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!!!!
A new study released by comScore shows that US web users spent over 40 million minutes on Facebook in August. In contrast, they reported that US users spent a combined 39.8 million minutes on all of Google's web properties including YouTube and Gmail.
Google handles over a billion searches a day from probably a billion users. Youtube is a very popular website and so is Gmail. The fact that the combined time spent on these three sites is lower than the time spent on Facebook is mind boggling. Youtube is so so so popular. But even then it logged less time than Youtube. (For a minute after reading their data, I wondered if comScore got it's data right.)
Facebook's number one spot is no longer in question. The question then is who will give Facebook a run for its money and users?
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….
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.
If you have a Facebook account, you know how fun it is to get connected to friends and family, how easy it is to share information and photos, and essentially stay connected to others, right?
Well, all this "sharing" is making Facebook a huge traffic source for information. Compete Inc, which is a web measurement firm reports that Facebook has bypassed Google to become the top source for traffic. I don't know about Facebook bypassing Google but it certainly appears to be a site from which I personally click on a lot of links to go find information. When a friend posts something on Facebook that is interesting, and it contains a link, how often do you click on that link? I know that I do and I also share it with my friends when it is especially interesting.
So is Facebook now the new "search engine"? Well if others do what I do and if people are indeed going from Facebook to other sites, the I can see how Facebook can become the new version of an informational search engine. So instead of just being a portal to connect friends and businesses, Facebook is perhaps a great information source too.
On a closing note, did you know that recently Facebook reported that it has 400 million active members! If you are a business NOT yet on Facebook, can you calculate the lost opportunity cost?
Let's do the math:
- Approximately 400 million users on Facebook – most are active users
- Approximately 75 million Twitter users of which about 15 million are active Twitter users
- Approximately 60 million LinkedIn users
(Note: I didn't do the research to come up with the statistics. These came from smarter people who love digging into data)
So why are you NOT on social networks?
Are these your reasons?
"Ah, our industry doesn't have too many computer savvy people"
"Advertising provides us really good ROI, no point in changing what works"
"No one searches on Facebook, isn't that just for family stuff?"
"We spend about $60K in trade shows and industry publication and it works".
"Can't afford it"
Let me summarize the lost opportunity cost as follows:
- If your competition is on Facebook and you aren't, guess who'll get the inquiry when a need arises?
- If you aren't found on the first page of Google, Yahoo or Bing but your competition is, no question about who'll snag that client.
- If you aren't engaging with your constituents, guess who'll get the edge? Yep, your competitor who is engaging.
- If you aren't listening to conversations about your company's products, calculate how much you will be spending on damage control.
Get online. Get engaged. Listen to conversations about your brand.