Tag Archives: bing

Ever Changing Web Technology

Along with all things, changes to the way we use the internet happen on a daily basis for the most part. Starting from a single browser interface, to now having a half a dozen available to use depending on preference and platform, web tech has been changing and evolving almost as fast as the web itself.

Take browsers for example, just a few years ago in 2008, the online world was dominated by Internet Explorer, followed up by Firefox and just a sprinkle of the odd ones here and there. That was the year that Google Chrome was introduced, and since that time, the number one seeds have changed some. As of the start of 2012, there is a fairly even split of the browser market going to the top 2, Firefox and Chrome as the most widely used, Internet Explorer coming in at a distant third and the rest, still just a smattering on the internet landscape. As of March 2012, Internet Explorer has dipped under 20% of the browser landscape, thankfully at least half of that market uses an updated version of the browser, with version 8.

But browsers aren’t the only change we’ve had in the last few years online, social media has become a massive market on the web. The largest player in the space needs no introduction, Facebook entirely crushes the social market with having around a half billion users logged in on average per day. The unencouraging portion of that number however, is that nearly half of the businesses out there, don’t even use social media marketing to their advantage. Only about 20% of the businesses out there are even using Facebook to push their brand and market, with the smaller business owners more readily embracing the technology. Knowing it’s an avenue that needs to be explored, and taking that step to do so are two different things, and it seems that a lot of the time it’s people that try and make it complicated. Any concern for marketing is return on investment, and while organic search engine optimization is the best return in the business, it’s cost and time factors make it difficult for those with very shallow pockets. Freebie advertising though, like that can be found with Facebook and Twitter, can be easily measured however, broadcast your ad/tweet, and measure your traffic over the next couple of days. It’s not magic, it’s simple math when you have to keep it basic.

The Goliath Complex of SEO

The goals of SEO are relatively simple, to make your site rank as highly as possible within the search pages for your niche. Whether you build houses, write stories, or draw pictures, search engine optimization is applicable for any website online. What a lot of smaller business owners can also use SEO for, is to knock the big players down a peg or two.

It’s an important step for all parties to consider SEO as a great equalizer online, you do however have to remember to stay within the rules. There are billions of web pages online, and yet with that daunting number in mind it’s still a relatively simple process to stay within the sights of the search engines. All you really need to keep in mind are the basics, even just following the best practices guidelines gives your website a shot at being picked up and indexed. But you need to also remember, the internet isn’t exactly a friendly place yet, a great deal of the web is free and wild. As a small example, you can’t control what websites choose to link to you if they choose too. This can be a difficult hurdle to overcome as well, as irrelevant, or inappropriate back links leading to your website can seriously hamper any SEO efforts you may have in place. This is only a single element of what’s known as negative SEO.

The larger, more established and authoritative sites such as Amazon are somewhat safer in this regards, however no one is completely immune to negative SEO. Negative search engine optimization can be defined as spammy links, blatant keyword stuffing, duplicate content or anything that isn’t considered white hat SEO by the search engines. Smaller, newer sites unfortunately are more susceptible to negative optimization problems. In the beginnings of a sites growth, it may not have much content or links pointing to it. If you’re not careful with how you craft your content or structure your links and navigation, you may even get dinged as having duplicate or irrelevant content in your niche. The number one point however that you need to keep in the forefront of your mind though, because the internet is still wildly untamed, the playing field is actually relatively plain and simple. Follow the rules, manage your website and monitor your content to make sure it doesn’t get scraped or that it has been copied from another resource. Even the big hitters can be taken down online, no target is too big or too relevant on the web.

Duplicate Content in New Website Creation

When you’ve decided to build yourself a new site, whether it be due to needing an update, or if you’re just looking for a new image there’s a very important step to monitor. You need to ensure, that before you get too far into the process that you’re not making a rookie mistake and allowing the search engines to index both versions of your website. Doing so, can cause you grief and could ulimately penalize both websites for duplicate content.

