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Browsing "Google"

Google Relents – Do Not Track coming soon

Feb 25, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

So Google has gotten itself into a little bit of hot water with all of the privacy snafus it has found itself in the middle of lately. There is their new privacy policy, the growth of Google+ (which has it’s own privacy naysayers) and the most recent faux pas with Safari.

So I guess it stands to reason, that Google would jump at the new privacy bill being pushed through the White House. Regarding the new online privacy legislation, Google decided to get behind “Do Not Track,” technology that lets users opt out of tracking by websites and online advertisers. So what exactly did Google just agree to do? It will add support for Do Not Track to its Chrome browser. The way the technology works is fairly basic, it sends a Chrome header signal to the website to tell the website and it’s advertisers to not track that visitor. In browsers that already support Do Not Track, a user only has to set a single option. In Firefox, that’s done through the Options (on Windows) or Preferences (Mac) pane by checking a box marked, “Tell web sites I do not want to be tracked.”

It’s a big step in online privacy by Google, as they were the last major hold out on implementing the Do Not Track technology into their browser. But will it be enough to convince web users how serious Google is about privacy? Just how they implement the technology, how simple it is to enable or disable, and just how effective it is will be the telling factor. As a company, Google is a massive target and keeps making, seemingly basic, missteps which can make the general users of the web quickly turned off of their products. Between the new tech to be enabled in Chrome, and the new privacy policy set to shortly come into effect, Google may be heading for an even rockier year than 2011.

Growing Mistrust of Google its downfall?

Feb 22, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

When Google was taken under the leadership of Larry Page, he quickly and decisively pointed the sights of the Google machine on the social target. And in the last few months there have been a few, hiccups, with Googles changes in policy.

The most recent of the snafus to plague Google would be the problem of getting their hands caught in the cookie jar, Safari’s cookie jar to be more precise. Which has also led to a recently launched class action lawsuit against the search giant, who knows where it will end up. There’s also the ongoing discussion of the move to a single privacy policy which Google will use to govern all of it’s online properties and will enable them to more easily share information between them. Page has chosen aggressive tactics by which he hopes to lead the search giant into the social web and into streamlining Google. Recently however, there’s been a murmur of growing mis-trust against the G-machine. The real question is, is it going to be enough to make Google take notice.

With hundreds of millions of searches being conducted everyday, the majority of those running through Google, it would take a big hit to make them notice the loss. With the new privacy policy changes set to come into play very shortly, the drop in use may come in very short order.

Microsoft Labels Google As Malware

Feb 17, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, internet, internet news  //  Comments Off

So it’s no secret that Bing and Google aren’t the best of friends, but with Microsoft behind the Bing machine, it was a shock for the web to suddenly find Google labelled as malware.

You may think it’s really not that big of a deal, but it only takes one red flag to turn many novice users away from using any service or website. The mistake has since been ironed out on Microsoft’s end, and Google is no longer labelled as a security risk. Malware is a rather generic term, basically covering any kind of code or software which either steals your private information or messes up your computer enough that you can’t really use it effectively. Unfortunately for those same novice searchers and computer users, malware has another, more inconvenient side.

It should be no surprise that scripters and hackers who work to develop malware, are also tied to the black hat side of the SEO world. Search is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and being able to sit atop the search results for highly competitive terms for even a few days is a million dollar industry. Many times this is where you’ll find a specific type of malware usually known as ransom software. What happens is when a user clicks on the address of what they innocently think is their top results choice, instead they’re greeted with a popup message usually along the lines of “Your computer is infected – click here to protect your data!” And once that user clicks the button, they’ve been hooked. Once that back door has been opened, it is nefariously difficult to shut. It often leaves you open to backdoor access as well, which the scripter can use to steal your information, or even use your own computer to attack other unsuspecting searchers.

The first step to defending yourself is to have a proper anti-virus product, even a basic one will stop the majority of malware. The second step is to know what you’re seeing when you search. A proper website url will be www.this-is-a-real-site.com/yourresults.html, shown in green below your search results. A strong indication of a hijacked site or possible malware trap is when that address looks like so: www.possibly-malware.com/?p=23466. If you find an address which begins with a query string, there’s a good chance you’re not going to necessarily end up where you’ve hoped.

Predicting Search Trends – The Moving Target

Feb 15, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   ecommerce, Google, internet, internet marketing, internet strategy, online shopping, seo  //  Comments Off

Valentine’s day, not really a holiday, but people are still out there shopping for that special someone. Some bought their gifts early, or if you’re the average guy you’re out there this afternoon picking up a few last minute things. But whether you’re shopping today, even if you’ve already finished your shopping, have you taken measures to capitalize onthis spending day?

It’s estimated that this year in the US they’ll be hitting the highest in the past 10 years in terms of spending. That includes everything from cards, candy, and flowers, to jewellery and ‘casual’ attire. The biggest spenders – ladies doting on their men who’ve been shopping since January and comprising more than 150% of the search volume. Men haven’t totally been out of the game however, and have even stepped up their play – jewellery and flower delivery searches have grown 10% and 20% respectively. The big step for this year though has been couples massage with 50% growth.

