Tagged with " online branding"
A topic that we have touched upon a number of times on the blog here is the discussion of skill sets. There is no all in one tool box when it comes to being a successful company online, you need to make sure to put the right tools in place. You should have your content and all of its creation, that is usually down to the business owner or visionary offering the services. You then need sales people, or if you are not into sales, a work force devoted to spreading your information, both on and offline. When you do have a website, you need to have a web team in place to manage your site, and finally online marketing. You need to have a dedicated team or individual in place who can manage your online branding efforts.
Being that we are an online focused company, we tend to see some prime examples of either one of two extremes. Either we have a client who decided that they could handle everything in house, and quickly learned that online management is a full time job in itself. The other side of the coin we find are others in our space, web designers or developers who try and sell themselves off as SEOs as well. When we have a new client who has come to us because they have learned they can’t manage the workload on their own, it is a great day. Primarily for them, for as long as they haven’t broken any of the rules, we can assist with their positioning easily.
An unfortunate thorn in our side however, are the individuals out there who bill themselves as a one stop shop for all things online. Cumulatively at Fresh, we have somewhere north of 40 years of experience in the online market, ranging from development, design, and optimization. We have always billed ourselves as online branding and internet marketing experts, but we can help you out if you need a new website designed and developed as well. And when it comes down to it, everyone within Fresh does the job they’re best at. A designer to design the sites, a developer to make them light and quick. One person taking care of the on site and on page work and the boss taking care of the finished product. If he finds a change that needs to be made, whether it’s in design, development or with the on site optimization, it gets sent back to be addressed before it goes live.
The idiom “horses for courses” is a phrase I came to know well working here at Fresh, basically meaning is what suits one person may not suit another. But it is that stringent starting point that has allowed us to provide our clients with the results they deserve and demand, both with their website and their online marketing efforts. 2012 will very soon be behind us, we will be ready come 2013 for you and your business, to help you succeed.
Not that it should be any great surprise, but when comScore released the the search data they’ve compiled for the November 2012 search volumes, Google was at the top of the pack. The search giant is still sitting neatly and strongly at the head of the marketplace with more than two thirds of the monthly search volume, with Bing and Yahoo (powered by Bing) search taking up just over a quarter of the search market.
It should be a rather pointed argument against the hype Bing enjoys conjuring up in the news, both search and technological, that even with their Bing it on challenge and the fuss that they made about the Google shopping services, public usage of Google actually went up from Octobers numbers. It doesn’t sound like much, it was 0.1% increase, but when you’re talking about billions of searches, even that small of a number means a massive amount of search data.
Last month there was somwhere in the neighborhood of 17 billion searches performed, and that was just in the U.S., so where did you and your website come up? If you find that you’re not able to easily answer that question without talking to your website administrators, there are a few basic steps you can look into. You won’t end up with a definite numbered position where you ranked in search, but it will give you an idea as to the kind of chances you’ve given your brand online to rank.
When you approved your site design, did you make sure to stay away from an all graphic, or highly graphic website with little to no textual content on your home page? Your home page is your primary bait which you use to display yourself online. Is your information relevant to your business, and are you an authority in your space? It’s incredibly important to make sure you have your content well written, and at the same time try and stay away from industry specific terms as you can cut yourself off from potential leads. Occasionally it’s a good idea to just read your website through, clicking on all of your navigation points to see if everything is in order and makes sense. Sometimes, you might give your own content a once over and realize that some information you’ve included is no longer applicable to your niche and instead of helping your visibility online, it’s hampering your position. Lastly, talk to your online branding associate and try and keep an open line of communication. Nothing can slow down your online growth like leaving emails and phone calls unanswered.
Online branding and marketing techniques will always be changing and evolving to match the ebb and flow of the web and those who use it. This year especially saw a wide range of changes with the search industry and how Google in particular indexes the web. Major changes such as Panda, Penguin and the EMD (exact match domain) update put some webmasters in the unsavory position of having lost rankings and traffic. Depending on how badly they were affected, some still haven’t recovered lost traffic and potential income.
