Category Archives: internet

Panda Re-Released – Are You Ready?

Have you noticed any shifts over the last couple of days in your search results? As a site owner or an SEO for a client, have you noticed any changes as of late? You wouldn’t be alone in taking note, and you would be correct. It has recently been confirmed that Panda had been unleashed on the web again, making it even more accurate and more sensitive to changes online.

Some site owners are noting huge gains in their organic results, perhaps because they’ve attended to any issues that cropped up when Panda first passed over their site and erroneously booted them. On the other hand, some sites were hit harder than they have been previously by the update, and continue to flounder in the search pool. It may be a good, or a bad point, but Google also came out and said that the entire update hasn’t finished yet, it probably will only do so tomorrow. As well, there are still some high numbers being reported on forums, about being dumped in the results by Panda, but if you’ve been on your game and following the good practices guide you should be sitting just fine.

For all of the updates that are done to the various search engines, for all of the tweaks they do to their algorithms there remains a very simple truth. Stick to the basics and it’ll work. It may take longer than trying to work out every single step of the algo, but so long as you concern yourself with sticking to the best practices guides provided by the search engines, your site will list. And will continue to list, so long as you haven’t done anything naughty that is, to get yourself kicked out of the SERPs.

Best Kept SEO Secret

Brace yourself, because the biggest, crazeist, most incredible kept secrets of SEO is going to be discussed today. Are you ready to hear what it is: there are SEOs out there who don’t know what SEO is, and there are those who even think that AdWords is SEO.

Shocking I know, but it’s unfortunately true. There are hundreds of people out there, even just in Winnipeg who call themselves SEO experts. And when you sit down and speak with them, it becomes quickly apparent that they may have an idea as to what search engine optimization is. They just don’t quite have the tools, experience, or connections to make the magic happen.

Being an SEO expert is more like a blanket statement as opposed to calling yourself a professional shoe salesman for example. And even if you were an expert shoe salesman, there are still dozens of different styles of shoe which can be worn for any sort of activity, so even in as what may seem as mundane a job as shoe sales, there are intricacies. When it comes to search, there are many different aspects to the game. There are copywriters, who help you generate unique, compelling content for your website. There are people with a skill set in helping you work out site usability issues. Having a high bouce rate on your internal pages, an SEO with a knack for site usability is what you’re needing. Some have a knack for spotting trends as they happen, and some know only what they’ve read in a book or a blog.

Those are the ‘experts’ which comprise the majority of the profession. And at the top end of the spectrum you have the true search experts. We can break down your site and help clean up any messy coding or usability issues. We’ll help you work out your content, work out a clearer call to action and how best to leverage your desired key terms for your best results. And we’ve already picked out the next trending topic in your industry and are working out a strategy with you to capitalize on it. Careful you don’t end up on the wrong end of the SEO line, and end up like poor Dilbert here.

Microsoft Labels Google As Malware

So it’s no secret that Bing and Google aren’t the best of friends, but with Microsoft behind the Bing machine, it was a shock for the web to suddenly find Google labelled as malware.

You may think it’s really not that big of a deal, but it only takes one red flag to turn many novice users away from using any service or website. The mistake has since been ironed out on Microsoft’s end, and Google is no longer labelled as a security risk. Malware is a rather generic term, basically covering any kind of code or software which either steals your private information or messes up your computer enough that you can’t really use it effectively. Unfortunately for those same novice searchers and computer users, malware has another, more inconvenient side.

It should be no surprise that scripters and hackers who work to develop malware, are also tied to the black hat side of the SEO world. Search is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and being able to sit atop the search results for highly competitive terms for even a few days is a million dollar industry. Many times this is where you’ll find a specific type of malware usually known as ransom software. What happens is when a user clicks on the address of what they innocently think is their top results choice, instead they’re greeted with a popup message usually along the lines of “Your computer is infected – click here to protect your data!” And once that user clicks the button, they’ve been hooked. Once that back door has been opened, it is nefariously difficult to shut. It often leaves you open to backdoor access as well, which the scripter can use to steal your information, or even use your own computer to attack other unsuspecting searchers.

The first step to defending yourself is to have a proper anti-virus product, even a basic one will stop the majority of malware. The second step is to know what you’re seeing when you search. A proper website url will be www.this-is-a-real-site.com/yourresults.html, shown in green below your search results. A strong indication of a hijacked site or possible malware trap is when that address looks like so: www.possibly-malware.com/?p=23466. If you find an address which begins with a query string, there’s a good chance you’re not going to necessarily end up where you’ve hoped.

Predicting Search Trends – The Moving Target

Valentine’s day, not really a holiday, but people are still out there shopping for that special someone. Some bought their gifts early, or if you’re the average guy you’re out there this afternoon picking up a few last minute things. But whether you’re shopping today, even if you’ve already finished your shopping, have you taken measures to capitalize onthis spending day?

