Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category

7 Predictions from Mathew Guiver on Google +1 | SMX East 2011 Conference Notes

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

The following is a recap from a session at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East. Follow the conference on Twitter. Follow the presenter – @mathewguiver

Google +still in infancy.

As the community grows the usage of +1 votes will increase.

Google+ is on a trajectory to surpass Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace being second only to Facebook.

Google + and +1’s are intertwined.

Prediction 1: +1’s to Have More Impact on Average Position Than Quality Score

When you search for something and you are not logged into a Google account your search results will be different than when you are logged in.  For example if you search for Britney Spears products the results page shows the one he would choose as the 3rd result.  But, once logged in, since he has #1′d the result, it shows up number one.  This also works if a friend has #1′d the search result.

When click on it, while logged in, you will see a friend of yours that has recommended that page, Google has done research saying you are more likely to click on that page – lifting personalized results, could apply across the board and to sponsored results.

Prediction 2: The Value of a +1

If a +1 decreases your CPA, then it also increases your ROI.

When money talks, the big bosses listen.

Assign value to a +1 vote, because you get more click throughs when it is referred, which also has a higher conversion rate, more likely to take action.

Say one +1 vote increased CTR, and then it reduces your CPA, which gives you a higher return on Investment

Google +1 will be a great way to leverage paid search


Prediction 3: The End of The PPC Landing Page As We Know It

+1’s are shared between organic and sponsored listings…
start to see advertisers using pages that are designed for SEO and page search

Usually we create lots of pages, uncrawlable, because you don’t want to get knocked for dup pages, so that you can use landing pages for these PPC campaigns, instead, you can recommend within the ad, and then all related search results will always give you the page you shared, or had a +1 from a friend, in top results

So, now you are not paying again for a click, because the organic search will keep coming up,

Prediction 4: Bridging The Gap Between PPC and Social

Should see more overlap

Say you create an Ad for the term “Landing page Optimization”.  Then you create a landing page for the ad to send the person who clicks on the ad to.  It stops with that.  Instead, you should be creating Ads that send them to shareable content, like a blog post on “Landing Page Optimization” where they can +1 the blog post.  Now, that the post has a +1, it is going to show up as a top result on their SERP and potentially there friends SERP,  which leads to more clicks, traffic, possibly more +1′s and hopefully will also help it to start performing better in the organic results.

You will want to be driving traffic to Google plus profiles once businesses are on there.  Because then when anyone searches for that company their page is going to get that lift if you add them to a circle.

Prediction 5: Promoted +1’s
Google to monetize Google+ and +1’s

Google real time search used to incorporate promoted messages from twitter

Even confirmed splitting revenue with twitter

Google will do more outside the box, type ads for money, so Promoted +1s may make sense
Google+ to remain ad free?  Maybe companies offer incentive to +1 them

Prediction 6: Demographic Bidding for Sponsored Search Ads

In the future:
-  Race sex orientation
-  Religion
-  Interests
-  Income levels
-  Activity on profiles, who you block etc.

Prediction 7: Prediction Targeting

Google related, toolbar launched in august

Toolbar suggests sites to visit, based on social activity

Say you search something like a plane ticket, then the PPC that pops up, based on past behavior it might be a ticket sales item for a Britney spears concert in that place you are searching for on Google for tickets.

Be part of the future and stay ahead of the crowd.


Google Plus: All You Need To Know About Google +

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Whether you are celebrating it’s arrival or wishing it away because you don’t want to keep track of yet another social network, Google Plus is here.  We will soon find out whether it is here to stay or a quick fad, but my guess is that this is the real deal.  If you haven’t had the chance to join yet make sure to go check it out.  And, If you are like me and you are thinking HOLY COW there is so much to learn and read.. Here are a few resources I found helpful gathered all in one place.

What is Google Plus and How Do I Use It:

How to Get Started With Google Plus: This is a great guide to getting started on Google + it gives great info and screenshots, but it’s a little less overwhelming than the Google Plus Collaborative Doc (below).

Google Plus a Collaborative Document: This is literally a guide to using Google Plus.  The Table of Contents lays out the document so that you can jump around and learn about the areas that you need help with.  This is probably the most in depth and useful guide I have come across.

The Google Plus Cheat Sheet: Exactly what it sounds like, a cheat sheet or glossary of terms on how to use Google Plus and what things mean…So, in case you don’t have the time (or patience) to go through the doc above.

10 Awesome Video Tips for Getting More out of Google + Don’t like to read? Check out these quick video tips!

How to: Get Your Own Google+ Vanity URL: Since Google Plus doesn’t offer vanity URL’s as of now for fear of spammers figuring out millions of Google+ users email account information, has created a small app that makes it easy to create your own Vanity URL to make it easy to share your Google Plus Profile with your friends.

