An odd job that every site owner should make sure to take the time to do for themselves, is to always be on the lookout for new, or soon to be opportunities. The way these opportunities can manifest themselves for your business vary, you could see increased foot traffic at physical stores, or if you have a strictly online position that your conversion rate on your site has improved.
Be aware of any of the changes in your city and target demographics. Whether your aim is to make sales, or to have people sign up for a news letter, your first hurdle to get over is the one of visibility. If you can’t be found for the newest gizmo in your niche, then you may as well not even sell them. Google and Bing both have a handy tool which you can use to get a feel for how your niche tracks. Bings Keyword Tool allows you to discover search trends over the last few months, and allows you to see how trends which initially move slowly, can suddenly fly up the rankings.
The tool that Google has available is their Trends Tool and it’s a different version of the Bing one. Trends has recently been merged with one of their other tools, Insights for Search, and has become a research gem. You can conduct research on as small an area as a few weeks, or as far back as 2004, you can get readings from a much larger base and it paints a larger picture for you to make decisions on.
Historical tools and data are amazing in helping you make clearer decisions where your market is possibly heading, especially now that we’re heading into the Christmas shopping season. As an example, in 2010 in the US alone there was $30 billion spent in online shopping, and in 2011 that number rose to $35 billion. You don’t need a large sample picture to guess, that number is only going to increase again. This is where Freshtraffic comes in, research your niche, decide on your target and come to us as soon as possible. We’ll help you reach the commanding position you need to take a bite of the (possibly) $40 billion+ online shopping pie.
Organic search engine optimization is the bigger puzzle to Adwords. It’s a tougher to work with, there’s no way to buy your way to the top, and when you’re competing against (possibly) millions of local web pages it can be a tough nut to crack. It’s these more difficult steps which are some of the larger deciding factors as to the cost of any given SEO campaign, and yet it seems to be the largest point of contention when contract discussions come up.
Late last year there was a brief survey conducted about the costs of SEO, and contrary to what some may believe, here at Fresh we’re right on target. For example, we’re working on going on year 6 here in Winnipeg, and while (according to the information gathered) that puts us on the downward slope of those surveyed, it really does show that there was a boom in the industry on a whole. We’re not shy in saying that ever since Jerry arrived and began working his online magic that all of a sudden there were 40-50 SEO “experts” within a year, where as previous there were no players.
We also like to work closely with our clients, as do most of those who were surveyed, and we all enjoy working hands on with the SEO changes after conducting some proper keyword research. Link building is also in our repetoire, as is content suggestions, however we like to shy away from directly creating your content for you, as no one knows your business like you do. As for what just that fraction of our expertise costs you as a client? If you head down to section 9 of the survey results, you’ll find the monthly retainer fees of those surveyed. If you’re an existing client of ours, you’ll know exactly where you stand, and if you’re not, then what are you waiting for? Here you have before you a representation of the projected costs of retaining a true expert in the field of SEO and online branding, you should think of your existing marketing expenses, compare them to the average of the surveyed results. Factor in that organic SEO is the highest return on investment in marketing available and make the (right) decision, we’ll wait.
There’s another minor change coming shortly with Google Adwords campaigns, it’s not exactly something new, but it’s a change that will affect those who are less diligent in the campaigns.
Google has always been a stickler for content, no matter how you feel about the company or the way it conducts it’s search business, that’s always been the case. With the trillions of web pages out there, sometimes the job of finding the most relevant results per search can be difficult, but they do their best. The advantage they have with the Adwords platform however, is they’re able to monitor if you’re actually following the rules they laid down. One of the bigger rules that the search engine has finally decided to become tough on, is just where your ads point too. From the Adwords blog:
Our existing policy has required each sitelink in a campaign to link to a different landing page. That means a user would have a meaningfully different experience on the landing page from each sitelink.
The reason that the company is going to start laying the smack down? They’ve done some checking and noticed that multiple ads are all heading back to the same page, a no-no in their guidelines.
What is going to happen moving forward is basic, initially the Adwords team will focus primarily on the new ads and campaigns that are created, ensuring that the landing pages are unique. If your link matches an existing page, your campaign will only list one of the two, the other will be restricted from showing up. The idea of the enforcement is obvious, they want to give everyone the chance to appear on the results, the best way to do that is to make sure everyone is following the rules they’ve set out. Now don’t fret, and exclaim that you need to tear down all of your campaigns and rebuild them from scratch. The folks over on the Adwords team realize that this isn’t a small effort to take care of your sitelinks so enforcement for existing links will be a few months out. This will affect all new sitelinks going forward at first.
Canada is still really coming into it’s own online, and perhaps Google has come up with the right idea to encourage some growth. The Google eTown award is designed to recognize those towns where small businesses are investing in online tools and resources to find new customers, grow their business, and improve their operations.