It’s estimated that this year in the US they’ll be hitting the highest in the past 10 years in terms of spending. That includes everything from cards, candy, and flowers, to jewellery and ‘casual’ attire. The biggest spenders – ladies doting on their men who’ve been shopping since January and comprising more than 150% of the search volume. Men haven’t totally been out of the game however, and have even stepped up their play – jewellery and flower delivery searches have grown 10% and 20% respectively. The big step for this year though has been couples massage with 50% growth.

Now numbers are good to see and everything, but how does that break down as a business owner in the real world? On average Google handles 400 million searches per day, and during a shopping holiday like Valentine’s Day, search volumes are temporarily boosted. So if you’re in the jewellery market for example, you’d want to ramp up your SEO at least a couple of weeks before the big day, just to pump up visibility. The days do seem to fly by while you have your nose to the grindstone, but you need to observe how trends are shifting online. Being able to correctly and accurately predict the shifting trends online can mean the difference between lost income, and capitalizing on a gold mine in search.

Online Privacy – And The Fallacy It Exists

The amount of noise being made over Googles new privacy policy, set to come into play in March, is starting to reach a fevered pitch. The most recent noise maker, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a lawsuit against the FTC in regards to said changes.

Google has come out and admitted they’re making a singular privacy policy which will encompass all of it’s online properties. Google, Gmail, Youtube, Calendar etc, instead of the dozens it currently has active. If you really wanted to take the time to do it, you could click through and read each and every one of those privacy policies, and on the whole you would find they’re all fundamentally the same. But with updating their policy to encompass all of their online services, it makes it simpler for a user to know what information is collected, how it’s collected and when. And if you’re really that paranoid, you don’t even need a Google account to use their services, nor do you need to remain signed in. It isn’t as big of an issue as it’s being made out to be, but everyone has an opinion and everyone has the right to air it.

All of the issues being brought up surrounding the new privacy policy, are somewhat reminiscent of the privacy issues that Facebook seems to have every few months. But the social network which just recently went public, is used for so much more than just data collection. Facebooks targeted ad system is a very good tool, for small businesses looking for local exposure especially, just because of how its ad delivery system works. But, because the network has also aligned itself with government agencies, your information is more accessible than you know. Thinking of smudging the numbers on your tax return? The IRS has unfettered access to search your personal accounts in case something doesn’t add up on their end. Potential employers are starting to add a field for your Facebook profile on your job application, so they can have access to see if you’re truly company material. Even credit companies are getting in on the act, and reducing, or declining credit based simply on where you live, where you shop, or where you travel. Not because of your past history, but because of who you are. And people are getting fussy with Google’s privacy policy?

Year of Online Marketing

Money is a great thing, it’s needed for pretty much everything you need or want in this world. There are times to save money, and there are times to spend it. With the new year still fresh, now is the time to spend on your online presence so you can make 2012 your best earning year to date.

Search engine optimization is, for some odd reason, still a largely overlooked advertising expenditure. The internet is the ultimate store front, it never rests, and is always waiting to bring customers to your doors. It takes time, patience, an understanding of your current website and traffic, and what your ultimate goals are to even begin to craft an SEO campaign to implement.

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ version of optimization, as each and every client and website has it’s own unique set of problems. When you’re in the market for SEO, you need to bear that point in mind. If you’re searching for someone truly qualified in the area, there’s a very high chance they won’t have pre-packaged services for you to choose from. There are really 2 main steps when you’re hammering out the details of your costs associated with search engine optimization. The first, and one which affects your cost, is what is it that you’re trying to achieve and what key terms are you interested in. If you’re looking to rule the SERPs on a term which returns tens of millions of pages, your contract will have a steeper cost as opposed to a more niche market. The second step is where the compromising comes into play where terms are concerned.

Working as an SEO, we see the web a bit different than other people do. I know I haven’t browsed or used the internet the same way since I’ve began. Sometimes the keyterms clients choose need some adjustment, and through discussion we decide which route to pursue. It can mean the difference of a page 1 ranking, or a difference of a few thousand dollars in the term of a contract. Our goal in the end, is to bring you all the traffic you can convert, are you ready for the 2012 rush?

Narrow Your Online Target

Even though it may not seem like it on the surface, there are many different facets to internet marketing. Which target you aim for has a lot to do with the methods you employ to achieve your desired results. It could be branding a new image, a run to try and boost email/newsletter readership or it could just be the needed increase to sales to make for a better year end.

If you’re trying to create a new image for yourself as a business, you can try using Adwords as a branding tool until organic results can be achieved. Adwords can be a great tool to leverage as it allows your website instant visibility where as organic SEO can take time to come full circle. You can create a whole new presence for yourself online if you’re creative and persistent.

At the same time as trying to manage your brand online, you should bear in mind your call to action and what your message is online. Try to view your site as a new user from time to time, and try to determine what you are asking visitors to do as they arrive on your site. If you’re trying to create a following for your blog or perhaps signing up for your Twitter feed where you can interact directly. Trying to boost your sales? Are you listing specials or making sure to advertise your newest or best selling items.

Although the industry is still somewhat new in Winnipeg, internet marketing is an incredibly powerful tool you can leverage as a business owner. Leveraging all of the tools you have available to yourself as a business owner should be at the forefront of your mind everyday as you work to improve your online positioning.