How to Get Google+ On My Phone:

Get Google+ On Your iPhone! And iOS App was released today making it possible for iPhone users to get Google Plus on their iPhones.  It’s been available since the beginning on Android phones and all you need to do is go to the Droid Market, to download your Google+ app for Free.

How To Use Google Plus for Business/Marketing:

10 Things CMOs Need to Know About Google+ Chris Brogan compares Google+ to the launch of Facebook and the leap people made from Myspace to Facebook.  Giving reasons such as Google is the King of Search so they will probably have their social network affect search, they are starting up business pages, it’s connections with gmail and other Google tools you already use and it’s fast growth in it’s first two weeks of it’s launch he thinks it’s the next BIG thing!

3 Ways to Use Google Plus in Your Content Marketing Efforts A lot of great tips here on Google Plus for content marketing as well as  a great list of related articles about Google Plus, such as “Can Google+ Rival Facebook and Twitter? Some Initial Thoughts” and “Top 6 Articles On Google Plus to help you Get the Most Out of Your Experience.”

Google + Now Part of Google Analytics: You can now track your social interaction as well on your Google Analytics by adding a bit of code to your sites.  Currently this tracks Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  There isn’t a code yet to track LinkedIn interactions.

More On Google +:

5 Ways Journalists are Using Google Plus
5 Chrome Extensions that Improve Google+
What Your Business Needs To Know About Google+
How does the Google +1 Button Affect Search

The more I research, explore, play and use Google + the more I like it.  It’s incredibly connected, dynamic and the uses are endless. For example…

It recognizes when I take a picture with my Android, and then without me uploading or doing anything it is already in my photos on Google Plus asking me if I want to share it.

My new Tag line: Google Plus… It’s So Smart, It’s Spooky!

Joan Woodbrey Crocker
Maine SEO


How Does Google’s Plus One Button Affect Search?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I’m sure by now you have heard talk about Google’s new Plus One button.  It’s a button that you can add to your website/pages, ad, or blog pages that will allow users to essentially recommend your page or content.  The idea is very similar to retweeting or Facebook’s “Like” button except instead of sharing the page with others via a social network, it will show up as a recommendation in someone’s search results on Google.

When your friends are signed into their Google accounts and try to search for a specific topic, say “shoes” for example, they will be able to see if any of there friends recommended that particular URL in the search as something worth there while to look at.  Google uses the example of searching for a movie.  “You can always get a review from a professional critic, but wouldn’t it mean more to get a review from a friend that has your same taste in movies?”

If you are in Google and you are not signed into your account or if you don’t have anyone you know that +1′d something you are searching for, instead of seeing names of those that recommended the site, you will just see the aggregated number of folks that have +1′d it.

The theory behind all of this is that you are more likely to click on a search result that you trust, and you are more likely to trust something that others or friends have recommended.

Google hasn’t stated for sure yet whether this will have baring on the page’s ranking, however they have hinted that they are always updating their algorithm’s and therefore it may be a way to help your search results.  Just like linking back and forth between sites allows for some of the trust from that site to be passed on to you and help your ranking, the +1 Button is a way for a person to pass a little trust your way.

Because the +1 Button may help traffic it can’t hurt to add it to your sites, ads, etc.  Here’s how you do it, just grab a snippet of code and add it to whichever pages you think it will be most effective.  See the screenshot below…

You can go to Google’s +1 Button Your Website page to learn more and grab your code.

I don’t think it can hurt to add it to your sites.  However, at this point I haven’t seen a lot of traction with this button. If it starts to get big I will definitely put some more energy into it, but for right now it’s on the list of things to watch.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht,

Joan Woodbrey Crocker
Maine SEO

5 Ways to Rank Better at Bing

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Google is still king, but Microsoft’s Bing has been getting a lot of press (I do enjoy the Bing! noise). So while I will forever optimize for Google first, it’s important to understand what other search engines care about.

For the most part, Bing follows the trends of other search engines: title tags, headers, meta-descriptions, and links (both incoming and intra-site) are all important. There are, however, some differences that Bing appears to hold near and dear; and here’s what you can do to accommodate the newest search engine…

1. Get the Bing Toolbox

bing toolbox

Like Google’s Webmaster Tools, the Bing Toolbox is a great way to discover errors more quickly. It also has a unique set of interesting data for your statistical pleasure, including backlinks and outbound links, crawl dates, and a keyword tool to show how well your site is optimized for them. You can also submit your site to Bing through the Toolbox.