It hasn’t been all bad though, it’s been a good year in the sense that the word has spread of the differences in the quality of service that some companies can provide you. It’s a fairly safe bet for example, if a search marketing company has pitched working on your companies site, while extoling the dangers and pitfalls of Panda and Penguin, that they’ve been caught and penalized by the system. Call it once bitten twice shy, but it’s safe to say thhat they’ve been shown they’re not doing things quite right, and have have been slapped with a penalty as a result. With the growth of awareness where the quality of your site and how it’s constructed overall, a fair amount of the fly by night experts have disappeared from the playing field, and as an added bonus, there has been an all around increase in online marketing budgets for the coming year. So as we have written in the past, the wheat has been separated from the chaff and as an added bonus – budgets have increased!
Hopefully the changes in the search industry haven’t scared you off from building or promoting your website, the key element we’ve always focused on helping our clients with is by focusing on the content. While a great deal of pretenders have lost position and relevance in the industry with Panada and Penguin, working the quality content angle as we always have proved to be a strong element to remaining at the top of the results page. Going forward into 2013 we’ll continue to deliver strong positioning for our clients, and help them dominate the SERPs for their desired terms. With the loss of some of the local ‘experts’ it’s only made our job easier in the coming year.
An interesting point to notice about a search engine, is just how many results are returned when performing a search. Google and Bing have indexed trillions of pages if you mixed them together, an always increasing amount. Some written articles have called it a problem, but Google and Bing rarely display any results passed the 1000 range, even if it says that it found 25,000,000 results for your query.
It isn’t so much a problem that they don’t display a value larger than 1000 results, the question should really be ‘Do they need to?’ The search engines like to pride themselves on delivering the most relevant results, based on what you’ve searched for, your past history and so on. If you’re a fan of having a no strings attached type search, using a search engine like DuckDuckGo may be more up your alley, but the first point still remains. What point does it serve if a search engine tells you it finds millions of results, and doesn’t show you them.
Let’s take the following quick search from Google, for ice cream. We’re in Winnipeg, so we were returned the results for the Wikipedia entry, and then we got into the local restaurants and dessert places that purvey ice cream. But when you look at how many results are returned, 463,000,000.. is that entirely relevant? I don’t need that many results about ice cream, it’s not that wide of a variable product, but Google has said they have that many results. This is where some written pieces have said that there is a problem, even though it says that it has 463,000,000 results, I can’t browse passed the first 1,000 results even though there’s been so many returned. It’s more a personal preference, but some very basic math (default search results pages show 10 results) says, why would I be looking on page 46 million to see what has been indexed about ice cream?
Where online marketing and your brand are concerned, you shouldn’t worry about what is showing in terms of how many pages have been returned that have been indexed. There are some sites and pages from the early 90s that can still be found, which are horrid where aesthetics and usability are concerned if you’d really like to find them. The vast majority of search users don’t go to page 2, let alone page 3 or 4, chances are if their result hasn’t been found on their first search they’re going to revise their terms and try again. Focus on your content, focus on being relevant, and focus on the basics. Don’t worry about the other 463 million results.
There was a birthday today, were you aware that this technology has reached the ripe old age of 20? It was born from a need to communicate snippets of conversation in a quick, simple fashion, so Vodafone birthed the first text message in the UK. It was a huge step in the way the world communicates, and it was good 10 years before anything like it happened in Canada.
It’s not the sending of the first text message that was the point of todays blog, it’s the point of fact that it took 10 years for that same technology to reach our side of the pond. Since Jerry took up roots here 5 years ago, he’s been trying to teach the business community on moving forward, about embracing the technology and methodologies that he’d been using in the UK. And Winnipeg has been resistant, it’s been a difficult uphill battle that’s only been starting to allow us some traction. It is a poor showing on our part, Winnipegs part, to allow our past business dealings to dictate our future online.
Winnipeg needs to move ahead, in a much quicker fashion if it expects to keep up in todays business world. We have a handful of the local business owners who have seen the light and are enjoying the fruits of our labor in the online world, which translate to very real, very tangible results on their bottom line. The real question that has been asked of those who don’t want to grow online, is what are you waiting for? The web and online tech isn’t slowing down, it’s speeding up and as a city we’re already behind by at least 5-6 years. We’re ready to help you here at Fresh, the question is are you ready to grow?
There’s a lot of noise being made lately from the Bing side of the web about how Google isn’t playing by the good old search rules and they’ve coined their term ‘Scrooogled’. I find the term a bit of comedy, as Scroogle used to be an anonymous way to search via Google by blocking cookies and not using log files, but instead of focusing on a service that no longer exists I had a read of Bings press release on the matter.
