Browsing "internet news"
In the last couple of days in the world of search there’s been a bit of a rumbling about Google’s latest acquisition. Google is punching out the numbers to pick up Zagat survey, basically the first version of Yelp. Yelp if for some reason you haven’t heard, is a site which allows visitors to post and read reviews about businesses locally. Yelp has been around for the last 7 years or so while Zagat has been around for 30 years and climbing. Their chief difference? Zagat offers their reviews in print as opposed to purely an online offering.
Google places already has a minor version of a local review offering when you start drilling down into results, but nothing as in depth as Yelp was able to offer. With their picking up the tab for Zagat, it could very well give them the nudge they need to push hard into local review and advertising markets globally. Google in the past little while has garnered the ire of sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor for basically scraping their reviews to have them on the Places profiles pages, so Googles current offerings have significantly waned.
Besides restaurants, Zagat also offers ratings of entertainment venues, wine and travel. The online version of the site has an established community, so there’s a social networking dimension to consider as well as the content being purchased.
Zagat co-founders Tim and Nina Zagat said that they “will continue to be active in the business as co-Chairs, however, the merger of our resources, expertise and platforms with those of Google will give us the opportunity to greatly expand.”
Google said in its blog post that “Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering.” It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise or stretch to see Google pulling the Zagat ratings and reviews onto their Places profiles pages in time so as not to hurt the name brand of Zagat.
When we have new clients which are chomping at the bit to take over the world with their website, it seems more and more often there has been some confusion just to how the SEO process works. For some reason, the idea that we as search engine optimization and online branding experts can just call Google and tell them to place you at the top of the listings, seems to be what we do. The demystifying of SEO is a somewhat difficult task at times, even more so when contacts believe you can walk on water.
With this issue fresh in mind from a recent conversation, I feel the need to reiterate some basic SEO facts for those who may hopefully read this post before jumping to conclusions. First off, optimization of your website is only a very small piece of the puzzle for your online business. Any SEO worth their salt will tell you that in order for you to be successful online not only do you need to be visible, but there needs to be a clear call to action on your landing page. It does you no good as an online store for example, to have visitors landing on your contact us or about us page. You want users to buy from you, optimizing your site to drive traffic to your catalogue is your goal.
Search engine optimization is not an over night or fly by night success. It’s been said a million times, organic optimization takes time. If you’re lucky and have a solid base to work with, it may take as little as a month or two, but the norm is closer to 12 weeks + to begin seeing consistently measurable results.
After these two basic points, then you get into the meat of the business which has been talked about at great length all across the web. You need to keep website usability in mind. You need to keep your all encompassing goal when writing new content and rehashing the old on your pages. You can completely derail an SEO campaign with as small a change as making a term into a plural as opposed to singular. Remember to keep your navigation menus clean and clear, the more accurate and simple you can make them the quicker your site can be crawled and indexed.
Just some very plain, basic facts about the SEO process (again) which just seem to keep eluding small and large business owners alike. For all of your search engine optimization and online branding success, you need only pick up the phone and give the experts a call.
Never would competitors admit they’ve made changes based on what each other implement, but it’s the oldest game of keep up that exists. Beginning today, Facebook is rolling out a whole bunch of new privacy and sharing controls which they say, have “been in the works for months”. It’s not like Google+ was tearing away tens of millions of users per day from Facebook, but the more granular and easy to use privacy controls were a big positive note for those already looking for a change in their social landscape.
Primarily, you’ll finally be given a stronger grip on your profile and how you share with your friends. Items can be public (everyone) or only shared with specific people or groups. Visibility of your profile as well will be able to be administered on a friend to friend basis if you desire. Allowing you to share the things you like with those who would appreciate them. In addition to being able to control your profile image on a deeper level, so to will you be able to control any tagging which may occur.
Tagging, the attachment of a name to a photo on Facebook, can be harmless or harmful depending on the image used. Previously if you were tagged in a photo, it would appear as part of your profile, and you would need to ask to have it removed or report the picture. The change that’s being made in this area allows you the option to remove the photo from your profile, even with your name remains tagged in your friends/colleagues picture. So now you’re able to control somewhat if someone tries to attach your name to a distasteful image.
