Posts Tagged ‘Google Search’
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
As you’ve probably heard, Google just wrapped up its developer’s conference known as Google I/O. The annual conference is the venue for new product releases, major updates and announcements that have the potential to impact consumers and businesses.
Here are the biggest announcements from the conference:
New Google+ Design
Google+ has been gaining momentum, and Google unveiled a new design to go along with all the growth. It’s true that Google+ may not exactly be Facebook, but it does have 190 million users, and the value it can bring to search engine optimisation campaigns is no secret.
The new multi-column layout displays posts in an entirely new way, which is reminiscent of Pinterest, and boasts bigger photos and makes it easier to use hashtags. Google Hangouts has updated messaging features, notifications and saved conversation features.
Faster Chrome Speeds
Google’s browser, Chrome, has more than 750 million users. At Google I/O the company announced that users will now see faster video speeds and payment processes. It has also launched a few experiments and projects that show off just how fast Chrome is and to give businesses an idea of how they can benefit from the speed.
Talking Search and Google Now Geographical Reminders
The way users use Google’s search engine has changed: people can now ask Google a question (vocally) and the site will speak an answer. This feature is available for laptop and desktop computers using Chrome. Google Now also received a major update with the ability to provide geographical reminders. Users can now get a reminder at a specific location (like at the office or at the store) on their mobile devices.
Google Play Music All Access and Google Play Leader Boards
This new product may signal that Google is interested in competing with companies like Rhapsody and Spotify. Google Play Music All Access is a subscription-based music service that lets users listen to millions of songs for a flat monthly fee.
Google Play was updated with real-time multilayer leader boards, so players can more easily compete with their friends.
Enhanced Google Maps
Google Maps has been enhanced with added features, and better images, that are intended to make the service more personal. Users can star favorite places, write reviews, and see business descriptions on maps. Google Maps is already a powerful app and it was widely celebrated when it debuted on the iTunes store, making it available to iPhone users. More personalization and more unique features will likely make this app even more popular.
This year’s Google I/O updates didn’t disappoint and developers, businesses and users everywhere are excited about the changes. Will your business benefit from these announcements?
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
The right keywords for your brand and company are the foundation of a successful search engine optimisation strategy. If you’re just starting SEO at your business, or if it is time to revamp your current strategy and reassess the way you do things, choosing keywords is a vital step in the process.
Brainstorm Keywords that are Relevant to Your Brand
Start by brainstorming a list of keywords that are associated with your brand. Your list could be quite long, since it will include very general words as well as more specific words that reflect your business, what you do, your products and your services. Remember that the point of brainstorming is to come up with as many ideas as possible, so don’t hesitate when building this list.
Put Yourself in Your Markets’ Shoes
Now, consider your markets and think about what kinds of words they may use when they conduct searches. Think about words people would use if they were specifically looking for your business and words they might use if they are looking for the kinds of products and services you offer. This part of the process requires you to think differently, since you are likely very used to thinking about your business from an insider’s point of view.
Check Your Analytics
If you already have a website or blog with analytics, check to see what kinds of search terms are bringing people to your website. As you look at this list, add keywords you haven’t already thought of to your list of potential keywords.
Narrow Down Your List
At this point you likely have a nice long list of potential keywords. You probably have more than you need or that you can realistically target. Go back down your list and cross off the keywords that are extremely general and highlight the ones that you think will bring the best results. You may want to keep the words your audience is already using to find your website and words that are more unique to your specific business.
Add Long Tail Keywords
Examine the remaining keywords and add long tail keywords wherever possible. Long tail keywords are key phrases that make a more general keyword more specific. For example, a general keyword would be “printing services” long tail keywords would be “London printing services,” “affordable banner printing services,” or “sign printing services in London.”
Research Search Volume and Competition
Use a tool like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to decide which keywords you should target. Search for the keywords you have on your narrowed-down list and look at how many people search for the term and how competitive it is, or how hard it is to rank for the keyword. Google’s tool allows you to see related search terms, which can help you add more targeted keywords to your list.
When you finalize your keywords, keep in mind that you may have a few different categories of keywords to target. You may want to try to rank your product page for one keyword, and your home page for another keyword. You may also decide to use different keywords for different link-building and SEO techniques.
Many businesses want to know how many keywords they should target, but the answer to this question will be unique to each business and its goals and industry. Every business and every campaign will require a different amount of keywords. Also keep in mind that as your campaign develops and you begin ranking for certain words, or as your business changes, your list of keywords will also likely need to change.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Snickers has launched a new search ad campaign that relies on people misspelling words in their Google searches. The company purchased Google ads for misspelled terms so when a searcher enters one into the search bar, he or she will see the Snickers’ ad.
