Category Archives: Google

Search Engine Optimization Blog: What Google’s Farmer Update Means to You!

Google has recently updated their algorithm to lower the rankings and penalize content farms. In short, content farms are sites that produce regurgitated low quality content just for the sake of search engine results. While this new update has been successful for the most part, there are some legitimate businesses and blogs who have been caught up in the mess. The intended result of the update was to reduce spam that was often returned in search results. However some sites got penalized even though they weren't using black hat SEO.

You may recall that JCPenny.com and Overstock.com both recently came under Google's microscope for unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics. Both companies claimed that the tactics were unintentionally underhanded. However, Google defined their tactics as ‘black hat’ and these companies saw their rankings plummet.

Content farms have plagued Google and Google users for years. The Farmer update is the latest attempt to weed these out from search results .

Defining a Content Farm

When it comes to defining a content farm, the answer can be quite complicated. Most people know a content farm when they see it, but there are other aspects to the argument that is creating problems. The main consensus is that content farms are sites that simply lift content from other sites, but Google has also defined them as sites that create content to just manipulate the search results.

An example of manipulating the search engine involves using a hot topic word as many times as possible in order to drive the page to the top of the search list. While this is the goal of many sites and businesses, it’s difficult to tell where these tactics become black hat and where they can be termed "legitimate" SEO. Since defining content farms or black hat SEO often comes down to Google's opinion, it doesn't matter what you and I think, Google decides what to do and it did.

The latest Google update is not perfect, but it is perhaps necessary. There are a LOT of sites that I would not want to see in my Google search results. Google has communicated that a web development company can write to them to let them know if you are unnecessarily being penalized due to the update and they'll do what they can to help your site not suffer from dropped rankings.

But you know what? I think that if Google doesn't want people spamming it and circumventing it, why doesn't it just publish its algorithm and let us SEO people figure out how to work it. This will make life for us SEO practitioners so much easier.Especially with the new GuaranteedSEO.Services. Just saying!!!!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Google Trouble Not Surprising

I'm not surprised. The more we share online, the more we open ourselves to privacy invasion, inadvertently. So upon reading that Google has admitted to privacy violations, I wasn't much surprised. Yes, I realize that the violations occurred when Google street cards "inadvertently collected" unencrypted personal data, the key phrase being "inadvertently collected".

No one really knows how deep the violations go and how far spread out they are geographically but apparently countries like Spain, Germany, and France along with attorney generals from 30 states in the US have gotten involved in delving into this fiasco at Google.  Google has admitted to capturing passwords, emails and even banking information in some cases. Google has offered to delete the data but needs permission to do so once the investigation is complete.

Google indicated that it planned to delete the captured data as soon as possible, but would wait until regulators gave permission for the deletions – most likely, after investigations are completed and closed.
 

Yes, of course the company was mortified and yes, of course Google will face international probes into their privacy practices. Google also stated its plan to implement better privacy and security procedures, blah, blah, blah.

Bottom-line, these privacy violations are going to become more and more frequent. No one will be protected as we get more and more deeper into this social media & technology quicksand. Protect yourself and your information with every tool you can get. Separate your online usage for professional reasons from your "private" usage to lessen the risk of privacy violation.

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This is the digital age and with it comes privacy problems unlike what we've seen before.
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Google Voice Anyone?

Google Voice, a new choice in telephony.

You can choose the full version of Google Voice with a brand new phone number or add some Google Voice features to your existing mobile phone number.

Why choose Google Voice with a Google number?

  • You can manage all your phones using one number because your Google Voice number is tied to you, not to a location or to a physical device.
  • A Google number allows you to store voicemail like you'd store email, for as long as you want. You can also search through your voicemail like you would emails.
  • Your voicemails can be transcribed into text and emailed or SMS'd to you through built-in voicemail transcription.
  • You can custome your ring tones based on who's calling and even choose to send those certain annoying but unavoidable customers directly to voicemail instead of accidentally picking up the phone to talk to them.
  • Google using smart technology to route your calls and will use call waiting to reach you on the phone you're on.
  • Google voice works with all other phones including mobile, work and desk phones.
  • You don't need to install, download, or upload anything.
  • You don't need to make calls using a computer.
  • You can make international calls using the web at a very competitive per minute rate card

Using Google Voice with your non-Google phone number:

You will lose some features with this option such as call forwarding, screening, and call recording but there are many other features that are still included. They are as follows:

  • You can still store and sort through your voicemails like you do emails as above.
  • Your voicemail can still be transcribed and sent to you via email or SMS
  • You can create customized voicemail greetings based on who's calling
  • You can still make international calls using the web at a very competitive rate card.