It’s only a smattering of the privacy controls that Facebook is working on doling out to their userbase. Easier to understand and granular are the order of the day and going forward, although it does bring up a thought. If Facebook did have the changes percolating and waiting for months, why did it take the beta test of Google+ for them to finally push them out? Perhaps suddenly Facebook realized there was another game in the social arena, and considering the strength of the backer, couldn’t wait to hold anything back. There is of course another option I’m personally more inclined to believe, that Facebook liked Google+ privacy controls and used the same model.
In the largest federal forfeiture of funds in US history, the largest pill pusher in the US has been held accountable. At a ‘fine’ of $500 million dollars, Google’s reign as the pill pusher is over. I guess calling Google a pill pusher is a bit of a stretch, but the way the news is coming out over the course of the day it’s almost like they were running the largest operation in US history.
The main points of the story would be, Google has AdWords, the US has expensive medications. Enter the opportunity for online pharmacies to sell the same medications for a fraction of the cost and voila! Canadian online pharmacies found that a lucrative market existed using Google’s AdWords platform to advertise to Americans who needed medication, yet lacked the funds to pay for them offered on the US side of the line. While the US government lacked the desire to pursue individuals who purchased the pills online, they focused their attack on the method by which they were advertised.
“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said Peter Neronha, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island in a written statement. “It is about holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem.”
By that statement, I guess Canada and Google are to blame for all of the pill users in the US. A little interesting point, the $500 million that Google has to pay out? Just a little over 20% of their earnings.. from the first quarter. I don’t think they’re really strapped for cash in the end. It just turned out that us Canadians were a little more clever with online marketing and Google provided the means for Americans to continue getting their meds at a reasonable price. What’s happening now is anyone’s guess.
This past Monday, Google finally has tipped it’s hand to the world. To the tune of over $12 billion, the search giant bought up Motorola Mobility, best known for their quality cellular phones.
It’s common knowledge at this point in the industry, that the Google Android operating system has been devouring market share on handheld devices. By adding the Motorola feather into their cap now, Google includes both them and Android, Google voice and fibre optic service plans, as well as their internet voip phone services which are still growing and booming in usage. Providing that all of the industry watchdogs say yes to the deal, Google has bought itself a powerful arm to add to their arsenal with more than 17,000 patents in the Motorola company.
With Android being so popular on so many different handsets, they’re still all going on the record and saying the Motorola purchase doesn’t worry them in the slightest. In fact, they’ve reportedly endorsed the deal as a patent protection measure. That sounds all well and good, but paying $12 billion+ for patent protection is a stretch even for the search giant. Android is a powerful, moldable operating system which many handheld device makers have adopted, but the longer the lifetime of Android has been stretched, so do the problem tickets and the wait of a solution. By having Motorola in their stable, Google will be able to solve some hardware misunderstandings which have dogged their Android OS.
“With Motorola, Google will get a better understanding of how hardware works,” said Ramon Llamas, mobile device analyst at IDC. “They can then offer better help to guide their partners about how to develop hardware for future Android products.”
No one thought 6 months ago that Google would want to buy up a handset manufacturer — or launch a head-to-head assault on Facebook, as it did with Google+. Four months into Larry Page’s tenure as CEO, he’s already proven he’s not afraid to make high-stakes bets. Forget “don’t be evil.” Google’s new motto seems to be “expect the unexpected.”
With all there is to do on the web, how do you internet? According a recent survey, despite all of the distractions and extra activities you can become tied up with, things really haven’t changed all that much. Pew Research and the American Life Project measured adults online activities for the monts of April and May 2011, and what they learned was conducting online searches and checking email were still the top activities performed.
When it came to using search engines to find information online, 92% of adults use a search engine and 59% admitted to conducting searches everyday. Not such a big surprise if you think of the multi-billion dollar a year search industry. Also 92% of adults use the internet to check their email, 61% of which do so everyday. Again, shouldn’t really be a surprise that you need to use the internet to check your email, but that both activities still rank as the top usage was.
“Perhaps the most significant change over that time is that both activities have become more habitual,” it notes. “Today, roughly six in ten online adults engage in each of these activities on a typical day; in 2002, 49 percent of online adults used email each day, while just 29 percent used a search engine daily.”
