Category Archives: internet marketing

Mobile Branding and Optimization

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.

Facebook Search Engine on the Horizon?

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.

Google-fu and GoDaddy Gets Disrupted

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.”

Google on Fire?

There’s been an interesting tidbit of news from the last couple of days surrounding Google, although it’s not in any search decisions or changes they have made.

One of the notions which is being put forward is that Google is in the position of being wary of Amazon and it’s recently announced Kindle Fire. The new tablet that has been rolled out operates on the Android operating system, which they’ve tailored to their own use. Normally this doesn’t make a whole lot of news, there are a handful of tablets on the market of varying quality and some use Android, but the reason the Fire has made a ruckus is because of how it’s been tailored.

Normally when a company builds Android to their use, the default search engine that is used is Google. Amazon, likely because of their business model, chose to forgo using Google as their search provider and instead when you search on the Fire you’re directed to an Amazon search results page. As a user, this would make sense, since you’ve bought an Amazon product, if you’re searching for, or curious about a product, that you’d receive an Amazon page. The reason this is a big deal for Google, is when people are conducting a search to purchase or research a product, it’s a qualified user, so they’re able to serve ads on the results page. The ads that appear on product search pages are worth more to Google, so they make more money. With Fire users being directed to an Amazon results page, they’re skipping that money generator entirely, a complete loss for Google.

What hasn’t been truly answered is what happens if you were to do an informational search, say for some local movie theaters or restaurant bookings. Amazon isn’t so much a local retailer as a global one, so it’ll be interesting to see what gets delivered.

Is Bing Better than Google? You Decide

Google is the most widely used search engine globally, and accounts for 65% +/- usage in North America usage. Bing is the rebrand of the Live search engine service, and it’s sitting in a maintain position as of late at around 30% +/- share of the search market place.

Bing has long contended that they have a comparable search service, and some in the search world share their sentiments. But even with their rebrand, television commercials, and with taking over the Yahoo search market, their share remains at a steady third or so of the market. Dubbed as the Bing it On test, it’s a blind survey test which display unformatted, unbranded results and the user decides which results they would use of the two. It’s a testing method that is also known as the Pepsi test, where random people were given a sample of two drinks, and asked which they prefer.

When Bing had tallied the results of their (very small) online sample of 1000 people, they found that the users chose the Bing results at almost a 2:1 ratio. That’s a rather large statistical difference from the current norm with Google dominating the search market share, so why wouldn’t the numbers be the same for current market share? Well for starters the sample number is incredibly small. Using a data sample from 1000 people in the 18+ demographic is like a drop in the ocean, with there being somewhere north of 200 million people in the US alone. If you’re interested in which search engine appeals to you as a user, you can try out their survey for yourself here.

Looming Holidays and Online Budgeting

It’s crunch time for budgets, we’re coming to a point where you need to decide: do we spend more and hope for big returns over the holidays? Or do we cut back and hope we can carry through to a new year? It’s not a question anyone can really answer for you, as everyones situation is unique, I would however, like to make a case for our niche – online branding, or internet marketing if you prefer.

Where online is concerned, consistency matters most, in your content, your presentation of yourself, of how you manage your online image and branding. And while it’s true for almost all facets of life, it’s even more apparent where your online spending is concerned; you get what you pay for. If you pay for shoddy service and workmanship, that’s exactly what you’ll receive. Where online and the search engines are concerned though, you will likely end up being penalized, and at worst, banned from the results pages until you clean up your site and links. Now some people try and sell that organic optimization only takes a one time shot and is a very low cost to work ratio, when in fact it’s pretty much the exact opposite that’s true.

As an example, if you try and save some money where your online marketing is concerned and decide to out source to one of the cheap advertisers out there, odds are very high that you’re going to end up with poor, if not irrelevant back links, and this will get your site snagged up in the newest algorithm addition – Penguin. The addition of Penguin into the algorithm means that the link spammers of the past, are very quickly finding themselves with burned urls – aka websites which have become useless to link to, or with. It takes a great deal of time to work out a relevant, and acceptable linking strategy for any companies website, and to skimp on this portion of your marketing will be one of the nails in your websites coffin.