When you’ve begun working on the newest version of your site, you need to ensure that it’s not being indexed by the search engines so you can work all you like without worry. The simplest way would be to use your htaccess file to block the bots, or alternatively if you have the means, you could work on a local server where the site isn’t techinically on the internet. Duplicate content can cause Google or Bing not to know which page it should list in response to a search. The search engines suddenly have two versions of your website and content to consider, and need to determine which it feels is the most relevant of the two. Seeing as your old site originally had the content, you stand to injure your brands reputation and new url simply by working on a new site or look.

Duplicate content isn’t just a concern when you’re working on your own website, it’s actually a point you should make note to occaisionally monitor. A bothersome trait and a difficult problem to tackle is if your own, original content ends up being scraped by a bot and winds up on an aggregator site. You can search for your own content by searching for key phrases and terms which you’ve used within the content and/or title, and hopefully the only sites which come up are your own or those you’ve given permission too to reproduce it. Typically scraper sites don’t rank that highly in search anymore, however there are still occasions where they do show up higher in the results than the original creators. When this happens, you often become trapped in a terrible cycle of trying to have your own, hard earned content removed from the index, and having credit given where credit is due.

Google Saving Your Advertising Dollars

It’s somewhat common knowledge that when someone performs a search, there will be a box of “Sponsored results” to the left, above, and sometimes even below the organic results. Bing has a paid service, as does Yahoo and Google has their AdWords which proved a business in search can be profitable. There’s a discussion lately surrounding paid search advertising and the big 3 search engines, and if you’re not careful with how you read it, you may walk away with the wrong idea.

Compared to this time last year, the CPC for Google has fallen again, for the second quarter in a row while Bing and Yahoo’s CPC have continued to climb. On the surface it’s a statement which can make it sound like Bing and Yahoo have been managing to grab ad space from Google. The point closer to the truth however is more to the tune that Google has become an even better choice to advertise with, as opposed to Bing and Yahoo. Search engine marketing via the AdWords platform or one like it, has to be measured differently than the organic results, you can’t take positioning as the end goal.

When you begin to break down the numbers involved in SEM and SEO, there are some key differences that you need to understand. They both depend on conversion rates, because without converting your traffic, you’re wasting time and money. One of the largest, and most important difference however is the click through rate of your positioning. You could be ranked at the very top of the AdWords results, but if you have a poorly written ad, or a poorly built website, chances are your conversions will be limited.

Another major point you need to keep in mind is cost per click, or CPC as was being discussed earlier. Where paid advertising is concerned, CPC is a literal interpretation of how much it is costing you to have someone click on your listing. Organic SEO is more difficult to define, as you’re not paying each time someone clicks your organic listing, but after a few months you can more easily break it down. A high cost per click for your search term can mean that there are many people in the same space, or, it can mean that one of your competitors is driving up the bid on the keyword to try and gain dominance. A declining average cost per click isn’t necessarily a bad omen, it can point to reduced competition, it can also mean an improved conversion rate.

SEOs Biggest Enemy – Itself

There are all sorts of experts out there in the SEO world, and for all of the experts out there willing to take only a couple of hundred dollars to place your site, there is a larger road block to finding the real pros in the industry; information. Good info, bad info, just plain wrong info, if you search for seo expert, or anything along that though line, you will run into some real winners if you’re willing to dig deep enough.

The last year or so the internet search world has been buzzing with Panda, it dropped this clients site, or it ruined the results for the term which magically brought their site 20,000 visitors in a day previously. Casting aside all of the hyperbole, Panda didn’t affect the vast majority of the websites out there, the main aim of the algorithm is to search out spammy sites, sites with scraped content from other sources and even sites which use automatic posting means. Just like any of the other major algorithm shifts, if you weren’t doing anything wrong at all, you’ll have noticed very little change in your positioning, and in your visitors.

But, if you happened to be working in a back linking scheme to garner thousands of links from a seemingly active blog, and you magically dropped in the rankings, then chances are the blogger wasn’t quite doing things the proper way. Before you start reading information on search and taking it at its face value, you need to dig even deeper into the threads and posts on the site which calls itself experts. If it’s only comprised of a handful or so pages, chances are they haven’t done anything except find some decent content and copy it. If the information sounds good, check the post date on it, if it was posted even a year ago, then as great as it sounds then there are likely vast portions of it unusable. And finally, actually take the time to dig into the post, read it both silently and out loud. If something isn’t adding up as you read it, sentance structure is off, or the cadence is jerky, then there are a couple of strong contenders. The post in question was either scraped and put together in a hodge podge fashion to try and dupe the algorithms, or, the piece was written by a piece of software.

