Category Archives: Google

Are You Participating?

In just a few more hours, the internet will be officially on strike in demonstration of the resistance being put forth versus the SOPA bill currently trying to be pushed in the States. There are a great number of sites ‘going dark’ in support of the event, with the idea that it will give web users an indication as to what the web may be like, should this bill, or any like it, come to pass.

Some popular web destinations like Reddit which bills itself as the front page of the internet, Facebook, Wikipedia, Tucows and even Google are gearing up to participate in tomorrows black out. There is some very strong language circulating where SOPA is concerned, going so far as to even name the bill an attack on free speech on the web. Those who support the bill being passed are deeming the blackout as a knee jerk reaction, trying to emphasize the bill in a bad light, the documents are out there for you to make your own decision.

Google has come along with a handy dandy guide as well, to assist with going dark in support of tomorrows events, which also come in handy should you need some downtime to work on your website. The advice comes in the form of enabling a 503 header return for your website which is your way to tell web spiders to come back later, your site is currently unavailable. This handy implementation will work should you decide to be part of tomorrows protest and come in handy should you need to work on your site in an emergency.

It’s fairly easy to return the 503 instruction for bots, especially if you have root access on your server. Adding the following line to your .htaccess file can take care of it for you:

RewriteRule .* /path/to/file/myerror503page.php

just adjust the instruction in accordance to your webserver. What this will do, is redirect visitors to your site to the error page for you, as well as taking care of any spiders poking around so as not to thwart any search engine optimization efforts you’ve been working on for your site.

How the Internet Got Started

How did the internet get started? Here is one story you might find interesting :-)

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?

And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “How, dear?”

And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.” And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.”

And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

That is how it all began. And that’s the truth.

Google Punishes Itself

So Google made a little bit of a blunder with their Chrome advertising it seems and what was the end result? Well perhaps the best way to understand what happened and it’s ensuing result, the algorithm needs to be a little more understood.

The Google search algorithm was intentionally designed to go out and read as much of the content of the web as it could find. It pays no heed to race, color or quality of the content. It doesn’t care how pretty your pictures are, how impressive your flash intro is or how quickly you can flip through your menu items on your navigation bar. It takes in the content of the web and spits it out when you ask it a question. It’s because it’s so simple that there needed to be filters put into place and penalties levied against people who either managed either by accident or on purpose to get around the quality controls put in place.

Paying for pagerank, that intangible mega star of the Google world, is a heavily punishable offence in the quality control guidelines. So it came as a rather big surprise when it was found suddenly, that Google was seemingly paying for advertising which was passing pagerank to its Google Chrome web page. The skeptics of the web automatically assumed that the Google machine would just shrug, apologize to the web, as they didn’t intend for it to happen, and everyone would be on their way. The outcome however, was actually the opposite.

Matt Cutts, via is Google+ account had the following to say of the incident:

“Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent result of that. If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome… we did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank.. we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines”

So okay, it was found out there was a minor slip in what was intended and what was the actual result, so what did they do?

“In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”

If anyone ever questioned as to whether the machine would point it’s gun at itself, question no longer. As the webspam team has shown, no one is above the rules set with quality searches in mind. So bear in mind when you next work on your websites SEO, ensure that you’re following the best practices and the search guidelines readily found all over the web, else you’ll find yourself flung deeper into the ranks than you could imagine.

Google Loves Canada

Google marked its 10th year in Canada by nearly doubling the size of its staff here and the Mountain View, Calif.-based company intends to make its Canadian presence even larger in 2012.

“Canada is one of the fastest growing markets for Google and it’s one of our big bets corporately. It’s a market that Google is very committed to and investing in heavily in terms of resources and growing very, very quickly,” said Eric Morris, head of mobile advertising at Google Canada.

Mr. Morris was one of the first two Google employees to set up shop in Canada after the company first moved north in 2001. When asked if Google might double its Canadian staff again in 2012, from its current roster of about 300 employees, he said “hopefully.”

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/generic/generated/static/business/article2285273.html#ixzz1hrp5Oh4g

2011 Website Audit & Construction Guidelines

If you’re building yourself a website for the purposes of getting your brand out there and it’s your first foray into online marketing, there are some key points you need to keep in mind. Whether it’s your first step into digitizing your presence, or you’re well versed with the jargon, a refresher course is always a prudent way to dissect your presence and how effective your search engine optimization has been implemented.

How is your content written? Is it clearly worded for visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for? Or have you crammed your pages with industry specific terms which only those ‘in the know’ could have any knowledge of? When you’re creating content for your website, new or established you need to keep your target demographic in mind. You also need to bear in mind the overall theme of your site as you create your content. Your keyword balance needs to in the forefront of your mind as does your target audience.