2. Focus on your URLs

Bing is especially aware of keywords in domains and URLs. Just take a look at the screen shot below. A search for “Maine SEO” lands this blog in the first two spots!

As I’ve talked about before, Google puts little, if any, weight on keyword rich domains or URLs. Established URLs are the name of the game for Google, but it seems that if you want to rank well at Bing, you’d best get yourself some keyword rich URLs.

3. Rely on exact match

Similarly, Bing focuses on exact match keywords. While Google is of the school of related match, you’d best know which keywords your customers are searching for. Obviously this has both benefits and downfalls.

4. Age matters

Unfortunately for bloggers and new sites, it seems that Bing is focused on older sites that have built reputation with age. Not a whole lot you can do here other than sit around and wait. It does cause you to think twice before creating a new domain, rather than sticking with an established one (hint: always pick the latter).

5. Think about anchor text before quantity…or quality

Anchor text is important to all search engines, but evidently with Bing it’s even more important than the quality or quantity of backlinks. Most likely, this is the reasoning behind #3 and coincidentally #2, as more often than not, sites will link using the same keywords used in the domain/URL.

See how the two compare for the same “maine seo” query:

google maine seobing maine seo

Nicki Hicks
All search engines were not created equal

What’s the Consensus with Bing?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

bingI admit it, I’ve been positively ignorant of the fact that there’s another search engine out there willing to trifle with the power of Google; you’ll have to excuse my hesitation, it’s just that we’ve seen it before.

I put it out to the people, and here’s what I got:

What people like

  • “I love the Travel Search feature Bing has.  It has a cool Price Predictor which tells you whether to buy now or wait for a better price. Imports prices from all over :) ” – @ccmaine
  • “Love how Bing lists its videos.” – @sarah_wallace
  • “I’ve had really good luck with it when search for something in the form of a question or multiple word descriptions.” – @MeRAbiz

What people don’t like

  • “Nothing special (I’m kind of partial to Google though)” – @musicsGF
  • “Like Chrome, adequate, but no compelling reason to switch” – @JMunk
  • “I don’t think the search itself offers much new; some of the media type searches (images, for example) are good alternatives” – @justinrussell
  • “Like the Cashback and Live ID integration…not a huge fan of the results or auto-suggestions really” – Justin Cox
  • “To be honest I haven’t even compared it’s functionality to ever awesome Google, I’m too distracted by the pretty background pictures!” – @kwallace2

There you have it, folks. There are of course the negative reviews and (somewhat) positive ones. But what it really comes down to is…what do you like the best? It looks like that Google is still king.

alexa google vs bing vs yahoo

Nicki Hicks
I guess I can’t complain I rank #1 on bing

How the Swine Flu is Affecting Search

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

It’s funny how something like a flu strain can cause such a ruckus in search.

Google Search

Google Insights for search gives some really helpful data – including the recent trends in the “flu” category. Below the graph, you’ll find “rising searches”, which is great for brainstorming hot keywords for copy or blogging.

google insights swine flu


Twitter search gives real time hot topics – whether it’s an epidemic or hashtag glorification.

twitter search swine flu


Facebook groups and fan clubs are the perfect spot to find out what’s hot now.

facebook swine flu


You don’t have to go searching far for that latest videos and newscasts on the swine flu from YouTube.

youtube swine flu


Even iPhone apps are getting a new addition via IntuApps.

iphone app swine flu

Nicki Hicks
The bacon phenomenon has finally caught up with us

Is it Possible to Optimize for Every Search Engine?

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Google loves well-aged sites.  Yahoo loves meta-keywords. Live loves fresh content.  And who really cares what Ask likes.  (Just kidding…but seriously, who cares.)

With so many differences between the major engines, subtle though they may be, is it really possible to optimize for every one of them?  To push matters further, is it even worth trying to optimize for them all?  With Google taking the cake on search engine market share, is it worth worrying about the under dogs?

Take a look at the (major) differences…

search engine differences

Only Major Issues of Optimizing for Everything

  1. Generally, Google does not like meta-keywords; Yahoo does.  There’s always been speculation as to whether Google finds meta-keywords spammy; perhaps a healthy balance could work here – something to test out!
  2. Using robots.txt vs. robots-nocontent, depending on who you want to optimize for.

Is it even worth optimizing for anything other than Google?

For the most part, I tend to focus entirely on Google. I check for indexed pages for a new site there first.  I check PageRank before WebRank.  I use nofollows and robots.txt, not robots-nocontent.

Maybe I’m just partial to Google; then again, isn’t everyone?

