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Google’s +1 (pronounced: plus one) button could potentially be another dominant force in the social media world. Google’s infamous failures have included Google Wave, Google Accelerator and Google Answers but when they hit the ball it’s like watching the beautiful Lady Gaga in action. The +1 button is not unlike Facebook’s “Like” button. However, subtle differences distinguish +1 and make it something to pay attention to.

Facebook’s Like button promotes online interaction and sharing among a user’s group of “friends.” The Like button is very powerful because people are more likely to act upon recommendations from friends vs. strangers. Like has also become popular as an intuitive public rating system for all web content including videos, blogs and websites. The more likes and tweets your page has, the greater chance you have of going viral. Everyone loves their piece to go viral, but these spurts of fame have a tendency to burn out and die quickly. The weakness of the Like button is that Like offers only small window of visibility, either on a viewer’s news feeds or on their wall. The valuable personalized Likes are quickly buried and whatever positives the Likes once had- disappears. From Facebook’s perspective this is good because it encourages the user to keep posting to get the positive feedback. From the user’s perspective the constant quest for thumbs up can be exhausting.

Facebook’s little thumb needs to pay attention to two positive advantages Google’s +1 has that could potentially leave this hitchhiker in the dust. These are Google’s massive market penetration and the duration of +1’s influence.

The size and diversity of Google’s businesses alone makes Google’s +1 a little darling and a threat to the Like button. Google controls most of the advertising dollars on the Internet through search and they own high traffic sites like Youtube, Blogspot and Google Maps. In addition, they are determined to remain a player in the mobile device market, have recently developed their own browser and new apps are appearing daily. The +1 button will work seamlessly across all things Google and this enhances its value for advertisers, users and businesses.

You can also count on Google incorporating +1 into their Social Media algorithm in addition to Facebook and Twitter. Google is likely to disproportionately weight the +1 and this fact alone will increase +1’s market penetration.

Market duration relies and feeds off of Google’s market penetration. Google’s +1 doesn’t rely on a platform like Facebook to be useful and relevant to a user. Rather, +1s are displayed to a user anytime they use Google search. When a Google user is logged into Google they will be able to see the +1s from their friends along with their search results. Furthermore, this feature cleverly extends to paying Google Adword customers. The contextual placement of +1 is potentially very powerful. For example, let’s say a friend of yours is a horticulturist and he has +1ed public gardens all over the world. The next time you are in St. Louis and want something to do, your “public garden” search will include your friend’s +1 recommendation for Busch Gardens at the top of your search and you are likely to take his recommendation. Some reviewers have seen the “logged into Google requirement” as a limitation of the +1 rating system but this is irrelevant on smart phones and other mobile platforms. Moreover, +1s will potentially increase click through rates. People generally want whatever they think other people want. Google’s inclusion of +1s in Adwords should increase click though rates and dramatically impact Adword real estate.

It’s almost impossible for any webmasters and marketers to keep on top of all the new Internet developments, and it’s tempting to wait until +1 is established before jumping in with both feet. However, we think this is a fantastic idea and are taking the chance that it has legs. Source ranking is something search has never managed effectively and Google’s development of social layers and +1 has the potential to dramatically improve Goggle Search. +1 at the moment is source agnostic but the entire reason social media tags work comes back to the fact that a user will place a higher valuation on information based upon his/her perception of the source’s legitimacy, expertise and knowledge. Some recommendations are just more valuable than others and these are subjective judgments.

Furthermore, the +1 lends itself to the future introduction of a 100-point rating scale and this would finally create a useful Internet rating system. The American Robert Parker made his name and radically changed the world’s wine industry with his introduction of a 100-point scale. Google could easily do the same in the future with the +1.

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2 Jun 2011

SEO Moves Speaking at PeSA Internet Conference

Author: Julie | Filed under: Company News

We’re excited to share that John and I will be traveling to Australia to participate in the 5th Annual Internet Conference put on by PeSA and organized by none other than our own Phil Leahy.  John’s doing a session titled Get More Traffic: Link Building and Expert SEO Tactics, aimed at established website owners to learn some of our best tips.  The conference is geared to small to midsize online sellers and will be held July 21 and 22.