You should take the time to examine your website navigation and how your pages flow as you follow your pages. Is your menu well ordered and intuitive to the user? Or do you have it crammed with every single page within your website? Just because you may offer 35 different services as a company, doesn’t mean you need to build your menu with a flyout of 35 different pages. A sitemap takes care of a great deal of the indexing for the robots and allows them to follow it to double check your links for you.

A consideration to keep in mind as well, what is your target area. Are you searching for multi-national rankings, or do you want to own your local market. Your site needs to be tailored to your needs, sometimes shooting for a smaller target, can lead to larger gains as time goes on. These are only just a few of the good practices you should employ as a website owner or builder, but they’ll go a long way towards helping reach your goal of ranking well on the SERPs.

10 Google Search Changes

Google has announced 10 search changes – a mix of algorithmic, crawling, and user interface updates. Better long-tail indexing and parked domain detection are among the announced changes. Additionally, Google has committed to writing a new post with algorithm updates each month.

Google LogoThe 10 Changes

Here’s a quick breakdown of the 10 changes and what they mean for you:

  1. “Related query results refinements.” More results will be excluded when synonyms and related terms conflict with other words or phrases in the search query.
  2. “More comprehensive indexing.” Google is getting better at finding long-tail documents, making long-tail optimization even more important.
  3. “New ‘parked domain’ classifier.” Google now detects parked domains more easily, making them less likely to show up in the SERP.
  4. “More autocomplete predictions.” Does what it says.
  5. “Fresher and more complete blog search results.” Blog content now has a faster and deeper indexing system, making your blog even more valuable and likely to surface on the SERP.
  6. “Original content.” Google has “added new signals to help us make better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.” In other words, Google has added some scraper counter-measures.
  7. “Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League.” Does what it says.
  8. “Image result freshness.” Google is now better at finding fresh images for news queries.
  9. “Layout on tablets.” Tablet users will see some changes in the color and layout that make Google more usable.
  10. “Top result selection code rewrite.” The code that “ensures that we don’t show too many results from one site” has been rewritten. While it will behave the same as before, it is now “easier to understand, simpler to maintain, and more flexible for future ex tensions.”

Rob D. Young

Bing Removes Sites From SERPs?

Did Bing play dirty over the shopping holidays? If you tried at all this most recent Cyber Monday to use the Bing search engine, the signs currently point to yes, they did play dirty with their results.

The creators of the idea of Cyber Monday, found themselves lost in Bings search listings because according to Bing their content was too “thin”. If the term is familiar, it’s because it sounds a lot like Google-speak when they started rolling out the infamous Panda updates and culling “thin content” based websites from their index. A difference to note however, Panda didn’t actually remove the offenders from the index, it just meant the odds of those sites ranking well plummeted.

Back now to Bings version of taking care of thin content and removing websites which fall into this category. Cyber Monday is now a billion dollar online shopping event, where website owners have the opportunity to make some good money heading into the holiday shopping weeks. If a site which could promise and deliver strong referrals could rank well, they would also stand to make a fair bit of change. Shop.org came up with the term Cyber Monday in ’05 and a year later created the corresponding website, cybermonday.com. This past Cyber Monday Google had the website in their SERPs, while Bing did not. Bing did however, have their shopping channel listed at the top of their results for searching cyber monday.

Bing has stated previously that they will dispense internet justice on sites deemed unworthy to be listed as part of their SERPs, but completely removing any and all traces of a site? Bing defines spam as:

Some pages captured in our index turn out to be pages of little or no value to users and may also have characteristics that artificially manipulate the way search and advertising systems work in order to distort their relevance relative to pages that offer more relevant information. Some of these pages include only advertisements and/or links to other websites that contain mostly ads, and no or only superficial content relevant to the subject of the search. To improve the search experience for consumers and deliver more relevant content, we might remove such pages from the index altogether, or adjust our algorithms to prioritize more useful and relevant pages in result sets.

So by removing the cybermonday.com website, if Bing were to stick to their guidelines they should remove all “thin” websites which fell under the same blanket. Yet they did not entirely and websites which feature almost identical content to the cybermonday.com website still appeared in their results. To further muddy the waters, the Bing powered search results which were served up in Yahoo would turn up Black Friday “websites” which would be deemed even thinner than the Cyber Monday website. With all the fuss that Bing was putting up about Google favoring their own results over all others, this sure doesn’t look well on the Bing radar. The Panda updates may drop websites rank if they’re found as being too thin a website, but at least they’re not completely removing them from the index ala Bing.

Google Makes Updates

“From destruction comes opportunity…”

Most people panic and throw in the towel when Google makes updates. That’s why so many “amateurs” never make it in the marketing game.