Now numbers are good to see and everything, but how does that break down as a business owner in the real world? On average Google handles 400 million searches per day, and during a shopping holiday like Valentine’s Day, search volumes are temporarily boosted. So if you’re in the jewellery market for example, you’d want to ramp up your SEO at least a couple of weeks before the big day, just to pump up visibility. The days do seem to fly by while you have your nose to the grindstone, but you need to observe how trends are shifting online. Being able to correctly and accurately predict the shifting trends online can mean the difference between lost income, and capitalizing on a gold mine in search.

Online Privacy – And The Fallacy It Exists

Feb 10, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   facebook, Google, internet, internet news  //  Comments Off

The amount of noise being made over Googles new privacy policy, set to come into play in March, is starting to reach a fevered pitch. The most recent noise maker, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a lawsuit against the FTC in regards to said changes.

Google has come out and admitted they’re making a singular privacy policy which will encompass all of it’s online properties. Google, Gmail, Youtube, Calendar etc, instead of the dozens it currently has active. If you really wanted to take the time to do it, you could click through and read each and every one of those privacy policies, and on the whole you would find they’re all fundamentally the same. But with updating their policy to encompass all of their online services, it makes it simpler for a user to know what information is collected, how it’s collected and when. And if you’re really that paranoid, you don’t even need a Google account to use their services, nor do you need to remain signed in. It isn’t as big of an issue as it’s being made out to be, but everyone has an opinion and everyone has the right to air it.

All of the issues being brought up surrounding the new privacy policy, are somewhat reminiscent of the privacy issues that Facebook seems to have every few months. But the social network which just recently went public, is used for so much more than just data collection. Facebooks targeted ad system is a very good tool, for small businesses looking for local exposure especially, just because of how its ad delivery system works. But, because the network has also aligned itself with government agencies, your information is more accessible than you know. Thinking of smudging the numbers on your tax return? The IRS has unfettered access to search your personal accounts in case something doesn’t add up on their end. Potential employers are starting to add a field for your Facebook profile on your job application, so they can have access to see if you’re truly company material. Even credit companies are getting in on the act, and reducing, or declining credit based simply on where you live, where you shop, or where you travel. Not because of your past history, but because of who you are. And people are getting fussy with Google’s privacy policy?

Year of Online Marketing

Feb 4, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   branding, Google, internet, internet news, search engine optimization, seo  //  Comments Off

Money is a great thing, it’s needed for pretty much everything you need or want in this world. There are times to save money, and there are times to spend it. With the new year still fresh, now is the time to spend on your online presence so you can make 2012 your best earning year to date.

Search engine optimization is, for some odd reason, still a largely overlooked advertising expenditure. The internet is the ultimate store front, it never rests, and is always waiting to bring customers to your doors. It takes time, patience, an understanding of your current website and traffic, and what your ultimate goals are to even begin to craft an SEO campaign to implement.

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ version of optimization, as each and every client and website has it’s own unique set of problems. When you’re in the market for SEO, you need to bear that point in mind. If you’re searching for someone truly qualified in the area, there’s a very high chance they won’t have pre-packaged services for you to choose from. There are really 2 main steps when you’re hammering out the details of your costs associated with search engine optimization. The first, and one which affects your cost, is what is it that you’re trying to achieve and what key terms are you interested in. If you’re looking to rule the SERPs on a term which returns tens of millions of pages, your contract will have a steeper cost as opposed to a more niche market. The second step is where the compromising comes into play where terms are concerned.

Working as an SEO, we see the web a bit different than other people do. I know I haven’t browsed or used the internet the same way since I’ve began. Sometimes the keyterms clients choose need some adjustment, and through discussion we decide which route to pursue. It can mean the difference of a page 1 ranking, or a difference of a few thousand dollars in the term of a contract. Our goal in the end, is to bring you all the traffic you can convert, are you ready for the 2012 rush?

Paid Inclusions in Search?

Feb 2, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, search engine marketing, yahoo  //  Comments Off

In what seems like a lucrative and exciting idea for any local business, it was announced recently that the possibility to pay for a guaranteed listing may be possible through Google, Bing and Yahoo. On the surface it seems like a great idea, especially for smaller businesses who may not have the time to wait for organic listings to kick in. But as anyone who has been in search engine marketing for more than a few days, the web just can’t work that way.

The idea for the paid inclusions was put forward as a program which was “officially approved” and in “cooperation” with search engines. The release stated:

“Local Paid Inclusion is a Google, Yahoo and Bing contracted service and is offered as an approved official program in cooperation with those search engines.
Local Paid Inclusion promotes a local business’ profile page, like those found in Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local, into a top position on the search result page for up to 30 keywords per profile page.”

The idea was simple, you could simply have your local page, and pay to have it ranked highly within the search results locally. But then, shortly after the news began to spread and be picked up, Bing, who serves Yahoo their results, threw their hat into the ring.

“Bing has no interest in paid inclusion into the local algo that artificially impacts ranking of algo results…”

And as for Google:

“We are not working on any program that enables a site to pay to increase ranking in organic search results.”

