Catch the Wave

Google Wave was unleashed for public testing recently, with 100,000 invites being sent out; and with those a batch of invites, tied to the invites (think Gmail at it’s inception).

Catch the Wave, it’s setting itself to be the most interactive, social media collaberation idea out there. Email, instant messaging, documents, which can be edited by a list of people selected by you, it’s a step to making the internet just a little more accessible. Google has a love affair with making information freely available, from their book digitizing (currently on hold), to the actual search engine and indexing of the majority of the internet, to handing out free services like Gmail, and now the Wave service.

Wave itself is still a good few months off yet, admittedly still buggy in their own blog writings, but when the Wave gets rolling, it would be best to be on it and ready for the ride.

What to do when you disappear from Google

Step 1: Don’t worry. This occurs regularly, and can cause a lot of movement in rankings, meaning that it’s come to be feared by many in the SEO industry and anticipated by others. The update isn’t just one sudden switch, though, as each index update takes several days to complete. During this update the searches seem to ‘dance’ between the old index and new index – that’s the Google dance.

So why does it happen? Well, Google pulls its results from thousands of servers, and they can’t all be updated at once. Instead, each server is updated with the new index, one at a time. This can cause very strange behavior in the page rank process if two major sites located on separate servers happen to have a close linking bond. These sorts of separations are interesting and can contribute to a great deal of change and motion in page ranks. The most important thing to keep in mind is that eventually Google will rank you where you belong. Generally, if you behave, you will not be thrown around for long by the odd activity that can occur when Google is in the process of updating its index.

One common misunderstanding is the idea that Google controls which server each kind of information is coming from, and so stores similar information on the same server. Google’s index doesn’t work this way – it’s a big, disorganized mass of information that Google searches very quickly. This is a blessing in disguise because it allows your site to remain reachable via other sites that are related to it when the index is taking place. Your site generally won’t suffer for too long when an update is taking place anyway, but if you are heavily dependent on Google results, you will see a slight drop for a short period of time. This drop is often followed by a slight spike especially if your page rank has increased since the last round of indexing.

The servers that Google uses are distributed between datacenters all over the world. Google doesn’t keep all of those eggs in one basket – they want to be able to lose one datacenter and have the rest survive. This way, if part of Google goes down, people can still use the search engine and as was said before, this allows your site to be accessed via related sites if the server holding your sites index happens to go down. The datacenters that Google has put into play are enormous in comparison to most datacenters around the world. Google rivals some of the largest datacenters in the world with each of its datacenters and is probably the largest in the world if all were combined into one.

You see, the ‘time-to-live’ for Google is only five minutes – that means that Google can change it’s IP address every five minutes. This allows them to switch between their datacenters regularly, spreading the search load between them intelligently and routing around any damage. If you constantly entered the same datacenter with every search that you placed it would almost certainly fry within twenty four hours. Considering the number of users on Google each and every day, it is surprising that thn servers they do have is enough. A server can only handle so much traffic in a day and Google insures that it can hold more than any other service on the internet.

The datacenters updating their indexes at different times causes Google to do its dance. Unless you’re looking for your website’s ranking, you’d never notice this as your site is normally available at all times. The unfortunate bit is that often times you will lose your page ranking for a short period of time or your site will seem to have a lower number of pages indexed by Google. If you insure that you have several hundred pages available on Google at all times you will most likely be able to provide all of your content at all times either directly or indirectly.

Step 2: There is no step 2

The future of Google is.. cloudy?

With it’s seat firmly set on being the king of search, Google is constantly growing, and evolving. It’s a living, breating, life sustaining organ of the web, and as such, any moment of service problems is almost immediately noticeable.

Gmail, Google news, Blogger, Youtube etc. the list of companies under Googles umbrella, and in their repetoire is quite large, and seeing as acquisitions are once again on the table, soon to be growing. With such a huge toolkit of technologies available to them, it should be understandable that the odd disruption of service were to happen; even though it is rare.

And now, with Google encouraging users to change their productivity apps from the desktop, to the “cloud”, loss of service is beginning to become an issue. Not because it happens every day, or even if it happens once a month. The simple idea behind cloud computing being having “your computer” available to you anywhere is an incredible incentive. But, if when you go to use the cloud, you can’t access it because of a glitch, programming error, someone trips on a plug etc, it is a problem.

It’s like showing up to your current workplace, and your computer just not booting up. And the tech manager, is in the next city over, trying to communicate to you what’s wrong over the phone, but because he’s using sign language you can’t tell what’s going on, or when it’s going to be fixed. All you can do, is wait until then.

Cloud computing, may very well end up being the greatest boon to business productivity the world has seen to date. But as of right now, it’s still a brand new technology, and as such, will encounter hiccups, glitches, crashes, and downtime. Should Google be knocked, stripped, and beaten down for it? Not in my opinion, but everyone has their own.

