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You can’t knock them for trying, and even though they’re well out of the search market share race, Yahoo has thrown another punch in the fight to stay relevant. Their new piece of software, Axis, is actually an interesting project, born with the idea to make searching quicker, and synchronous across your devices.
When you’re on your PC or laptop, you can only use their new tool as a browser plugin, giving you a more visual display of your searches. With the results pulled directly from Bing powered search, you can browse through your results in a manner more akin to flipping album covers in your media player. The results are the same, powered by Bing as they have for the last while, just delivered in a different package. As well as having a bottom screen bar taking up some of your screen real estate, you’re also given tabs on the left and right of your screen, to quickly navigate deeper into your search results. It’s a different take on a new game, and basically eliminates using the back button to locate exactly what you were looking for.
There is a bigger difference when you start to use Axis on your iPhone or iPad however. The app functions more like an instant share button, allowing you to spread the word about the newest deal you’ve found. It also allows you to quickly send those results to any of your contacts, and has added a new spin to mobile browsing with letting you preview your destination. Currently no other app has the capability in the marketplace, and by innovating Yahoo, with Axis, has kept themselves relevant in the search marketing game. A bonus for the company is they’ve also allowed you to synch your devices when signed into your Yahoo account, so while looking for that home repair guide on your desktop, you can open up that same page on your iPad and get right down to work, as it will have your spot saved right where you left off.
With mobile marketing and mobile search growing at a massive rate for the next few years to come, by pushing into this market early Yahoo has definitely made themselves a player in the meantime, and likely a part of the game for at least a few more years to come.
An interesting blog post from Bing has been gaining steam in discussion forums, and unsurprisingly, it pokes fun at Google and the recent Penguin update. A little poem of sorts has been made up, and it goes something like this:
Animal kingdom hurting ROI?
Pandas and penguins, oh my!
Take control and tell the fauna “Bye Bye”,
With these helpful suggestions to diversify!
It’s a silly little rhyme, but it has great sense in it; diversify. They go on to explain that by diversifying your websites optimization techniques, you can soften, or even eliminate the blow felt across the web with algorithm changes. If your organic optimization is flowing strong and healthy, focus on a weaker area, perhaps pay per click optimization and help to boost it’s output. Organic results are typically the hardest hit in search when there is an algorithm update or a sweeping change made ala Panda or Penguin. By having your additional channels of traffic performing at their peak, you can protect your position online and react if there is a drastic change occuring.
The Bing post went on to make great points as well, diversification aside, about how to manage your presence on the web. Keep an ear to the ground for any new and trending websites or aggregators, like Pinterest just a couple of months ago. It went from a simple board where people can share interests quickly and easily, to having a Pin button begin popping up on almost every major site out there. Pinterest had some key factors which helped make it incredibly relevant, strong, rapid growth, easily adopted technology, the media got on board quickly which spread the word and add in the interaction of friends and family and it took off like a rocket. Keeping your eyes on the horizon and watching for a trend can be an extremely helpful safety net.
There were a few great other points that were covered in the post, a lot of them were really just basics that cover some of the most basic SEO skillset. Like taking care of your sitemaps, are all of the links relevant and none broken. Same with your robots file, when was the last time you had a look at it’s contents to ensure it was still correctly configured? Do you have social sharing on the pages you want to have sharing on, and have you managed to keep any duplicate content issues down to nothing. Very, very basic work, not even necessarily from a search engine optimization stand point, but just from a webmaster stand point. Keep it clean, keep it basic, follow the news and trends, and you’ll be ready for the algorithm shifts across nearly all search engines.
The largest news on the web as of late, has got to be the flurry of activity surrounding Facebook. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last while, Facebooks IPO is about to break into the open.
The largest IPO being put forward in history, Facebook is about to offer itself up for just north of $100b (yes that’s a ‘B’) to the stock buying market. It’s a massive pool of cash that it wouldn’t be uncalled for if Zuckerberg would hop into a giant vault and swim around a bit ala Scrooge McDuck. The offering smashes the other tech giants in comparison, and obliterates Googles offering of just under $3b just a few years ago. A fair amount of hype has cropped up surrounding the number, along with the murmuring of Facebook possibly even taking out Google with their incoming influx of cash.