The last bit may seem a little odd, but there are programs available now which can truly write all of your blogs for you. You can feed it a topic, how many words you want, what type of emphasis, and a few minutes later you have a post. The key issue with these programs however, is just as bad as someone manually scraping the web for content, the posts are almost entirely made up of scraped content. The software is just designed to piece it together to make it fit the parameters you have set.

There is really only one rule to bear in mind when searching for an SEO, or when one approaches you: Can you find them when you search for them? Because if they can’t list their site in the top few pages, then chances are very strong they can’t do a thing for your site as well.

Panda Update – Any Change?

So Google has come out and said that late last week they pushed out a new update with Panda, and that it really only affected less than 2% of searches in the wild. Considering the millions of searches performed in a day that might seem trivial, but what do you do if you were caught up in the update and “lost” your position? Well, there’s a short, and a long answer to this predicament, we’ll start with the long one.

One of the first things you need to verify when you think you’ve been removed or bumped down in the index is, you need to have a look at your toolset you use. Whether it’s Google’s Webmaster tools, Analytics or any other suite with which you use to monitor your site, get in there and have a look at the warnings or errors section. If a search engine has found any major faults with your site, you’ll often find a report which outlines the discovered errors and some tips about how to rectify the situation.

Another helpful step you can take to make sure nothing naughty has gone on while you weren’t looking, is run a quick backlink check on your site. You should occasionaly have a look at who it is that’s linking too you, as backlinks tell part of your story to the search engines. While the internet is a vast, wild and sometimes reckless place, you can still have some control over who is lending you relevancy. If you’re a shoe sales website you wouldn’t want to have thousands of backlinks from a forum relating to boats as your website and business have nothing to do with boats.

Another big point you need to try and bear in mind, also falls in line with the short answer to the question of what to do if you get bumped or dumped. As shocking as it can be to be dropped from the index, the number one step you can do is wait. If you have a clear conscience and are confident in the work your SEO performs for you, you need to remain calm, correct any major flaws pointed out in your webmaster tools, submit your reconsideration forms to the search engines and wait. The search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo etc do a great job of keeping people informed and in the dark at the same time. There are hundreds of variables active in the search algorithms, and if you’re found in glaring violation of any of them you could be kicked down or dropped from the index. So remain in contact with your SEO, have a look at your site from time to time and make sure you’re still relevant to your niche, and in time your course will be corrected. The index is like having a jar of water with sand in it. When it’s left long enough, the water clears and the junk filters to the bottom, but every now and then it’s interesting to pick it up and give it a good shake. Make everything muddy for a short time, but in time it will settle out and everything will clear.

There is No Privacy Online

It’s been just about a month now since Google has rolled out it’s unified privacy policy, and on some frequented corners of the internet people are still making a fuss. Calling the change in the way Google delivers it’s results and it’s ads, a breach of personal privacy to all who use Google products.

The fact that the privacy policy has been put into place, and all of the fuss and noise that was being made didn’t even slow it, let alone stop it, should be evidence enough that the people who pull the strings are on board. It’s a single document, which pertains to all of Google’s properties online and it basically makes everyones job easier. No more do you have to accept a privacy policy for any, and every, Google product you create an account for. Think you’ve been slighted by the company, take the policy in hand, get a lawyer and make your play. But in the end, the average internet user won’t be doing any of the sort. It’s the internet, there is much more than a single search provider. Don’t agree with their new policy, there’s always Bing ready and willing. But that means also no Youtube, no Places searches, and no Gmail to have synced across your platforms. There are absolutely alternatives to pretty much and and every Google platform, but you’d be fooling yourself to think they’re all better, or even comparable for that matter.