Often times when you’re having your website built for you, or if you’re having it redesigned, you’ll find that web developers can run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. If you have a complex site, with a shopping cart, perhaps streaming videos and audio with a user login system, you’ll be possibly even looking into the tens of thousands in cost. Thinking about saving money on your website and it’s construction? Rethink that cost saving measure, as cutting costs from the way your site functions, looks and performs can not only get you flagged by the search engines as having errors, but it can leave your site poorly secured and the possibility of being hijacked increases greatly. And if your website becomes hijacked by a malicious user who uses it to spam (best case scenario), or completely trash your website and use it to spread malware (black listed from the SERPs) not only will the search engines not trust you, your end users and customers will begin to distrust as well.

This was only two, of the plethora of issues which can sink your website should you choose to skimp on your online budget, and while being removed from the SERPs is a terrible possibility, the interaction lost with your current and possible customers should be seen as the real loss. Lost traffic due to reduced resources leads to lost conversion rates over all, which is just a never ending cycle of less and less.

Search Done Right

So after talking about the new patent papers filed about tricking spammers into showing themselves, with Penguin and Panda breathing down your websites neck, what is there left for you to do as a webmaster? You follow the basics and stick to the best practices guide, it sounds boring and cliche, but it works.

Focus on content creation, when you put forth effort when creating great pieces of content, the result is increased traffic to your website via shares and referrals. Another strong candidate to let your company and site become well known is to distribute press releases for major changes. Make sure you don’t abuse press releases, as it can give your company a bad image as a spammy site when you talk about every little bit of activity. Focus on taking advantage of press releases and the traffic they generate when you have something impressive to share.

Make sure to take care of the increasing social boom, and add social sharing buttons to your website. Don’t make the assumption that users will take the initiative to share your content on their own. Making it simple for your visitors to share you content with social share buttons is a quick way to garner additional views. Going hand in hand with using social sharing and social media, is to create your own YouTube channel. YouTube is the web’s largest search engine, so when you can create videos showing off your product or services it is a great way to expose new audiences to your brand. And with the search engines starting to include media results mixed in with the organic results, you may even begin to find new visitors coming to your site via your Youtube channel.

And one of the most important tips that can be offered on how to improve your visibility, when you find yourself with a new client you should always do your best to over-deliver on your company’s products or services. Word-of-mouth is still one of the strongest advertising methods online, offline, new media or old. Once you’ve thoroughly impressed a new client, the odds of them bringing their friends and family to your site are very high. Be sure not to step on their toes however, or to ruin a relationship when dealing with a client, as the only thing that travels faster than great news, is bad news.

More Google Patent Thoughts

Previousl I wrote about a Google patent which has gained more and more traction in the search community. The patent in question is named Ranking documents, and as mentioned previously it seemed like an interesting tactic to employ to catch thsoe who less than ideal tactics to rank a website.

Unfortunately, often times you’ll find that people are discussing search engine optimization, and will tack on the terms spamming, or buying links, but the truth of it is – when you do it right SEO is none of those things. The new patent that was discovered I think of like a magic trick, it’s a bit of slight of hand that Google is using to get those unscrupulous tacticians to reveal themselves. Google shows them the index, they try and spam to get ranked highly. When Google notices the spam, they show a different set of results (if you don’t think they can do that, you’re not thinking clearly) just to see the reaction of their target. If they continue to offend, their site will likely be penalized, and the ranking pages will haven’t been affected negatively.

Spamming links to a website to give uncredible weight to a term is a measure used by those in the industry who are in the game for only a few quick clicks. Often used on disposable website urls, they will target a hot, trending term – as an example Paul Ryan’s RNC speech – and will try and garner as many links and as much visibility as possible in as short a time frame as they can. It’s a pump and dump tactic that is very likely to have the offending site banned from the index and the url blacklisted.

