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Searching in the Future – The Web Squared

With the rapid advancement of the web, the technologies that control it and the methods that people interact with it, it makes me wonder sometimes what’s going to happen by 2020.

*cue time warp*

Your morning might be something like while getting ready for work, you’re receiving all of your local newsfeeds directly to your 3D/Holo television already sorted and delivered relevant to your interests. News snippets, weather announcements followed by sports results all fully controllable should you desire more information. The commute to work, in a hands free car navigating itself to your meetings. No one works in offices anymore, the instant web and cloud offices makes physical locations a throwback to the previous centuries way of doing business.

With cloud computing being fully integrated into mainstream business, social and common use, communication has never been simpler, or faster. Terabit internet in the sprawling cities ensures that there’s always enough bandwidth. And for those with pockets full of money, neural interactivity direct to a focusing lens you wear like glasses; providing a vast, interactive surface with which to work and play.

Online search, commerce and social activities will most likely be completely merged; think of a mega company the likes of a Google and Facebook merger. We’ll call it GoogleBook. A complete portal, with news, social feeds from friends and family, shopping via search and instant messaging for friends, family and clients. Micro-blogging sites like Twitter, would be absorbed and added to the already potent offerings provided by such a massive company. The idea of privacy online has matured and changed with the baby boomer generation gone offline to relax in peace, and the tech savvy information generation coming into it’s prime as the dominant work force population.

The web will be faster, cleaner and more relevant to each individual as the Google algorithm, Facebook social algorithm, and the Amazon shopping algorithm all become written together into a do it all super algorithm. With signing in online, it will deliver the content you’re interested in, show you what your friends have been doing the last few days and find the local best deals for the new television you were thinking of buying.

*end time warp*

It’s going to be an exciting time to be online, even in the next few years let alone in the next 10. The web and it’s technologies are growing at an exponential rate, what we’ve learned and discovered over the last 25 years online, will be doubled in the next 3-4 years; and then that time will be cut again and again. Until discoveries are coming at such a rate, that it’ll be expected to have new tech every week, instead of every couple of months.

You could also subscibe to the theory that it’s game over in December 2012 as well. No one knos what’s to come in the next few days, let alone years. Here’s hoping the web continues to grow, mature and evolve as quickly as it has been.

The Social Network – Is Facebook Safe?

Dec 31, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   facebook, myspace, social media, social network, social networking  //  356 Comments

The dot com boom soon went bang for a large number of websites. MySpace looks to be the latest casualty as its popularity seems to have dwindled significantly in the shadow of giants like Twitter and Facebook.

A partnership has recently been announced that will see both social network sites (Facebook and MySpace) working closely together and the sums involved have not been disclosed as far as I know at this time. This unlikely alliance will mean that MySpace users will be able to login in to Facebook through their MySpace account. Sound quite cool doesn’t it but on the flip side it will also at the same time allow over 600 million Facebook users to move their likes and social bits and bobs over to MySpace.

This will all happen with just a simple click of the mouse.

We’ve seen mergers of large online entities before and although Facebook is the monster site at the moment, we have to look back at times when Friends Reunited were also the massive site of the day.

Although still immensely popular it’s not being promoted anywhere near as much as it has been and there was a certain “gimmick” factor to the site where you would look at it on and off and then never go back. Until, however a year later there was an update by someone and you just had to have a nose and see what they were up to.

According to one very experienced and well regarded Internet expert, Dr Jeffrey Cole, this joining of sites may be pointless as Facebook could only have five years of dominance left in the social market before the next “big thing” comes bowling through and take over. Dr Jeffrey Cole hails from the World Internet project and predicted the demise of MySpace so if you’re thinking of buying shares in “the social network” make sure it’s for short term gain and not a long term investment.

By: Jason Fadien

Internet Clarity

Dec 16, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, internet  //  114 Comments

Facebook killers, Google killers, Bing killers.. it’s a wonder we have an internet experience at all with all of thie violence online. The most interesting part about all of the ‘killers’ out there however, is that none of it’s true. At least, not in the plainest definition of the word ‘killer’.

Facebook isn’t out to kill or replace Google, and Google isn’t out to kill Bing or Facebook or any other online entity out there. Everyone of those sites are players online, and for the most part have captivated the audience in their respective arena. Google has search and advertising, Facebook is the global social network, and Bing tries to be a little bit of both while propping up Yahoo with their results. Competition breeds creativity and provides a marketplace for other businesses and entrepreneurs to make a name for themselves, whether by carving out a niche for themselves, or being unique, and good enough at what they do, to be gulped up by the larger fish. Facebook, Google and Bing all play by much the same rulebook: if it can’t be built in house, either buy it or find it and adapt. The one key point that those big players all agree on as well, is they want to make the internet a more engaging place to be. Facebook has their games, groups and pages, Google has maps, places and search marketing, and Bing has social search, maps and a unique search page.

