Archive for the ‘Google, Yahoo, MSN’ Category

Use YouTube Search Stories Creator for Backlinks

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

If you have not heard yet YouTube release a new feature where you can create your own search story videos right just like the ones they have in the Google ads. The look really professional which got me thinking. Someone savvy enough could come up with some great videos that would get people to link back to them and all they have to do is you this simple video creator.

The video creator only takes a few minutes to create a video and it even adds in the music for you. Although you do have to come up with at least 6 keywords you want your story to include. I wish you could choose less but I guess that’s mandatory.

So how can you use this to get links back to your website? Well, first come up with a unique idea for a search. My personal favorites are Zombie apocalypse, Cookie Monster’s Search Story, Worth It. You can check out more on the search video creation page.

Anyways here is my search story video:

Google Can’t Add! New Webmaster Tools Impressions Data Doesn’t Add Up

Saturday, April 17th, 2010
2+2=5

At first I was very excited about the new Webmaster Tools impression data released this past week. It seemed very promising. As any website owner I’m sure you would love to know how many impressions (how many times) your site shows up in the search results for a given keyword/search term. And as a SEO services provider it sounded like a dream come true.

Although it would seem like this would be simple to get the data correct and you would think Google would make sure its telling you the correct data at risk of being called out on it, but I think someone at the Googleplex has got a stuck down 7 key on their adding machine.

Surprisingly or not so surprisingly, the data just does not add up with the data you find in the Adwords Keyword Tool. I ran a little study on a few websites of mine and others before coming to this conclusion. I wish it were not so but the data speaks for itself.

Here are my findings from my personal running log website. A great site by the way, if you’re looking for a free easy way to track running workouts.

Keyword Webmaster Tools Impressions Adwords Tool (exact global search)
online running log 260 590
free running log 91 260
running logs free 36 170

Some notes on how I conducted this study:
My website remained in on the first page of Google during the entire past 30 days from which the data was gathered by Google’s Webmaster Tools. I also did not show up on any other search page during this time - just on page 1 of Google. So my results in theory should be very accurate. Then when using the Adwords Tool I made sure the Search Match was set to Exact and I used the Global Monthly Search Volume.

Now I went into this knowing that the search volume from the Adwords Tool is an average from the past several months so I take that into account when I look at the data from each. But even if you’re thinking with that the data just does not add up. I can see if the data was close then there would not be much for alarm but the data is not even close - it’s off by 100s.

So my next logical thing to do was check out another website’s data on this. I figured well let’s do someone with a more higher volume keyword that way we can also see my results are just an oddity or something.

I chose to use the data Aaron Wall from SEObook.com posted on his site when he reviewed this new Webmaster Tools impression data. Granted I don’t have access to his account I could see his 3 top keywords and their impressions data from his image that he posted on his website. But we also have to take into account (which was different than my website), his website is getting impressions on more than just the 1st page of Google (thus some duplicate impressions). So his impression results should be just a little higher than the Adwords Tool data.

Here are his results:

Keyword Webmaster Tools Impressions Adwords Tool (exact global search)
seo 74,000 1,000,000
seo book 5,400 9,900
seobook 4,400 5,400

As you can see again the data is just completely off. The Webmaster Tools data just does not come close to the Adwords Tool data. It’s off by many 1000s.

So what’s my conclusion…? Well I think that the webmaster tools data is more accurate than the Adwords data - or so it seems. I mean it would seem to reason it would be easier for Google to display more accurate data for your website impressions rather than make some calculations based on searches - such as the Adwords data. But I think I might be wrong again! Possibly neither data could be accurate.

I decided to take this study one more step further. Let’s look at my clickthrough data on Webmaster Tools verse my Google Analytics data. Now in theory these should be the same - the number of clickthroughs are the same as the number of unique visits from that keyword in my Anlaytics data.

Here is what I found:

Keyword Webmaster Tools Visits Analytics Visits
online running log 16 31
free running log 28 89
running logs free 5 31

Shocking! That data does not match up again. So now do I really trust Google Analytics or is it just that the Webmaster Tools data is just plan wrong. I choose to trust my Google Anlaytics data since I have test it in the past verse other visitor tracking software and they seemed to match up.

So that means the Webmaster Tools data is just plan wrong but what do we do? I don’t know that there is much we can do, possibly inform Matt Cutts or submit a post on the Google Help forum but I don’t know how much Good that will do. I image we will only get a response back saying …yes it’s no accurate… Well we know that, so all we can do really is move on and use the data with a grain of salt.

The data is still useful. It’s just like the old green bars in the Adwords tool before it gave you search volume numbers. You can use the data to give you a general measure of how well that keyword does against your percent clickthrough rate. Knowing that actually can help you make better decisions on which keywords you should focus more time on optimizing your website for. Aaron Wall was also kind enough to point this out too using his own data. Thank you Aaron.

Google And Twitter Spam Disaster

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Google recently released it’s personalized search with the inclusion of Twitter tweets. It seems Google has made another milestone in search technology… but wait a minute, one thing Google might have missed is that this could be a recipe for spam disaster.