According to Mashable, Snickers’ bought about 25,000 terms for the campaign. When one is typed into the Google search bar, the user sees an ad that states: “Oh Deer. Its Hard to Spel When Your Hungry. If You Keap Making Typing Mistakes, Grab Yourself a Snickers Fast.” The ads direct users to YoureNotYouWhenYoureHungry.com.
To determine which words to purchase, Snickers’ applied an algorithm to a list of 500 commonly searched terms to create a list of more than 25,000 misspelled versions of the words.
The clever campaign depends on the hundreds of thousands of typos in search terms used every day. It also brings the brand to the front page of more search terms, which may not all be directly related to the candy bar.
It’s reported that the strategy has successfully placed ads in front of about 500,000 people in just three days. The company also says that this audience represents Snickers’ target market.
Google’s Search Ads
If you’re not familiar with Google’s search ads, they are essentially a way to tie ads to search terms. A business can purchase certain keywords that will trigger their ad displays in a users’ search results. Google offers several types of search ad extensions, such as comparison ads and media ads. Businesses can even display products and their address through product and location extensions.
Usually, a business will purchase keywords its target market is likely to search for. Keywords that are products, services, needs and phrases that include locations are all conducive to this type of marketing. The idea behind search ads is that if a person is searching for terms related to a specific business, he is more likely to become a customer when he sees a related search ad and clicks through to the company’s site.
When someone searches for one of 25,000 misspelled words, a Snickers ad, like this appears. Image source.
Will it Work?
A video released by the company explains that the campaign is intended to target bored office workers who may miss social media ads if their office has blocked the sites. Of course, these aren’t the only people that are likely to see the ads.
The idea is relatively simple but it could bring huge results. All things considered, it’s hard to imagine what kinds of search terms a company like Snickers’ would want to target when buying Google Ads. Words like “candy UK” or “chocolate UK” are very broad, and one has to wonder if ads associated with those terms would be effective. It could also be the case that Snickers has already purchased more relevant keywords, and this campaign is meant to be an additional search marketing effort.
With this campaign, Snickers is able to reach a very large audience in a short amount of time. According to its claims, it’s also able to reach its target market. While this type of campaign wouldn’t work for many companies, Snickers may have found a unique tactic that could help the company reach more people through search marketing, increasing its revenue.
Friday, April 19th, 2013
Image courtesy of Widjaya Ivan/Flickr.
Google Plus is an excellent content marketing tool from both a social networking and search engine optimisation perspective. The growing user base allows you to get your message in front of a bigger audience that can also help you share your content. From the beginning, it became clear that Google was going to use Google Plus to help it determine where a page appears in search results. You can leverage these benefits by using Google Plus wisely.
If you haven’t already set up Google Authorship for your blog, you’re missing out. Google Authorship links your blog posts to your picture and profile, links all of your content together and ranks pages linked to your name higher. Have you ever noticed a Google search result with someone’s name and picture next to it? This is Authorship in action.
Enabling Authorship on your blog links your Google Plus profile to your content, so when one of your posts appears in search results, your name and picture will be next to it. This is a great branding opportunity, and it also helps with SEO efforts, since Google ranks Authored content higher than other content.
Another benefit of Google Authorship is the related content listing. When someone stumbles across one of your blog posts on a page of search results, he may also see links to other content written by you. This can help you build your brand and increase traffic to your content.
Google favors legitimate content, and it uses Google Authorship as one way to differentiate between genuine content and spammy content. Using Google Authorship will help your page rank higher as Google recognizes it as natural, high-quality content.
Build a Google Plus Audience
Just like any other social network, the audience you build on Google Plus can help you gain more traffic, which can increase your page rank. When you have a large, engaged audience that clicks on the posts you share and that passes your content on to their connections, you’ll start to see results. You can grow your audience by using hashtags and participating in Google Plus communities.
Depending on your business, you could even start your own Google Plus community to create another channel you can use to reach your target market and communicate with it on a regular basis.
Use Links and Keywords Wisely
Google Plus allows businesses to use links in their about section, an opportunity you should take advantage of. Of course, these links are very helpful for your audience, but they can also boost your rankings. Use keywords as the anchor text for links that go to your website, but make sure your content is still people-friendly and doesn’t look spammy or forced.
Your keywords should also be used in your Google Plus posts, so that your posts will appear in search results when your connections search for those keywords, thanks to Google’s Social Search.