So when you’re reading your paper in the moring, watching the news or going through your emails for the day and the words ‘Facbook/Google killer’ are in the subject or title line, take the thoughts with a grain of salt. There isn’t any new tech out there which will just swoop in and replace everyone, nor will there be any massive swings of usage online. All of the major players each provide much different services, and while Bing and Google remain the closest in terms of the ‘competitor’ angle, even they will admit they do things differently with different focus.

Search in 2010

Dec 10, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   2010, facebook, Google, internet news, search  //  9 Comments

So what was it this year that tickled your fancy? The year is always ending just when it feels like you get into the groove of things, so it’s no real surprise that you may not remember what you were interested in 11 months ago. But that’s okay, because Google has just released their Zeitgeist of search. The flow of the year, as told by the trends of the internet and it’s users.

Whether it came to being hit with a bottle, or some other claim to additional fame, Justin Bieber beat out the likes of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and even Netflix to become the fastest rising searched person and entertainment star. At no surprise however, the iPad and iPhone4 dominated the electronics trends, although as the fastest rising search trend in general, the award goes to Chatroulette, the instant, random face to face messaging service.

The fall from grace is never enjoyable, yet Susan Boyle felt it on search this year along with the movies New Moon and Slumdog Millionaire, and the global health concern of Swine Flu. Unfortunately as well however, the tragedies which shape us can be found in the daily headlines as well. At no surprise Haiti dominated the news trends as well as being the number one search term under humanitarian aid with donate to Haiti; followed closely no doubt by donate to Pakistan.

In the end the top 10 fastest rising queries was led by chatroulette, iPad and Justin Bieber, with Twitter, Gamezer and Facebook carrying the backend. The results do need to be taken with a grain of salt of course, as just because Chatroulette enjoys the crown of fastest rising search, it had an equally fast drop off. Facebook by contrast, is enjoying a steadily rising search trend as the leader in social networks. An interactive chart of the year can be found here for the most curous.

Socially Searching – Google and Bing Social Metrics

Dec 3, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, search, social media, twitter  //  Comments Off

Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs as it’s less of a mouthful, is the organic listing of relevant results returned from a search query. Or even simpler put, it’s the list you get when you search in Google, Bing or any other search engine. Google states that they have more than 200 different ranking factors which determine the results pages. Criteria ranging from anchor text, titles, incoming links and so on down the list. Bing, while they have a different algorith, hence different results, works upon the same principles as Googles. There needs to be some backbone, or authority to the people linking to your site to really have any significant driving force. Growing your site, and letting your information onto the web is akin to sprinkling seeds to contribute to your growth, it’s where the term organic results comes from. And now to muddy things up a tad, Google and Bing have started with a new layer of criteria, social factors.

It’s one thing for a robot to navigate the web, and rank websites according to which sites have the most content, or relevant content and return those results to you. But it’s another when you add into the mix that your Facebook friends (presumably) enjoy the same things as you do and ‘Like’ a site with that dastardly Facebook button. Bing is riding on this wagon, as when you’re signed into Facebook and search on Bing, you’ll receive results with your Facebook friends list helping to determine what’s relevant to your search as well. Google social, grabs the trending social information out there, and if it’s relevant to your query returns it as well, primarily in a scrolling box as new results come in.

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog post, social media will not be going away. The web is a social environment, encompassing the globe for anyone and everyone to say their piece. How you use that to assist in leveraging your business can’t be a half though out idea. If social media marketing is important to you, you will need to put hours of your time, or someone who knows your business to help push it in the social arena. Everything from tweeting sales and upcoming deals, to answering customers questions and concerns on Facebook. There was a decent Q&A by Danny Sullivan about how Google and Bing are starting to use social media as search leverage of sorts, an interesting read but the answers weren’t surprising.

Is Social Media Worth Your Time?

Dec 2, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   facebook, social media, twitter  //  6 Comments

Facebook is vying to be a one stop portal on the web, what with offering communication, connections to your friends and families, business information if you can bothered to use their mediochre search functions, games and the list is growing. Facebook has become a destination for approximately half of its 500 million users, but with such a huge user base, the type of user would need to be qualified; a lot of older people, home makers and the younger information generation primarily.

As search and online shopping demographics become available from time to time, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the majority of online shopping which used to be the stay at home wives and mothers, has begun to shift to the 30+ crowd that has worked hard for their income. Facebook doesn’t have a money making angle as of yet that they’ve disclosed, but one that’s been discussed is being a marketing portal for users to but and use online services. With the online purchasing power moving more towards the 30 something career crowd however, it won’t be a terribly positive revenue model.