Chris O’Neill, Managing Director of Google Canada
“We’re delighted to recognize the accomplishments of the small businesses embracing the web in each of these cities,” said, we know that the Internet is going to contribute massively to Canada’s economic growth..”
We’ve been saying for a few years here at Fresh, that online business is still coming into it’s own for all us Canucks, hopefully this new incentive will help spur things along. They’re not playing any favorites, and have divided the country up into 5 zones, Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, and BC & North. This year the 5 winners are: Moncton New Brunswick, Dorval Québec, Parry Sound Ontario, Canmore Alberta, and Duncan British Columbia.
Across each of the winning towns, business has discovered that the Internet became a vital tool for reaching new customers and engaging with existing ones. In recognition of their eTown status, Google Canada will be presenting the awards to each city during events throughout October. Local businesses will be invited to attend and meet Google experts who will be on hand to provide advice on growing your business online. Actively working on your brand image is one of the key initiatives that you need to pursue while growing online. Being able to translate your offline business into your online image is one of the goals you should be aiming for, and when you’re ready for that step, Freshtraffic is here to help.
It seems as though the walk into the past isn’t quite over yet, as it seems that just like the keywords tag making a comeback, so is another old search term, the Google dance. The folks over at Search Engine Land have been commenting, and there’s already been a handful of stories about the old two step.
If you’re new to the search world, or perhaps you are a site owner who monitors your overall performance in the results, there are some points we’ll go over about how the dance used to function. Summarized over on Marketing Land:
The Google Dance took its name from how the results at Google seemed to “dance” around when it unleashed a new search algorithm — Google’s recipe for ranking web pages — on the world. A search for a particular topic suddenly brought up a set of first page listings different than from the previous day. The listings might continue to change for a series of days until stabilizing around a new set.
So that crazy shifting of positions that had site owners shaking in their boots a few years back wasn’t just imagination kicking it, it was really happening. But this was also back when Google pushed site rankings every month manually as opposed to the auto updating that happens now.
It makes it seem like the efforts that we as search marketers put into building your site and it’s positioning aren’t worth it, but the truth is the dance actually proves the methods of search engine optimization. Just like sifting flour when baking to get the best possible cake mix, the dance leaves you better results all around. The only real question we have at the moment where online branding is concerned, is which dance are we going to be subjected to, the Panda version, or the Penguin version.
There’s always some sort of change in the way that search is handled, whether it’s Bing changing the way they handle images, Google with changing their total displayed results from 10 to 7 and continually testing different methods. Even tablets and mobile devices have their own unique way of handling searches and results, and Apple is no exception.
What Apple is doing however, is completely unique in the search world, mobile or otherwise. Bing displays ten results on a page and Google users sometimes see only seven results on a page, and Apple has decided to go with a single search result per page. It’s a strange move for any search provider to use only a single result per search, and puts a hurt on the mobile display market for the iOS 6 system. It’s just another new feature I’m guessing of the iOS 6 upgrade, to go along with their own version of the maps feature. Probably a good thing that Google is already posting their own map app on their store, maybe there will be an alternative for their search display soon.
And with the end of the week we’ve almost entirely completed moving the site to a new look and platform, hopefully you haven’t noticed the hiccups too much. We’ve made the move to an updated look and feel in order to bring the looks of the blog and the website together, and overall change is a good thing. Or as can be sometimes overheard when Sergei Brin is talking about the Google Glass project:
You either continue to evolve or you go extinct
There’s been a couple of Google updates in the last week, which has had a visible change on the results pages. One of the updates was fairly simply, it was a Panda update which according to the available information impacted less than 1% of searches. And the other update was in how the results page returns your search results.
The Panda update was another in a long string of updates designed to improve the overall search quality, and with the change affecting such a small sample if you’re following the rules then you shouldn’t perceive any issue. If you’re the numbers type of person, you can compare the less than 1% affected from this last update, to the 12% affected when Panda made it’s initial break out onto the web. One of the points to bear in mind as well with this news coming straight from Google, there may be some surprises in store under the hood of this latest update.
Maybe the extra they put into the Panda update has something to do with the tweet from Matt Cutts earlier this week?
Just fyi, we rolled out a small algo change this week that improves the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned.
Diversity in the search results is a great growing point, as it gives more opportunity for optimization to show it’s mettle. It’s possible, to have an entire first page of results completely dominated by a single website, if your optimization is that strong and your competitors are that weak. While the change was added only this week, reports are that it hasn’t yet been noticed in the bulk of the results.
And it’s a bit of a throwback to the beginnings of the web, but according to a recent posting, the keywords tag has returned. According to Google News Product Manager Rudy Galfi:
The goal is simple: empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users.
Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text.
A small difference in the way the news_keywords tag works, is you’re limited to 10 terms, likely to stop users from cramming as many terms as they like. It’s a new way to use an old tag, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the use plays out.
