Tag Archives: google

Forget The Hype Around Search Poisoning

For the last few years especially, the web has taken off as the delivery method for world news. You can get your local, or world news quicker and you can form a more complete picture quicker now than ever before. Occasionally old media methods, radio, newspaper, or television, come out with a story or report that makes me do two main things. The first I do is shake my head at how common sense the reports often are, and the second is a realization that in order for there to be a story, it meant someone had made a fuss over it.

poisonedThe news story which stuck in my mind the last couple of days came from a report that security experts were warning users of search engine poisoning, and how if you’re not careful you could hit a bad link. The security company (and I use that term loosely) even said that search engine poisoning is 3 times more likely to infect a computer with malware than opening an email with a tainted attachment. It wasn’t the report so much that makes me wonder about computer users out there, but it does shine some light on how far behind some companies are where the web is concerned.

The real problem I have with these types of reports are the hype they generate, and the disinformation they can spread. Search engine poisoning isn’t a new trend in cyber warfare, it’s been happening for years now. It’s not a new method that suddenly popped up because people stopped clicking on email attachments. The black hat manipulators out there have been gaming the search listings for highly popular terms almost as long as the web has been available. Trending topics are most often the usual suspects that are targeted, whether it’s a celebrity story, or holiday gift ideas. The search engines are getting better at catching the offenders out there, but just like the police can’t catch every bad guy out there, neither can Google or Bing stop all of the bad results from getting through.

Instead of relying on antivirus software and firewalls to protect your computer, you should take some time to practice safe search methods. And always remember, if the text of that little blue link sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.

Fresh reasons to get on board

In the last week or so we have had the Super Bowl & the blackout, Tiger & Phil winning their first tournaments of the year in great style and of course the usual gibberish around the Winnipeg Internet industry.

As most of you will know, occasionally I like to have a rant, today is the day :-)

Having been around the net now as a marketer for 17 years, I have seen a lot come and go, Google came, AltaVista went, Facebook came and Friends United you get the gist, it’s no different in Winnipeg.

I have seen companies and individuals start in Winnipeg, then go, but they always seem to turn up again like bad pennies as some other company or expert consultant usually in Social Media, SEO or Marketing and it gets very tiring, I cannot believe that Winnipeg businesses keep falling for it.

One year there in college or shelf filling at Walmart, waiting in restaurants or selling flowers, the next there experts online peddling webinars or circuit speakers, really, do real people fall for this BS, In Winnipeg Yes.

People who know me or have dealt with my company know I don’t beat about the bush, I say things as they are, yes the truth hurts sometimes folks, my only concern is my client and the well being of there business and online return on investment.

I don’t care too much about money, it’s not our companies driving force, doing the job well and the client making money usually brings its rewards, enough to pay the wages and rent anyways.

We have friends in the city and probably a lot more enemies, mainly due to me speaking my mind, apologies to my sales manager, but how long can this charade go on for?

We have never really advertised ourselves too much, not joined the numerous clubs or groups in the city, done speeches even when asked or webinars for that matter, why, we never had to and to be fair I would probably struggle to get through it without a F word being thrown in there. I did join the Chamber for a few years after being asked, which did nothing at all for my company, maybe I faces just did not fit.

The truth of the matter is we had it all online, Yes the internet where 92% of people look before buying anything, and so as the old saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So straight from the horse’s mouth are the reasons you could be missing out on all those top spots on Google, Bing & Yahoo not to mention the thousands of $$$$$ people are looking to spend on your products.

There’s a reason why we are the #1 Online Branding Company in Canada on Google, Bing & Yahoo.

There’s a reason why we have dominated local search in Winnipeg over the last 6 years for SEO, Social Media & Internet Marketing.

There’s a reason why we are #1 Online for Winnipeg Digital Media.

There’s a reason why we are #1 for Winnipeg Ecommerce in Canada Online.

There’s a reason we have a 99% renewal rate from clients.

There’s a reason why we have continued to grow and lasted more than 15 years online.

There’s a reason Google purchased one of our companies.

We could give you another 100 reasons why we are leaders online, but we would rather you hear that from others.