Click here to get Google Voice with a Google Number and Click here to get Google Voice with your own non-Google Number.

NOTE: Google doesn't pay me squat for promoting their Google Voice, I just think it is a cool offering!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Networking Not for You?

Companies are still not leveraging the power of social networking and the reasons include lack of understanding, lack of awareness of the power of social networking and perhaps the fear of the unknown.  Time and time again, I ask my prospects and clients "how many sales people do you have in your organization". And time and time again they give me a number that is much smaller than their company's total number of employees.  When I point out that each and every one of their employees is a "sales person", they are a bit embarrassed and also a bit perturbed as they never thought about it like that.

Companies are afraid to embrace social networking for more reasons than one. Most claim that they need to know the return on investment (ROI). This shows that their biggest reason for not embracing social networking is that they really don't understand the benefits. Companies are also afraid of employee abuse and not being able to determine who is doing what during company time.

The benefits of getting each and every employee of yours on social networks are many. Yes, there is potential for abuse too and I won't ignore that. However when employees are empowered, policies & procedures are put in place, and monitoring tools (kind of top video monitors for babies) are deployed, employee abuse can be managed appropriately.

Each employee can become a brand ambassador for your company helping build your company's brand awareness and brand visibility. By getting every employee trained on the various nuances of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks, your company will see an increase in connections & lead generation activity. And when each one of your employees engage with customers using social networks, you can build better customer loyalty and relationship.
 
Social networks become a great way for your employees to spread good PR about your company and its offerings. It also allows them to learn what's happening in the marketplace, see what your competitors are doing, and hear what the customers are saying. The fear of the unknown comes in when companies fear "negative" feedback from their customers who may choose to share their displeasure over something, on social networks. However, this is a great way to actually hear the negative feedback, offer a solution, implement a corrective course of action for the future, and turn the customer around to make him or her your biggest proponent.

And don't feel that you have to take the "each & every" recommendation to heart. It may be difficult to "train" each and every one of your employees to be a brand ambassador. There just may be a few employees whom you want to hide from prospects & customers due to lack of communication or "customer service" skills. By all means hide them for the greater good!

I believe that companies must embrace this new way of doing business or be left behind. Are you ready?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Providing Search Results Faster Than You Can Think!

Thinking of something? Start typing and Google will provide you with the search results you may be thinking about faster than you can stop thinking!

Yep, Google's got the "instant" search which displays search results that are updated with every character you enter in the search box. So, Google is basically providing you an answer before you even formulate the question. No more pondering over what exactly to type when you are trying to find something. Every letter you type in will result in a set of results you can choose from.
 
Pretty cool eh?

Actually it is PRETTY DAMN annoying even as it is PRETTY DAMN cool!

The every character change results in distraction where you end up going somewhere you didn't want to go but because it showed up for a second before you typed the next character you decided to check it out. Also annoying because if you type the wrong character you end up again going somewhere where you didn't really want to go.

Also, I don't know if it is the Firefox browser I use or if it is Google's live search but the live search actually drags out the typing and makes me more prone to mistakes because a character doesn't register in the search box while it is retrieving  data. I know it's not fat fingers or my inability to type cause I can type with my eyes closed and barely make a few mistakes.

But those annoyances aside, live search is a pretty cool feature and if you stop to think about it, it's pretty awe-inspiring. And no, it doesn't stop the need to do search engine optimization in case you were thinking that. In fact I think that an even more comprehensive  Search Engine Optimization strategy may be needed in the future so that every phrase that may represent a company's business should be identified to allow that company's website to show up in the live search results.

Let's see how it shapes up but for now, hope you enjoy Google doing the thinking for you. Next thing we know Google may even begin delivering new clients to me! Hah!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: AVG Protection for Social Media Websites too!

Hacking is real and lots of companies claim to offer real-time analysis and detection.

I read about AVG who has come out with a solution called "LinkScanner" which is a real-time scanning solution.  Basically, LinkScanner checks websites and shows you whether or not the sites you are visiting are safe or not. Whether you are surfing the web or shopping online or networking online various social networks, LinkScanner tells you whether those places are safe for you to provide your personal or private information to them.  You get real-time check and the protection is automatically activated for your safety.

It is available for PC and Mac.

