Tag Archives: search engines

Use a Mutual Fund Strategy to Counter Google

Diversify your search portfolio

Diversify your search portfolio

Investors learned the trick long ago. Place your hard-earned money in just one stock and it is win big or go home. Diversify your monies and invest in multiple stocks through mutual funds and minimize your risks. It’s a winning strategy eCommerce marketers should look to as well.

Why Build a One-Legged Stool? 

When it comes to search engine marketing, conversations drift towards how tactical efforts will affect the search engine result page ranking on Google. Of course, there are Bing, Ask, Dogpile, Duck Duck Go and a bunch of other search engine “also-rans,” but with two-thirds of all searches being conducted on Google according to comScore, they are the tail that wags the dog in search.

The attention given solely to and dominance of Google is not a good thing. Having all your marketing eggs in one large search basket places too much pass-fail risk in one channel. And, it’s one channel you can’t control. (Think of the next Google Panda or Penguin update.) This is similar to what investors learned to circumvent 80 years ago. Marketing diversification is the key to long-term growth and success.

Broaden Your Definition of Search 

Sure. Google is the #1 most visited web site according to Alexa rankings with its primary purpose being search. Facebook is #2 and is primarily a social network. But, at the very top of the Facebook site, there’s a search box! How does your product, brand, or service rank when searched on Facebook?

There’s a search box at or near the top of #6 Wikipedia, too. And #8 LinkedIn, #11 Twitter, and #12 Amazon. Of course, there’s Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, SlideShare, and dozens of other heavily visited web sites that all have search engines. Does a click on their search engine result pages lead to your site?

Internet Shoppers Leverage Amazon Reviews 

Why Amazon Matters Now More Than Ever

Why Amazon Matters Now More Than Ever

Forrester Research recently published a report called, Why Amazon Matters Now More than Ever. The study surfaced that, in 2012, 30% of online consumers were already using other approaches to search for and research products, like reading Amazon customer reviews, before making a purchase decision.  These shoppers were not necessarily making their purchase on Amazon. This behavior is on the increase. According to the study, only 13% of online users are researching a potential product purchase solely online through search engines like Google. Chalk one up for including Amazon in your search strategy. Be sure to add other review sites like Epinions.com, Buzzillions.com, ConsumerReports.org, ConsumerSearch.com, and CNET.com to your search marketing strategy list.

Smile for the Camera 

With more people than ever carrying smart phones with mega-pixel cameras embedded within them, consumers are being trained to digest image content quickly and easily. Three of the four top social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) have the same common characteristic – they place an emphasis on sharing images. The recent rapid rise to success of Pinterest and Buzzfeed only adds testaments to the viral power and search potential of image-based content.

Mean Stinks Photo Sharing

Mean Stinks Photo Sharing

Proctor & Gamble leveraged this trend recently with their “Mean Stinks” Secret deodorant campaign by creating a photo searching and sharing application to spread an anti-bullying message.  According to P&G, over 1.5 million girls spread awareness about girl-to-girl bullying through the generation of these images.

Successful brands that receive the most social image shares also have another common characteristic. They know how to pepper in some well-placed, creative images into their written content that drive consumers to search for them to share.

Spread the Wealth 

A solid search engine marketing strategy creates content that aims to improve the search engine results page rank for as many visit driving sites as possible, not just Google. Both what you do with content on your own web site, as well as these other web sites, can have a positive impact on many ways people can find your business or service when they search. Having a diversified content strategy in place also insures your site against being at the mercy of the next Google Dance, when your rankings on just that search engine slip a bit.

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, Marketing, Search Engine Marketing

Search Gets Social – Raising the Bar on Quality Content

by My Web Writers

In the past, strategies for creating quality content for both search algorithms and discerning readers hardly overlapped. For those generating online content, it has been a delicate balancing act to write content that search engines would index and to write text that readers would respond to. Search wanted to see certain keyword-to-content ratios with those keywords appearing in particular places. Readers wanted to read engaging, logical, and convincing text. Some online companies, aiming to rank high in search engine results pages, have sacrificed the experience of the human reader to satisfy the algorithmic, search engine spiders. They would resort to the tactic of keyword stuffing. This practice meant that, even when illogical and over-the-top, content writers crammed as many instances of the keywords as possible into the text.

With the newest search engine trend of incorporating social media features, such as Facebook’s “like,” any wise content writer would recognize the danger of keyword stuffing. Take note of these latest features that Bing and Google are rolling out.

Bing
Bing is turning search into more of a conversation by providing ways to connect people. When shopping for a product, Bing users can share the item on their Facebook page allowing their friends to comment on their possible purchase. The conversation can even happen on the search results page itself. Immediately following the site’s description text, Bing adds another line displaying what those in one’s Facebook circle thought of that particular website. Bing doesn’t just focus on facilitating a conversation between friends. Bing also synthesizes the traces of those in the Facebook network outside of your friends circle and then shares the common consensus to with users in order to provide a richer, more informed search experience. Bing is even putting a universal “like” button on the new Bing bar. All of these new features add a human touch to the search experience.