There is however, the other side of the equation, Google and Facebook aren’t in competing markets. Facebook, is the dominating social network online with nearly a billion accounts, and Google is the reigning king of search. Both players have dominated their respective markets, and have carved their own living out of paid advertising. And it’s the advertising angle, that some marketers believe where Facebook will be stealing money right out of Googles coffers.
Recently at SMX London, Amit Singhal opened the talks with some rather interesting information about Google, and about how they have no idea how it all works. That’s a rather broad statement actually, and there is some definition to be made. During the question period, someone asked Amit how much money Google makes on algorithm changes. Contrary to what the tinfoil hat wearing people believe, Singhal was adamant: “no revenue measurement is included in our evaluation of a rankings change.”
That might seem rather preposterous when you look at how their revenue model works, after all the search giant has made its seemingly limitless billions on search. Going on further, Singhal even opened up on the fact that no one knows exactly how everything works (all of unpaid search, AdWords, Android, etc.), he has a pretty good idea of how all of unpaid search works. Just some interesting food for thought, as the conspiracy theorists out there seem to think Google tweaks the algorithm when they want a cash injection.
There is a huge amount of information and due diligence that needs to be done when you’re working on your companies website. You need to consider the technical, and aesthetic aspects of your site. Is it appealing to look at, or is it full of uncoordinated colors and themes. On the technical side of your site, does it load quickly, or have you filled it with pictures, videos, and sounds and it takes more than a few seconds to load? The internet doesn’t work around minutes, if you do not capture your audience in the first 3-5 seconds of being on your site that impression is lost. Take a good hard look at your navigation, your menu structure on your site. Is it written with clean code, easily crawlable and indexible or have you built it with scripts and images which have no relevance with search engines.
Have someone outside your business take a read of the content on your website, are they able to work out what it is that you do with just a quick glance? Often times, when a company is building a new site for themselves they can get carried away with their content, and they begin to create content which is too niche specific, resulting in lost visitors and relevance. Once you’ve gotten all of your content squared away, you can create proper links to your other web pages you’ve built, to try and help the bots to get at all of your available content and help push you that much further up the ranks. Think of your website like a sail boat, and your additional pages and content as added sails. The better job you do building them, the more power you’ll have behind you.
We’ve always maintained that those with certain skill sets should do certain jobs and stick to those jobs. Web designers should design, coders stick to coding, SEO’s stick to SEO and so on and so forth. There is however, one book that everyone should read and keep handy when building, repairing, or working on a website. Go hit up the Google Webmaster Guidelines for best practices for websites. It’s the best stepping stone you can use to begin to have a chance online, and while it won’t help you rank #1 for all of your niche terms, it will keep you from being targetted by their biggest updates; ala Panda and Penguin.
Currently Bing is going through a transformation of sorts, they’ve revamped their look and performance, changed up the way they do social, and tried to streamline everything overall. The current end result: in their own internal testing they’ve come out ahead of Google. A near 10% gain while Google lost 10% of their score during testing, so what’s Bing been up too?
Firstly, they’ve been working hard at incorporating more of the social web, into your search results. Earlier in the year, Google introduced their version of this idea as Search+ your world, and was met with the ire of masses. The claim was made that Google was favoring their own social network and shunning Facebook and Twitter, with Google counter arguing that they couldn’t gather information from those sources. Bing currently, manages to pull information on searches from all of these sources, Facebook, Twitter, as well as Google+. It may seem as though Google was just blowing hot air, but it needs to be mentioned that late last year Twitter did effectively block the search engine, and Facebook keeps a pretty tight handle on what gets out onto the web, even with open and social profiles. Microsoft Bing, currently has deals worked out with both of these parties to index their information, and Google+ profiles, if they’re set to public then everything on that page is indexed as a public website.
Bing used to have your social mixed in with your search results, but they decided to change that idea and went in a completely different direction. All of the social search results have been shoved off to the right side of your screen, where your friends, family and colleagues are ranked as per relevancy based on your search. Also included in those social results are people and items which may also be relevant to your search. The reason for the change according to Bing, is having the social results mixed in with organic, they felt that it diluted the page too much, and your searches would be affected.