For everything that Google does impressively, how easy is it to forget, when they’re trying to make a step into a previously, unknown sector.

SEO, The Web, and You

Cell phone browsers, laptops, netbooks, and the “coming soon” Courier.. the wired world is becoming decidedly wireless. With the accessibility of the internet increasing by leaps and bounds, your online presence is becoming more, and more paramount to your success.

All of the basics that have been covered in the last week or so, should be in the fore front of your mind when getting ready to go online, and even if you already have an established presence. Nothing like showing existing clients your strength in the industry, than to launch a new, engaging website, designed with SEO in mind, and being constantly updated with new information and content.

Linking them to your Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Blogger account for the on the minute updates, questions, and most recent news in regards to your growing, and changing business.

Look no further than the professionals at Fresh, to take care of all of your online needs.

Social Networks – Free SEO

Back to the basics again. We’ve talked about building, some basic tagging, and basic linking strategies. Another very basic step in the realm of SEO for the layperson, would be to make use of the current social media craze.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger/Wordpress, and to a lesser degree, Myspace, are all very viable, and encouraged spaces to use to market yourself and your new website.

Facebook offers a great audience, and is one of the most widely used social networks out there. Using their free services to help boost your sites visitors is as simple as having friends and family add you to their account, and just spreading the word. Use the page to update your news frequently, and watch the visitors begin to use your site and services.

Twitter, when used in conjuction with Facebook, adds an additional dimension to your company’s profile. Being able to update your news, interact with any customers or clients in an almost instant medium, is a great draw for potential clientelle. Being that Twitter can be done anywhere, you could be on the road, at the office, or at home and be able to handle any questions or concerns which can impact your image.

LinkedIn, is a professionals version of Facebook. It can be used to begin building your professional image with established companies locally, and globally. Lenders, suppliers, potential partners and alliances can all begin as simply having an account with LinkedIn.

Writing blogs is like icing on the cake. It’s the little bit of everyday, active information about your company, your niche, or even just the industry around you. Taking a short time each day to send out a blog, gets your blog site indexed within the day, and over time, and with dedication, you’ll begin to see the visitors grow and traffic will go through your site.

More to follow…

Why Winnipeg

The title why Winnipeg is a question I must get asked a hundred times a week.

What made you choose Winnipeg, why not Toronto or Vancouver, surely this would be better for you.

Okay, giving myself a little bit of toffee here, I’m pretty well known on a global scale especially for what I do on the Internet, the immigration officer at Toronto airport knew who I was when i flew in and so did the guy in the American Embassy in Vancouver.

Yes and they asked the question too, Why Winnipeg.

Well Winnipeg has a simplicity about it, you get a sense of familiarity with the city and the people, it’s relatively easy to commute around, it’s safe and you feel a strong sense of community.

When you have lived and worked in big cities around the world you come to appreciate these little things more.

As for my work it has it’s pluses and minuses, great opportunities and a growing marketplace, we maybe have a few years to go to catch the Toronto’s of this world, but that’s not to say that the potential isn’t here.

When Winnipeggers realise that we are just as good as everyone else in Canada and lose the inferiority complex and small mind thinking we will come much further.

Only in the last 12 months we have seen a massive increase in companies providing SEO and Internet marketing services, my sector, 6 to about 70, so either half of Europe or the US company’s have moved here or Winnipeg web businesses are just good opportunist. You decide. It’s your turn Winnipeg

Google, the Department of Justice, and you

In it’s bid to digitize the world, Google has moved forward again in it’s application to digitize the worlds libraries. Lately however, things have taken a decidedly more serious turn with the Department of Justice weighing in with it’s concerns. The DoJ became the latest party to file its concerns about Google’s book settlement and it appears the search giant will have to either make tweaks to the deal, or allow the feds—and maybe even Congress—to poke around. You should be betting on the tweaks.

While there were some good points made by the DoJ :

The United States strongly supports a vibrant marketplace for the electronic distribution of copyrighted works, including in-print, out-of-print, and so-called “orphan” works. The Proposed Settlement has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public. By allowing users to search the text of millions of books at no cost, the Proposed Settlement would open the door to new research opportunities. Users with print disabilities would also benefit from the accessibility elements of the Proposed Settlement, and, if the Proposed Settlement were approved, full text access to tens of millions of books would be provided through institutional subscriptions.

They also made it very clear, that there are valid concerns about the settlement as it exists now.

..the breadth of the Proposed Settlement – especially the forward-looking business arrangements it seeks to create – raises significant legal concerns. As a threshold matter, the central difficulty that the Proposed Settlement seeks to overcome – the inaccessibility of many works due to the lack of clarity about copyright ownership and copyright status – is a matter of public, not merely private, concern. A global disposition of the rights to millions of copyrighted works is typically the kind of policy change implemented through legislation, not through a private judicial settlement.

