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Browsing "search engine"

The New Social Search – BingBook?

There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.

About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.

Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”

Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.

The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.

Does your website need an update?

Appearance, usage, accessibility and speed. Four qualities which should be incredibly important to any website owner and doubly so for users. If a site isn’t appealing to the eye, easy to use, have intuitive navigation and is slow to browse, it’s almost certain to be skipped over by users first and search engines later.

The qualitites came to mind over a conversation with a friend, they’d lamented that the coroporate side had changed the website and made it unfriendly to use. Previously their site was css based, very little code written on page, and had a good deal of content to be indexed relevant to their rather competitive niche. The new look and layout for their site, abandoned CSS in favor of Java, Ajax and active scroll over elements on the page.

The new site is visually more appealing than the old one, the effects that were added with all of the new coding however, was unecessary. Dropping indexable, search engine friend CSS for Java and Ajax was a half step backwards though in the search wars. While the coding offers a great deal of flexibility in what your website can look like and do, it’s basically entirely skipped over by search engines. The website in question has been running a brief survey on the new look and feel, and so far the consistent response has been that past consistent users, have begun to use other portals to meet their needs. Their new site, while more appealing to look at, was too slow, difficult to navigate and wasn’t easy to understand at all.

It’s a good example of the addage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”

The Locally Sociable Web

Mar 8, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet, search, search engine, social media, social network  //  Comments Off

On the web, there are billions upon billions of webpages and websites. Any topic or category you can think of, it exists online for you to read and learn about. Thankfully, we have search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to name a couple, which can search, index, catalog and categorize all of these sites. Otherwise it would be like a giant pile of leaves, with little to differentiate them from one another.

And yet, as the world expands online, as information becomes more and more accessible, businesses and surfers are finding themselves pulled increasingly in a rather surprising direction. The more available the world has become, the closer to home users have gone. With the boom of social media, the world has started to realize just how small a place it really is. When with a few keystrokes, you can be browsing art galleries at the Louvre, or taking in the pyramids at Giza, the trend of online activity has been shifting more and more to a local focus. The search engines have noticed as well, and have begun to lend more importance to geo-targeting search results for terms. People post on Twitter and Facebook about which local pizza joint has the best crust, or look for a plumber from their friends referrals.

Smartphones, PDA’s laptops and netbooks. It’s getting easier to be online, and faster to navigate what you’re looking for. Social media brings the real time world to your finger tips, and the trend is getting ready to shift again. What’s the next big step?

The numbers are in..

Jan 11, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine  //  5 Comments

Google has published some additional demographic data on their search numbers, and they serve to prove that Google still going very strong, as the king in search. A few of their results are as such:

Google users in the US making more than one query per day: 7 out of 10

Google users in the US making more than 10 queries per day: 1 out of 7

Average amount of time it takes a user to finish entering a query: 9 seconds

Average amount of time it takes Google to answer a query: Less than 1/4 second

Number of search quality improvements made by Google in 2009: 540, ~1.5 each day

Google result pages that show a map in search results: 1 in 13

70% of US Googlers are making searches, and of those users 14% (1 in 7) of them are making more than 10 searches a day. Taking into account the size of the US population, that’s a lot of pages being crawled per day.

Throw into the mix that within 10 seconds (average) searchers get their results, you can start to appreciate the amount of work and stress that the Google data servers go through on a day to day, minute to minute basis. The proof of all of that work, is provided as well; quality improvments made per day. 1.5 improvements per day were made to make your results come up faster, and more relevant.

Local search has always been a key point for any business wanting to seriously implement SEO into their advertising and marketing plans. Taking all of the users searching in mind (70% of US searchers), generating and receiving a search every 10 seconds or so, out of all of those searches, 8% of them (1 in 13) have a Google Map location listed. So if you have a street address, and don’t have a Google map location, just get in touch with the Freshtraffic team to help you capture this lost audience.

It’s known through out the industry, organic search engine optimization is the best return on investment (ROI) form of online advertising out there today. But it takes time for your investment to mature and generate the traffic and interest you deserve to your website. The new year has only just begun, it is time to stop being lost beind poorly optimized, poorly coded websites and for Google to introduce you to the world. Let Fresh show you the way.

Pagerank vs Ranking

Nov 19, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, pagerank, search engine  //  Comments Off

“If my Google PageRank moves up to a 3 and my competitor’s PageRank remains a 1, will that push me above them in Google’s search engine rankings?”

Unfortunately, the answer is no. PageRank and your SERPs are not related in that sense. PageRank is an authority number assigned by Google based on an algorithm associating several factors to determine your site’s trustworthiness which, indirectly affecting your rankings in Google for specific keyword phrases. It is not used by Google to determine your rankings for keywords. It is amazing, that in 2009 that some webmasters, business owners and marketers still put emphasis on Google PageRank when determining the goals of your search engine optimization efforts. The goal of your SEO campaign should be to increase relevant visitors to your website over time from the search engines.

