So Google has gone and changed the game a bit again. This time, they’ve changed the look and feel of the results page. In the last couple of days there’s been a blog here, a comment there, how Google “must have been scared” or “taking a page from Bing”. To see and read such comments, actually made me shake my head.
Jon Wiley, Senior User Experience Designer
“We’ve been creating mocks of left-hand panels since the earliest days of Google and have tested these designs with users as far back as 2006.”
In 2006, Google threw a number of changes in the user experience at Googlers, such as search within search (refine your search), left hand nav bar that has been part of the search site since May ’09 (just closed by default), and by trying an option to remove a result from your (personal) results.
No just in relation to the left hand nav bar, it changed a fair amount from design to implementation. Greatly cleaned up to make it easier to use, and persistently open on your results page to help you sort and find what’s relevant to you as a user. It’s just been about helping you find, what you want. As quickly, efficiently, and painlessly as possible.
There have been other changes as well, although they’re more on the aesthetic side of the spectrum. The logo has been flattened, and lightened in color, and the footer has followed suit. The internet is in a constant state of change, and when you try and remain motionless, changeless, and don’t adapt to it, you’ll be lost in the hundreds of millions of pages available. Google, has always tried to bring something new, useful, or sometimes just pleasantly looking to it’s users. For your viewing/nostalgic enjoyment, you’ll find a couple of examples below.
Blue Homepage Self explanatory
Universal bars “This design emphasizes different types of results with labeled blocks in the main results pane, such as books, news and shopping.”
On the web, there are billions upon billions of webpages and websites. Any topic or category you can think of, it exists online for you to read and learn about. Thankfully, we have search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to name a couple, which can search, index, catalog and categorize all of these sites. Otherwise it would be like a giant pile of leaves, with little to differentiate them from one another.
And yet, as the world expands online, as information becomes more and more accessible, businesses and surfers are finding themselves pulled increasingly in a rather surprising direction. The more available the world has become, the closer to home users have gone. With the boom of social media, the world has started to realize just how small a place it really is. When with a few keystrokes, you can be browsing art galleries at the Louvre, or taking in the pyramids at Giza, the trend of online activity has been shifting more and more to a local focus. The search engines have noticed as well, and have begun to lend more importance to geo-targeting search results for terms. People post on Twitter and Facebook about which local pizza joint has the best crust, or look for a plumber from their friends referrals.
Smartphones, PDA’s laptops and netbooks. It’s getting easier to be online, and faster to navigate what you’re looking for. Social media brings the real time world to your finger tips, and the trend is getting ready to shift again. What’s the next big step?
Being alive in the 21st century is an amazing feeling. Of course, there’s always the negative side of things if you want to see them. The opportunities available to people to expand themselves is growing each and every day.
The opportunities which exist for a business owner, whether new or long term industry leader, are nearly immeasurable. The ability to have your product or service, available to be purchased 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is unprecedented, and still relatively unfamiliar territory.
Wide spread use of the web is still rather new (at only around 15 years), and yet it reaches a wider audience, 10 times faster than each other advertising medium. The web is crowded, loud, chock full of dead ends, loopholes, and obstacles. But it is also instant, powerful, and it can be your most powerful advertising tool if you wish it to be; you just need to find the experts to lead you.
Winnipeg is a great town, Canada is a great country. Both still “young” if such a term could ever be used in such ways. But the business advertising model is greatly outdated in Winnipeg, with a lot of stock still being put into traditional means of advertising with newspapers, radio and tv ads. In 2008 in Canada, 70% of households had a broadband internet connection, always on high speed access to the web. Instead of going on more and more, I’ll use the graphic below to illustrate my point:
When a person turns on their browser, they’ve the ability to search 1 billion plus web pages for anything and everything. Being found in all of that is like a needle in a haystack right? What if I told you, you don’t need to play that game. That you could be the farmer to that haystack, move it all out of the way so you have a clear path to work?
Strange metaphores aside, to put it extremely plainly, old media advertising is slowly dieing. The generation of today, doesn’t subscribe to the newspaper, they read it online. They don’t listen to the radio for the latest news, they check Twitter, or Facebook to see what their friends and family are doing and what they’ve noticed. People don’t go looking for the news, the news finds them now. As a business, it’s time to adjust or be lost in the pack. Online advertising, and working in a mobile business model is going to be key to market success going forward.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let this last one speak for me. The team at Fresh Traffic, can help you bring your company to where it should be online. Let us put you back out front of the rat race, and propel your business to the success it deserves.
Google, the search giant who’s developed a slew of services and products, the majority of which are free, are again trying to up the bar in it’s seemingly endless pockets of services.
The newest information to come down the wire from G:
“..it will offer the service at a “competitive price” to at least 50,000 people and potentially as many as 500,000. Google wants to use the networks for applications that consume lots of bandwidth.”
