So in the world of search there’s a handful of true search engines, those little boxes of which you type in your current question or conundrum and off you go into the wild internet. We have Bing, which holds onto somewhere around 27% or so of the search market, Google who holds onto the lions share of search at just over 65%, and all those little crumbs in the bottom are search engines like Ask.com etc.
It’s not difficult to find press about how Bing is making massive inroads into Googles share of search, or how last year Bing grew by over 90%.. blah blah blah. When you boil the numbers all the way down however, all you’re really left with is Google and Bing, and the only way Bing is going to make positive growth in search is to take it from Google. So using misleading titles to the tune of Bing overtaking Google, or Bing Grows 90% over the year are nearly wholely misleading. Even with all of this “incredible growth”, with all of the addins and marketing strategies Microsoft throws at Bing they’re left with a fairly large problem. Despite owning more than 25% of the worlds search volume, Bing doesn’t make any money for Microsoft.
That may not seem like it makes any sense, but look at it from a different perspective, try and see it from the advertising angle of things. The sole product sold by search engines are the advertisements that appear on search pages, which are sold not for a set amount, but based on how many times customers click on an ad tied to the search phrase that brought the user to the page. And since Google has such a huge search market share, they’re rolling in cash right from the start because of their cost per click for their adword programs. Now the one biggest reason Bing doesn’t make money, isn’t because they have a smaller search share than Google alone, as it turns out, the cost per click tied to their advertising model is as much as 1/5 the cost of Googles cost. As bad as that may sound as a revenue model, it actually gets a little worse for the Bing machine. Less CPC looks great on the surface, but as an advertiser it brings up the issue of what is driving that low cost. Bing has less traffic than Google at the outset, the CPC to serve the same ad on Bing is cheaper than Google and in the end it translates into less ad impressions on the Microsoft search engine.
So the question in the end really, is there ever really going to be a solid competitor to the Google machine? If a multi-billion dollar a year company can’t even step into the same arena as the giant and succeed, who truly can? I say bring them all on, competition is what made the web what it is today, more will only make it better.
So if you’ve been tracking your sites progress on Googles search results pages, and you noticed some funny movement in the last week or so, you’re not imagining things. Google came out with it finally and admitted, yes they’ve had another regular update, but with Panda as part of the equation this time. Some have noticed that their sites have shifted a half dozen places or so, and some have noticed that for some of their optimized terms they’ve just completely disappeared.
As shocking and distrubing as it may be to suddenly find you’re not in the results where you were in the previous weeks, you may want to hold off on that complete site revamp to address your disappearance. To put it another way, Google took their search index, full of billions and billions of terms, tossed it up in the air and all of the websites are still coming down. Being filtered into all of their most relevant terms based on the current algorithm, it’s safe to wait just a few more days to see what happens through the weekend.
Google and +1
So search, it’s a funny game, moving, shifting, always changing. Facebook has their ‘Like’ button, which Bing has added their own special metric and weight to. And Google has their newer +1 button which they’ve come out and said basically ‘Yes it’s good for you to have on your site along side the Like button’. Basic fact though, the implementation of the +1 button on your site was actually bogging it down as of late, cutting your performance in half by almost half in some extreme cases.
While the Facebook ‘Like’ button is a flat blue color, the +1 button is a script or two which glows and stands out from your web pages. Definitely a hindrance to performance conscientious site owners, it wasn’t long until another disturbing trend was noticed. Visitors to pages with the +1 button, were slowly and steadily dropping. Almost strangely and on cue, Google has released a new version of their +1 button, faster, sleeker and much more in line with current web speed standards.
And just like the Facebook button, and those scandalous people making a living selling their browser clicks. It seems that because the +1 button can have a positive effect on your search ranking, some of the less scrupulous SEO companies out there are now selling their clicks. It’s not much of a stretch or a surprise really, as there are grey SEOs to be found all over the web selling all manner of SEO tricks. Selling links, scraping and rewriting content for you, Facebook ‘Like’ sellers and now +1 sellers. Just cut the SEO juice from the button and it’s true use will emerge, content promotion because it’s genuinely good content.
What is a domain name worth? well the average price of a .COM domain name is $2,595, according to a study released last week that analyzed 10,608 domain sales during the first quarter of 2011.