Google Plus is a growing social network with an added advantage: it very directly impacts search results. You can optimise your content marketing tactics by using Google Plus features to gain more traffic and better search rankings.
Monday, April 15th, 2013
Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
In general, creating links to your website is a good thing. It can help you boost your search engine rankings, drive traffic to your site and help you reach new markets. There are two different ways to get links to your site: earning them and building them.
The difference between these two strategies may seem subtle, but each can have a vastly different effect on your search engine optimisation campaign.
Link earning is accomplished when a brand earns a mention, and link back to its website, on another site or blog. This type of link can be very beneficial because it is often from a legitimate site that gets lots of traffic and may have a high page rank. It is a natural link, not forced and not on a website that is built for the sole purpose of boosting the rankings of another site.
Common link earning strategies include:
- Guest blogging,
- Social media posting,
- Blog commenting,
- Form participation,
- News article and press release placement, and
- Website or blog sponsorship.
Earned links are highly valued by search engines because they are seen as legitimate. These links can also be excellent tools to help you build your brand. As your business reaches new audiences and becomes associated with other sites, your brand will become more recognizable and you’ll have more channels you can use to share your message.
Link building is still used in some instances, even though Google’s 2012 update devalued links created with these strategies. In essence, link building is the process of creating links back to your site in artificial ways. Some link building practices are:
- Link buying,
- Article marketing,
- Exchanging links,
- Using link networks, and
- Submitting to article directories.
All of these strategies can help you gain links to your site, but these tactics are less natural. They are forced and therefore, search engine are beginning to ignore them. Most of these link-building strategies won’t get you very far with your marketing efforts either. They likely won’t help you reach your target market and won’t help you build a reputable brand.
These days, link earning strategies are bringing more success to SEO campaigns. Using these tactics can help you build relevant, natural links that search engines will favor and can help you build your online presence and brand.
Monday, April 8th, 2013
Landing pages, or the pages your potential customers see when they click on one of your ads or a search result for a specific keyword, are extremely important in the digital marketing world. Usually, these pages are built with the intent of capturing the attention and information of a specific target market or selling a product so a business can fulfill sales goals. The features you include on your landing page can make or break its success.
Boldly Stated Call to Action
The number-one thing any landing page needs is a clear call to action. After all, the whole purpose behind creating a landing page is to encourage your audience to do something. If your audience isn’t sure what to do, or if your call to action doesn’t include very specific instructions, your landing page will not be very successful. Make your call to action bold, straightforward and easy to see.
Answer the “Why?”
The copy on your landing pages should tell readers why they need your product or service or why they should respond to your call to action. One effective way of doing this is by telling your market how your business can fill a need. Another way of doing this is to clearly explain why your product is better than any other similar product. When you answer “why” someone should engage with your landing page, your market will be much more likely to respond to your calls to action.
Skype’s landing page clearly answers the “why” question and gives visitors a reason to sign up for the service.
An Offer or Reason to Engage
Your landing page’s offer will be closely related to your call to action and answer to the “why” question. People aren’t likely to give up their contact information or contact your customer service department if they don’t have a good reason to do so.
The offer may be very obvious and your audience may be seeking it out. For example, if you run a local deals blog and are using a landing page to gain subscribers, chances are that people found your page while looking for discounts. This audience is ready to respond to your call to action almost immediately.
However, sometimes your audience may find your page while searching for a related term or simply out of curiosity. If this is the case, you will need to make your offer very clear and appealing to this group or people as well so viewers will become potential leads.
Intuitive Design Elements
Dropbox has a landing page with a very intuitive design. Viewers can watch the video for details on the product or set up a free account without having to search for a sign-up form.
The design you use should compliment your call to action. Use elements like pictures, contrasting colors, arrows and buttons to help your viewers understand how to take advantage of your offer. Landing pages that send readers searching for answers or for a way to connect with your company are not very successful.
You can use heat map tracking software to find out where your viewers are most likely to click and then design your layout accordingly. Make sure your contact information and any submission forms are designed and situated in a way that they can’t be missed.
Testimonials that Persuade
SurveyMonkey’s landing page includes a call to action, explanation of benefits, and a list of corporations that use the product.
Testimonials from people your target market identify with can be a powerful way to persuade readers to become customers. Choose some testimonials that are from people in your target market or from people who are likely to influence your potential customers. Another way to use testimonial information is to include details about how many people use your product or how many positive reviews your service has received.