That being said, Google does use some of the same factors in its ranking algorithm as it does in its PageRank algorithm. But there are factors used to determine keyword rankings that are not used in PageRank. Keyword placement in your URL for example, is a factor that Google may use for search engine ranking purposes, but it doesn’t affect your PageRank at all. Other factors such as quality content, internal linking, etc do not affect PageRank, but are used to determine your placement on the SERPs.

Bottom line, don’t expect advances in your PageRank to affect your search engine rankings. The two are not related at all…and focus your energy on marketing your website and business online and to become an authority in the eyes of your visitors and the search engines.

Google gets a shot, of Caffeine

Nov 10, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine  //  1 Comment

For the last few months, Google has been working on self improvement classes so to speak. One of the mantras which the giant embraces:

To build a great web search engine, you need to:

1. Crawl a large chunk of the web.
2. Index the resulting pages and compute how reputable those pages are.
3. Rank and return the most relevant pages for users’ queries as quickly as possible.

So you need to be able to be mobile, intelligent, and fast. It’s no shock to anyone out there that Google has the largest index on the web, boasting some trillions of pages indexed. And of course, there is often a lot of wheat to be seperated from the chaff, which Google has always been (somewhat) brilliant at. Sometimes results were a little skewed, but that’s the price you pay for trying to be the biggest and the best, all at once. Speed, which never seems to be a factor when searching for your interest, *can* be a problem, depending on maintenance, downed data centers, connection hiccups, etc..

For good or for evil, Google is with us, and so deeply entrenched within the internet, it’s hard to imagine the web without it. Following the news this morning, that Google is ready to let their newest tech out of the door, Caffeine, get ready for the giant to go.. faster.

Like the bionic man, the aim of Caffeine is to make Google bigger, stronger, faster, and just all around better. While the average searcher/user probably won’t notice a difference, the idea that Google is about to get better at sorting relevant results, and faster at picking them up, is an exciting prospect as an SEO.

The SEO Masters

Oct 21, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   search engine, search engine marketing, SEO Expert  //  Comments Off

Between February 2008 and February 2009 the search business grew by 8%, impressive considering that search is second only to e-mail in online activity. More and more, the public is moving to the internet to find what they need and want.

Now 8% may not seem initially like a large number, and unfortunately that’s a problem for a lot of business owners blind to the potential of the internet; even with it being around for so long! Contacts who literally use the words:

“We have no website, nor ever plan to have one”

-Quick, what’s 8% of 307,752,000? (estimated 2009 US population)

It’s a conundrum, which unfortunately can’t be clarified without first hand experience. It’s like when you’re a child, and you first touch something which burns you, you’re apt to not do it again as you relate the pain with the extreme heat. The same goes for the internet, and lost potential therein. The big difference in the latter case however, is once you’re behind in the world of online marketing, you’ll find yourself caught in a race, which most times, feels like you can not win. Everyone else seems to have a stronger foothold, and an insurmountable following online, and in some cases.. that assumption is correct.

But there is a weapon, a tool, which can help you win the race, and slay the beats (of your competition). Don’t be fooled by the imitators, the true genius of Search Engine Optimization, is only evident within the inner workings of a site molded by an SEO master.

8% is 24,620,160 if you were wondering.

What to do when you disappear from Google

Sep 29, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet strategy, search engine  //  175 Comments

Step 1: Don’t worry. This occurs regularly, and can cause a lot of movement in rankings, meaning that it’s come to be feared by many in the SEO industry and anticipated by others. The update isn’t just one sudden switch, though, as each index update takes several days to complete. During this update the searches seem to ‘dance’ between the old index and new index – that’s the Google dance.

So why does it happen? Well, Google pulls its results from thousands of servers, and they can’t all be updated at once. Instead, each server is updated with the new index, one at a time. This can cause very strange behavior in the page rank process if two major sites located on separate servers happen to have a close linking bond. These sorts of separations are interesting and can contribute to a great deal of change and motion in page ranks. The most important thing to keep in mind is that eventually Google will rank you where you belong. Generally, if you behave, you will not be thrown around for long by the odd activity that can occur when Google is in the process of updating its index.

One common misunderstanding is the idea that Google controls which server each kind of information is coming from, and so stores similar information on the same server. Google’s index doesn’t work this way – it’s a big, disorganized mass of information that Google searches very quickly. This is a blessing in disguise because it allows your site to remain reachable via other sites that are related to it when the index is taking place. Your site generally won’t suffer for too long when an update is taking place anyway, but if you are heavily dependent on Google results, you will see a slight drop for a short period of time. This drop is often followed by a slight spike especially if your page rank has increased since the last round of indexing.

The servers that Google uses are distributed between datacenters all over the world. Google doesn’t keep all of those eggs in one basket – they want to be able to lose one datacenter and have the rest survive. This way, if part of Google goes down, people can still use the search engine and as was said before, this allows your site to be accessed via related sites if the server holding your sites index happens to go down. The datacenters that Google has put into play are enormous in comparison to most datacenters around the world. Google rivals some of the largest datacenters in the world with each of its datacenters and is probably the largest in the world if all were combined into one.