The title: “Don’t get Scroogled: Bing Launches Campaign for Honest Search..” I shortened it a bit as it’s rather long, but it sounds like they want to help search engine users find relevant results. It didn’t take long for Bing to get into the numbers of things, a projected $96 billion in online shopping this year, but perhaps a little generous when saying half of that comes from search engines. That number is likely lower than that, but, let’s disregard that for the moment – most online shoppers use a site like Amazon to find their deals online. It didn’t take very long for Bing to start comparing apples to oranges though, because very quickly in their blog posting they talk about how the Google Shopping results are based partially on paid inclusion – much like you would do with running an profitable Adwords campaign. For those who have never seen the admin side of the Adwords platform, once you’ve set your bid and ad, Google gives you a projection of where they think you’ll place within the results. They’re by no means set in stone and change day to day based on bid, competition on your terms, and so on.
Why I use the apples to oranges comparison however is because Bing is comparing search results, to shopping results, and saying that Bing is playing by the “old search rules” where Google Shopping is not. you can’t really compare Bing web search to Google Shopping search, as it would be like comparing Google web search to Amazon shopping search, they serve different functions and as a result, function completely different. In May of this year Google Commerce published a blog describing how the change to the shopping side of their product was going to begin to use a paid metric to help build on the relevance of the results, because a retailer wouldn’t pay for an ad to list a fake product. It is like advertising using billboards or radio ads to try and reach more consumers, it’s just another marketing medium to get your product out there. So to skip ahead just a little, Bing is comparing their organic web search, to Google’s Shopping search results – an apples to oranges comparison.
In the interest of fairness, I decided to have a look at the Bing shopping results, versus the Google shopping results. Being that we’re now comparing apples to apples, if there is a disparity it shouldn’t be too difficult to spot. I searched for the likeliest top sellers for the holiday shopping season, and was surprised at every turn. Not by the results that Google served me, but by the lack of results Bing returned. Each results page was sorted by relevance, and I’ll just let the screenshots speak for themselves.
The US Thanksgiving has come and gone, and with it Black Friday, the occasion when everyone tries to find the best deal. But the limelight is slowly turning to focus on the new comer to the shopping scene – coined Cyber Monday in 2005. We’d written about the date in early August, as with the internet and the search engines working the way they do, it would give you time to put yourself in a commanding position. Did you take advantage of the forewarning? Or did you just settle for where you are, and lean on your in-store sales? If you did the latter, you’ll likely soon be kicking yourself as the predictions and the numbers are starting to come in.
Cyber Monday was first used in 2005 after the increase in online spending had suddenly jumped. Since then, the industry has climbed to being such a huge business that some stores are reporting that nearly 40% of their yearly income is from this singular online shopping day. And that number will only continue to grow. This year it’s estimated that on this one day alone Americans will likely spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion dollars in 24 hours, and that’s up a good 17% from last years online spending. With more and more people having more connected devices, from phones to computers, iPads and laptops, the lure to shop online is growing rapidly. The best quote about from comScore came would have to be the following:
Of all the benchmark spending days, Thanksgiving is growing at the fastest rate, up 128 percent over the last five years
That’s a huge portion of income that you could potentially be missing out on just by not taking advantage of the online branding advice we hand out freely here on our blog. The number of 17% growth, year after year needs to be taken with a grain of salt of course, as some industries can expect consistent sales, but as a business owner you need to take stock. What could you achieve with a better online position, what improvements could you make with a 5% increase in income? What about 8%, or 10% for that matter? When you’re ready to find out, contact us here at Fresh and we’ll help you answer those questions.
Search is a finicky thing on it’s own, let alone when you start throwing all sorts of (seemingly) random variables to serve the results pages. Both Bing and Google have their own set of checks and balances which they use to deliver the results page based on your search terms. As varied as the internet is, there will be metrics that both of the algorithms use, and the differing ones are those that make the search results unique in their own way. These algorithms that are in use have developed and grown over time, as has the search market and the way it functions as a whole.
The search market started out in a very basic way, you typed in the terms you wanted to find information on, and the spiders searched through their index that they’d built and tried to return to you the results they felt best matched your request. The query you used was taken by the spiders and they searched for the exact terms and anything that matched it, search began as a relative function. As the definition goes, relative means in relation to, so if you searched the term ‘red rose’ as an example, you’d not only get images and descriptions of flowers, but you’d also likely end up with pages of the baking flour as well. Both items are relative to the search term you’ve entered, so it would make sense to a bot to show you both, as it couldn’t discerne what you were searching for.
