Tagged with " search"
There’s merit to the web search team and the tidbits of news they put out everyday. Sometimes they talk about the changes to the algorithm, and about how to expect a shift in the search rankings or placements.
It’s not uncommon for sweeping changes to be made to the web which leaves old code irrelevant, if every little bit was always left as part of the formula, then the search algorithms wouldn’t be the few hundred factors they are now, it would be in the thousands. The search industry would be substantially slower moving, both in use and as a business. Building a website would be an absolute nightmare if you still had to worry about table construction for a half dozen different browsers, and if the flash menu you’ve built with fancy fly away modules would even start up in others. Thankfully, none of that is an issue, as old coding techniques get replaced with much more up to date methods.
One of the basics of web development, that we’ve always made sure to mention to web developers and clients, is to make sure they utilize the metas keywords and description tag. For a number of years, the search engine optimization industry has said that the tags no longer bear any relevance or importance, and that the engines themselves will more often than not choose which they like to use anyways. Putting time and effort into even writing the few lines of code it takes to put them in, is a few lines too many. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I do offer an example of what can happen when you let the engines decide what to publish as your websites description in search.
SEARCH. <div> <div > </div> <div> <div templateType=”C1″> <ul role=”listbox” class=”"> <li role=”menuitem”> headline </li>
Just a couple of points to note, this is from a multi-million dollar company, with strong rankings in search and in traditional media, and this is the description that was pulled to use in the results page. This mix up won’t hurt their positioning online, or offline, but it proves that skipping the basics isn’t always a good idea. Skipping adding a description tag on the premise that it’s an out dated step, would be the end for a new site online with that type of description pulled.
An odd job that every site owner should make sure to take the time to do for themselves, is to always be on the lookout for new, or soon to be opportunities. The way these opportunities can manifest themselves for your business vary, you could see increased foot traffic at physical stores, or if you have a strictly online position that your conversion rate on your site has improved.
Be aware of any of the changes in your city and target demographics. Whether your aim is to make sales, or to have people sign up for a news letter, your first hurdle to get over is the one of visibility. If you can’t be found for the newest gizmo in your niche, then you may as well not even sell them. Google and Bing both have a handy tool which you can use to get a feel for how your niche tracks. Bings Keyword Tool allows you to discover search trends over the last few months, and allows you to see how trends which initially move slowly, can suddenly fly up the rankings.
The tool that Google has available is their Trends Tool and it’s a different version of the Bing one. Trends has recently been merged with one of their other tools, Insights for Search, and has become a research gem. You can conduct research on as small an area as a few weeks, or as far back as 2004, you can get readings from a much larger base and it paints a larger picture for you to make decisions on.
Historical tools and data are amazing in helping you make clearer decisions where your market is possibly heading, especially now that we’re heading into the Christmas shopping season. As an example, in 2010 in the US alone there was $30 billion spent in online shopping, and in 2011 that number rose to $35 billion. You don’t need a large sample picture to guess, that number is only going to increase again. This is where Freshtraffic comes in, research your niche, decide on your target and come to us as soon as possible. We’ll help you reach the commanding position you need to take a bite of the (possibly) $40 billion+ online shopping pie.
There’s another minor change coming shortly with Google Adwords campaigns, it’s not exactly something new, but it’s a change that will affect those who are less diligent in the campaigns.
Google has always been a stickler for content, no matter how you feel about the company or the way it conducts it’s search business, that’s always been the case. With the trillions of web pages out there, sometimes the job of finding the most relevant results per search can be difficult, but they do their best. The advantage they have with the Adwords platform however, is they’re able to monitor if you’re actually following the rules they laid down. One of the bigger rules that the search engine has finally decided to become tough on, is just where your ads point too. From the Adwords blog:
Our existing policy has required each sitelink in a campaign to link to a different landing page. That means a user would have a meaningfully different experience on the landing page from each sitelink.
The reason that the company is going to start laying the smack down? They’ve done some checking and noticed that multiple ads are all heading back to the same page, a no-no in their guidelines.
What is going to happen moving forward is basic, initially the Adwords team will focus primarily on the new ads and campaigns that are created, ensuring that the landing pages are unique. If your link matches an existing page, your campaign will only list one of the two, the other will be restricted from showing up. The idea of the enforcement is obvious, they want to give everyone the chance to appear on the results, the best way to do that is to make sure everyone is following the rules they’ve set out. Now don’t fret, and exclaim that you need to tear down all of your campaigns and rebuild them from scratch. The folks over on the Adwords team realize that this isn’t a small effort to take care of your sitelinks so enforcement for existing links will be a few months out. This will affect all new sitelinks going forward at first.
It seems as though the walk into the past isn’t quite over yet, as it seems that just like the keywords tag making a comeback, so is another old search term, the Google dance. The folks over at Search Engine Land have been commenting, and there’s already been a handful of stories about the old two step.
