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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s been a shift in the algorithm lately, as most in search are aware of and it may have a little to do with a Google blog post recently put up. In it, Google commented on websites with heavy advertising at the top of the page, forcing visitors to search for the actual content and about how things are going to change.
From their post it reads that there are complaints about having to basically search for results twice on the web. When a user clicks on what they deem the most relevant to their search and they’re greeted with a website which is heavy with advertisements on the top of the page; they’re needing to search the website again for their content. Top heavy advertisements on websites were mentioned as being so heavily populated with ads, a user has to scroll to even begin to find content. Google also mentioned that for going forward, those websites which are advertisement heavy, ‘may not rank as highly as before’.
Now don’t fret if you have an ad block on your website, you’re not going to be kicked into the basement of search. This change is going to affect less than 1% of searches conducted globally. So unless you’re in the business of having tons of spam on your webpages, you should be just fine. As usual when there are any kind of algorithm changes, no doubt in a few days the ‘end of SEO’ will be heralded online for the beginning of the year. But those who have been playing the game from the beginning, who helped shape just how search works and hammer out the rules, they should be the ones you watch. Until it comes from one of the real search experts that SEO is dead, I’ll just keep on plugging along.
An optimized website
What they say: Even if you don’t actually sell products online, a website gives potential customers and investors the opportunity to find out more about you and your company. For a website to be effective and bring new customers and investors to your doors it needs to be seen. Search engine optimization can help position your website on the first few pages of the search engines which means it’s much more likely to receive visitors.
As well as ensuring the copywriting on your website is optimized with keywords, you need to make sure your web developers or designers have created an SEO friendly website.
With 65,000 new websites coming online every day, not including new pages and blog added to existing websites daily the chances of you ever seeing high traffic and rankings without a BIG cost is near on impossible. Nobody ever mentions the cost do they.
Fact: Investment for marketing the website from approx. $1500 – $20,000 per month depending on size and your competition.
Active social media channels
What they say: Having a profile set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (plus the numerous other social media networks) isn’t enough. For your social media campaign to be a success you need to continually interact with your network.
And to be honest who gives a crap what bus stop or pizza shop you’re at or what you have just eaten, Your top score on a farm game or flirting teens pretending while the parents are out. Get a life. Limited for business unless very local.
Fact: A full-time job to do it properly along with a full-time salary approx. $30,000 – $50,000 per annum.
An up to date blog
What they say: Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to forge an identity for yourself online. Blogs allow you to share your expertise with your visitors and it encourages them to see you as a leading authority in your industry sector. As you build up your blog with opinion pieces, news stories and reviews you will create an online resource for your blog visitors.
Fact: Takes your time and money, time is money or employ someone to do it, another salary.
While there is a lot of information and help out there to get you started, do not be taken in by all the BS that people and company’s shovel out. Sure Google also has SEO guidelines which cover what you should and should not be doing in order to create a well optimized website. Check it out Rand at SEOMoz have a multitude of free blogs, videos and podcasts on their website to help people understand the basic (and more advanced) SEO techniques too, but the cold hard facts are it takes time, money and knowledge to be a real player. As I have said many times, pay peanuts and you will get monkey’s.
As a small business if you don’t have at least $20k a year to throw at marketing your online presence, forget it, you will never even scratch the surface, if some company gives you bullshit about the must have Facebook, twitter and rest accounts, run for the hills, these usually are the wannabe online marketers, with sharp tongues (usually forked) and snappy suits. You can get business from social, but it’s limited, search is and has been #1 from the start and will continue for a very long time.
Ask yourself what you do when you want something, whether on your phone, laptop or desktop, you search first.
Opinions are those of the writer.