Buy your Domain Today
This could be pretty useful information for digital marketers out there to work into their budgets, but more importantly, they should look at the overall value that a domain provides because the return on investment can be fairly substantial.
Domain names are a pretty basic tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal and should be a main component of any campaign, brand management strategy, product marketing strategy, or even an SEO strategy. However, their importance is often overlooked and can sometimes be cast aside due to the sticker shock of how much the right name costs.
Domains have been sold for $13 and for $13 million, but if you consider the average price, it’s a reasonable investment in the grand scheme of a marketing budget. To put it in a brick-and-mortar perspective that most anyone can understand, $2,600 is roughly the cost of a vinyl sign or display booth, making it a very reasonable investment for most companies.
Another thing to remember is that a domain is an investment, The money you spend upfront on a domain will pay dividends in the traffic it helps generate, but it’s also an asset that will appreciate in value over time. According to the same market study that benchmarks domain transactions, the average price of a .COM increased 9 percent from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.
We often take domains for granted because they’ve become a part of every day life, but they’re a valuable tool for driving traffic, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Short and memorable domains can make your site easier to find for new and returning customers; keyword domains can improve SEO and reduce the money you spend on SEM; domains that define a category can capture natural type-in traffic. With the right strategy, domains prove their value many times over.
You only get one domain name, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Securing your business or personal domain name should be one of the first things you do online for Branding, Marketing & Sales.
If you require help securing a domain name for your business or to check out our stable of branded domains, call us today 1.866.259.2483 or drop us a line, we would be happy to help.
The most recent effort to introduce a bill aimed at placing the responsibility of policing the internet, of sorts, and it’s content has been blocked by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
The PROTECT IP Act was layed out and written in such a fashion that it would fall to internet service providers and search engines to essentially censor the internet. The proposed aim was to reduce the flow of business to websites selling counterfit name brand products. And while the goal is a noble one, the powers granted to the government over the ISPs and search engines if they didn’t comply with their directives was too far reaching. Basically any business could rat out another to the government, who would then turn around and say “Block this website” to the search engines and service providers. If they didn’t comply, they’d be subject to the whims of the body put in place to oversee their actions.
The largest issue with the bill and the way it was written, the burden of proof was placed on the accused, not the accuser. In essence, if you wanted to stop a competitor from advertising on the web and placing within the SERPs, all you would need to do is accuse them of infringing on your copyrights. The burden of proof would then be placed on the accused and they would be basically blacklisted to the corners of the internet.
A strong advocate of the bill had his own take on the necessity of the bill:
“American consumers are too often deceived into thinking the products they are purchasing at these websites are legitimate because they are easily accessed through their home’s Internet service provider, found through well known search engines, and are complete with corporate advertising, credit card acceptance, and advertising links that make them appear legitimate”- Senator Patrick Leahy
It’s easy enough to debate his comment however with just the simple statement, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re looking to buy a Rolex and you stumble upon that “hidden” gem online where you can buy one for a 10th of the retail cost, I would bet you’re buying a counterfit. Big business has a problem with the counterfitters namely because they’re almost entirely fly by night. They’ll engage in ruthless cut throat, black hat SEO tactics to continually rank above them in the SERPs to gain the visibility. The most consistent way to “win” the counterfit war is to simply rank above the gamers of the system. Investing in your website, investing in organic SEO and most importantly, investing in your brands online visibility.
A trending topic for the last 6 weeks or so online has been the SEO changing Panda updates. Both the original and the latest versions of the algorithm updates. Some website owners have laughed, some have cried, but all of us in the SEO industry have had to adjust some to compensate for the changes.
A new twist on the update discussion that has been gaining traction as of late is the thoughts of the increased diligence that as SEO experts, we will be conducting when picking up new clients. Scouring the content, links and the structure of the site were always paramount to success, checking the backlink structure however was often just glanced at. With the scare which Panda has brought into the spotlight of using content farm back links or having a link farm tied to your site, checking on a deep backlink history for clients new and old has become a priority. The fear that snagging that new massive deal, be undermined because of shady link building practices in the past has elevated the concerns of the search community.