With the advent of social networking booming in recent years, it’s worth noting their usage was up to 65% of online time, just below online shopping and checking news services online. The survey was conducted with just over 2200 adults (18+) and the popularity of using “dated” technology, aka search, was as popular with the younger users as well as the older. The differences started to show however where 66% younger users used search engines for work, only 37% of older (65+) users did.
Nokia, Android, Apple, Blackberry, all just a few names in the world which compete for market share in the mobile industry. And according to a new report out today from Canalys, Google – the search engine if you didn’t know, holds the lead with 48% of the global market share. Apple’s iPhone running with iOS, comes in at second place with 19% of the market. It’s just another arena that the search giant is dominating in, thanks to their adaptable operating system, Android.
The tech industry has been saying it for years, that the mobile side of search and business was going to be coming soon. Judging by the numbers in the report, that time isn’t just coming, it has arrived. People are using their phones to conduct searches, post to their social network of choice, make purchases and to text their friends about the newest fad/movie/music/television show. Mobile isn’t just a growing industry, Android has grown 379% in the last year to become the market leader, it’s a massively burgeoning marketplace. Business owners and website developers are acting out of sheer folly to not move to take advantage of this space.
And on that note..
It seems that the more we as search experts try to help someone, the harder it seems to become. Search engine optimization is a momentum based business, it takes time to get the proper results so as not to disappear when Panda attacks or the algorithm makes a major change. It’s sort of like pushing a huge stone along a level pathway, it takes a lot of work to get it rolling, but once you start it going it requires smaller amounts of effort to change it’s direction or even to accelerate it. Once you stop pushing however, or once you stop using SEO on your site, you’ll begin to slow immediately, and soon you’ll stop. And then you’re back at square one in the game. And to make matters worse, all of your competitors that have been working out your methods are coming up faster and faster on your rankings, when you stop they’ll just blow right by you like you’re standing still.
So once you’ve reached your desired rankings, it’s not time to let off on the work. It’s actually time to take it up a notch and begin pushing harder and in perhaps an additional direction, say into mobile marketing.
So in the world of search there’s a handful of true search engines, those little boxes of which you type in your current question or conundrum and off you go into the wild internet. We have Bing, which holds onto somewhere around 27% or so of the search market, Google who holds onto the lions share of search at just over 65%, and all those little crumbs in the bottom are search engines like Ask.com etc.
It’s not difficult to find press about how Bing is making massive inroads into Googles share of search, or how last year Bing grew by over 90%.. blah blah blah. When you boil the numbers all the way down however, all you’re really left with is Google and Bing, and the only way Bing is going to make positive growth in search is to take it from Google. So using misleading titles to the tune of Bing overtaking Google, or Bing Grows 90% over the year are nearly wholely misleading. Even with all of this “incredible growth”, with all of the addins and marketing strategies Microsoft throws at Bing they’re left with a fairly large problem. Despite owning more than 25% of the worlds search volume, Bing doesn’t make any money for Microsoft.
That may not seem like it makes any sense, but look at it from a different perspective, try and see it from the advertising angle of things. The sole product sold by search engines are the advertisements that appear on search pages, which are sold not for a set amount, but based on how many times customers click on an ad tied to the search phrase that brought the user to the page. And since Google has such a huge search market share, they’re rolling in cash right from the start because of their cost per click for their adword programs. Now the one biggest reason Bing doesn’t make money, isn’t because they have a smaller search share than Google alone, as it turns out, the cost per click tied to their advertising model is as much as 1/5 the cost of Googles cost. As bad as that may sound as a revenue model, it actually gets a little worse for the Bing machine. Less CPC looks great on the surface, but as an advertiser it brings up the issue of what is driving that low cost. Bing has less traffic than Google at the outset, the CPC to serve the same ad on Bing is cheaper than Google and in the end it translates into less ad impressions on the Microsoft search engine.
So the question in the end really, is there ever really going to be a solid competitor to the Google machine? If a multi-billion dollar a year company can’t even step into the same arena as the giant and succeed, who truly can? I say bring them all on, competition is what made the web what it is today, more will only make it better.