Can you think of a reason why you should not be working with us?

Give your company a reason to shout out to the world, Call us today for FREE Quote.

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up” Muhammad Ali

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You Really Should Get on Board.

Tweak Your Website The Right Way

The online world is a funny place at best, a vastly confusing one at worst. There are massive amounts of information out there, about building websites, about using your social services, about how to rank your site, and so on. Over the last year especially, Google has taken some major twists and turns with the way that they rank information on the web, and it seemed to catch a great many website owners off guard. With how much things can change online, there are still some little tweaks and quirks that don’t often get discussed, so we’ll talk about a couple of nuances that you may have overlooked, or your website developer may have over looked while building your website.

websiteupgradeOne of the little quirks of the way that search engines work, has to do with how your structure your urls and web addresses. When you look at the terms ‘orange_jacket’ and ‘orange-jacket’ they read the same to a person, but they mean a world of difference to a search engine spider. In the first instance with the underscore, the spiders are going to treat it all as one single term. So ‘orange_jacket’ to a search engine becomes ‘orangejacket’. When you use a hyphen, the opposite becomes true, and ‘orange-jacket’ becomes two separate terms. When you’re building your internal website pages, and you want a page to be ranked for a specific, not wholly competitive term using underscores in your url won’t affect your chances a bunch. When you start to get into the more aggressive terms online however, the difference between a hyphen and an underscore can make or break your positioning.

One other point which bears mentioning, because we still run into a fair number of clients doing it, try to avoid using lots of image based information or using Flash and Silverlight to deliver your website content. Web designers (not developers) are actually some of the worst offenders of using them actually, and when they turn over a clients site to optimize often our first suggestion is to rebuild the website. Flash and Silverlight are great tools for adding snazzy animations or attractive, engaging content to your site, but when you get down to the tech side of it, search engines don’t agree with it. Google and Bing can, to some degree, get the information out of a Flash driven website, but they’re still shoddy at it and it’s poor website optimization practice any how.

These are only two of untold amounts of quirks and tweaks that you can employ as a website owner or developer to help your case when working online. I’ll make sure to discuss the topic further in the coming days.

Myths and Legends of Search

As widely varied as the information always is regarding search engines, the way they operate, and guesses and ideas about changes that may or not be happening, there is always someone out there who is making huge assumptions about their activity. The problem with speculation isn’t the nature of the act itself, but in how it can turn into the telephone game, and where the person in the front wrote a snippet of an article about funny page ranking activity, on the other end of the spectrum we have people telling you that they were banned from search for buying links or some such. The inception of search engine myths are a danger to the web, not for practiced experts in the field, but for those website owners and new comers to the space. They tend to run with the incredible ideas and notions, and forget that the simplest answer is likely the right one.

MythsEvery year we get some of the same myths making the rounds and they crop up year after year. At the outset so far it seems that the first myth to start us off is all about links and backlinking to your site. One of the largest offenders so far is that anchor link text is going to be at the very least a waste of time for you, at worst a detriment to your site. Now to start with, it’s dangerous to start spreading the misinformation that using anchor links on your site is a bad thing, as it is one of the simplest tools in the book to allow search engines to index your site quickly. The only danger that is associated with anchor text and links comes from ending up with backlinks coming from a less than squeaky clean site, but even then search engines have gotten much better at detecting and ignoring them. So the idea that anchor text and links are bad things, is a myth that needs to just finally go away, maybe 2013 will be the year that happens.

And I think one of the biggest myths that needs that just seems to stick around year after year along with the death of SEO, is that backlinks will no longer be the/a defining ranking signal. Anyone who has been involved in the industry for more than a couple of years will tell you, high quality, relevant backlinking isn’t going anywhere in terms of how important a factor it is where ranking is concerned. Here at Freshtraffic, we have more than 20 years of experience of working on the web and scouring the globe for high quality, relevant backlinks for our clients sites. And the number one thing we can take away with that experience is aside from upkeep on those links, is that backlinks are always important. The naysayers who are primarily calling out the death of backlinking are often marketers who are pushing fully into the social area, putting all of their eggs in a single basket. Bing has integrated social signals into their search, Facebook is coming out with their own version of a search engine, and Google has their own social angle with Google+, social is definitely here and it is here to stay. But if nearly two thirds of average online activity is done while not signed into a social account, it shows how much are those marketers losing by focusing on the social only angle.