On the other hand, professionals are prepared. They constantly push forward and test everything to see what works. Also, when the amateurs get wiped out, that makes more room for professionals like us to rule the landscape.

So, are you an amateur or professional?

“What works in the aftermath…”

Surprisingly, the same tried and true, quality promotion tactics are still the best. (We can say this because we have over twelve years of experience living through all these updates)

But, the difference is HOW you do it. It’s the PROCESS and the FLOW that has changed. The promotional steps change, and the timing changes. See, you can’t just randomly promote your sites and build links anymore. You have to time everything properly. Otherwise Google will not reward you.

So, the frequency of your promotions has to change. And the order of your promotions has to change. Listen, we’ve been dealing with updates like this from Google for over a decade. And it’s really not that scary when you understand what Google wants.

The problem is that Google always modifies what they want, and when they want it. What’s more, is they aren’t very good at telling you what they want. That’s where it gets confusing. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes they’re extreme. The good news is we’ve always come out ahead and now so can you! Call us Today for help.

Detecting Hijacked Search Results

I had an odd occurence recently in terms of how search is evolving and it involved a rogue browser extension. It’s mildly annoying when you have a toolbar become installed in your browser of choice, but it’s frustrating when it’s installed without your expressed knowledge, say by having the install clause buried in a EULA for another program.

The rogue extension in question was Surf Canyon, a real time search reorganizer would be the short description. With the internet being comprised of literally trillions of web pages, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo are the big hitters in locating what you need online. They all offer their own pros and cons, Google is the weapon of choice for the majority of searchers out there for the past 10+ years.

Real time search results have become a challenge for all of the search players, with everyone working to get a solid solution to serving up relevant results which compliment the current organic offerings. The idea behind Surf Canyon extension is that it personalizes the web for you as you search. A fine enough idea, what was actually noticed however was the extension has somewhat a mind of it’s own.

It was noticed rather quickly that the extension was trying to build a completely new set of search results based on past searches conducted. Not an uncommon practice really for a toolbar or extension built with the intent of trying to assist you in finding what you’re interested in. What was quickly noticed however, was the extension was embedding false links into websites and webpages that were being visited. Worked much like a javascript overlay you see on some review sites which give you a popup information box when your mouse passes over them, the links which were generated brought you to a new search page which was “powered by Bing”, in a Chrome browser to boot.

Toolbars are a nuisance in a browser, fake links on webpages are a pain as you don’t really know what’s real and what isn’t without clicking. But a browser extension which supplants false links into webpages which you know have no outgoing links? That’s poor business practice and sketchy access to a computer and browser history.

Who To Trust? Google vs Bing

Is Bing more biased than Google when it comes to the results pages? In research that has been gaining traction as of late, the answer seems to be yes. It wasn’t a directed study on a few select terms either, it was a large random sampling of the SERPs conducted by a professor at George Mason University.

What he found in the tests that he conducted was that for the most part, Bing will favor Microsoft content more often and more prominently, than Google favors its own content. According to the findings, Google references its own content in its first results position in just 6.7% of queries, while Bing provides search result links to Microsoft content more than twice as often (14.3%). The percentages may seem small, but when you consider there are billions of searches performed daily, suddenly 14% isn’t such a small number.

The findings also cast a different light on the recent FTC antitrust complaints which Google has been handling surrounding anti-competitive behaviour. It’s also a stark contrast to a similar study done earlier in the year, which concluded that “Google intentionally places its results first.” So now as a user with two completely different data points, which is the set to believe?

Well the second study which has been conducted had two goals in mind : To replicate the findings of the first study and to also expand on the methods used to determine if it was perhaps an issue in how the results came about. From the very beginning, it was found that while Google does favor its own content at some points, the selection of terms is exceedingly small. What was also learned and wasn’t mentioned in the first study, Bing does precisely the same in preferring Microsoft results, but for a much wider range of terms than Google does and is much more likely to do so. “For example, in our replication of Edelman & Lockwood, Google refers to its own content in its first page of results when its rivals do not for only 7.9% of the queries, whereas Bing does so nearly twice as often (13.2%)”

As for the second part of the study, the study used a much larger, more random sampling of search queries as opposed to the only 32 samples that the first study used to portray Google as the big bad guy of search. And the findings of the second study were related in the beginning of the post; Google references own content in its first results position when no other engine does in just 6.7% of queries, while Bing does so over twice as often (14.3%).

So, what does this mean as an end user?: Google (and Bing, though less so) really are trying to deliver the best results possible, regardless of whether they come from their own services (local search, product search, etc) or not. It all comes down to preference.