So if you’ve been tracking your sites progress on Googles search results pages, and you noticed some funny movement in the last week or so, you’re not imagining things. Google came out with it finally and admitted, yes they’ve had another regular update, but with Panda as part of the equation this time. Some have noticed that their sites have shifted a half dozen places or so, and some have noticed that for some of their optimized terms they’ve just completely disappeared.
As shocking and distrubing as it may be to suddenly find you’re not in the results where you were in the previous weeks, you may want to hold off on that complete site revamp to address your disappearance. To put it another way, Google took their search index, full of billions and billions of terms, tossed it up in the air and all of the websites are still coming down. Being filtered into all of their most relevant terms based on the current algorithm, it’s safe to wait just a few more days to see what happens through the weekend.
Google and +1
So search, it’s a funny game, moving, shifting, always changing. Facebook has their ‘Like’ button, which Bing has added their own special metric and weight to. And Google has their newer +1 button which they’ve come out and said basically ‘Yes it’s good for you to have on your site along side the Like button’. Basic fact though, the implementation of the +1 button on your site was actually bogging it down as of late, cutting your performance in half by almost half in some extreme cases.
While the Facebook ‘Like’ button is a flat blue color, the +1 button is a script or two which glows and stands out from your web pages. Definitely a hindrance to performance conscientious site owners, it wasn’t long until another disturbing trend was noticed. Visitors to pages with the +1 button, were slowly and steadily dropping. Almost strangely and on cue, Google has released a new version of their +1 button, faster, sleeker and much more in line with current web speed standards.
And just like the Facebook button, and those scandalous people making a living selling their browser clicks. It seems that because the +1 button can have a positive effect on your search ranking, some of the less scrupulous SEO companies out there are now selling their clicks. It’s not much of a stretch or a surprise really, as there are grey SEOs to be found all over the web selling all manner of SEO tricks. Selling links, scraping and rewriting content for you, Facebook ‘Like’ sellers and now +1 sellers. Just cut the SEO juice from the button and it’s true use will emerge, content promotion because it’s genuinely good content.
It’s fairly easy to find an article or blog with the viewpoint that Google is too big to be considered ‘not evil’ and they’re just a data hungry machine. It’s also not uncommon to find a writer who’s convinced that Facebook is the embodiment of forward progress online, that you need to have your eggs in the social basket to move forward. The American Customer Satisfaction Index came out recently, and while Facebook and Google are in different categories, only one of them comes out on top; as a hint it’s not the social one.
The average satisfaction mark for the public for social networks is at the 70% mark, and Facebook came in at a 66% approval rating irregardless of being the biggest on the block. The leaders of the social category as it were, are Wikipedia, the largest online publicly edited information source, and Youtube whose billions of hours of video can help wile away the rainiest of days. Those who answered the poll cited issues such as privacy and security concerns, unexpected changes to service and overcommercialization as the reasons for ranking Facebook so low in the results. This doesn’t mean of course that Google+ will immediately supplant Facebook as the social experience destination on the web, but after looking at the poll numbers, Facebook has to realize that their platform they’ve been on for so long isn’t as stable as it first appears. It does give Google and Google+ a bit of a cheat sheet however when it comes to user experience.
In the search engine portion of the same poll, Google did come out on top of their category with an 83% customer satisfaction score, it’s a 3% increase from the previous years score. Bing also climbed swiftly up the ladder as well, from a 77% rating last year, to an 82% rating this year. Bing has seen some solid gains in the customer satisfaction experience while serving up 30% of the webs searches to Googles 70% served. In the realm of search, Google is still the king of the mountain even with Bing making some headway in the space.
When it comes down to the bottom line, what will really determine the shape of the web at this time next year is what happens with these companies in the next 12 months. Facebook could turn around and make privacy a no brainer and Google may completely flub the search game. Or Google could submit their offering to the social web and Facebook may see a trickle of users slowly leaving for a more controllable social experience. Competition is a great tool to help improve the quality of the user experience on the web, putting strangle holds in place for these web giants where their every move is scrutinized by the public, lawyers and the government, is the surest and quickest way to stunt online growth.