with people, not just faceless entities. This will challenge marketing organizations and agencies, since humans don’t scale as easily as computers. The launch-and-forget mentality will need to give way to a 24 x 7 approach.
“There’s going to a big wake-up call for brands that the real work begins after the launch,” said David Armano, vp of experience design at digital agency Critical Mass. He sees cause marketing via social networks as a useful bridge to brands looking to infuse their mass reach ad tactics with a human touch.
One of the greatest advantages of the Internet and search engines like Google is that you can find almost anything about almost anything or anyone. This is particularly true following the advent of web 2.0 technologies and increasingly sophisticated websites indexing everything from video to audio – we’ve come a long way from text rich sites with just an image or two to mix things up.
Of course, this information superhighway is also incredibly bad news if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself or your company on the wrong end of some bad press. Unlike the newspapers of yesteryear that were discarded after reading, online publications are indexed indefinitely, giving bad press an infinite shelf life
If your company is poorly represented on a site with a good PageRank, a respectable number of links and good rankings, chances are it will turn up near the top of the SERPs for searches on that company name. Not only does this mean the story will live on long after the facts may have changed, it’s also galling to discover that the old mantra of bad news selling translates equally aptly online. Say the bad press takes the form of a harsh critique of your restaurant. Upon seeing the piece, you take action and work solidly for six months to turn your eatery around. You change the menu, source new suppliers, opt for a complete revamp of the décor and hire a new head chef and sous chef. After all your hard work, you log back on and discover the bad review is still prominently positioned in a search for your business name. All because the review ran in an influential food mag or national newspaper.
How do you fight this and regain credibility? Most bad press relates to a particular service area or product, rather than attacking the entire business model. This, while unfortunate for the product being bad mouthed, is actually good news when it comes to rectifying the situation as it gives you a very specific plan of attack.
Even in SEO, the best defense is a good offense and there are several options available to you to replace the negative with the positive. The most effective way, is to focus on how the changes have been brought about and drown out the bad with good. That means developing a groundswell of support for the keyword or keywords being black balled. When attempting this, you must apply the fundamental rules of organic optimization while embracing the usefulness and grassroots potency of social media activity and multi-media content.
Research is always the first stage so ascertain which keywords trigger the bad press. Create a list so the whole set of phrases can be included in the image overhaul. This is also a good opportunity to re-assess any existing organic activity. Ask yourself if variations of these keywords such as location specific versions are now appropriate to your optimization. If you’ve grown as a company while making some fundamental changes to the business offering, chances are you will be able to add more words to the list.
The second stage is to understand why the negative press is gaining such prominent positions. Obviously if the site is well established and a respected resource, your situation isn’t helped. However, you can take advantage of their stronghold by running link reports and then sifting through the returned results. Pick out referrers with a good PageRank, domains that are particularly relevant to your own site and make a note of any social networking sites that you haven’t yet heard of or haven’t yet had the opportunity to use. This will form a fundamental part of your positivity drive.
Having developed an initial list of sites to target for linkbacks in order to negate the advantage of the bad publicity, you need to approach each of those sites and barter for a link. The most effective way to do this is to provide unique content. For newspaper sites, specialist portals and the like, why not create a press release announcing your re-launch, outlining all of the positive differences that have been made? Consider a launch party or opening night in order to get local press involved and then send out the PR to all of those sites on the original link back list. If you’re feeling brave, you can even send the piece to the author of the bad press you’re trying to sink. Invite them to come and review your product offering again, suggest a formal meeting or collaborate on a competition, pushing any newly gained sales tools such as client testimonials. The creation of new jobs if you’ve taken on new members of staff as part of the restructuring or even a great offer on the original product can pique the interest of the newshound who first slammed your offering.
With your PR campaign launched, you need to find other ways to build links and positive opinion about your brand or company. To do this, remember that the results pages of major engines like Google or no longer simply about text based content. Video, audio and images all play their part. Creating interesting and useful multi-media content makes a great addition to any traditional SEO campaign and is a useful part of the armor when driving out bad press. Create video content that is going to be of interest to others and make sure that it is easily shared. Video sharing typically takes place around sites like YouTube so incorporate this facility to get others to link back to it.
Social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Squidoo, Sphin and Digg are all powerful tools and an extension of the content diversity you’ll need to push unfavorable listings off the front page. Any social media campaign activity should be thought of as a chance to communicate with the consumer, not sell to them. Create content specifically for this purpose, invite their feedback and provide a space for conversation and the links and client goodwill you seek will follow. This same approach can also be used for forum activity. Rather than jumping in with any excuse to link back to your site, watch first, participate second. Take time to understand the forum profile and then introduce relevant content and responses. Ask probing questions and give answers that inform and watch the links flood in. Content creation managed this way often grows organically, being picked up by blogs or industry commentators to create yet more links and more goodwill.
As with a full-on SEO campaign, attempt to turn around a poor online reputation need to be sustained if they are to succeed. If you don’t have time to dedicate yourself, consider hiring an SEO company or external consultant on a short term basis to carry out your brief