The chief problem, is Facebook itself. It’s clunky, often slow to navigate and the site will just randomly stop working at times giving you it’s “Oops, we don’t know what just happened” error page. It’s those issues which will serve as some reasons as to why the 30 something crowd stays away from Facebook. Contributing to the reluctance to join, is most notably, disinterest. Social media is not a fad, it’s definitely entrenched within the pseudo-mainstream with Twitter and Facebook holding court, but aside from having “friends” whom you’ve not seen since you left high school 15 years ago, there’s no draw to the join either of the sites.

We’re all equals here, we all put our pants on the same way, we all wash and we all need sleep and food. Micro-blogging on Twitter and Facebook serves as a valuable go between for business in that your customers can feel they can leave a direct line and voice their question or concern. As for personal use, there really is none for the “normal” everyday person. As for personalized advertising coming from using Facebook and Twitter? Programmers have been writing query strings to pull information from databases for years, if you’d like to have a look see, create an account using a strange or silly name and see the types of ads you’re served.

Cheap SEO “often too good to be true”

 Getting your company noticed online is not always an easy thing to achieve. If your Website does not appear near the top of the first page on a Google search, chances are it will not see very much traffic. So in what is becoming an increasingly cutthroat business, how does an organisation draw attention to itself online?

By employing a  specialist search marketing company like fresh traffic whose goal is to help customers to find new business online, there are two distinct options for driving traffic to your Website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your Website friendlier to search engines, thereby achieving a higher ranking on the page. SEO focuses on optimizing elements such as keywords, navigation, images and videos, in order to obtain the best possible ranking on a search engine page.

The second option is Google’s AdWords, a paid for offering designed to maximise your online return on investment (ROI). AdWords ensures that when a Google search makes use of one of your keywords, your advert appears opposite the organic search results. Since it uses a pay-per-click system. AdWords can be more costly than SEO, but it is also more targeted and will not fall foul of changes in a search engine’s algorithms.

The down side to this is the fact that not only do the majority of users look predominantly at the left hand side of the page, (the organic SEO side) they also trust organic search results more, meaning they are more likely to click on these. Other problems include the rising cost of pay per click, along with the limited amount of copy space available – everything needs to be squeezed into a 70-character limit.

Businesses paying to improve their websites with search engine optimization (SEO) should be prepared for the cost, many companies today are paying a small amount of cash and expecting big results, but that as with most things “you get what you pay for”.

People investing in SEO should be wary of companies who charge very little as if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.

SEO to some can seem like smoke and mirrors, some companies we know now simply offer search engine submission, or Google adwords and camouflage it as SEO.

Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path and don’t forget the thousands of dollars you could potentially spend in the effort, businesses should invest time and money in proper organic SEO and remember that the service is not a “one-time hit”.

Our company has experts who can help in respect of both SEO and AdWords. Call us today 204.942.4200

You can always add social media into the mix with a facebook or twitter account if needed.

Facebooks impressive views

Nov 23, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   facebook  //  114 Comments

In some of the newest numbers to come from Hitwise, it seems that Facebook has the current mantle of most page views on the web. According to the hitwise numbers:

“The market share of page views for Facebook.com was 24.27% last week, 3.8x the volume of the 2nd ranked website YouTube.com with 6.93%.”

It sounds like some incredible traffic until you take into account that the big guy on campus, Google, owns the number two entrant Youtube. When it comes to traffic, page views or visits it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. When it’s truly thought about, it should be no surprise that the largest social media site on the web would generate so many page views.

Page views, click throughs, page loads, unique visitors, they’re all very different metrics which terms are used when speaking with clients about SEO and SEM. When you really boil it down, toss in all of the information, your most important metric is your conversion rate. When your SEO or SEM is implemented and properly maintained, your conversion rate is what matters. It’s your sales, your leads, your newly signed clients. And as someone said it best about the Hitwise numbers:

“You have to separate “pageviews” from “visits”. Every time someone clicks “refresh” in their browser, it’s a pageview. I know a lot of people who leave a tab permanently open to facebook, and pop over to it every 10 or 15 minutes and click refresh to see if there’s any updates.

It’s the crack cocaine of the internet.”

The future of the Web – Facebook Style

Nov 19, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   facebook, internet, internet news, internet strategy  //  176 Comments

Lots of news came out of the Web 2.0 summit, and there was an interview hosted by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle where they spoke with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. They touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the new Facebook Messages service, to privacy and on to opinions and thoughts of “what’s next?” for the web.

Zuckerberg said that initially the idea of Messages came to him when having a conversation with a high school student who lamented that email is “too slow”. Taking the idea to the drawing board, the development team decided that they could lose certain aspects which makes email a “slow” medium of conversation. Things like the subject line, multiple paragraph letters and formal signatures. Messages aims to streamline communications between instant messaging, SMS (simple messaging service) and email.