In the end, Google is most likely going to make a few tweaks to it’s compensation agreement and try to placate everyone as best as possible.

SEO Basics – Content

Continuing our ever growing list of SEO Tips, we’ll step into another batch of really basic optimization techniques which can help you improve your sites appearance, and hopefully, appeal on the search engines.

*Continually update your site-Sites that have new content added on a regular basis are seen as more reliable than sites that rarely do. This also helps you to increase the amount of relevant material on your site, which also improves your rankings. Consistently adhering to this principle, you can over time, become “the authority” in your niche.

*Unique content-Adding all the content you find on the internet won’t help improve your appearnce, if none of it is original. You need to provide content that has different information than what is on other sites and other Web pages.

*Try to use your keywords in your headlines-Headline tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) are a great place to use your keyword phrase and secondary keywords. Search engines recognize that headlines are more important than the surrounding text, and so assign greater value to keywords found there.

*Try to get your keywords inside incoming links-Inbound links are a great way to improve your page rank, and your standings in the search results. But it’s difficult to control how people link to your pages. Most incoming links don’t use a phrase that has anything even remotely close to any of your keywords. Remember that they are doing you a favor by linking to you.

One way to get your keywords into inbound links is to provide your customers with the link text ready-made. For example:

Please link to this page: a href=”http://www.freshtraffic.ca/online_internet_marketing_sales.htm” Search Engine Marketing

Just a few more tips to add to the beginning stretch of beginning SEO. As always, there’s always more to come.

Google vs Bing vs Yahoo

In a competition to find search engine bugs, Google came out on top of Bing, while also earning higher general praise than Microsoft’s new search engine. People in over 50 countries participated in the competition, held by uTest, a Southborough, Massachusetts based Q&A company.

While top spot went to Google earning the highest marks, almost a third of the testers were pleasantly surprised by Bing, and 10 percent said they’d make it their primary search engine, after having tested Google and Yahoo as well. Still, 90 percent said they’d be sticking with Google, valuing its search accuracy above all.

Testers actually found the fewest bugs in Yahoo, with just 70 problems, though less participants focused on this departing search engine compared to the other two major search engines. Testers found 130 bugs in Google, with 8 percent classified as “showstoppers”, while 321 bugs were discovered in Bing, 14 percent of them showstoppers.

It’s not clear how bugs are determined, but they pertain to technical, functional, and user interface issues. Because known bugs don’t qualify, Google probably gets a pass here, as there could be well-reported problems that don’t show up in the results. By comparison, with Bing being less than four months old, there’s plenty of room for new problems to arise.

More interesting is the survey that uTest solicited from its testers after the contest. Google dominated these surveys, as the top choice for accuracy, real-time relevance, and page load speeds. In all categories, Bing ranked second and Yahoo came in third. A small percentage of testers also tried Google Caffeine, and were generally impressed. One tester said results came back twice as fast as Google’s existing engine.

If the survey results are at all representative of all users, it’s a blow to Microsoft, which has tried to market Bing as turning up better search results. However, Microsoft may recognize it’s losing this battle, instead of turning to new, flashy features such as visual search.

Hail to the king baby..

SEO Basics – The Beginning

Optimizing your site takes time, effort, and knowledge. If you’re willing to take the time and learn, apply the effort to your site, then allow this little bit of knowledge to help you with those first few baby steps into the internet jungle.

We’re going to go way down to the beginning..

Keep your site friendly for the engines, there’s a ton of scripts, code, and fancy tricks that look great, but the search engines will pass over. Be careful with these common search engine obstacles

* Flash sites/elements – Some web designers love it, site visitors have a love it or hate it feel, and most importantly, search engines cannot read it. If you are determined to incorporate flash into your site, be sure to also include keyword text for the flash page/elements. Home pages and entire sites done entirely in flash are completely invisible to search engines. What is the value of a site that is invisible to the spiders?

* Dynamic URLs – Typically these urls are associated with a database driven website (www.yoursite.com/143?=5aswe for example) Although the engines can read them, they won’t dig too deeply. Simple URLs are Google/Bing/Yahoo friendly URLs.

* JavaScript menu navigation – A dated style to build off of, but your web developer will know about this type of menu. The engines don’t follow JavaScript links, so avoid them as often as possible for navigation links (Home, About, Products, etc.).

* Write for People, not bots/spiders
Is your website an effective marketing or sales tool? Or has it been crammed full of keywords and doesn’t read like a person has written it? Once you’re able to get visitors to your site, compelling, relevant content will keep them on your site. Possibilities include making a purchase, sign-up for news or promotional email letters, add the site to their bookmarks (to make it a regular reading stop), add your site to their Twitter or Facebook accounts, etc.

Short, simple, and extremely basic. The above points are merely a drop in the sea of SEO, but seeing as every website out there is just another fish, why not do your best to be the hunter amongst the prey?

More to come..