If you’re new to the search world, or perhaps you are a site owner who monitors your overall performance in the results, there are some points we’ll go over about how the dance used to function. Summarized over on Marketing Land:
The Google Dance took its name from how the results at Google seemed to “dance” around when it unleashed a new search algorithm — Google’s recipe for ranking web pages — on the world. A search for a particular topic suddenly brought up a set of first page listings different than from the previous day. The listings might continue to change for a series of days until stabilizing around a new set.
So that crazy shifting of positions that had site owners shaking in their boots a few years back wasn’t just imagination kicking it, it was really happening. But this was also back when Google pushed site rankings every month manually as opposed to the auto updating that happens now.
It makes it seem like the efforts that we as search marketers put into building your site and it’s positioning aren’t worth it, but the truth is the dance actually proves the methods of search engine optimization. Just like sifting flour when baking to get the best possible cake mix, the dance leaves you better results all around. The only real question we have at the moment where online branding is concerned, is which dance are we going to be subjected to, the Panda version, or the Penguin version.
There’s always some sort of change in the way that search is handled, whether it’s Bing changing the way they handle images, Google with changing their total displayed results from 10 to 7 and continually testing different methods. Even tablets and mobile devices have their own unique way of handling searches and results, and Apple is no exception.
What Apple is doing however, is completely unique in the search world, mobile or otherwise. Bing displays ten results on a page and Google users sometimes see only seven results on a page, and Apple has decided to go with a single search result per page. It’s a strange move for any search provider to use only a single result per search, and puts a hurt on the mobile display market for the iOS 6 system. It’s just another new feature I’m guessing of the iOS 6 upgrade, to go along with their own version of the maps feature. Probably a good thing that Google is already posting their own map app on their store, maybe there will be an alternative for their search display soon.
And with the end of the week we’ve almost entirely completed moving the site to a new look and platform, hopefully you haven’t noticed the hiccups too much. We’ve made the move to an updated look and feel in order to bring the looks of the blog and the website together, and overall change is a good thing. Or as can be sometimes overheard when Sergei Brin is talking about the Google Glass project:
You either continue to evolve or you go extinct
There’s been a couple of Google updates in the last week, which has had a visible change on the results pages. One of the updates was fairly simply, it was a Panda update which according to the available information impacted less than 1% of searches. And the other update was in how the results page returns your search results.
The Panda update was another in a long string of updates designed to improve the overall search quality, and with the change affecting such a small sample if you’re following the rules then you shouldn’t perceive any issue. If you’re the numbers type of person, you can compare the less than 1% affected from this last update, to the 12% affected when Panda made it’s initial break out onto the web. One of the points to bear in mind as well with this news coming straight from Google, there may be some surprises in store under the hood of this latest update.
Maybe the extra they put into the Panda update has something to do with the tweet from Matt Cutts earlier this week?
Just fyi, we rolled out a small algo change this week that improves the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned.
Diversity in the search results is a great growing point, as it gives more opportunity for optimization to show it’s mettle. It’s possible, to have an entire first page of results completely dominated by a single website, if your optimization is that strong and your competitors are that weak. While the change was added only this week, reports are that it hasn’t yet been noticed in the bulk of the results.
And it’s a bit of a throwback to the beginnings of the web, but according to a recent posting, the keywords tag has returned. According to Google News Product Manager Rudy Galfi:
The goal is simple: empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users.
Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text.
A small difference in the way the news_keywords tag works, is you’re limited to 10 terms, likely to stop users from cramming as many terms as they like. It’s a new way to use an old tag, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the use plays out.
It’s been long clear that a search engine is a search engine, and there are a handful online that receive the majority of the traffic out there. Google, Bing and Yahoo are the usual methods which are used to search, with other sites like Blekko, Duckduckgo, and Ask also being used by those desiring a different experience. Facebook however, is one of the largest websites online, and with what is approaching a billion users, the world has been waiting to see if Facebook is going to try and enter the search arena.
Ever since Facebook has gone public, the stock has been a sort of tepid pool, with no real revenue model the online mutterings often go to the topic of a search engine. And when Mark Zuckerberg throws around statements akin to “Facebook is doing a billion searches per day without trying” the mutterings pick up some volume. In a recent Techcrunch interview, Zuck made it clear that the company realizes that there is a huge opportunity for a search engine with Facebook, but tempers that by also talking about how the way that users search is ever evolving.
“Search engines are evolving” to “giving you a set of answers,” Zuckerberg said. ”Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions people have. At some point we’ll do it,” he went on. “We have a team working on search.”
There are some real concerns about just how Facebook could leverage their massive user base as a search engine however, and it has less to do with spidering capabilities than it does privacy. The system as he briefly described and envisioned, would mean taking the opinions of your friends, family and contacts and trying to form a result for your query. Searching for terms like ‘best burger’ or ‘new batman movie reviews’ wouldn’t necessarily be informational, but would deliver you a list of opinions from your contact list. At any rate, it’s not happening today or tomorrow, or even soon for that matter. But (if) when it does, it will be introducing change into the search landscape and the online experience as a whole, and change is very, very good.