Now the web has grown up a lot, it’s started to mature and has developed some, almost scary, tricks. It’s a term which has been thrown around a lot in the last 6 months especially, but it’s regarding the growing nature of semantic search. The simplest way to describe it would be with that same term from relative search – ‘red rose’ – with the way the web and search is evolving the bot would act intelligently. It’s being seen more and more often in Google, Bing and the social networks out there, because you’re an avid baker, the bots would likely serve you results pages more populated with the baking flour, and associated websites with recipes on it. Now it won’t bet the farm on you wanting the baking results, so you’d also receive some of the flower on your page, but it’s a best guess situation.
Semantic search, and likely presumptive search is the way we’re heading. Soon you won’t even really have to search for an item or a website, the bots, or whatever technology it is running things at that time, would know what you’re looking for within your first few terms you type. It might seem scary, it may even seem intrusive at this point in the way the world works and how people think. The simplest truth however is, this is where the web and search is going. It also means that from my point of view, the job of online branding and branding online will become vastly more important than it is today.
Does search engine optimization need to go the way of the dinosaur? If you follow any of the reporting outlets out there, it’s usually a couple of times a year that they’re bringing out the funeral procession for the SEO industry, but since it became the defacto method of gaining visitors it hasn’t budged. But is it really, finally time to bury it?
Before I get too far ahead of myself, it needs to be said that the search industry isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. With more mobile devices connected to the web than there are people on the planet, the method of delivering results is going to continue shifting to that marketplace, but it will never disappear. A better way to pose the question might be, is it time to lay the term SEO in it’s death bed? Search engine optimization began it’s time as the goody two shoes brother to black hat results page spamming that plagued the internet in the early days, and still to this day plays it’s own part in the search world. Black hatters, for all their dastardly intentions, actually play a vital role in the search market, because if they didn’t exploit things and try and find ways around the algorithms, then it could never improve at the results it provides.
But that aside, with the prevalence of information on the web about best practices, Bing recently came out with their own version and it reads much like the Google one, blogs, forums and podcasts about some of the methods and means of working with your site and it’s content to rank on the web, it seems like these days everyone is trying to be an SEO expert. And with this happening, the name and it’s methods have become muddied, with conflicting steps and methods, with some who profess to be gurus who outright skip using the basics.
It is a difficult decision, to try and come to a conclusion of burying the term search engine optimization, but then what to use in it’s stead. Online marketer, online branding consultant, perhaps internet consultant. The one simple problem remains though, that no matter what moniker gets attached to the industry, eventually everyone who followed suit into the SEO realm, they’ll follow along with the new buzz term. Maybe with that in mind, it’s just as well to let SEO live for another day, for now.
There’s been a number of changes in the search world over the past 15 years since it’s pseudo birth, but the changes that have happened in the last 12 months have been some of the largest ever. There have been the Panda updates, the Penguin changes, and the EMD (exact match domain) changes that have made search engine optimization a much more interesting job. And not that they’re the only search engine in the game, but leave it to Google to make the most news with any change, seeing as they own the vast majority of the market.
I’ve outlined what can happen when you make a mistake and breach one of the rules set forth by the engines. You can take a rankings hit, you could suffer a penalty in the form of maybe losing some (Google) Page Rank, or you could even be completely removed from the index if you’ve accumulated enough ‘strikes’ against your website or url. As search engine optimization experts it is our job to ensure that ourselves, nor our clients fall into any of the multitude of pitfalls which you can find yourself in. None of these scenarios are unrecoverable, although making sure to get back into the good graces of the search engines will take some time and an extensive SEO skillset.
However if you don’t have time, or any search engine optimization skills under your belt, or maybe you don’t have the budget to bring in the real search experts, there is a solution for your business. It is one which will still take time, but you don’t have to worry so much about the SEO skills initially, because you’re going to start down the road of rebranding. Completely rebuilding your brand image is really a last resort option to take for your business, as it can take almost a year to return to the search results pages. If you’ve found yourself far enough up the creek that rebranding is a more viable option than repairing the mistakes you’ve made, perhaps it’s time for an evaluation of your job description.