So where does that leave us, Bing is in the process of launching their completely revamed search and social service, and they’ve made big gains in the search world, based on their own internal testing. A blog post on that point makes it a little clearer:
We regularly test unbranded results, removing any trace of Google and Bing branding. When we did this study in January of last year 34% people preferred Bing, while 38% preferred Google. The same unbranded study now shows that Bing Search results now have a much wider lead over Google’s. When shown unbranded search results 43% prefer Bing results while only 28% prefer Google results.
Along with all things, changes to the way we use the internet happen on a daily basis for the most part. Starting from a single browser interface, to now having a half a dozen available to use depending on preference and platform, web tech has been changing and evolving almost as fast as the web itself.
Take browsers for example, just a few years ago in 2008, the online world was dominated by Internet Explorer, followed up by Firefox and just a sprinkle of the odd ones here and there. That was the year that Google Chrome was introduced, and since that time, the number one seeds have changed some. As of the start of 2012, there is a fairly even split of the browser market going to the top 2, Firefox and Chrome as the most widely used, Internet Explorer coming in at a distant third and the rest, still just a smattering on the internet landscape. As of March 2012, Internet Explorer has dipped under 20% of the browser landscape, thankfully at least half of that market uses an updated version of the browser, with version 8.
But browsers aren’t the only change we’ve had in the last few years online, social media has become a massive market on the web. The largest player in the space needs no introduction, Facebook entirely crushes the social market with having around a half billion users logged in on average per day. The unencouraging portion of that number however, is that nearly half of the businesses out there, don’t even use social media marketing to their advantage. Only about 20% of the businesses out there are even using Facebook to push their brand and market, with the smaller business owners more readily embracing the technology. Knowing it’s an avenue that needs to be explored, and taking that step to do so are two different things, and it seems that a lot of the time it’s people that try and make it complicated. Any concern for marketing is return on investment, and while organic search engine optimization is the best return in the business, it’s cost and time factors make it difficult for those with very shallow pockets. Freebie advertising though, like that can be found with Facebook and Twitter, can be easily measured however, broadcast your ad/tweet, and measure your traffic over the next couple of days. It’s not magic, it’s simple math when you have to keep it basic.
Today overseas in Germany, Google both won, and lost a court case with Youtube. How can that happen? Well it’s an interesting case, one which, if the verdict is upheld, will be used as a marker case for future dealings with the platform.
Google has long contended that Youtube is simply a host, not a creator of the content which you can find on it. Because anyone can create an account and upload anything they want, Youtube is by definition a host for content. There are some very basic editing tools on the site, but you can’t record anything on, or through their site or software. And today a court in Germany has ruled that (currently) Google needs to install filters within Youtube, in order to detect and stop people from gaining access to materials to which they do not own the rights. The judge also said that Google is not responsible for the uploaded material, merely needs to help do more to help stop copyright violations. That, is how you can win, and lose at court. Google and Youtube were legally absolved of being responsible for the content on it’s service, and were instead charged with helping to clean it up.
In the list of small victories as well as being told Youtube isn’t responsible for the content being uploaded? They were also saved from having to sort through it’s entire catalogue and purge anything that has a copyright tied too it. With billions of hours of video, that would be an impossible undertaking at best guess. Just because the case has been decided, Youtube and Google, aren’t exactly taking it lieing down. They still intend to appeal the decision, as any loss can be viewed as a loss. The GEMA party in Germany which controls royalty payments to materials it has copyrighted is the company which took Youtube to court, over 12 songs uploaded in 2010. Google has said they will be negotiating with the company so artists which have been copyrighted receive their due.
While most in the search industry fluctuate within a few points, over the last few months Blekko has enjoyed a huge increase in traffic. Since the beginning of the year, Blekko has enjoyed 350% plus gain in traffic, expecting to reach 400% by the end of the month. These are all unique IPs accessing the site, to conduct searches and likely SEOs taking advantage of the tools they have available.
Blekko was already enjoying a slow and steady growth in 2011, averaging just over 1.5 million uniques in the month of December. But flipping the calendar page to 2012, seemed to herald a new beginning for the slash tag search engine. The Uniques for the first month of the new year doubled what they had seen in December and broke the 3 million mark. And while the initial information came from Blekko themselves, casting a little bit of a shadow on the information, it’s since been learned that while the actual numbers aren’t known, the growth is there.