A full fibre network, with the beginning roots going outwards to subscribers allowing badwidth of up to 1 gigabit per second, for comparison speeds, Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast offer speeds of 50 megabits per second cap currently. If you were in a car, it would be like travelling (quickly mind you) at 50 mph, and hitting the Google road, all of a sudden flying along at 1000 mph. Gives the term, free information exchange, a whole new meaning. Additionally, offering a speed of 1 gigabit would ideally lead to the realm of online 3d viewing, taking online interactivity to a whole new realm as well.
The starting point, being those cities which would benefit the most from the fibre upgrade, and would allow the company to plan out where to extend the service where it would be most beneficial. Is this the future of the internet? Long term, light speed information exchange on a Google thread?
Well they’ve gone and done it. Google, has launched their newest product, Buzz. What is Buzz? Buzz is basically the same as a feed that you would get from your friends list from Twitter or Facebook, with the added bonus of not being spammed by all of those people you invited to play Mafia Wars etc.
Buzz only tracks feeds from the people you contact within Gmail, and you can even restrict the flow of information again, to send/receive only bits of information here and there if you see fit. Buzz is currently tied into Gmail, with an idea of integrating into Wave, and Latitude as well. Want to let all your friends know which Starbucks you’re at? Just fire up your Nexus phone and Buzz about it, and they’ll know that they’re across town at the wrong shop (or you are).
It’s the newest push into the social media market for the search giant, one which has some fairly deep implications in terms of optimization. It’s just one more feather to add into the cap of your marketing plan, as it rolls out over the next few days, be sure to check your public/private settings to ensure you’re “Buzzing” all of the people you want to know what you’re up to.
In the words of Brin after being asked if Buzz is to compete with Facebook:
“We look at Buzz as part of a longer-term evolution and trying to put together the best set of features and compelling elements to make this really successful, both from a technical point of view as well as from a social point of view.”
With the trend online leaning towards social media as a communication medium for the masses, should it really be any surprise that even CEO’s are announcing their resignations with these methods? Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, announced via Twitter, that he’d resigned his post. Not in a news release, not in a formal announcement in the papers, Twitter.
In another, unrelated story, it’s been found that the youth of this generation (12-29) are straying from the idea of blogging, citing reasons such as, it’s time consuming, people will just get disinterested, etc. Strangely however, they’re not flocking to Twitter as most may think, but using mobile messaging and browsing means; over half of 18-29 year olds using mobile technology as their main means of online activity.
No, this doesn’t mean SEO is dead, dwindling, or disappearing anytime soon. In fact, it means you need to focus on it even more than ever before as time rushes on. The internet, and it’s generation, evolve, adapt, and absorb information faster than any other before it. Attentions spans are shorter, but if you provide the quality, loyalty is also higher.
The world has always moved, inexorably towards it’s digital embodiment, and that growth is becoming faster each year as technology improves. It’s an age of (mostly) free information exchange, whether it be in business, or socially exchanged, and if you’re not findable now, presenting your best face to the world, you’re going to get lost as the wave grows.
The future isn’t coming, it’s already here. Just like nature wipes out those species who don’t evolve, the same will happen online, if you don’t catch the wave, you’re going to just get swept away. Let Fresh help you stay the course, and instead of being swept along, lead the pack and find yourself on top where you belong.
There are millions upon millions of pages on what to do, what not to do, how best to do it, and everything in between. There are articles about paid results, organic results, how their way is the best way, or that they know the key ingredient in order to make you list on page 1, every day of the week.
Why should you be concerned? Why do you, as a businessman, need to care about search engine optimization? Lets look at some very basic facts about business in the 21st century.
In the late 90s, the internet was making it’s way into homes all over the world. It was the era of the dot.com business model, and it set in motion some of our, now, day to day uses. From the explosive exchange of the bubble, and the beginning of the new milennium, a dramatic shift in business occured. The world, had begun it’s shift into the digital plane. Google didn’t create the internet, it didn’t organize it (in the purest form of the word), nor did Microsoft, Yahoo, or any other search engine out there. All they did, was assign a system of checks and balances in order to create a semblance of order. The web will always be a mass of information, random pages, it is the digital manifestation of the chaos which comes with allowing everyone a voice.
There were a few models of trying to assign some order, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google (in it’s infancy), etc all have the same basic premise in mind; a user friendly way to find your interests amidst the storm.
Fast forward to today, and the marketing model has changed drastically from even 10 years ago. Traditional media advertising, radio, newspapers, mail, isn’t nearly as effective as it once was, while search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay per click advertising, has replaced them in effectiveness, and in market penetration. There are really only 2 search engines now worth mentioning, Google and Bing. And, I’ll just let the graphic below answer any questions you may have in regards as to who has clear dominion.
So as a business person, you have a choice. Stick with struggling traditional media advertising and live off of the breadcrumbs which trickle in. Or, step into the web, with a presence, authority, and a page ready, willing, and able to serve your customers and visitors and thrive on the fruits of your labor. The team at Freshtraffic, has been leading the way online in the days before the bubble. With our help, you will be heard.