Google +1
Google, rather than simply linking into the already impressive amount of opinions and emotions generated through Facebook’s “like” feature, has launched its own “like”-ish feature named Google +1. This new addition to the results page lets one know the recommendations of others in one’s social graph with respect to a particular web site. To enter one’s recommendation of a site, the user simply logs into the Google account and clicks on a button that appears on the site. When someone else from the same social graph visits that same site, the recommendation will appear along with the name of the person who made that particular recommendation. The addition of recommendations to the search rankings gives the user more confidence in the quality of the results for that search.

Quality Content – More Important Than Ever
At last, stuffing keywords no longer cuts it when writing content. In fact, focusing on catching the eye of the search engine to the exclusion of the reader will be fatal in the long run. The incorporation of conversation and user feedback in search results means that quality content is more important than ever. Users, unimpressed with the quality of a site’s content, will express their disappointment via these tools. Potential visitors will see the negative recommendations and not even click through. Bing and Google will also capitalize on user feedback when evaluating their search rankings and continue to move those with poor recommendations further and further down the list.

This trend toward bringing conversation into search should drive home how crucial it is to fill your pages with quality and engaging content. If your company is already devoting a lot of time and resources to web site layout, marketing strategies, product inventory, and the like, then outsource the writing of your site’s content to a company like My Web Writers. We specialize in writing informative, engaging, reader-friendly content. We have the expertise and the experience to identify areas that need tweeking, to compose content for pages lacking text, and to suggest changing or adding keywords in response to the keyword trends in your industry. Bing and Google are making it a point to bring quality content to the forefront – so should you.

~Marni

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Filed under Content, Keywords, Social Media

The Direction of Search – Stalking, Censorship or Simply Great Results

by My Web Writers

Disclaimer – I’m from the great state of Wyoming where we enjoy and defend the right to roam wherever we wish, however we wish, and whenever we wish. I have since moved from Wyoming and experienced life in the more regimented lifestyle of more metropolitan populations but still hold that same predilection for the freedom to roam. Recently, my Wyoming mentality reemerged after having read Josh Dreller’s blog Are You Ready? Why Today’s SERP Will Be Unrecognizable In 5 Years.

Mr. Dreller discusses the movement of search engines from the static indexing of websites to the more dynamic evaluation of which websites to present the inquirer. Search engines are the portal through which all Internet users submitting an inquiry must pass. Every modification, strategy, and philosophy of the big three has a direct impact on all of the players in the virtual world of the Internet – those posting content and those browsing through it. Granted this means that the search engines have a large job to do. Their primary purpose is to index and evaluate the relevancy of all that is on the Internet in such a way as to deliver quality results to one’s search in a timely manner. Throughout the evolution of search they have had to counter and respond to such misleading and distortional practices as link farms, nonsensical content stuffed with keywords, and dishonest meta descriptions that don’t reflect the true content of the visible page. Users have clamored for better search results that only show relevant results. Quality websites also want assurances that deceptive competitors don’t keep them out of the top SERP spots.

However, the suggested evolution of SERP into a more dynamic search rather than a static search has made me ask myself some fundamental questions.

Am I giving up my privacy to a few very powerful search engines for the sake of efficiency?
In order to propose sites to me in a dynamic, personalized fashion then the search engines need to record my every move. In the real world, this would be stalking. In the virtual world this is called a better search engine experience.

John Battelle, founder of Federated Media and author of The Search, recognizes the precarious and potential dangers of so much personal information in the hands of search engines. Gord Hotchkiss, in his blog Five Visionaries Sum Up The Future Of Search asked Mr. Battelle what happens to our privacy in this new search engine paradigm. John Battelle states “I think personal feeds and the consumers’ ability to say, “Sure, you can have my feeds because I’m going to see value from it and I know that we’re in a trusted relationship”… I think that that handshake is going to be increasingly made in our culture.
I think, however, that we need to have a conversation about that handshake and understand it. We’re in the midst of that and it’s going to get more and more interesting over the next decade. I think that the handshake between large services now and what will become a flood of new streams of valuable data from apps, from interactions on other sites and services will allow a Google or a Microsoft to touch and have access to a ton of data about us.” 

If I don’t want to be tracked to this degree by the big three but still want to benefit from all that is on the Internet then what are my options? What benefits am I giving up to maintain my privacy? Are the benefits of a personalized search experience worth the “ton of data” about me?