There are always shifts on the web, new sites grow, old sites decline in traffic, but sudden, massive growth like Blekko is experiencing should also be taken with a grain of salt. Those in charge of the company offered a few reasons why they feel they’ve experienced such explosive growth in the new year, and the one which is probably the largest reasons is they’ve taken the time to make their presence known. The company has made it a point to attend major conferences to tout their strengths, and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see they’re experiencing higher growth than previously. They also listed their recent upgrades as a reason for the sustained growth, which helped deliver an improved index for people who use the engine and build their slash tags. On the technical side of the equation, with the loss of Yahoo site explorer and the new tools which Blekko offers, they’ve undoubtedly seen an increase in traffic to that area of their site as well.
Competition in the search space is a great thing to be happening, and Google has said previously they welcome it. It encourages change, growth, and an ever expanding choice in what the public can use.
Occasionally, if you’re diligent about handling your website and checking in on Webmaster Tools, you’ll get the odd warning. Most of the time they’re not major, maybe your sitemap is old, your navigation has an error or you have an erroneous line in your robots.txt file blocking crawling on your site. But for people who’ve been maybe a little, naughty with acquiring back links, maybe getting caught buying links and increasing their Page Rank, receiving notice in your WMT is only the first step of the work you need to do.
There is some great information to be found, direct from Google itself about how to handle being called out by having unnatural links pointing back at your site. When you get a warning like this, you’ll also get a notice that you’ll have the penalty attached for 6 months, but just because you have it doesn’t mean you need to grit your teeth and bear it for that long. If you’ve acted quickly, and cleaned up all of the errors that have been reported and are serious about your online positioning, you need to submit a reconsideration request as soon as possible. Sitting and waiting out the penalty doesn’t just affect your site in the short term, it will also affect your positioning, and possibly your reputation in the long run.
If you’ve been flagged as having unnatural links pointing at your site, you need to go as far back as the links go. If you’ve been working them for a year, clean up the last years links. If it’s two, five, or even ten years of links, it needs to be dealt with. That means a massive undertaking, but this is your online presence, and possibly the survival of your online business. Taking the time to clean up all of the links leading into your site is time invested into the well being of your company.
The last piece of pertinent advice was just as important as well, just because you may have received a notice today, doesn’t mean it’s only just now been noticed. Google has only recently been actively sending out reports to site owners, so just because you may have received notice that your pages aren’t crawling properly, doesn’t mean they never noticed before. The issue you’ve recently become aware of, just may be the reason you’ve never been able to hit page 1, or over take a competitor in your online market. Taking action on your report and quickly submitting for reconsideration is not only the best course of action, it should be viewed as the only course of action after receiving a notice.
For a new business starting up, or for those looking to make their presence known online, the over whelming amount of options you have can be staggering. There’s pay per click, organic search engine optimization, social media and social media optimization, the internet is a speedway filled with potholes if you’re not careful.
Pay per click marketing, also known as AdWords, is a pretty straight forward marketing plan. It’s bidding on ad placement within relevant search results, to put it plainly. If your ad is deemed relevant, and you’ve won the bid, your ad will be displayed in a “Sponsored Listings” box on the results page. Basic optimization needs to be kept in mind, as well as the quality of your website and it’s landing pages.
Organic search engine optimization, SEO, or the holy grail of online marketing, are the results you see in the center of the page when you conduct a search. A fair amount of time, resources, knowledge and creativity are involved where organic SEO is concerned. Finding an expert in the field can be a difficult, if not troubling experience. In recent years, the field has become inundated with web designers, graphic artists and the like all proclaiming to be SEO experts. If you find your business is being contacted by parties wanting to sell you SEO services, here’s a little tip. After they tell you their business name, try searching for them. Because after all, if they can’t list their own business, how can they list yours?
Then we get into the bustling world of social media. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and now Pinterest all vie for your attention. And as an added result, your customers attention as well. It’s incredibly cost effective, if not free, to become invested with social media for your business. The majority of your investment is going to be with your time and creativity. Taking the time to leverage all of the social angles is a consuming process, but it’s well worth it as it can quickly build a positive brand image.