It has also raised another question about the discovery of link farm back links and paid link building schemes to boost clients page rank. The Panda updates and the Google algorithm in general, have often caught the ire of the masses as being poor and best and out right failing at worst. Being that anyone can check any websites backlink structure and history, the development of a built in website reporting widget for your browser from Google and it seems that the industry is due to become full of vigilantes. Imagine the scenario, while checking on a niche competitors backlinks you discover that they’ve been buying thousands of links to boost their page rank and SERPs standing. With just a quick click of your mouse and a short form filled out, you’ve essentially neutered your competition and kicked their feet out from under them in one efficient motion.
This could lead to a massive amount of finger pointing and name calling in the SEO community. But at the same time, it’ll help reinforce the organic search experts position in the field. Never forget the basics, always keep it simple, don’t buy into link schemes which claim to guarantee page rank and SERP position and always do your due diligence.
Occasionally a client tries to take things under their own control when it comes to their website optimization. They start changing and adding their own links and text onto the page and the next thing they know, they’re scraping the bottom of page 4 when they were previously rocking their way up page 1.
It’s not unusual at all to have curiousity where your website SEO is concerned, but devestating effects can occur when the uninitiated try and take the reins and drive their site they way they see fit. The constant and recent algorithm updates within Google, Bing’s addition of the Facebook metric can wreak havoc with a constantly changing website.
It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, you hire a search engine optimization expert to optimize your website to increase your visibility online. Grow your brand name online, manage your reputation, perhaps bury your competition in the process. Molding your content, cleaning up your code and making sure all the steps are in the right spots for you to climb to the top of your niche in the search world. What we are not paid to do, is fix fleeting experimentation on your website conducted by your web techs in your hopes of saving a few dollars. We are contracted to build your online worth to a point where you become the authority in your niche market and make you a globally known name if you so desire. When we’re confronted with web programmers who only have an idea as to what we’re doing because it looks the same, that’s merely the surface of our work.
I’ve said this a few times on the blog already, but I’ll say it again. You don’t pay a mechanic to fix your home plumbing, you wouldn’t pay a plumber to fix your cars transmission. You should not be paying a web designer for SEO work, nor should you be contracting an article writer to design your website. Choose the right tools for the job, don’t skimp on the bottom line as you always get what you pay for.
There are a long list of dos and do nots to be found online. A well coded website, decent content well written and relevant to your visitors needs and maybe a picture or two to liven the look of your website up.
An unexpected issue however, pops its head up from time to time when working on our clients sites. Even though everyone who knows everything talks about how keywords and description don’t mean anything in your SEO campaign, think of them instead as a gauge to begin your efforts. Your description is the snippet of information displayed in the SERPs when you show up as a result. As an example, a very popular content management system out there is Joomla! and more often than not when we have a client needing an overhaul, their keywords and description tags are full of joomla, joomla, joomla.
You might be saying to yourself now “So what, that SEO blog I read says description and keywords don’t matter”. Would you visit a website when their snippet for their website consists of “Joomla! – the dynamic portal engine”? It’s sloppy coding, poor diligence on the part of the designer and owner of the site and is reflective of their quality as a service vendor.
So to recap, as much as your description and keywords don’t matter to SEO, they matter as an impression to those who may be searching for your services. You need to bear in mind both as a website/business owner and as an SEO with a list of clients, that neglecting even the smallest detail can have a large impact on your visibility and marketability. One last small tidbit of information to help you along, don’t try and be too clever when creating your description and keywords. That’s all I’ll say about that point.. for now.
There are some general misconceptions about SEO which crop up from time to time and often come up when going over the process with clients. Some points are extremely valid questions to bring up while others receive ambiguous answers as it changes every day.
Some discussion points like “Why do we need to wait in building back links to our site?” for example tends to come up. To build up quality back links to your website takes time first of all, secondly if you were to go the shady route and buy thousands of links to boost your Page Rank, it’s a very quick way to get the search engines attention. And not in a good way!
“Why should I pay you every month when this other guy says he can do the same for a one shot job?” This is probably the largest misconception about the SEO industry and one of the hurdles which we are met with in dealing with new clients. The biggest reason that you can’t do just a once over and expect the results to carry on forever is because the internet doesn’t shut off. It doesn’t stop, it doesn’t sleep, it’s always changing. And in order to compensate and keep up, the search engines do exactly the same. The change their algorithms, tweak the results and shift the rankings on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. Upkeep is absolutely essential to remain competitive in search engine optimization and someone telling you they can plant you firmly at the top for a one time cost of $200 is yanking your chain.