A search engine seems like a rather simple tool on the surface. Whether it’s Bing, Yahoo or Google as your flavour, when you arrive on their page you’re greeted with an empty text box and a search button. It’s not difficult to work out that with a few keystrokes you can be off and searching for what ever you fancy. But for as simple as it seems, it can be used as a much more powerful piece of equipment, if you take the time to learn what you can do to leverage it’s power in your favour.
Google has been stepping in this year with offering a class on how to use their search engine to discover what you’re looking for. It’s a free, online course whose goal is really just to improve the user experience, both for you and for them. From one of their Google blogs: “The community-based course features six 50-minute classes along with interactive activities and the opportunity to hear from search experts and Googlers about how search works.”
One of the Google representatives likened it to always driving a vehicle in first gear, it will definitely get you where you’re going, but there’s always a faster, better way to do it. The Google search engine offers a whole host of methods to construct a query, whether you want to do basic calculations, learn a time zone or zip code. Even if you’re having trouble describing what it is you’re searching for, you can even drag the image directly into the search bar and conduct your search that way. Add into the couple of tips here all of the conditional arguments you can use ( “” + or – etc) and the possibilities begin to multiply. I guess the question is, how’s your Google-fu?
Yesterday afternoon, for around 4-5 hours GoDaddy suffered an issue with their DNS servers. Some reports have it tied to a hacking attempt which resulted in complete shutdown of (projected) hundreds of thousands of websites. Only GoDaddy really knows how large the affected number is, but where you did lose traffic yesterday, you can rest easy on your rankings and position; at least with Google. John Mueller had this to say about the outage: “In this case (the service outage), assuming it was just the DNS that wouldn’t resolve, we would treat it similar to how we treat other temporary crawling issues, and just retry at some later point.”
Google is the most widely used search engine globally, and accounts for 65% +/- usage in North America usage. Bing is the rebrand of the Live search engine service, and it’s sitting in a maintain position as of late at around 30% +/- share of the search market place.
Bing has long contended that they have a comparable search service, and some in the search world share their sentiments. But even with their rebrand, television commercials, and with taking over the Yahoo search market, their share remains at a steady third or so of the market. Dubbed as the Bing it On test, it’s a blind survey test which display unformatted, unbranded results and the user decides which results they would use of the two. It’s a testing method that is also known as the Pepsi test, where random people were given a sample of two drinks, and asked which they prefer.
When Bing had tallied the results of their (very small) online sample of 1000 people, they found that the users chose the Bing results at almost a 2:1 ratio. That’s a rather large statistical difference from the current norm with Google dominating the search market share, so why wouldn’t the numbers be the same for current market share? Well for starters the sample number is incredibly small. Using a data sample from 1000 people in the 18+ demographic is like a drop in the ocean, with there being somewhere north of 200 million people in the US alone. If you’re interested in which search engine appeals to you as a user, you can try out their survey for yourself here.
It’s crunch time for budgets, we’re coming to a point where you need to decide: do we spend more and hope for big returns over the holidays? Or do we cut back and hope we can carry through to a new year? It’s not a question anyone can really answer for you, as everyones situation is unique, I would however, like to make a case for our niche – online branding, or internet marketing if you prefer.
Where online is concerned, consistency matters most, in your content, your presentation of yourself, of how you manage your online image and branding. And while it’s true for almost all facets of life, it’s even more apparent where your online spending is concerned; you get what you pay for. If you pay for shoddy service and workmanship, that’s exactly what you’ll receive. Where online and the search engines are concerned though, you will likely end up being penalized, and at worst, banned from the results pages until you clean up your site and links. Now some people try and sell that organic optimization only takes a one time shot and is a very low cost to work ratio, when in fact it’s pretty much the exact opposite that’s true.
As an example, if you try and save some money where your online marketing is concerned and decide to out source to one of the cheap advertisers out there, odds are very high that you’re going to end up with poor, if not irrelevant back links, and this will get your site snagged up in the newest algorithm addition – Penguin. The addition of Penguin into the algorithm means that the link spammers of the past, are very quickly finding themselves with burned urls – aka websites which have become useless to link to, or with. It takes a great deal of time to work out a relevant, and acceptable linking strategy for any companies website, and to skimp on this portion of your marketing will be one of the nails in your websites coffin.
Often times when you’re having your website built for you, or if you’re having it redesigned, you’ll find that web developers can run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. If you have a complex site, with a shopping cart, perhaps streaming videos and audio with a user login system, you’ll be possibly even looking into the tens of thousands in cost. Thinking about saving money on your website and it’s construction? Rethink that cost saving measure, as cutting costs from the way your site functions, looks and performs can not only get you flagged by the search engines as having errors, but it can leave your site poorly secured and the possibility of being hijacked increases greatly. And if your website becomes hijacked by a malicious user who uses it to spam (best case scenario), or completely trash your website and use it to spread malware (black listed from the SERPs) not only will the search engines not trust you, your end users and customers will begin to distrust as well.
This was only two, of the plethora of issues which can sink your website should you choose to skimp on your online budget, and while being removed from the SERPs is a terrible possibility, the interaction lost with your current and possible customers should be seen as the real loss. Lost traffic due to reduced resources leads to lost conversion rates over all, which is just a never ending cycle of less and less.