The group that hosts this event is PeSA, a group that both John and Julie were involved in during their early ecommerce and Ebay/Amazon days. The group has evolved into a multi channel seller networking powerhouse, a vehicle that helps companies develop their online presence and grow exponentially.  We will be reuniting with many colleagues from the past, Australians and Americans alike.

This conference, held this year in Gold Coast, will cover not only internet marketing but all other aspects of online retailing from social networking to fulfillment to multi channel inventory management.

Even more exciting for us is the opportunity to meet our many AU clients face to face. We’re visiting Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, so contact us if you’d like to set up a meeting while we’re there.

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Google finally launched the Shopping feature on Google Australia on Tuesday. Google Shopping (formerly Froogle and Google Base) is a data feed driven shopping engine driving product and pricing into Google’s results. It’s basically free advertising and traffic, a must for any ecommerce site.

This was just launched Tuesday, so we hope what we are seeing is phase one. As of today, Google AU is only showing the products if the user clicks on Shopping on the left nav menu. This extra click will not product much traffic, especially this early. On Google US, five shopping results are displayed as part of Universal Search, directly on page one. They have enticing pictures, pricing, reviews stars, and store names. As a preview of the prominent attention we can expect in AU once they put the results mixed in with natural results, I googled ‘vacuum cleaner’ on Google US: Google Shopping AU

 

Currently many of the items displayed in Shopping AU are Ebay listings, but we expect that to become more robust as businesses learn how to push the data to Google. We have been assisting our clients with this in anticipation of this day. Google gives priority to the age of the product feed, so the sooner you are participating, the better.   Visit the Google Merchant Center to get instructions on submitting your data.

Only products fed to Google will show up here, so we recommend two immediate actions: get your data feed to google, and set up your product reviews using the hreview microformat John wrote about last week.

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5 Dec 2010

Google Hotpot Service

Author: Phil | Filed under: Google, Localized SEO

Google hot potAdd an ingredient with a decidedly local flavor to an icon of the Internet world and what do you get? Google Hotpot, a new dish that is seemingly a combination of Places and Profiles. What does this new menu item do for us, the user?

It helps us find local destinations, like businesses and restaurants.

As we travel through a new type of landscape we are guided by signs, as always. But the source of the signs and information is much different now. Travelers are creating the guidelines and providing directions for the inquiring traveler. This is what happens with Google Profile. Users rate/review businesses, restaurants and service providers based on their experience.

This creates a large database of information in Places, of course. But it also helps the Internet behemoth with another task – making suggestions to users in the future. Add the “friend” touch and you have a referral and suggested destination business model called Hotpot that guides you to physical locations in your area.

If you are in a neighborhood that is popular with you and your circle of friends you can use Hotpot to find restaurants, bookstores, business offices etc. that will include the locations popular with your friends.

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23 Nov 2010

mod_pagespeed: The Bottom Line

Author: Phil | Filed under: Google, tools

apache mod_pagespeedHere’s the bottom line on mod_pagespeed: Webmasters and developers will use this to improve performance of Web pages. But there is some specific information these developers will need to know. This is open-source Apache software used to automatically optimize pages and content served with the Apache HTTP server.

The key is using filters that drive down to best performance practices on the pages. The module includes filters to optimize JavaScript, HTML and CSS style sheets, along with filters to optimize JPEG images and PNG images.

When word first came out about mod-pagespeed there was a tendency to panic. Developers and Webmasters found that in addition to the dozens of factors affecting search-engine rankings Google was going to start using speed as a primary factor. The questions were:

  • Would this have a serious negative effect on the “little guys” who couldn’t afford to fully optimize their self-designed pages?
  • How would complex but attractive pages be affected?

Using page speed as a primary factor in the search-engine process will only affect a tiny percentage of sites, according to information from Google. The company provides a number of ways to speed up sites. Webmasters should probably take look at these. code.google.com

Using mod_pagespeed in combination with the correct compression and caching steps should result in significant improvement in loading time.

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8 Nov 2010

Sitemaps for search engines

Author: Phil | Filed under: Search Engines, SEO

When we see the term “sitemap” we are fairly sure we know what we are dealing with. The term is very descriptive of the job that this online tool is designed to do. But what about sitemaps for search engines? How do they work? In what specific ways can sitemaps help both developers and users?

We may want to start with the idea of a traditional sitemap so we get a solid understanding of the concept. Then we can progress to sitemaps for search engines, even using both to create a successful strategy in the online world.