Online optimization isn’t a one step process, the companies who will remain successful on the web will embrace all aspects of optimizing a clients website. Social, local, on page optimization and off page back link gathering and that is only the beginning of the optimization spectrum.

Are Panda and Penguin Failing?

Google, and for Bing as well for their part in the search game, make hundreds of changes to their search algorithms every year. Two of the largest changes came in the past year from Google, with the inclusion of the Panda and Penguin algorithms into the search world. When the two came online, it didn’t take long for the affected site owners to cry foul, and some even still are feeling the effects of the new search cleaners.

SadPenguinSomething very recently however has changed again, and this time it’s almost a backwards trend in search as opposed to moving forward. The Panda updates of the last year were included to try and clean out the scraper sites from ranking higher than the original author sites. And over the last couple of weeks it seems that either someone turned Panda off, or perhaps Google is placing more weight in their rel=”author” tag and just decided to not tell anyone. Since Facebook has come out with the news of their upcoming Graph search, perhaps this is Googles way of trying to push web owners into using the tag, in order to boost their own social pages in the search results. Only Google really knows, but at the present there seems to be a handful of scraped content sites showing up more prominently than the content owners. What this could possibly be is anyones guess, but maybe Panda took a vacation for a few days, just to see if anyone is paying attention.

And just to throw a little more into the fire for search speculation today, it seems like Googles Panda isn’t the only one up to something. Over the last couple of days there has been some shifting in the SERPs, and while that’s not uncommon, what makes it unusual is that it’s affecting 1-2 keyword searches, most affect 3+ term searches. The reason that is a little strange is you don’t typically see major changes in the 1-2 keyterm range, as the results pages are much larger. Penguin was the machine that was used to tune these pages, and at first glance it looks like that half of the Google zoo is on vacation as well. On some of the webmaster forums posts are trying to discern how they suddenly increased visibility and clicks by nearly 50%.

As mentioned previously, the only ones who really have any idea as to what is going on in terms of the changes in the SERPs the last few days, is Google. What ever the switches were that they tuned within Panda and Penguin the last few days however, definitely have the webmasters and SEOs on their toes, because rapid change like this can sometimes have some serious blowback.

Dominate Local Search in 2013

As a website owner, the past year was a bit of a roller coaster ride where search and search engine activity was concerned. Between Pandas and Penguins attacking across the web, and Bing and Facebook amping up their own search options, it can sometimes be a bit of a surprise that you came out the other end on a positive note. It’s a simple task to take a minute and search around for the projected search shifts for the year, so instead here’s a short list of topics you should focus on for your website, regardless of the unknown changes in search to come.

First things first, you need to address your website and its content. The search engines over the last year, contrary to popular belief, have been ramping up efforts to deliver quality websites with real content as opposed to scraper sites which offer only a sliver of real information. When you are going over your sites content you need to take the time to ensure that you’re delivering your message, in your own unique way. Keep your articles clear and on topic, and try to work in the trending terms or topics which relate to your niche. Once you’ve gone over your site and reworked everything you can then begin pushing it out, either on Facebook or Twitter social channels, or even providing snippets to industry white paper sites. It’s free to market yourself on your social pages, and if you didn’t get the message last year, search engines are slowly pushing towards integrating social content into the results pages. As an added bonus, if you’ve done a bang up job creating your content, you’ll garner backlinks and it will help your efforts that much more.

leaderSince you’ve taken the time to rework your content (you’ve done these steps right?) you need to go the next step and break down your website. I’m not insinuating that you take it offline or anything, but you need to carefully deconstruct your site, performance, appearance, layout, and then once you have finished optimizing for desktops you need to consider tablets and mobile displays. Over the last few months especially, the amount of users on mobile devices conducting search queries has grown to around 25% or so, and while that may not seem like much on the surface, think of that percentage again with the realization that there are more internet connected mobile devices on the planet than there are people. Ignoring the mobile search market is just as bad as ignoring the social angle, you’ll only continue to shoot yourself in the foot online. So load up your website on your tablet or smartphone and try using your pages, if you’re experiencing issues, correct them and count your fortunes later.

