Category Archives: internet marketing

The Last Resort in SEO

There’s been a number of changes in the search world over the past 15 years since it’s pseudo birth, but the changes that have happened in the last 12 months have been some of the largest ever. There have been the Panda updates, the Penguin changes, and the EMD (exact match domain) changes that have made search engine optimization a much more interesting job. And not that they’re the only search engine in the game, but leave it to Google to make the most news with any change, seeing as they own the vast majority of the market.

I’ve outlined what can happen when you make a mistake and breach one of the rules set forth by the engines. You can take a rankings hit, you could suffer a penalty in the form of maybe losing some (Google) Page Rank, or you could even be completely removed from the index if you’ve accumulated enough ‘strikes’ against your website or url. As search engine optimization experts it is our job to ensure that ourselves, nor our clients fall into any of the multitude of pitfalls which you can find yourself in. None of these scenarios are unrecoverable, although making sure to get back into the good graces of the search engines will take some time and an extensive SEO skillset.

However if you don’t have time, or any search engine optimization skills under your belt, or maybe you don’t have the budget to bring in the real search experts, there is a solution for your business. It is one which will still take time, but you don’t have to worry so much about the SEO skills initially, because you’re going to start down the road of rebranding. Completely rebuilding your brand image is really a last resort option to take for your business, as it can take almost a year to return to the search results pages. If you’ve found yourself far enough up the creek that rebranding is a more viable option than repairing the mistakes you’ve made, perhaps it’s time for an evaluation of your job description.

Google Gains and Losses

With Google making their gaff and releasing their earnings numbers in the middle of the day as opposed to the end of day, it caused a bit of excitement. So much do in fact, that trading on their stock had to be halted, due to their earnings being lower than expected.

The market had already been aggressive with the stock, estimating positive growth in the company. With the final numbers coming in lower than what was expected, it caused the knee jerk reaction that the stock experienced. But just how is it, that one of the most powerful online properties failed to increase earnings when they picked up notable acquisitions like Motorola? Perhaps the answer isn’t as complex as it seems on the surface.

When it comes to search there is a handful of (viable) options for being found online, Google, Bing etc. But one of the avenues that mostly levels the search playing field is paid search, or PPC. Pay per click is almost the gear equalizer, as it’s limited to daily budget and doesn’t have any real bearing on age of domain or rely on heavy back linking strategies, you just need to write a better ad than the other guy. The issue we’ve been seeing in the last 8 months or so is the cost per click on client campaigns, previous costs ran in the 35 to 40 cent range where now we’re seeing increases to the 3 dollar plus range.

It makes it vastly difficult for anyone who doesn’t have a budget of several hundred dollars, equating to budgets of several thousand dollars per month. Short term gains are much more difficult for the mid to small business owner and who knows, maybe a direct correlation was their bottom line.

SEO Myths and Where They Start

The myths surrounding SEO are many, everything ranging from what the algorithm contains, how to trick the engines to rank highly with no effort and everything in between. Just like all rumors, they have a beginning, and it seems someone is trying to start a new on on the Webmaster World forums.

A site owner who has ended up being ‘Penguinized’ on his site as he put it, has become overly paranoid about any and all content on his site. He has basically decided, that all user generated content is a potential red flag for spam on his site, and as a result had currently removed/disabled all of the content. The (potential) birth of the SEO myth that user generated content, comments, forums, or other ways to directly interact with your customers, can lead to a Google applying a penalty to your site.

Without any confusion, user generated content will notlead to any penalty to be levied against your site.

It’s topics like this one started on active forums and blogs that lead to a great deal of confusion in the search world. It might seem like an inoccuous discussion taking place in a proper forum by someone looking for information, but with the way the discussion was handled it has the potential to lead to long lasting repurcussions. Because what often ends up happening is someone new to the search world finds these posts, and begins to believe them and the myth continues, changes, and unfortunately grows.

Google Disavow Tool Live

And finally after being patient for the last few months, site owners with a Google webmaster account have the final say over how links to your site are treated. From the Google webmaster blog:

Today we’re introducing a tool that enables you to disavow links to your site. If you’ve been notified of a manual spam action based on “unnatural links” pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue.

This is going to be a great tool to add into your toolkit if you use webmaster tools directly, and if you don’t you should check that your site manager is keen on what the tool can actually do for you. A quick rundown of how links to your site affect you – you create content, and if it’s unique content that is relevant to your niche then users will generate a link to that page. These links are used as a factor when determining relevance in the results pages for the terms you may wish to rank for, and if you’ve created great content then the links will follow. More links is used as a measure of relevance, so the more the better. Well there’s a downside to links and that happens if you have too many ‘unnatural’ links pointing to your site. That would be having links from a plumbing site pointing back to your website on shoe sales, the two topics are irrelevant to each other. The recourse you had as a site owner in this instance was to contact the website that posted the link to your site and asked to have it removed, it was then out of your hands and left for them to deal with, and until it was you could be handed a stiff penalty from search engines.

The problem with that scenario is after you’ve notified the site owner to remove your link, you no longer had control of what happens next. But with the addition of the disavow tool in Google, you can now take matters into your own hands and manage the backlinks coming into your site. it’s a great step in cleaning up the web and improving the relevance of the search results overall. You can find out more about the disavow tool here.

Google Has A Search Bubble?

Google has always had the spotlight when it comes to search since it revolutionized the way users access the web. It’s grown to a point where in the last year they consolidated all of the privacy clauses into one, giant blanket one that affected all of their online properties.