A traditional sitemap is a rather simple and efficient way for a Web site visitor to find a specific page or section on a complex Web site. It’s best to start with a home-page link then offer a list of links to main sections of the site. Those sections can offer details to pages. Be absolutely sure the links are accurate and take the visitor to the exact location described.

In addition, it’s generally best to provide one page (sitemap) where search engines can find access to all pages. A search engine sitemap is a tool that the Web designer or administrator uses to direct search-engine spiders based on frequency and order within the Web site.

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The first thing we have to do is define “organic search results” and determine why they are important (if they still are). This will let us move on to more in-depth information about organic search results for travel. In addition, we will be able to comprehend why some observers of the Web world are writing the “obituary” for these searches on Google.

google placesAccording to most encyclopedia definitions, organic searches are natural listings/results from a search-engine spider crawling a Web site. The process begins when a keyword is used in a search engine. There is no monetization (pay for these listings. It’s simply the most accurate results according to the work of the search engine. The key word here is “relevant.”

The Opposite

Processes such as pay-per-click advertising would qualify as non-organic in this discussion. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, for example, use combinations of advertising and search results on their pages. Ads are designed so they look like search results, though background color usually sets them apart. Many non-technical users/end users simply don’t recognize these paid listings for what they are.

In recent weeks the concern has been the “death” of organic search results for travel on Google. In other words, there is concern that the majority of results for the travel industry will be paid advertising. The question is: Will you be able to come up with truly organic search results when you seek travel information?

Will the big spenders with Google benefit from unique technical assistance so that they achieve better “organic” search engine placement?

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inbound linksGood link building will help push a Web site to the top of popular search engines. The first step is identifying good sites and directories. Why is link building is so crucial to successful Web efforts? Because a successful online effort has to have a network of support. The network that can carry a Web site to the top is built with exposure to a specific group of people. Target audiences are the crucial factor for anyone considering directory submissions.

Assume you have a site that offers Product X and related services. A particular sector of the online population will go to search engines and use Product X or one of the related services as a keyword for their search. Having a Web site and its link at the top of the search engine when this target group searches is your goal. This could mean significant traffic to your site and consequently, significant income for you.

Link building is both a science and an art. There are proven ways to make these connections work without wasting a lot of time and money getting onto every list available. Search engines are important but that the process must be optimized. This means you have to do what it takes to make your site and your links available to the correct group of people.

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19 Oct 2010

Google Webmaster Tools: What’s New?

Author: Phil | Filed under: Google, Searcn Engine Ranking

webmaster tools

webmaster tools

Webmaster Tools from Google “provides information and data about the sites you have added to your account. You can use this data to improve how search engines crawl and index your site’s content.” That’s the basic task for this tools application, as described by Google. But is there more to this than what we have become used to? The answer is “Yes, indeed!”

It’s all about the details, actually. For every individual search query the application provides more detailed information. In the past, a site’s pages were reported using average position. With updates introduced in the past year users can find the number of “impressions” and the “amount of clickthrough” for each position. Impressions are the instances that the site appeared in search results. Clickthrough measures the “number of times searchers clicked on that query’s search results.”

Two of the key details are:

  • When a site ranks for more than 100 queries there will be new buttons that allow Web managers to find out more details.
  • The Webmaster Tools now also generates charts and displays them in the report page. Query information can be isolated for a specific period of time as well.

The improvements should save time and money if used correctly.

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Google Instant searchAs quick and efficient as Internet searches already were (even a few years ago) Google Instant Search came along as an effort to make the process move more quickly. In its simplest terms, this technology is designed to take viewers to the desired content before they finish typing the search term or keyword. Individuals certainly don’t have to go all the way to clicking on the “Search” button or pressing the “Enter” key.

While the benefits of this technology may seem obvious to many there are some Web-search aficionados and online business owners who have questions and concerns about Google Instant Search. The technology makes predictions and provides suggestions as to what a might be searching for. These features have cut typing and search time by 2 to 5 seconds, according to Google.

Great stuff, right? Not for everyone. It seems that some people still want to turn this feature off and this can be done through the “Search Settings” link. The company states that this doesn’t slow down the Internet process and adds that the experienced user will welcome the efficiency of Google Instant Search, especially because it doesn’t affect the ranking of search results.

Google Instant Search – For some the jury is still out.