You see, the ‘time-to-live’ for Google is only five minutes – that means that Google can change it’s IP address every five minutes. This allows them to switch between their datacenters regularly, spreading the search load between them intelligently and routing around any damage. If you constantly entered the same datacenter with every search that you placed it would almost certainly fry within twenty four hours. Considering the number of users on Google each and every day, it is surprising that thn servers they do have is enough. A server can only handle so much traffic in a day and Google insures that it can hold more than any other service on the internet.

The datacenters updating their indexes at different times causes Google to do its dance. Unless you’re looking for your website’s ranking, you’d never notice this as your site is normally available at all times. The unfortunate bit is that often times you will lose your page ranking for a short period of time or your site will seem to have a lower number of pages indexed by Google. If you insure that you have several hundred pages available on Google at all times you will most likely be able to provide all of your content at all times either directly or indirectly.

Step 2: There is no step 2

Google vs Bing vs Yahoo

Sep 16, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet news, search engine  //  42 Comments

In a competition to find search engine bugs, Google came out on top of Bing, while also earning higher general praise than Microsoft’s new search engine. People in over 50 countries participated in the competition, held by uTest, a Southborough, Massachusetts based Q&A company.

While top spot went to Google earning the highest marks, almost a third of the testers were pleasantly surprised by Bing, and 10 percent said they’d make it their primary search engine, after having tested Google and Yahoo as well. Still, 90 percent said they’d be sticking with Google, valuing its search accuracy above all.

Testers actually found the fewest bugs in Yahoo, with just 70 problems, though less participants focused on this departing search engine compared to the other two major search engines. Testers found 130 bugs in Google, with 8 percent classified as “showstoppers”, while 321 bugs were discovered in Bing, 14 percent of them showstoppers.

It’s not clear how bugs are determined, but they pertain to technical, functional, and user interface issues. Because known bugs don’t qualify, Google probably gets a pass here, as there could be well-reported problems that don’t show up in the results. By comparison, with Bing being less than four months old, there’s plenty of room for new problems to arise.

More interesting is the survey that uTest solicited from its testers after the contest. Google dominated these surveys, as the top choice for accuracy, real-time relevance, and page load speeds. In all categories, Bing ranked second and Yahoo came in third. A small percentage of testers also tried Google Caffeine, and were generally impressed. One tester said results came back twice as fast as Google’s existing engine.

If the survey results are at all representative of all users, it’s a blow to Microsoft, which has tried to market Bing as turning up better search results. However, Microsoft may recognize it’s losing this battle, instead of turning to new, flashy features such as visual search.

Hail to the king baby..

Imagine No Google

Jul 14, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, search engine, seo  //  4 Comments

In the taxi on the way to the airport yesterday, the driver made the sort of offhand, clichéd remark that nobody ever takes seriously: “What would we do without computers?” Always one to take things seriously, though, I jumped at the bait. What would I do without computers?

Everything about my life would be different. Obviously, I couldn’t do the work that I do — and that’s probably true for you too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this column. I would also need a replacement for my social media addictions.

Everything about my life would be different — and that’s true for most people. If we didn’t have cell phones, our lives would be dramatically different. If we didn’t have television, our lives would be dramatically different.

But now imagine that we didn’t have Google. Imagine a Terminator came back from the future to kill Google before it became self-aware. Imagine that it found the global jeadquarters in Mountain View and managed to destroy Google’s “brain.” (Don’t you love that no matter how distributed and redundant our actual technology gets, every artificially intelligent movie bad guy always has a single “brain” that can be destroyed in a shower of sparks and dramatic effects?) Or maybe the Terminator just unplugs it. Whatever. Bottom line, we wake up tomorrow and there’s no Google.

For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s actually restrict ourselves for a moment to the idea of a world without Google search. Relax — we’ve still got YouTube.

Here’s what I believe would happen from a consumer perspective: there would be a brief and reasonably harsh shudder — and then we would go on as normal. The hundreds of Lilliputian search engines nipping at Google’s heels would rush in to fill the vacuum. Searches from your address bar? No problem. SERPs with images? No problem. Mobile search? No problem.

The commercial ecosystem, of course, would be dramatically undermined. All of the entities that have built their businesses on the idea of an ever-dominant Google would have to quickly and accurately reallocate spending to the most dominant of the new pretenders. Publishers would have to switch networks. Sites using Google custom search would have to offer another way to navigate.

But here is where it gets interesting for me: the strategy wouldn’t really change.

A company investing in text ads would still invest in text ads, because text ads will still be an effective, measurable way to advertise. A publisher tapped into the Google network would tap into a different network — but it would still tap into a network. Keyword identification and SEO would go on as normal, just with different players.

As integrated as Google has become in our lives, its functions are still replaceable. That “competition’s only one click away” idea is actually true, in theory. We stick with Google because we love it, not because we can’t get satisfaction anywhere else.

The best relationships are always those that exist out of continually renewed choice. Google has a lot of “habit capital” it would have to burn through before people started questioning that choice, but at the end of the day, it’s not really that hard to find another way to search.

If there were no Google? We’d simply have a different logo at the top of the page.

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