Nicki Hicks
Equal Opportunity SEO

Why Your Website Needs a Sitemap….Now!

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sold on the fact that sitemaps were beneficial.  I was under the impression that it was sort of a moot point: neither good nor bad.  After seeing a post on the SEOmoz blog asking if sitemaps affect crawlers, I was sold.

I installed the WordPress plugin for XML Sitemaps on this blog on Thursday, January 29.  These are the crawl stats from my Webmaster Tools account from that day:

crawl stats maine seo blog

Checking again today, one week later, I’ve been waiting out the crawlers on purpose – making no posts until yesterday, and this is what my stats look like now.

later crawl stats

Notice the jump.  Yesterday’s post is included in this crawl – as the site was cached yesterday.  I’ve noticed that the blog will usually be cached a day or two after a post, so could it be crawled so soon because of the sitemap? Perhaps, and it’s definitely something to keep an eye on!

Nicki Hicks
Flirting with SE bots with Sitemaps

New from Google: SearchWiki and Search-based keyword tool

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about Google – attempting to keep up with their never-ending additions to the search world.  Most recently, they’ve launched SearchWiki (as a default setting to their SERP) and a new search-based keyword tool.


Rich posted a great article yesterday on the flyte blog about SearchWiki.  To summarize, if you’re logged into your Google account, you can literally change your results page – either by removing results entirely or pushing them to the first position(s).  You can also write comments about a result, and see what other people have written.

Currently, SearchWiki does not affect search results; but with millions of people “voting” on websites, I think it’s only a matter of time before Google adds it to their algorithm.  Only problem being…it is incredibly easy to spam.

Search-based keyword tool

This new tool is reminiscent of Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.  The comparison is not unlike the similarity between Google Trends and Google Insights.  The data comes from generally the same place, with a few differences in presentation.

The new keyword tool uses your website or blog as a base to search for keywords, in addition to the ones you tell it to search for.  Like the AdWords tool, you see the same categories, plus the suggested bid price for AdWords.  You can save and export your keywords with both tools.

Here are the top ten keywords from Google’s new search-based keyword tool for this blog’s domain, along with the terms “seo” and “search engine optimization”:

You can see the differences in the top ten keywords between the two tools.  The Adwords Keyword Tool pulls this data for the same search query:

All of these tools are great – and can be used in conjunction with one another in order to find the best keyword opportunities.  But, good grief, what will Google come out with next?!?

Nicki Hicks
Does ‘Googlers Anonymous’ already exist?

Can Reviews Affect Your Local Search Rankings?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

One of the best compliments a business can get is a referral.  Word of mouth marketing has been an effective tool for ages, and why wouldn’t it be?  Could even the most brilliant ad hope to compete with the sincerity of a referral from a friend?

Referrals are still as persuasive as ever, but now there is a more modern equivalent.  Online customer reviews were the first big step.  You see them everywhere – Amazon is especially famous for it – their “people who had your taste in books had this to say about this novel” reviews, plus the list of “oh by the way, they also liked these” books.  Upselling?  Maybe.  But effective?  Absolutely.  Perfect strangers can affect the books you buy more than Amazon can themselves!

Now, Google is using reviews, and might even be taking them into account for rankings.  Local Search results (Google Maps, in this case) include five-star ratings and reviews.  My question is: what affect do reviews (whether good or bad) have on local rankings?

I think we can all agree that local rankings seem to be based on location, first and foremost.  In other words, the closer to the address or city in the query a business is, the higher that business will rank.  What if we factor in the small matter that a business (perhaps further away) has both more reviews and stars than the competition?

Case in point, a search for “lobster portland me”.  Here are the first five search results.  Notice only The Lobster Shack (#4) has reviews and stars, and is the only one on the first SERP with them.

It may not seem to prove anything at first.  But take a look at the accompanying map.

Whether you’re from Portland (or Maine, for that matter) or not, you can see that Cape Elizabeth is not Portland.  The entire first page, plus most of the second and third pages, are filled with Portland results; except for spot #4, which is also coincidentally the only company with customer reviews.

Maybe it is a coincidence.  Then again maybe not.  I’ve been noticing this trend for a while now, and while it is not a perfect science (sometimes un-reviewed sites rank much better than reviewed ones), it might be something.

The takeaway?  Optimizing your site is important – it will help with rankings initially.  But reviews (especially if you’re local) are critical.  We often suggest our clients use a sort of new-age comment card system: by asking their customers to review their product or service on these local sites.  Reviews might just be the icing on the cake, enough to give your company the edge!

Nicki Hicks
Local SEO

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