Landing pages are often the one thing that is between your business and a new customer. Make the most out of the opportunity by including these features so your readers will be more likely to respond to your calls to action.
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Image courtesy of Sam UL/Flickr.
Using search engine optimisation content the wrong way, or producing content the wrong way, can be detrimental to your SEO campaign. While SEO strategies and best practices are always changing, there are certain practices you should avoid.
Keyword Stuff Content
Possibly the most obvious SEO error is keyword stuffing, or the act of filling your content primarily with keywords. Keyword stuffing is viewed negatively by search engines, so your efforts won’t be likely to help your rankings. The best way to use keywords is to include them in your titles, headings and a few times throughout your article. The more naturally you use your keywords the better. Writing content for your target market, and then adding SEO elements in natural ways, is a good way to avoid keyword stuffing.
Generate Fake Reviews
Google recently announced that it was penalizing fake reviews and even removing sites with fake reviews from its index. Reviews can definitely boost your rankings and benefit your other marketing efforts, but paying for positive reviews or just creating fake ones will hurt your business in the end. Your site will be penalized by search engines and your brand will likely suffer.
Duplicate Your Content
Search engines favor unique content. This SEO rule has been around for quite some time, and remains in force. It may be tempting to reuse your blog posts by posting them on several different article directories, but this practice won’t help your rankings and will only waste time better spend on more useful strategies.
Ignore Titles, Meta Descriptions and Tags
Each of your site’s page titles, meta descriptions and tags have the power to influence your site’s rankings. Optimising these for keywords can reap big rewards. This optimisation can be done through your site’s code, or, depending on what kind of platform you use, you may be able to use a plugin or other tool to make adding keyword-rich descriptions easy.
Fail to Balance On-Site and Off-Site Techniques
Both on-site and off-site SEO techniques need to be implemented if you want to see a change in your site’s rankings. Optimise your site for keywords and meta descriptions, and also use keywords to link back to and drive traffic to your site. Both types of SEO need to be used in conjunction with, and compliment, each other to achieve the best results.
Forget to Track Efforts and Results
As you execute your SEO campaign and use different types of optimised content, it is absolutely vital that you track your efforts and results. First, tracking results can tell you when you are successfully reaching your goals. Second, keeping track of what strategies you use and when you implement them can help you understand what is working for your brand. Then, as time goes on, you can focus your efforts on strategies that bring the biggest return on your investment.
Despite shifting SEO trends, these negative practices can harm your marketing efforts. If your business is currently using any of these strategies, either eliminate them from your plan altogether or find a way to change your approach to avoid these SEO pitfalls.
Monday, March 4th, 2013
Image courtesy of jcburns/Flickr.
Link bait, which is often used in digital marketing strategies, is content that is shared by a brand with the hope that the audience will click a link to view it and share it with others. This strategy is a way to build search engine optimisation links, create a buzz on social media and drive traffic to a company website.
The most successful kinds of link bait is content that is compelling enough for your market to share on their social media accounts or blogs. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what makes good link bait and continue to share mediocre content that doesn’t get shared as much as other types of content. Thinking outside the box and looking for, or creating, content that makes the best link bait can be extremely beneficial to your brand.
Whether you regularly do surveys to study your market or not, you can use survey results as link bait. The types of results that get shared the most are humorous, interesting or surprising statistics. If your company doesn’t have its own survey information, do an informal poll on your blog or social media profile or find some interesting and relevant findings from another source to share with your audience.
Annual Review or Report
While annual reviews may be more popular among your current customers, donors or investors, they can also interest potential customers. Annual reviews can be long and text heavy, so consider sharing just an excerpt or turning some information from a report into a visual representation like an infographic. This approach is a good fit for businesses that sell products or services or that have hard numbers to share.
Videos have the potential to be spread around the Internet in way few other types of content are shared. Instead of going with the expected funny YouTube video, advertisement or product review, give your market an inside look at your business. You can do this by taping a tour of your facilities, interviewing one of our employees, letting people see one of your processes (like packaging products) or announcing news through a video.
Who doesn’t like a free sample? Offering a free online resource, download or tutorial can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your website. When people hear about your free offer, they’ll likely share it with their friends. You can also maximize exposure by requiring your followers to share a link to your free offer before they can claim it. This tactic is also a good way to build a positive reputation and relationship with your market, who will begin to see you as an industry expert.
Resources for Reference
If your brand can create and share a valuable resource that your audience will want to refer back to, you’ll likely see an increase in traffic. Valuable content is shared more often and gets more views than content that lacks purpose. The content used in your resource will depend on what type of business you have, but concepts that are informational, useful, include training and are detailed are usually well received.