Could the assumptions incorporated by the big three into my inquiries verge on a form of censorship?
Mr. Dreller, in illustrating the role of “master intent” on SERP, explains how one’s earch of a movie title for a film that is yet to hit the theaters will automatically assume that that individual wants to see the trailer and thus show movie trailer links. Such assumptions can work for movies. However, in other more weighty scenarios, search engine assumptions risk censorship in that those assumptions block out potentially valuable websites that don’t fit the engine’s assumptions. One individual, in response to Mr. Dreller’s blog, writes : What if I want my search to bring up items not based upon my own narrow assumptions; results that may surprise, delight or even educate me about other perspectives? Will there be the equivalent of an “antonym” search result list?

Could assumptions suppress the diversity that makes the web so rich? Will their assumptions replicate in the virtual world what is often asked in the real world about whether Hollywood reflects or informs our society? Will their assumptions truly reflect our intentions or will they mold our intentions? Could this turn into a real case of censorship? The potential exists.

Concluding Thoughts
I agree wholeheartedly with Battelle’s assertion that a conversation needs to be had about search’s new paradigm. I wonder, at what point does search get too close to stalking, censorship and more? How much do they need to know about us to give us good results? Wouldn’t a well-worded query be sufficient enough to bring up the information we are looking for? Could we be discerning enough on our own to identify what links we want to follow and those that we don’t? If some of these changes are happening because the traditional cataloging of web pages hasn’t been able to completely keep poor quality websites from appearing in the high rankings then the user can add user-rated web apps like WOT to their search engine tools. I would rather see user-generated feedback like the Google +1 button added to their informational data base than some of these more pervasive tactics.

These are just some of my thoughts as seen through the eyes of a Wyoming girl. It will be interesting to see if a conversation is had and where it takes us. Many a conversation in my household ends with somebody summing up their position with the statement “I’m just saying.” To those of you who may read this blog and have your own thoughts, I’d love to hear them! But, in parting, my words to you are “I’m just saying.”

~Marni

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Filed under Customer Profile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Change and SEO

by My Web Writers

Some people love change, others are afraid of it. Just as in the real world, change in SEO presents a mixed bag of challenges and opportunity. The wrong kind of modification can kill your business. The right kind  can improve your position online. With the potential consequence of change to your online business, lets consider three different areas of change and how they can affect your bottom line.

Changes To Follow

  • Changes in Search Engine Algorithms

A recent article by David Goldman for CNNMoney about how Google’s algorithm change hits 12% of search results states “Websites to Google: ‘You’re killing our business!’” Google’s Panda Update went after content farms and spam sites. These were sites whose purpose was to create large quantities of links to one business in order to move it up in search engine rankings. Often times, because the search engine focused primarily on the existence of the link and not so much on the quality of the content, users were becoming more dissatisfied by the number of low quality sites that appeared at the top of their search results. Google’s goal, as put forth by Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker, is “ . . . to give users the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. . .” Thus, Google implemented these changes and many online companies are reeling from the precipitous drop in ranking due to that change. As a company trying to establish its presence online, it is imperative that one follows changes in search engine algorithms and adapts SEO strategies accordingly.

  • Changes in Keywords

The realm of keywords and keyword phrases is very dynamic in nature and online businesses need to act accordingly. To successfully compete in search engine rankings, companies need to not only identify popular keywords but to also prepare for and beware of rising search terms. These are keyword searches that, although not the most popular, have experienced significant growth over a certain period of time. Tools such as Google Trends and Twitter Search help spot these trends. Armed with the upcoming keyword trends, you can position yourself to dominate the rankings for those searches.

Changes To Use

Online businesses should know that search engines love fresh content. To maximize your indexing in the search engines data base, you need to bring spiders back more frequently via updated content. Accomplish this task by
+++•  using active links,
+++•  removing / adding new products,
+++•  posting new blogs, and
+++•  revising / adding content.
Search engines view updated content as proof that the site is relevant and authoritative. Changes to your content also appeal to your target audience. Stale content suggests to prospective customers that you are no longer in business, not up-to-date on newest products, or disinterested in the customer’s shopping experience. The adage “content is king” could also read “updated content is king.”

Changes To Avoid

Beware too much change. In very rare circumstances should one delete large portions or entire pages of content. Such drastic measures can actually have a severely negative effect on your rankings. For example, you may have just wiped out a link providing juice to a stronger page making it weaker. Always consider the ramifications that changes can have on your company’s search engine ranking. Be aware that changes to keywords, title tags also have a major impact on the indexing of your site by the search engines. Only make changes after much research and consideration. As a general rule, strategic changes of a positive effect take the form of adding or tweaking content as opposed to deleting and overhauling.

Monitoring and implementing changes is a labor-intensive task with real consequences to the success of your business. Outsourcing the responsibility of these tasks to companies like My Web Writers can help navigate these changes for a successful outcome.

~Marni

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Filed under Algorithms, Content, Keywords, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)