It wasn’t a major change in the way you use any property that Google owns, as for the most part the privacy policies contained the same verbiage, but a recent ruling in the EU may cause everything to be backtracked. It was decided that because Google didn’t offer an out clause on the new blanket privacy policy, that it breaks the use privacy laws in the EU. If the decision stands, then the door may be open for every other country to take up arms and work at forcing the company to revert back to it’s old way of handling privacy policy. Not that it would really affect anything, all the change to a single policy did was serve to streamline usage of Google websites and properties. Change is always a good thing online, however taking a step backwards is typically viewed as the wrong direction.

An example of moving forward with search, I’ve mentioned a handful of times in the blog, is the DuckDuckGo search engine. Recently the small search company produced a video where they talked about how Google has each use caught in what they called a search bubble. Where they took more than 100 users, ensured they were not signed into their Google accounts and had them conduct searches on specific terms and captured their results.

What they found, was that even when the users were not signed into their accounts, and even in the same geographical area, they received differing results pages. It’s not a revelatory video really, as Google isn’t the only company on the web that utilizes browser cookies to determine who a user is and what they may like. Not to discredit what DuckDuckGo is hinting at, but with such a small sampling, and by allowing users to use their personal computers without clearing any session cookies, it’s no wonder the results were different for each user. Perhaps with the addition of a control group, a group of 20 users or so who were using completely clean installs of a browser and OS would help balance their results.

Google Still Owns Search

The numbers for the past month in search came out, and while seeing Google on the top for the majority share, what was somewhat disheartening was the continuing slide of the Yahoo position.

There’s been no real shift in the overall numbers, Google is still sitting at just over 2/3 of the search share, and Bing is following up with just 15% share. Yahoo slipped even further than the previous months, to just around 12%, giving the combined search engine just shy of 30% of the market. Yahoo was one of the primary search engines and one of the first to roll out a paid search marketing platform so to see them slip further out of the limelight of relevancy. Change however, is inevitable and is always a good thing for all parties involved.

The search share numbers aren’t terribly surprising in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps it was the additons of Panda and Penguin to the equation, but the number crunchers are at it again. On the webmaster forums there is discussion going on what the current algorithm may contain and how it might use analytics to help rank the sites in the index.

Some interesting theories are coming out of the discussion, mainly because no one outside of Google really knows the process for ranking the sites within the index. Google has mentioned previously that they don’t use any search data from their Chrome browser, and the running theory so far is the idea that the search giant is using click data from ISPs. In the end it’s only the team at Google who really knows how the engine ranks it’s results.

Always Practice Safe Search

There’s been a small surge of malware reports coming from the searches via Bing and Google, which really isn’t news in and of itself as they’re always buried within the results somewhere. But what is different, is that more than 90% of image results were found to be malware related on some terms.

The most targeted term this time around happens to be “Emma Watson”, whom McAfee has named their most dangerous celebrity search of 2012. Of the two engines, 30% of Googles searches had malware warnings attached and more than double that came out of Bings results. Malware take overs happen in a couple of different ways, one of the most frequent are websites built with little to no security written in, and then there are throw away websites and urls used purely for the spread of malware on the web.

Black hat SEOs typically go after the hottest search terms and poke around the web looking for websites which have loop holes in it’s security. They actively work to hijack the website and it’s url, to help lend false authority to what ever term they’re wanting to spam. And because uneducated or hasty users tend to automatically trust the top results in the search engines, the spread of malware will continue.

Because of the recent discoveries that image results are getting slammed with malicious results, where the text results pages are beginning to be left behind, Bing has been unofficially dubbed (currently) the most poisonous search engine. The only reason that the moniker has been attached to the search service is due to the recent report about malicious websites being targeted at image searches now as opposed to the text results pages. Not to fret however, as Bing and Google will take steps to close those holes which have been opened in the image results, and in the meantime just be a little more cautious before clicking that top image of your favorite star.

Google Credit Cards for Business

Google is getting into the credit business for the  first time, with the launch on Monday of a programme in the UK to finance  purchases of its online advertising by businesses.

The move marks the opening of a new front in the battle between the biggest  internet companies, as they turn to their balance sheets as a source of  competitive advantage. Amazon said last week that it had begun making loans to  independent sellers that offer their products on its marketplace, marking the  online retailer’s first move into financial services.

Google’s decision to issue its own credit card, which will also be made  available in the US within weeks and other unspecified countries later, signals  the company’s first attempt to use its huge cash reserves to support its core  search advertising business by subsidising low-interest rate credit lines.

It said it would offer customers credit of between $200 and $100,000 a month  to pay for their use of Adwords, which places messages next to the results in  its search engine and made up the bulk of its $37bn in advertising revenues last  year.

Read full story here

Twitter SEO, Provides profile directory to search engines

So they worked together until the 2011 fallout when twitter supplied real time results to Google, now twitter is getting more into SEO, who said it was dead?

After changing it’s robot.txt file some weeks back, twitter has now let the search engines, Google, Bing and others checkout there user profile directory, basically a sitemap of all the users, this of course will help people find the accounts they’re looking for with various search engines.

According to reports Google has indexed 718,000 matching results, Bing with it’s renowned slower bot has only got the directory home page at present but will surely get the others sometime soon.

So SEO still lives on, well in the eyes of social media sites anyway.

Infographic: Who says SEO is Dead

Came across this great infographic by Aaron Wall at SEOBook, what I found most interesting was the deluded people mentioned, here at Fresh Traffic we have been coming across people like this from day one of the internet. The truth of the matter is that most people who say or mention this are on the list, why? simple they cannot do it.

Click to enlarge to pdf version