No matter what kind of link bait you include in your strategy, be sure to use it to drive traffic to one of your online properties: your website, blog, social media account or lead collection form, for example. Good link bait is compelling enough to entice viewers to view and share the content and is hosted on, or includes a link to, your company website.
Monday, February 25th, 2013
Google has launched a new website, which includes an interactive infographic, called How Search Works. The site offers a visual description of the search, indexing and spam control process as well as resources like search engine optimisation tips, information on algorithms and information on fighting spam. The other release by Google, a document called Search Quality Rating Guidelines, includes detailed information on how the company assigns ranking to websites and what it flags as spam.
How Search Works
The infographic takes a user through the search process as he scrolls through the website. The process is divided into three different steps: crawling and indexing, algorithms and fighting spam. Each of these steps is clearly defined and visually explained.
Indexing and Search Results
A few things of note include just how many factors are used in determining a page’s rank: more than 200. A section of the infographic details the many search result forms Google provides: Knowledge Graph, Snippets, News, Answers, Videos, Images, Refinements, Voice Search and Mobile.
Another helpful bit of information for digital marketers is Google’s list of the types of spam it fights:
- Pure spam
- Unnatural links from a site
- Hidden text and keyword stuffing
- User-generated spam
- Parked domains
- Thin content with little or no added value
The definitions of these categories can be found on the How Search Works website, which also warns marketers that these types of spam are often not included in results and even removed from the index. You can see examples of sites recently removed on the Google website.
The infographic explains that Google attempts to contact site owners when their website is deemed spam. A site owner can fix her site and then ask Google to rank it again.
Understanding how Google ranks content and what types of content it marks as spam can help you as develop and use SEO, digital marketing and content marketing plans at your business.
Search Quality Rating Guidelines
Google released its document called Search Quality Rating Guidelines at the same time as the new website and it’s the first time the document has been officially released rather than leaked.
This document is an extremely useful resource for marketers as it outlines how search works, how Google rates content, what is classifies as spam and so much more. The document is 43 pages long and includes query examples, tables and screenshots that can help site owners understand what is involved in page rankings.
Both of these new resources can help marketers better understand SEO and how Google works. Understanding these concepts and making sure your digital marketing plans reflect them can help you be more successful.
In the SEO industry, there are many experts that have their own theories and beliefs on how Google works and how a company can earn high rankings. However, having that information directly from Google takes some of the mystery out of page ranking and SEO.
Some experts claim social media has no effect on search engine rankings while others claim it is a vital part of any search engine optimisation campaign. So what is the real relationship between these two digital marketing tools? The answer is that social media can be a useful SEO tactic, but not in the traditional ways you may be expecting.
Social Media Buzz = More Traffic = Higher Rankings
If you can create a buzz on social media, using your content and the pages on your website, you will increase your rankings. While not all links on social media sites are do-follow links, they can help by driving traffic to your site. When your site is popular, and gains traffic, its rankings will increase.
Link to interesting or even controversial blog posts on your site from your social media channels. Encourage people to click the links and to share your posts, generating even more clicks. Attractive content is more likely to be shared by your readers, so the more link bait you can create the better. There is also some evidence that lots of shares, retweets and reposts on social media can increase rankings.
Google’s Social Search = Influential Friends and Higher Rankings
When someone searches for something using Google, any results linked to his or her social media friends will appear as results, sometimes at the top of the page. For this to happen, a user has to be logged into Google, so not everyone in your target market will be affected by this.
Knowing that a person’s friends, and what they share online, can influence your site’s rankings makes social media that much more important. As your brand has more content that is shared by its market, the more likely it will be that your site will appear in social search results. Remember that friends can be highly influential and if a person sees that his or her friends have interacted with your brand on social media, he or she may be moor likely to click on your site’s listing.
Business Social Media Sites = Higher Rankings
The social media accounts you set up for your business can do more than help with marketing and social media efforts. They can help you get higher search rankings. If your social media pages have the same name as your business it’s not uncommon for those pages to receive high rankings.
Big Foot Digital’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts have high rankings.
Social media sites carry a lot of authority, or weight, with search engines which often give them high rankings. Set up some social media accounts using your business name, and use them frequently, and you may notice some of those accounts begin to rank for your name.
The relationship between social media and SEO is not always very clearly defined. However, research shows that social media can have an effect on search rankings. Your business can reap SEO rewards using social media by creating a buzz on social media, leveraging social search and creating social media accounts using your company’s name.