2009 was a big year in the technology industry. Live search was rebranded and marketed, Wolfram Alpha (remember them?) came online with it’s “answer engine”, and social media went another step up what with Facebooking and Twittering, blogging and real time results starting to make their way into your searches.
But seeing as Google is the big fish in the waters of the web, here’s a quickly compiled list of some of their advancements through out the year.
* Offline Gmail gets released with Google Gears
* Picasa for Mac released
* Google Latitude and search by voice for Android launch
* Google Sync for your mobile phone launches
* Google Calendar goes offline with Google Gears
* Google Profiles show up at the bottom of search results
* Updated mobile Gmail and Google Calendar webapps for iPhone and Android launch
* Google Maps mashup tracks swine flu
* GV Mobile makes Google Voice the default for your iPhone (later, Apple pulled this app from the iTunes Store for reasons that are still unclear)
* Engineers demo Google Wave at the Google I/O conference, give developers access to the Wave “sandbox”
* Google Apps Sync syncs Microsoft Outlook with Gmail, Google Contacts, and Calendars (updates with push Gmail in September)
* Google Squared puts your search results into a spreadsheet
* Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, and Talk leave beta
* FeedDemon, NetNewsWire sync exclusively with Google Reader
* Google announces Chromium OS (but doesn’t release any code, doctored screenshots and fan-made versions start popping up)
* Apple rejects all Google Voice applications from the iTunes Store
* Gmail Tasks graduates from Google Labs (where it first appeared in December of 2008)
* Gmail makes importing mail and contacts from old email accounts easy
* PubSubHubbub gets baked into Google Reader
* Google Wave Preview opens to 100,000 users
* GrandCentral closes its doors, transitions entirely to Google Voice
* Google Sidewiki launches
* Google offers voicemail storage and transcriptions for your existing phone number (part of Google Voice)
* Google Maps Navigation adds turn-by-turn GPS to Android
* Google Voice gives existing users invitations to send to their friends
* Chrome OS announced, Chromium build demo’ed and source code released (here’s how you can try out a Chromium build yourself)
* Google Chrome adds bookmark sync
* Google releases Go, a new programming language
* Chrome browser hits Mac/Linux with extensions enabled (Chrome for Windows left beta in December of 2008)
* Google’s new real-Time search includes Twitter streams
* Google Public DNS launches
* Google “lets the sun set” on Gears, moving to HTML5
* Google Goggles for Android searches the web by photo
* Google Favorite Places puts a barcode on restaurants and shops you can scan with your mobile phone
Look here, to read more of any of the above.
Google has stepped up it’s bid in the quest to own the web, GoogleDNS is here. DNS servers are, in many respects, the backbone of the Internet. DNS allows you to type a domain name like www.senate.gov into a browser instead of a machine-readable IP number like http://220.127.116.11/. Google DNS will allow users to bypass their ISPs Domain Name Servers (DNS).
Google, being a huge ally in the war for net neutrality, makes throwing it’s hat into the DNS ring a bold move. Just like all software, hardware, or inteernet company, the bigger the concern, the harsher the scrutiny. The hand waving and doomsday prophesizing about Googles cloud computing capabilities anytime they have a hiccup being an example.
That being said, Google has made a couple of promises in regards to GoogleDNS. Google’s FAQ states they will only keep temporary logs and erase all the information it collects through the public DNS service within 24 to 45 hours. The company promises not to keep any information that is linked to IP addresses in its permanent logs. Just providing another option out there for those inclined to give it a swing.
Knowing the web, is about power. Those who know most, have the most power, and adding this feather in the Google cap, is just another tool in a wide assortment of available information collectors. As it stands now, who really knows the web better than Google?
One interesting.. concession that Google makes however:
..because nameservers geolocate according to the resolver’s IP address rather than the user’s, Google Public DNS has the same limitations as other open DNS services: that is, the server to which a user is referred might be farther away than one to which a local DNS provider would have referred. This could cause a slower browsing experience for certain sites.
In easy read, depending on where you are, your internet might actually get slower by using GoogleDNS, not faster.
Traditional media advertising, it’s not dead in the water, it’s merely being replaced as the world moves digital. Newspaper circulation, while dwindling isn’t completely dead, but that industry is placing content online, accessible only by subscribers. An additional incentive to have both. Radio stations have daily/weekly/seasonal contests, with special consideration to followers from their website as well.
Search Engine Optimization is coming increasingly to the forefront of the advertising world, and big business who has relied on brand name alone for so long, began to feel that sting over the last few years. They’ve picked up the ball, and paid big bucks, but ran with it. The little guys, do what they can as they go, but do their best.
Seeing as how SEO is becoming so important then, isn’t it interesting, and somewhat unsettling that companies who feel they need optimization, resort to placing “help wanted ads” and such to find an expert to help them?