The idea that any company is going to guarantee a search result simply makes no sense, and it would be especially tricky in the local space. Local search results change, depending on your province, city and can even be influenced on the time of day.

SEO 101 – Remember your Sitemap

Jan 27, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine optimization, seo, sitemaps  //  Comments Off

There are many key elements once you’ve built your website which you need to stay on top of, besides trying to focus on search engine optimization. Updating content, perhaps having a blog or a Twitter account with which to interact with customers/clients, and if your niche demands it, publishing a newsletter or email campaign to keep subscribers in touch.

In the background of your website, there’s also another element which needs consistent attention. Everytime you add a page to your website, create a new form or maybe add a photo album, your sitemap needs to be attended to. A sitemap is exactly as the name implies, it’s a table of contents for every page on your site. If you add, change, or remove pages, you also need to update your sitemap to reflect the changes. Typically your sitemap will be in xml or html format, but the important point is: it needs to be updated everytime you make a change.

Until now, there’s never really been a way to validate your sitemap without waiting for a short while until the search engines pass by your site to index it. At that point you could sign into your webmaster tools or site analytics and verify that you’ve either done things right, or if you needed to make some adjustments. But now for those who may be a little less technically inclined, Google has added the ability to test your sitemap before the spiders get to it, to make sure that everything is done correctly. This update, as well as a handful of other new and upcoming changes to their site tools are detailed on their blog post.

Social Search – Google Wasn’t First

Jan 26, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, internet, internet news, search, social media  //  Comments Off

Over the last couple of weeks people have been hacking and slashing at Google because they’ve rolled out a change to how your results pages show up when you conduct a search. They’ve dubbed the change “Search plus Your World” and the idea is you receive Google+ data while signed into your Google account and conduct a search. Personally, I really don’t see the issue with their idea and here’s why.

Number one reason, if you’re signed into your Google account, searching Google.com, why would it surprise you to find publicly available information from Google+ in your results pages if it’s relevant? And from all of the screenshots of the integrated social results, a click of a button and they’re gone. Another argument I’ve seen about Google integrating the information into the SERPs is they are prioritizing its own content instead of linking out to third-party sites, which arguably is the whole point of a search engine. Valid point to bring up, but again, you can simply shut the option off with a few clicks at most. In the online world where 800 million or so people are used to the “opt-out” model thanks to Facebook, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken this long for another major web player to try it. Twitter and Facebook even backed a small browser bookmark of sorts to help cull out the Google+ results from your results pages. It’s outraged enough people, that bloggers are already forcasting that Bing is the new King of Search.

It’s perhaps those last two points which contributed to my puzzlement. For all of the people up in arms with Google and switching over to Bing, I can only assume two things. You were born on January 1, 2012 and you don’t have a Facebook account; amazing really considering there are so many. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article stabbing at the changes Google has recently made:

The new feature is baked right into Google and aims to personalize your search results by including Google+ data when you are signed into your Google account.

And here, is an excerpt from an article written in May 2011:

The worlds of SEO and social media were rocked the other day when Bing announced they will incorporate Facebook data into their search results for the most personal social-search integration to hit the web. What does this mean for the user? If you search for something on Bing and are logged into your Facebook account, you will see which pages, products and websites your friends Like and recommend high in the results, regardless of where that page ranks in the general SERP.

Perhaps Facebook should recite the idiom, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as Bing and Facebook have been at social search integration coming up quickly on a year of implementation.

Solve the SEO Puzzle

Jan 24, 2012   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, content, copywriting, Google, internet, internet strategy, seo, yahoo  //  Comments Off

With the influx of so many SEO “experts” into the field over the last few years, it’s not really a surprise when discussion topics begin to crop up about some old topics. The most recent discussion which has had me pondering who might actually work with this individual, involved one of these aforementioned experts.

Apparently they’ve noticed that when they made content changes on their website, it has zero impact on their search rankings. The point which this began to bother me, is somewhere along the way this search engine otpimization expert had learned or decided that your content was what would make you or break you online. That is true to an extent, but just like you need more than just flour to make a cake, your content isn’t the only factor that will make your website king. Content is not the only piece of the puzzle, just like social isn’t, just like working for quality links isn’t, just like a properly coded and built web site isn’t. They’re all pieces in the SEO puzzle, they need to be put together properly and completely to make you a leader in your field.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo have maintained for years that the content of your website is tantamount to your ranking within the SERPs, but it’s not the only deciding factor. Your tags, your headers, your images all tell a story to the spiders who digest your content and file your website accordingly. If you own a business which makes blue shoes and your content is about red umbrellas with tagged pictures of yellow bananas, then you’re not going to get too far on the SERPs for any term as you’re not relevant to any of them. If however, you’ve created your website, developed your content around blue shoes, provided and tagged pictures of them and optimized your web site properly? You will be viewed as highly relevant should anyone search for the topic ‘blue shoes’ online.

I think the best way to describe how content relates to your SERPs appearance would be – your content is how you tell the spiders who you are. If your content is relevant to all of the elements present on your website, you will be rewarded for your hard work. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to craft your content to be as relevant to your niche as possible, then there should be no surprise if you do not appear in the index for terms you may wish to rank for.

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