When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook and some of the privacy concerns, as well as the seeming mantra of “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” he deflected the conversation within a sentance or two back to the Messages service. Mark made the point that even though Facebook allows the friendship relationship to share information across wide groups, he made the point that “I don’t know that we’re 100% right about it”. Also admitting that Facebook is often in the crosshairs of privacy watchdogs because “Facebook is at the forefront of the internet privacy issue, and are trying to come up with solutions” Getting everything right, everytime isn’t a possibility for any company on the web, but it’s perhaps the two values being pressed to development teams at Facebook that keeps it in the privacy limelight; move fast, and be bold. If an idea is fleshed out, take the chances and move fast on it and let it into the social world. Change is always scary, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to grow and adapt.

A rather pointed question about competition was directed about the ad network on Facebook, in the form of being socially driven. Zuckerberg somewhat deflected this question as well, stating that he’s not sure it’s the right direction right now, and that there’s still a lot of work left to do on the web. When it came to the user base of Facebook, the metric which was given was that “50% of user accounts on Facebook are active everyday” and in the next 5 years or so, we’re going to see the internet moving into a more socially interactive model. Seeing as how Facebook is *the* social place to be online right now, the question was asked if there will be other social graphs to make an appearance and gain importance. In answer, Zuckerberg showed that a few years ago, app developers wouldn’t have contributed to the web space mainly because the user base wasn’t centralized. Now that developers can safely assume that 60% of their userbase are Facebook users and are “socially enabled” it allows companies and businesses to develop apps and services that even just 2 years ago didn’t make sense. The expectation is there will be various social graphs online, and they will all be able to work together.

One of the better questions pose was in terms of with Facebook becoming such a giant in the social space, is Facebook aiming to be the prime destination online, or is Facebook wanting to be an enabler for the web. Unexpectedly in a sense, Mark made the admittance that Facebook will be more of an enabler of the web as we move forward. There was a graphic at the summit, outlining the web in different countries in a way. At the end of the interview Zuckerberg pointed out that the image should be changed. As the graphic detailed the internet and online industry in a “zero sum” fashion, as in no room to grow or change other than taking anothers place, the image should be comprised primarily of an undetermined space. It’s the skewed view of the media, and a great many industry analysts that the web is a defined space, that leads to the headlines of “Facebook declares war on Google” and so on.

It was a good interview to listen too, and Zuckerberg had some interesting points to share on the web industry as a whole. Have a watch for yourself and see.

Facebook Monday

Nov 16, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   facebook, Google, internet advertising, internet news  //  199 Comments

So the big day has come and gone, Facebook talked about it’s new messaging service, and the web has been a cacophony of “Gmail killer” and other wild statements to that effect. And one of the funniest points I picked from all of the coverage of the day, was that Schmidt and Zuckerberg were almost playing nice, to a point. With their statements coming out generally like Schmidts “I’m glad they’re launching a service” And Zuckerbergs “Gmail and Gchat is an amazing service”, it’s almost like an unofficial truce of sorts.

I did however, come across a post detailing the top reasons why the new Facebook service will be “Facebook E-Mail Is Google`s Biggest Threat” and I had a really hard time making it past the second item on their list. I’m only going to share the headings of the points they’ve come up with, as the text that followed was almost uncomfortable to read. So headfirst we go:

Gmail means a lot – Okay great, Gmail means a lot. The text which followed that they used to back up their claim, was based on the idea that without Gmail, people wouldn’t use Google. And when I hit that sentance, I had to stop.

Search capabilities are there – And then unfortunately, I came to their second point. I had a hard time trying to wrap my mind around their claim that while Facebook’s search features are “primitive”; non-existant is a more accurate term, to think that they could come close, in the game that Google essentially owns, was ludicrous to read for me.

It’s where the users are – Granted now, Facebook is starting with a userbase of 500 million, definitely not a small number. But, if all you want to count are users, then if you want to include actual numbers, you’d need to include the average user base of Google to compare the two services. The point that made me chuckle here, was the assertion thatusers “spend over 700 billion minutes per month” on Facebook. That’s a whole lot of Farmville! And Googles aim? Speed up the web and it’s usage, not tie you in place.

Video – 500 million users, compared to Youtubes userbase, and the point was Facebook between June and July, Facebook saw unique viewers increase by three million, and total videos watched by 22 million. Funny thing is, all the videos I happened to see were hosted on Youtube..

Ads, ads, ads – I honestly can’t even go here.

The world, and especially the web are constantly growing and changing. It’s when things stay the same that they lose their appeal and die. Schmidt even made the point that it’s not that Google and Facebook have ever openly competed, but the media loves to drum it up that when any company launches any service, they’re competing with someone. When in fact what really ends up happening, is we all get the better end of the deal, new services, new ideas and most importantly, a choice as to which you’ll use. Me, I’ll stick with my Google and my Gmail.

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