 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Google Instant Won’t Affect Search Engine Optimization

Well, thank God for Google's announcement that Instant results won't impact current Search Engine Optimization strategies. Otherwise we Search Engine Optimization practitioners would have to relearn and implement new strategies for our clients.

Google's Instant results are provided for searches for every letter typed. So if you are start typing "J", the first link you will see is for Jet's Pizza or if you type in S for whatever you wish to search, you get Sears as the first link in the returned results.
 
There was a lot of speculation in that Search Engine Optimization practitioners would have to come up with words that could potentially bring up the results that are needed.

But the good news is that we can continue doing Search Engine Optimization for our clients and without fear of their rankings dropping off due to some Google rule that no one understands…

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Has Yahoo-BING Search Alliance Leveled the Playing Field?

So Yahoo and Bing have joined hands to take on Google. So has the playing field for search domination leveled off just a bit you think?

After establishing the Search Alliance between Yahoo and Microsoft, Yahoo had quickly begun transitioning Bing results into Yahoo results. So now, in the US and Canada for English results only, Yahoo search experiences are now powered by the Microsoft platform. This change in other markets will come fairly soon given the speed at which the transition is happening immediately after the public announcement was made.
 
Yahoo will be displaying mostly organic results from Bing. And initially Yahoo will only deliver English-language searches via Bing. As both partners work together to leverage each other, it is not unrealistic to expect that they will soon cover more markets and include other language searches.

Google continues to dominate the search usage market with greater than 60% of users using Google Search.  So has the competitive landscape evened out a little bit with this search alliance between Yahoo and Bing. Or has Google monopoly on search gotten stronger with the search alliance between Yahoo and Bing? Will new players crop up to pick up smaller usage shares in the US and Canadian Search markets?

We're all waiting to see how this plays out….

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Google’s Impressive Almost 66% Search Market Share

Whatever search engine you personally prefer, the recent August statistics released by comScore prove that Google has an impressive 65.8 percentage of US search market share under its belt. This compared to Yahoo’s 17.1 percent and Bing’s 11 percent.

But Google did lose a little ground when these results are compared to its 66.4 percent search market share in June.

So how is the search market share calculated?

ComScore calculates these numbers using a methodology called “Explicit Core Search”. This method excludes contextual links and slide shows. Yahoo and Bing recently added contextual links and slideshows forcing comScore to calculate metrics using another method also called “Total Core Search”.

And how do slideshows and contextual shortcuts make any difference?

A single click on a slideshow triggers a series of sites to load automatically and each slide is counted as a click. When users hover over some words in articles contextual links pop up and are counted as clicks too.
 
This different technique of searching was reflected in the Total Core Search statistics. Google accounted for about 61.6 percent of the market share while Yahoo was at 20 percent and Bing followed with 12.6 percent. This difference in patterns prompted comScore to change its methodology and offer two distinct fields, called Explicit Core Search and Total Core Search.

Experts have backed this change in methodology. This is because explicit core search tracks only those searches in which users entered specific queries to get results, unlike when you enter one query and get a cascade of links, all counting as queries.
 
With Yahoo joining hands with Bing, it remains to be seen if they are successful in leveraging their combined strengths to fend off Google and obtain a larger search market share.

 

Online Marketing Blog: Conversations are Happening – Are you Participating?

Social networking means "public conversations" about you, your company, your brand or your products and services. Public conversations are great when they are positive. Negative conversations; not so great!

However, not going online is not the way to avoid negative conversations. Remember, they're happening; whether you are online or not. So why not proactively monitor those conversations, participate in them, and ensure that you influence how they continue?

The first step towards Reputation Management is knowing that someone's talking about yourself. So first keep track of the conversations around you. To do so,  go to Google Alerts today and sign-up to receive alerts about your name, your company name, or your products and services. Google Alerts delivers emails with alert results to you or you can go to Google Reader to read them.

I personally prefer getting emails once a day because that way I can quickly scan through them and know if something jumps out at me.

Google Alerts can be setup for other reasons too. You can monitor Request for Quotes (RFP's) in your industry or you can create a Google Alert to stay abreast of a favorite topic or person. Perhaps you are a Lady Gaga fan or perhaps you just want to see all the conferences that are happening in 2010 so that you can plan to participate; whatever your interest, Google  Alerts allows you to keep stay abreast of things that are important to you. And that's called Conversation Monitoring.

(Disclaimer: Google didn't pay me to write this promotion about Google Alerts)