Now that you have your site mobile friendly, and you’re taking advantage of the mobile search growth, you have one more small step to take, and it is one that has been touted for a number of months as a trending market to grasp. You need to work on focusing your efforts into your local market, even if you don’t have a brick and mortar store, zeroing in on your target area and demographic will have the search engines loving your site more and more. Take advantage of the maps and local information that you can include on your website and social profiles, as the search engines will build a default local page for your site if you don’t already have one. Encourage your visitors to post their reviews to your social pages and engage your customers. Be active with them and you’ll soon find yourself with more work than you can handle.

Facebook Search Likely To Be Cheated

When you perform a search with Google or Bing, one of the elements which allows a website to climb the results pages are the backlinks pointing to the site. When the links are from a similar site, which is related to the site they’ve provided a link for it tells the search engine that “even though we’re an authority, this other site is better than we are” type scenario. This is an extremely basic description of how the search engine results pages become filled with those little blue links, but Facebook search is going to try and do something a little different.

leverageFacebookFacebook isn’t necessarily concerning itself with virtual locations, they are wanting to focus on the real world version of a page. Instead of using a similar system of backlinks however, they will be going down the route of using a like system, using your friends list as a foundation. It’s a twist on a way to determine a search results page, and it’s going to have some interesting applications moving forward with some people having hundreds and thousands of friends.

A solid description of one of the goals of Facebook search that I came across was it can be considered a multi-dimensional search results page. If you have a vacation planned for Las Vegas for example, you would need a hotel to stay at and try to plan it around the shows and events you would want to enjoy. Performing the search on Google or Bing, will return you the pages that have typically the best SEO laid out based on your search terms. From there you would do more research until you made your decision. The goal of Facebook search and using the Like idea, is that when you perform the same search within their service, you instead get a results page populated with the results based on your friends feedback. Instead of your results being based on the best optimization team, it will be based on the experiences of your friends, and if they enjoyed their visit to a particular venue.

There is a great deal of discontent already for the way that SEO works, and a lot of speculation that the methods used are gaming the search engines and breaking and bending rules to cheat to rank. The system, while built on solid principles does have it’s flaws, but it works as it is implemented. When Facebook introduces it’s method of basing their results around a like and share system, at that point I believe we will truly see what it is like to game a results page.

Losing Your Search Data

With the always growing concern over privacy online, it wasn’t a great shock that Google announced that their browser, Chrome, is moving to an entirely encrypted service. Currently the beta version of the browser provides private search features for logged in users, and they’re quickly working towards that being a default for all users, signed into your Google account or not.

It’s a mildly distressing point when you drill down into your analytics, because at present the average is somewhere between 20-30% of analytics traffic is coming up as “Not Provided”. Up until the last year or so, when a user conducted a search, made a choice, our analytics tools would show the URL that “refers” the visitor to that page, and would typically include what the visitor searched for. Now when someone performs that same search, the referring URL just looked like www.google.com. The analytics didn’t know how to provide a proper break down of traffic with that referrer, so instead it started giving results of “not provided”. And when you’re dealing with online optimization, not being aware of what your target audience is searching for can be a distressing blow, in the short term.

chrome-secureIt’s highly likely that the amount of users taking advantage of secure search methods will continue to grow, especially after Chrome makes it a default setting for all users of it’s browser. But just because the referrer is no longer being provided, it doesn’t mean all is lost. As a website owner, you’re losing the ability to easily see how trends are shifting in search for your particular niche, but you can counter that simply by being up to date with your clients and customers. You should be on the cusp of shifting trends in your industry if you expect to be a leader. Additionally, those search terms are not entirely lost, you just need to look in a different place. You should have Google Webmaster tools setup to monitor your website, and within that toolkit you can see the last 90 days of search terms for your site, with up to 2000 key terms. The data isn’t gone, it’s just in a different spot, and with the utilization of your entire toolkit you can still find any answers you seek.