I fore see that this patent will be dissected, discussed, scrutinized and blamed for all manner of SEO problems and head aches to come. The only problem that some site owners have has with Google, Bing and Yahoo is they’re getting better and better at catching the people who try to cut corners or use less than natural methods to rank their site. Maybe even one day soon, we’ll have an adaptive algorithm which detects, and removes spam sites as you search actively so black hatters go the way of the dodo bird.

Ever Evolving Keywords

In Search Engine Optimization, your keyword margin for error is very large. If you use a keyword in a way that just doesn’t seem to be working, you can adjust it and try again. You may even find yourself starting to rank for keywords you didn’t think about. Those are a bonus, and you can chalk them up to extra traffic and possible conversions. You’ll also want to reassess your keywords every now and then to make sure there aren’t new trends, technologies, products or ideas that weren’t popular when you first did your research.

Since organic optimization doesn’t attach a fee per keyword, you shouldn’t shy away from the high competition terms that you may not get. It doesn’t hurt to compete for those, and, it makes it easier to match up for long tail keywords. And when it comes to the users, it makes your site much cleaner, because instead of having headings like “Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hatsfor your baby”, you can stick with “Blue Bomber Hats” or the more specific but still high volume “Winnipeg Blue Bomber”. It’s important to adjust the depth of the keyword to the depth of the site, with your landing pages using broader keyword matching and leaving it to your categories to be more specific.

On the other side of the spectrum, the margin for error in PPC is small. Every time you make a mistake, it costs you money. Every time that you bid on a new keyword, it puts you in direct competition with other sites. You need to go over your keywords with a fine tooth comb, cutting out those that aren’t working, adding negatives, researching new trends, and always the cost per click in mind and the other on the Quality Score. You need to make sure you’re using themes to categorize your keywords, that your copy is performing as well as it possibly can, and that your tight ad group/keyword strategy extends to your landing page and the way keywords are used on it.

Algorithm Updated and it’s getting smarter

There have been adjustments, changes, and what seems like complete rewrites of the algorithm that Google started with in the beginning. At first when you searched, the results you were given were based directly upon the query as you’d entered it, and sorted by how many back links it had. Now however, when you search for ‘Winnipeg Jets’, images and video for the team appear even though the words “images” or “videos” weren’t in the query.

The algorithm that Google, Bing and a handful of others use, has grown and evolved to a point where it’s trying to anticipate what you’re searching for, as well as the direct query you may have typed. The search engines are getting better at bringing what you want to see on your given topic, and seem to be weighing the number of clicks through to a result as well as all of the previous criteria as well. As you’ve probably mistakenly typed a word or two while searching as well, you’ve probably noticed that search engines are also able to correct spelling mistakes which are commonly made. What the engines are getting much better at doing however, is not correcting your spelling, but interpreting what you may actually be searching for. Google can load dictionaries of how words should be spelled and common misspelled variations of those words and can look at how searchers correct searches and when they click on different variations. And it can use this data to not only suggest a query with a different spelling but to treat the misspelling as a synonym behind the scenes and rank the correctly spelled matches.

And as with what goes in the same basket as interpreting what you might be looking for, Google is noticeably moving forward on trying to discern your intent while searching as well. A basic description of how it works:

Keyphrases don’t have to be in their original form. We do a lot of synonyms work so that we can find good pages that don’t happen to use the same words as the user typed. – Matt Cutts

Even Bing is getting in on the act as if you mispell a common word or phrase, you’ll still often be brough to the correct results. Perhaps soon enough, you won’t need to search by typing, but by simply visiting your preferred search engine. And because you researched a new car and purchased one via online dealership shopping, the engine knows that in a few months it should perhaps deliver you information on local garages which offer oil changes and tire rotation services.