With your online branding and optimization strategies working at full steam, there’s even another metric which needs to be considered. It’s the realm of internet usage that’s so large, it has nearly double the install base that computers have. It’s also one of the most fastest growing methods to access the internet for product searches to purchases. So that begs the question, did you remember to factor in mobile optimization when you developed your strategies?
If you’ve forgotten to take this form of access in mind when building your site and strategies, there is no need to fret, you can still work your way into the results. Because it’s one of the fastest growing access methods around, it’s also one of the least explored where brands and branding are concerned. So what are some of the points to consider when you focus on your online branding going mobile? Well, your audience is using a phone, at most a tablet of some sort, and they don’t have the ability to long tail search easily. So their searches are going to be skewed towards the shorter term searches and especially towards local venues. They won’t be searching on Amazon for an item they’re wanting to pick up in the same day, so you need to ensure that your site is optimized for local searches as well.
The social angle, using reviews and capitalizing on trends are strong factors to bear in mind when your site is setup for mobile search. Knowing that your major brand is sponsoring a give away or a sale can be key to driving foor traffic through your door, easily facilitated by using your Facebook page or Twitter account. Make sure that your pages are designed to be viewable on a mobile device. There are hundresd of millions of users out there using phones and tablets to use the internet, but not all of them can display the web the same as a desktop pc can. You need to make sure that your pages are quick loading, and can fit on the displays of the mobile devices out there. It’s only a handful of tips to get your brand started on the mobile front, but it will get the ball rolling and the customers coming.
It’s been long clear that a search engine is a search engine, and there are a handful online that receive the majority of the traffic out there. Google, Bing and Yahoo are the usual methods which are used to search, with other sites like Blekko, Duckduckgo, and Ask also being used by those desiring a different experience. Facebook however, is one of the largest websites online, and with what is approaching a billion users, the world has been waiting to see if Facebook is going to try and enter the search arena.
Ever since Facebook has gone public, the stock has been a sort of tepid pool, with no real revenue model the online mutterings often go to the topic of a search engine. And when Mark Zuckerberg throws around statements akin to “Facebook is doing a billion searches per day without trying” the mutterings pick up some volume. In a recent Techcrunch interview, Zuck made it clear that the company realizes that there is a huge opportunity for a search engine with Facebook, but tempers that by also talking about how the way that users search is ever evolving.
“Search engines are evolving” to “giving you a set of answers,” Zuckerberg said. ”Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions people have. At some point we’ll do it,” he went on. “We have a team working on search.”
There are some real concerns about just how Facebook could leverage their massive user base as a search engine however, and it has less to do with spidering capabilities than it does privacy. The system as he briefly described and envisioned, would mean taking the opinions of your friends, family and contacts and trying to form a result for your query. Searching for terms like ‘best burger’ or ‘new batman movie reviews’ wouldn’t necessarily be informational, but would deliver you a list of opinions from your contact list. At any rate, it’s not happening today or tomorrow, or even soon for that matter. But (if) when it does, it will be introducing change into the search landscape and the online experience as a whole, and change is very, very good.
A search engine seems like a rather simple tool on the surface. Whether it’s Bing, Yahoo or Google as your flavour, when you arrive on their page you’re greeted with an empty text box and a search button. It’s not difficult to work out that with a few keystrokes you can be off and searching for what ever you fancy. But for as simple as it seems, it can be used as a much more powerful piece of equipment, if you take the time to learn what you can do to leverage it’s power in your favour.
Google has been stepping in this year with offering a class on how to use their search engine to discover what you’re looking for. It’s a free, online course whose goal is really just to improve the user experience, both for you and for them. From one of their Google blogs: “The community-based course features six 50-minute classes along with interactive activities and the opportunity to hear from search experts and Googlers about how search works.”
One of the Google representatives likened it to always driving a vehicle in first gear, it will definitely get you where you’re going, but there’s always a faster, better way to do it. The Google search engine offers a whole host of methods to construct a query, whether you want to do basic calculations, learn a time zone or zip code. Even if you’re having trouble describing what it is you’re searching for, you can even drag the image directly into the search bar and conduct your search that way. Add into the couple of tips here all of the conditional arguments you can use ( “” + or – etc) and the possibilities begin to multiply. I guess the question is, how’s your Google-fu?
Yesterday afternoon, for around 4-5 hours GoDaddy suffered an issue with their DNS servers. Some reports have it tied to a hacking attempt which resulted in complete shutdown of (projected) hundreds of thousands of websites. Only GoDaddy really knows how large the affected number is, but where you did lose traffic yesterday, you can rest easy on your rankings and position; at least with Google. John Mueller had this to say about the outage: “In this case (the service outage), assuming it was just the DNS that wouldn’t resolve, we would treat it similar to how we treat other temporary crawling issues, and just retry at some later point.”