As Rae Hoffman of Outspoken Media points out in a recent blog post, it can be quite easy for someone to spam the results. “The most obvious thing was the ability to real time spam Google’s results.” Just posting a tweet about certain topics and your on the first page of Google!

The scary part in all this is that there seems to be no sort of spam filter to stop someone from having their tweet show up in the search results. In fact I ran my own test to see if I could post something that would show up. I searched Google for SEO and posted a few things in twitter. You’ll see I quickly dominated the twitter results with my tweets! FYI, my twitter name is @gallagherdesign

Although after running these tests I did find a possible spam filter. It seems there is a time limit between tweets that one must wait or Google won’t show your tweet. Also I noticed sometimes Google would only show 1 or 2 of my tweets and seemed to block the rest. Maybe there is hope yet!

Now back to the topic in general… What does this all mean for brands? Well image someone doesn’t like your brand or they are a competitor. They could just sit at their computer or hire someone to tweet all day about how bad your brand is. And what could you do to stop them and what they say from showing up in the search engines? Of course they could always naturally optimize a web page and do the same.

So what about Google’s brand? I noticed there are no Twitter results showing up in the search results when you search the keyword “Google“. Or at least when I searched I found none. In addition it looks like a lot of brands I checked out don’t have twitter results showing up on the first search results page but rather you have to go into the options and click the “latest” link to see them.

Maybe with time Google will also add a Webmaster Tool where you can opt in or out of allowing these types of results to show up for your brand - probably would only be for big brands though like Nike or Walmart. It would be smart for them to add something like that.

Twitter Tweets in Google Search Results

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Google just announced (10/21/09) that they will include relevant real-time Twitter tweets in their search results! Goggle states that in their quest for providing real-time search results they have decided to include tweets in their results.

How this effects search results:
Apparently only those search results that can be aided by a real-time observation will show related tweets. Google gives an example of searching for snow conditions at your favorite ski resort. So I would image the Google team will come up with an algorithm that will recognize specific searches and then display the tweets. But what I’m interested in finding out is where these are going to be displayed. Are they going to be at the top of the search results or are they going to be near the bottom or on the side some where? I guess we will have to wait and see.

When will we start to see tweets in the results:
According to Google the upcoming months it should be releasing tweets in their search results. Google states “…we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months.

How this effects SEO:
Depending on how and where tweets are displayed in the search results this can have a significant impact in search and SEO. If tweets are displayed in a highly visible search users might be more inclined to read or click on the tweet rather than a real search result. We will have to see a study on this but it will certainly diminish the number of clicks on natural and pay-per-click listings.

So this could impact organic SEO in a negative way. But at the same time it could also help. Users will then be able to simply tweet about a topic they want to rank for and *chirp* their on the first page of Google for a competitive keyword. Then make that even better by adding a link in your tweet back to your site and you then have an effective traffic source.

Hear it from the horse:
To read exactly what Google says about the subject, please review their recent blog post announcing the Twitter and Google partnership: RT @google: Tweets and updates and search, oh my!

Don’t forget, follow us on twitter @gallagherdesign

You Can Benefit From Being Content Scraped

Friday, September 25th, 2009

If you own a website, especially a blog or make post frequently to your site that could be content scraped I sure you can see how frustrating it could be when your hard work gets scraped off your site onto someone else’s. Even though it’s frustrating and doesn’t seem right to let people do that, I’ve still been deciding whether or not you could actually be harmed by being content scraped.

Up until recently I was up in arms over the debate. Could you really be harmed by duplicate content on another site and would that site show up higher than you in the search results? Well those where good questions and I’d seen answers and good argument for both sides, some people saying yes some saying no.

So I sought out a definitive answer to the question. I found that for my own blogs and websites letting people scrap my content has not posed a problem. All of my sites are showing up higher in the search results than the content scraping sites. Then I also looked at the fact that I’m don’t seem to be getting any sort of penalty form Google on this, so looks all good from here.

But the question still remained as this study was only done on a few websites. So I decided to come to the conclusion that the answer to the question might be different for each site. I’d have to test each site I work on and determine if it’s a positive or negative thing for that site. Although to my surprise, today I came across a video by Matt Cutts that can put some, if not all, of this question to rest.

In the above video Matt Cutts confirms that having people scrap your content can actually be beneficial to your site. How..? Links (it’s all about the links), if you have links in the content that someone scraped and those links are linking back to your from the content scraper site then that would count as a link back to your site. So that also means that you should not be getting some sort of penalty for the duplicate content.

Pretty interesting, see I was not sure if Google would count these as link because in most cases it’s a version of your content linking back to your content. But apparently Google gives you some credit for this. Which I actually do see in my link results within my Webmaster Central Account.

So I’d suggest letting people scrap your content but make sure you include links back to your website in your content and that the links have the full website address. You also might do the same with your images in your posts.

Now I guess the only questions remaining are:

  1. Is this always true for every site. I’ve heard other webmasters talk about how their site shows up below some content scraper. So I guess you need to make sure you have at least some PageRank and TrustRank, then this should not be an issue.
  2. There is still the issue that some people might visit the content scrapers site and not your site for what ever reason. Then if you are making revenue off ads or some other conversion you are losing out. In that case you might still not want people to scrap your content.