In all the ruckus made about the issues of privacy that people keep bringing up, it always comes back to the same question. If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you just stop using it? The real issue with privacy and being online that the vast majority don’t, or won’t realize, is it doesn’t truly exist. If you want your information to be private, never sign anything. Never use the internet, don’t get an email address and move to a mountain side. And even then, even if you lived all alone in a shack on the side of a mountain, if someone sees you and writes a blog about you, sorry, no more privacy. All you can do to maintain control online is to be aware of the sites you use, what their policies are and what they change too if they change. Google didn’t change anything about how they do their work, they simply stream lined it to make it easier for the user, and for them. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, all massive companies all of which became that way because you’ve used their products and given them your information. Companies don’t grow like trees, they grow with your personal, private information.

Instead of harping on the one company which has a single privacy policy, and an easy to understand one at that, go and find Facebooks policy and give that a read. If you really dig into what the policy is telling you, I think you’ll find yourself more than a little shocked at just how un-private you are.

A Prieview of SOPA in Action

In what may yet become a global precedent, a judge in Nevada has passed judgement on nearly 700 domain names tied to counterfeiting Chanel products. Currently there are two bills being pushed to become law, whereby the courts and trademark owners could essentially tell search engines and social media sites what they are and aren’t allowed to index.

This current case has the makings of a SOPA like enforcement all over it, in that the judge didn’t bother to check domain registration locations only deemed that they all need to be turned over to a US GoDaddy registrar and that “all Internet search engines” and “all social media websites” explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google are required to remove the addresses from their indexes.

One law professor was empathetic towards companies trying to force IP protection of their products and was quick to point out that perhaps SOPA is just fake punch against internet pirates. “I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” he writes. “I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.” said Venkat Balasubramani. The case with Chanel has shown he says, that IP rightsholders don’t necessarily even need the SOPA bill to pass to get what they want. Total control over their product, intellectual property (IP) and their trademarked name.

If rightsholders can already essentially dictate the terms they want federal judges to enforce, on globally owned website names and properties, much darker days are on the horizon for those who legitimately share ideas online. It shows there’s nothing stopping a we said/they said fight from enforcing the rule of law online.

Does SEO Matter?

It’s not a secret that the search engines have to frequently tweak their algorithms in order to shake things up a little on the SERPs. It also isn’t a secret that Google, Bing and Yahoo occasionally like to shuffle those results and sometimes you may find yourself without a positive ranking as you were accustomed too, only to find that a few days later you’re back where you’ve always been. So what point does it serve to remove you from your positioning, only to place you back? It can make you think, do search engines and SEO really make any difference at all if they can change things on a whim? The short answer is yes, the long answer.. well it’s the long answer for a reason.

In keeping with the times, you need to remember the web is everywhere. At home, work, on smartphones and tablets, it’s never been easier to be connected. And with all of that information at their fingertips, 9 out of 10 times people will search. They’ll visit Facebook or Twitter, Google or Yahoo and they’ll search for their answer or ask their friends for an opinion. For some it’s as small as what to have for dinner for any given evening. For others it can be as life defining as what area of a city to buy a new home in.

So yes search engine optimization matters and yes having a website is important. Google and Bing send out their robots and scour the web so that you don’t have too. They arrive on a site, chew through the content as quick as can be and ranks the new site against it’s current list. As a business, having your plumbing business on the top of the maps listings when someones water heater suddenly dies, means hundreds of dollars in difference to not taking the 20 minutes to set it up properly. There’s also the adword side of the search game which works on primarily a bid and auction system, so long as you have the best bid on a keyword you could rank on page 1 number 1 in the ad spaces.

That’s the cookie cutter steps that everyone should be taking or at the very least, be very well aware of that are available. This is where organic SEO comes into play. For what you could spend on an adwords campaign, if you put those resources and time into properly building and working on your website, you can rank in the organic listings for your key terms. This is also where you’ll notice when the search engines are doing their big shuffle when they reindex their results pages. First rule you need to remember about organic listings – if you randomly disappear with no warnings or emails from the search engine, don’t panic. Take a look at your site and ensure you haven’t broken any of the rules. If you’re good on all fronts, just wait at first. Be patient and wait to see what shakes out. Search engine optimization matters, as do search engines and having a proper website, not just a Facebook or Google+ Places page.