Social Search – Google Wasn’t First

Over the last couple of weeks people have been hacking and slashing at Google because they’ve rolled out a change to how your results pages show up when you conduct a search. They’ve dubbed the change “Search plus Your World” and the idea is you receive Google+ data while signed into your Google account and conduct a search. Personally, I really don’t see the issue with their idea and here’s why.

Number one reason, if you’re signed into your Google account, searching Google.com, why would it surprise you to find publicly available information from Google+ in your results pages if it’s relevant? And from all of the screenshots of the integrated social results, a click of a button and they’re gone. Another argument I’ve seen about Google integrating the information into the SERPs is they are prioritizing its own content instead of linking out to third-party sites, which arguably is the whole point of a search engine. Valid point to bring up, but again, you can simply shut the option off with a few clicks at most. In the online world where 800 million or so people are used to the “opt-out” model thanks to Facebook, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken this long for another major web player to try it. Twitter and Facebook even backed a small browser bookmark of sorts to help cull out the Google+ results from your results pages. It’s outraged enough people, that bloggers are already forcasting that Bing is the new King of Search.

It’s perhaps those last two points which contributed to my puzzlement. For all of the people up in arms with Google and switching over to Bing, I can only assume two things. You were born on January 1, 2012 and you don’t have a Facebook account; amazing really considering there are so many. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article stabbing at the changes Google has recently made:

The new feature is baked right into Google and aims to personalize your search results by including Google+ data when you are signed into your Google account.

And here, is an excerpt from an article written in May 2011:

The worlds of SEO and social media were rocked the other day when Bing announced they will incorporate Facebook data into their search results for the most personal social-search integration to hit the web. What does this mean for the user? If you search for something on Bing and are logged into your Facebook account, you will see which pages, products and websites your friends Like and recommend high in the results, regardless of where that page ranks in the general SERP.

Perhaps Facebook should recite the idiom, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as Bing and Facebook have been at social search integration coming up quickly on a year of implementation.

Solve the SEO Puzzle

With the influx of so many SEO “experts” into the field over the last few years, it’s not really a surprise when discussion topics begin to crop up about some old topics. The most recent discussion which has had me pondering who might actually work with this individual, involved one of these aforementioned experts.

Apparently they’ve noticed that when they made content changes on their website, it has zero impact on their search rankings. The point which this began to bother me, is somewhere along the way this search engine otpimization expert had learned or decided that your content was what would make you or break you online. That is true to an extent, but just like you need more than just flour to make a cake, your content isn’t the only factor that will make your website king. Content is not the only piece of the puzzle, just like social isn’t, just like working for quality links isn’t, just like a properly coded and built web site isn’t. They’re all pieces in the SEO puzzle, they need to be put together properly and completely to make you a leader in your field.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo have maintained for years that the content of your website is tantamount to your ranking within the SERPs, but it’s not the only deciding factor. Your tags, your headers, your images all tell a story to the spiders who digest your content and file your website accordingly. If you own a business which makes blue shoes and your content is about red umbrellas with tagged pictures of yellow bananas, then you’re not going to get too far on the SERPs for any term as you’re not relevant to any of them. If however, you’ve created your website, developed your content around blue shoes, provided and tagged pictures of them and optimized your web site properly? You will be viewed as highly relevant should anyone search for the topic ‘blue shoes’ online.

I think the best way to describe how content relates to your SERPs appearance would be – your content is how you tell the spiders who you are. If your content is relevant to all of the elements present on your website, you will be rewarded for your hard work. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to craft your content to be as relevant to your niche as possible, then there should be no surprise if you do not appear in the index for terms you may wish to rank for.

Social War 2012 has Begun

Lots of noise being made in the social arena over the last week or so, Google lauding it’s social network, Google+, by saying that over 90 million people have joined so far. It’s still just a drop in the social bucket really compared to Facebook’s 800+ million, but some have started to question just how genuine Google’s numbers are.

Reports have been growing online that the process to sign up for a Gmail account has changed from being just a simple matter of choosing a login name and a password. It seems that now, you’re required to fill out a social profile for your newly created Google+ profile. To say it’s irked people who were previously considering getting a Gmail account would be putting it mildly. A work around was quickly found for those interested in only a Gmail account, but that functionality obviously will not last. And although I haven’t noticed any changes in my search results, there are other reports of people saying that Google+ is taking over their SERPs. It’s gotten bad enough that just today, Facebook and Twitter developers have released a ‘tool’ to remove the social results from your pages named of all things, “don’t be evil”. The tool is a bookmarklet that you place in your shortcuts bar which can ‘fix’ your results if you’ve found they’re full of Google+ results.

Throwing another curve into the already twisted recent social signals that Google is putting out, in the earnings report that was just put out, Larry Page was ecstatic about the reported ‘gains’ they were making in the social arena. It’s not really a surprise that Page would be so excited about Google+, as when he took the helm last year he was throwing out big bonuses for improvements on the Google social front. It’s a rocky start for the online giants, but it’s a start which will make 2012 an impressive year for social media.