What are your thoughts? Let us know by commenting.
P.S. I know if your scrapping our content :)

Google SERPS With More Padding & Small Logo!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Over the past days or so Google users have been reporting seeing a different design for Google’s search result pages. Upon initially checking into this myself I didn’t see any difference. Then later today I started to get the different Google designed search pages too.

The design has a smaller logo for Google next to the search box at the top of the page. And there seems to be extra padding on the left hand side and right hand side for everything except the navigation links at the very top of the page.

I for one don’t like the new design, I actually liked the older one. My guess is the are changing it either as an A/B testing to see which preforms better or they found some users could not see the text on the very left or right hand side of the screen due to their browser and computer monitor (I’ve had this issue before with older monitors, were you can’t see about 5px of the very left and right hand sides of the screen).

Additionally I’ve noticed a few other changes to Google’s search. They recently rolled out with a search suggest that’s embedded in the search boxes at the top and bottom of your SERPs. I know they had this a while back but they took it away and now seem to have brought it back but with different font styling (font is bold for the text you didn’t type in to help you recognize it).

Google search suggest

Although all and all this does not seem to effect rankings directly in the search engine, at least so far from my observations. But I’m sure that the search suggest will have an effect on the types of keywords that are searched for. For example I was searching for an item the other day on Google and then click one of the search suggestions just because I was interested in it. Although I still went back and searched for the original thing I was looking for, this type of thing could deter users from one search and making another instead.

Google Local Business Center Adds Reports!

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I was just checking over some of my client’s accounts in the Google Business Center - you know the Google maps listings for businesses - and I found that Google has now added reports. This is a great addition to the Business Center. The report information is really useful and provides data I was not even expecting to be able to get!

local business center reports

The reports cover more than just impression (number of times your map listing has been displayed) but also cover activity and click throughs to your listing info, your website and even the number of requests for driving directions.

Out of all of that the most interesting is (at least to me) is the driving directions. Not only can you see the number of times someone requested driving directions but you can actually see the zip codes from which people requested them from. And it’s all overlaid on a Google map in your reports area. Although it only goes as deep as showing the zip code from which someone requested directions from it still very insightful. With this data you can find where most of our customer base or potential customer base is coming from. And with that you can then know that area would be good for you to start or improve possible mail or postcard marketing to.

local business center reports driving directions

Another very useful feature is the “Top search queries”. With this you can see what the top queries are that people are searching for and your map/business listing is showing up for. Now that does not mean they clicked through to your listing details or to your website but it’s good data as it can tell you what people might be searching for that is related to your business and you might want to gear your map listing in a way that caters to searchers of those keywords.

As well the reports shows a graph of the impressions and activity you’ve had over time. And just like in Google Analytics you can view the data for any range of dates.

local business center reports graphs

Another feature I would be interested in which they don’t offer is to know the number of people that print off or requested one of your coupons. That data would really be helpful as it would show that a person was really reaching for your services or products. And of course if they could match that up with the zip code where those requests came from - now that would be sometime!

Google Search Result Glitch

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The other day while doing a search on Google I noticed some peculiar things returned in the search results. It seems that this is a glitch for the results returned to me and other people.

Here is what I found… I was searching for business website design and as I looked through the results after a few of the natural listings inserted among these results was the statement See results for: semi repair and then 3 trucker sites. Huh…? Trucker sites and truck repair don’t have anything to do with business website design.

Screen Shot: (full screen shot here)

At first I though, okay well maybe it has something to do with the customized search. So I checked in the upper right hand corner and there was no customized search message, so then I checked the bottom of the page as sometimes that message will show up there, but again no customized results message. I then refreshed the page a few times and still got the same results. Finally tried searching for it again and still got the same results. So I figured, well maybe it’s just my computer or something. And I then proceeded to post a message about it on a search engine forum. To my surprise everyone else reported seeing the same thing.

Next I did a little investigation to see if anything new from Google with the search results could be the problem. And I found that Searchology was just released yesterday. Therefore, I’m speculating that it has something to do with that. Or it could have something to do with Universal search.

So what does all this mean for SEOs? Well, this lets us know that it appears that these “suggested results ” can be turned on and off and set to specific search keywords. It also appears that it is normally an automated thing but has the ability to be manually changed by Google - as I’m sure we’ll soon see these weird results being taken down.

What are your thoughts and do you get these results too?

Does Google Prefer Valid or Non Valid HTML

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

There have been many rumors going around among SEOs and webmasters like about whether Google prefers valid HTML or is fine with non valid HTML or in other words HTML with syntax errors. I ran across this simple quick video where Matt Cutts (Google employee) explains that Google actually does not really use valid HTML as a ranking factor. With that said, although one should not be totally discouraged from validating their HTML source, we find it’s just not as important as other things like creating quality content. You just need to place this on an importance scale and weigh whether validating it as important as the other factors you could be adjusting on your site.

Here is the video of Matt Cutts on Google’s preference of valid or non-valid HTML markup.