“SEO doesn’t seem so bad I’m sure our techs can do it here” This is perhaps the most closed minded statement to be encountered. I’ve written of it here on the blog before, but pick the right horse for the course. When you’re building a new website, contract a web designer. When you’re adding basic information to your site or updating information, use your techs. When you want to bring your brand and website up in the rankings, use a search engine optimization expert. Saying that your tech who does your database scripting will do your optimization for you is basically money lost at best. At worst, they try and shortcut your site and you get kicked from the index for breaking a rule or two.
There’s a new Google search results page being tested out in the wilds of the internet. Varying reports have been given at present, but there seems to be a central theme to the different layouts discussed. The most consistent trend that is being reported in the new pages is.. more white space in the results.
It doesn’t sound like a search game changing shift, but in reality it very much is. There are millions of people using the internet every day do a myriad of things. Searching, playing games, writing stories and blogs or researching who knows what. Almost all users use a 17 inch monitor or larger and the resolution to match. As strange as it may seem, monitor size and resolution also play into the new search results page and how it may affect your search ranking.
Simply defined, white space is literally just the amount of blank space between elements on a web page. By adding more white space to the search results pages, Google has effectively lengthened the page, meaning to get to number 10 of the top 10 results, you have to scroll down on the page. Just as in the real world, location is everything when it comes to search results. If you’re not in the top 10, you’re not betting the views you need to be competitive as a very high percentage of search users don’t click on page 2 let alone page 5 of their search results. It’s been seen in demographics as well, most users don’t even scroll down to the bottom of the top 10 of their searches!
At present most users see the top 5 or 6 on their search results page. If Google were to decide to go live with this change of adding more white space, you would only see the top 4, or 3 even depending on your monitor and resolution. If you were happy and content seeing that you were sitting at number 5 or 6 in your niche, it may be time to take a long hard look at your current site to see if you can kick start some forward gains. The top 3 when it comes to being found is becoming more and more important.
Search Engine Optimization, we’re in the business of driving your website to the top of the search results relevant to your industry. A lot of the time, it sounds too good to be true, that when reaching this position you can literally count yourself as a leader. So you sit back, relax and watch as the visitors pour in. And then you start to notice something you didn’t prepare yourself for, your visitors start dropping off.
Where you once were receiving hundreds of qualified visitors to your site, you’ve watched it drop off to a trickle of where you were at your peak. So what happened? Did your SEO expert fail you? Possibly, we do make mistakes from time to time. But the first rule of SEO is KISS it; Keep It Simple Stupid. With that in mind, grab your pencils and paper and let’s take a look at what are the contributing factors to dropped traffic.
First and foremost, check your content. Have you been creating fresh and compelling content for your site? Have you allowed your SEO to read it before you upload it to your site or did you just toss up what ever jargon you happened to jot down in a hurry? The search engines have always proclaimed that content is king and when your content doesn’t measure up anymore, you’re going to lose your crown. That means when you’re being creative, you need to bear in mind your visitor base. Do they understand industry terms? Or do you need to use generic terms. Will they be able to handle acronyms and specific statements about your products and services? Being hasty in the creation process can be a huge contributor to losing traffic to your site. Properly spelled, grammatically correct and most of all relevant to your site content, can drive you to the top of the mountain and keep you there like an anchor.
Another avenue to explore for you, have you done any massive changes to your website either functionality or design? If you’ve changed the way your navigation works on your site and didn’t properly relay that information to the search engines, you’ll likely slip off of search until the spiders find all of your content again.
Have you kept an open and consistent dialogue with your SEO expert? When a change is requested that needs to be completed, you need to bear in mind that the internet doesn’t stop. It doesn’t sleep, rest, eat or use the washroom. The bots are always out there, always searching, parsing and indexing. A requested change needs to happen as soon as possible. Lost time when making changes can make a huge impact on your search position.
The marketing game has changed significantly in the last 10 years with the growth of the search engines. Gone are the days of dumping a quarter of a million dollars into an ad campaign and waiting for the kick back from it. International marketing superstardom can be had with a well coded website with strong quality content created by one person sitting behind a keyboard.