Facebook Forcing Googles Hand

The new Facebook Graph search has a grip on the social world of course, being assisted on the web search by Bing. It doesn’t take but a few minutes of typing “Facebook Graph” into a search bar to find that there are more than a few people hailing the new service as taking the fight to Google. The information and the action of the new Facebook feature however, doesn’t have me convinced that Google has a whole lot to worry about.

facebookThe first part of the feature that struck me as a tad odd, was the introduction of using your social signals to deliver search results which have been tailored to suit you. Based on your friends activity and online postings, your search becomes filtered, delivering you only the topics and trends which apply to you. It places you within a search bubble, and there has been a growing outcry against Google delivering personalized results to people for the last year and a bit, so why the introduction of a Facebook search should suddenly change peoples opinions struck me a little odd.

They put together a convincing trailer about the graph search on their site, but the offering from Facebook left me rather unconvinced as to it’s full usefulness. With somewhere around a billion users, and with user profiles that are nearly five times in friend size (from 100 friends on average 5 years ago to 500 now), it seemed to me that the “searches” that were performed in the video, would have been questions you already knew the answers to. Regardless of the amount of friends you might have on your list in Facebook, you already know and can identify those nearest to you that share your interests. You don’t need to search for them or what they may like, because you already likely know.

One of the greatest advantages however to the introduction of a search service to Facebook, is the cost of advertising. Google has long been an incredibly dominant force in the web advertising space with its Adwords and Adsense programs, and depending on the terms you wanted to pursue your costs could climb rapidly. The ideal revenue model for the Facebook Graph search service would be the same idea, an advertising model that caters to what you may be searching for at the moment. And on the surface that may look like it spells doom for Google and the way it does business, but it is actually a very good thing. Competition drives creativity, it promotes change and spurs innovation. Google has always said they want people to enter the search space, and Facebook is working on it now. We’ll have to keep watch on it to see just how far it can go.

Is Facebook Dieing Or Evolving

Later today there is going to be an announcement, it’ll be a change to the way you conduct yourself online, and will likely affect your friends and family as well. Late yesterday I saw word of the impending news, and in just a few hours the tech world will get it’s answer, just what could Facebook have planned?

Zuckerberg-FB-pressThere’s been a lot of ideas thrown around about the future of Facebook, with discussions covering almost everything from phone hardware and/or software, to search engines. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Facebook is the largest social site on the web, and with somewhere near a billion members for a user base they have the potential market to influence massive online change. As for what option really makes sense for the company is anyones guess, but you can bet that there is going to be a massive audience tuning in for it.

Facebook likely won’t be going down the road of building their own phone, while the company has a strong digital presence, it wouldn’t likely translate into as strong an audience in the hardware market. A great option, and one that makes sense especially since they recently closed their purchase of Instagram, would be to add video support to the platform. It’s already globally accepted as a way to rapidly share the photos you take, it would make sense in a number of ways to offer the same feature to any videos that are taken. Not only would this allow Facebook to monetize any videos that are put up by placing ads in the stream, but it would give a reason for YouTube to possibly step up it’s game as well. It has been the dominant online video source for ever it seems.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, the question that has been asked of Zuckerberg and the Facebook machine a number of times – are you building a search engine. Other times when the question was pointedly asked, they have sometimes shied away from the question by avoiding it, and other times saying no, not yet. Perhaps today is the day, where Facebook announces their own search engine, driven entirely by social signals? Even if today is the day that Facebook does let loose with a new search engine, or even a coming one, the true effect of what that could do to the online scope is unknown. There would be a great deal of unknown territory, as a search engine driven by social signals would be prone to massive manipulation, both positive and negative. And with a user base of somewhere around a billion members, that’s a lot of leverage that can sway an algorithm one way or the other. The other question that could be asked, is what happens to those people who remove their accounts, either by deleting or deactivating them, what happens to their social links they may have bestowed? Over the last month in the UK there have been more than a half million accounts deleted from the social service, what would happen to a search service if a mass migration hit the site? So many unknown variables, stay tuned to the web in a few hours and the picture will begin to become clearer.