Google Changes First Half 2011

 

A lot has been happening this year regarding the major search engines and internet marketing.  Google launched the Panda aka “Farmer” update that affected many websites attempting to increase their organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  While these changes did not directly affect Broadvox (we actually saw organic PageRank boost), Panda did affect quite a few of our partners, VAR’s, and even some of our competitors.  Sites influenced by Google’s update saw varying punishments ranging from temporary lower search engine results, temporary bans from the results pages, or in some harsher cases permanent bans of domains by Google.   If you have seen substantial drops in web traffic or leads over the last 3 months, I highly recommend auditing your search traffic to insure you were not affected by the major changes Google has incorporated into their search algorithm.  Additionally, Google offers free valuable resources to monitor search data including Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster tools.  Both of these cloud applications provide daily granular traffic information that can be used for BI and marketing purposes.

While the Panda Update is a substantial shift in the way Google plans to process their future search engine results, it has recently taken the backseat to two major changes to their social strategy.  At the end of March, Google announced the Google+1 Button.  This new feature had immediate impact on both social and organic marketing because it allows users to directly affect how the search engine results are affected within their network of contacts.  In a nutshell, if you have a Google account that is signed in, you will now see a +1 button after every search result displayed.  If you click that button you have shown Google your affinity for that link.  If a colleague does a search that would garner a result you have +1’ed, that result would get an automatic boost by Google to assist your colleague in finding the most valuable information for that search.  While this new feature doesn’t bolster +1’ed items to the top spot within the results, it does provide some lift.

The next major announcement is the Google+ Project, not to be confused with the previously mentioned +1 Button.  Google Plus is the first viable competitor to the dominant social network Facebook.  While it is unlikely this new network will take any real market share in the short term,  the increased privacy settings and revolutionary ability to group friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and family, will more than likely be imitated by other social networks in their next major updates.  Plus is still very limited in its release and Google has specifically asked that businesses refrain from creating accounts for the time being, so we must take a wait and see approach on this until more information is available.  It will be interesting to see how a business can influence search or paid results with a Plus page.

The final shifts that occurred were more tweaks than major rollouts to Google Adwords.  While these changes aren’t fundamental, they are important because this is where ad dollars are being spent.   The first Adwords change focuses on integration between Analytics and Adwords accounts.  It is now seamless to see your Adwords data within your Analytics accounts.  Through this process, you can now easily measure funnels and conversions from your paid search efforts along with your organic keywords.  This data helps show how ad dollars are being spent and exactly what people are doing while on your website.  You can now track precisely how much money you’ve spent to get someone to download a pdf or fill out a form on your website.  Other changes include new Geo-targeting algorithms for more precise local campaigns.

Last but not least, Google launched Call Metrics in the 1st quarter of 2011.  This new feature allows Businesses to make phone numbers readily available to potential leads through ad campaigns.  These numbers are included within Adwords campaigns and you can see how many calls have been generated, along with the length of the call.  In doing so, you can measure with even more granularity how your ad dollars are being spent on the internet.

As you can see, the internet marketing world is an ever changing landscape with constant shifts and innovation.

SEocial – SEO meets Social Media

Redundant blog post starts now! Social Media and SEO have been on a collision course for the last two or three years. The Major search engines include social media results in real time on their SERPs. With the recent release of Google Plus and the +1 button showing up in almost all of google products, social will continue to play a larger role in SEO. The social and seo industries have merged into one cohesive marketing segment. There is no longer a way to differentiate between an SEO and Social expert and businesses need to keep this in mind when search for online marketing support.

How is your business utilizing social? are you just updating news, current events, and specials? Do you engage customers and answer questions? Are you providing keyword rich replies with links to quantitative content? By incorporating the same best practices for SEO into social you will see high conversions in terms of sales and followers.

  • Engage Your Customers
  • Provide Relevant Keyword Rich Content
  • Cross Promote – Don’t Just Self Promote
  • Assist Your Fellow Social-ites
  • Link, Link, Link
  • Update frequently (3-5 times a week minimum)

By following these bullets you will start to see real results with your social strategies and in doing so you will directly assist your SEO.  Obviously this is very high level. You can be doing quite a bit more in terms of Video and other Social, but for a beginner these steps will definitely get you started on the right track.

the Google+ project will change the way we share & communicate

Today Google has announced the Google+ project. It is the culmination of all social aspects they’ve been working on for the last decade or so. I am thoroughly excited for this new feature set. I am a big fan of the +1 and other similar features google has been slowly incorporating and I have a feeling this is the first real step in the right direction after a few terrible products including google buzz and google wave. I hope to get my invite shortly and let you know what i find.

for now, here are a few videos

 

SEO Questions to ask your clients

Being a fulltime SEO for a corporation, I find my side projects limited to helping one or two clients at a time.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to manage more clients to broaden my portfolio, but I think by engaging a limited number of companies at a time I can provide better service with stronger results.  I’ve recently come full circle and am helping a company I previously worked for in a different fashion with their search engine optimization.  I am very excited at the prospect of helping a company that helped me so much early in my career.

With this project, I plan on documenting certain steps that will hopefully help SMB’s who are trying to leverage SEO best practices for their own gain.  The first step on any search engine optimization project is to find out exactly what the company is trying to achieve with their SEO goals.  Below I have compiled a list of questions I frequently use before starting a new SEO project.  Feel free to review and use for your own purposes.

SEO / Social Questions

  • What type of customers / audiences are you trying to reach with search engine optimization?
  • What are the top keywords potential searchers would type to find your site?
  • What Keywords would you like to focus on?
  • What is your primary geography scope?  What are the main areas you’re currently targeting successfully?
  • What future areas do you plan on expanding to?
  • What tracking software do you have currently for monitoring visitors?
  • How difficult is it to make minor adjustments to code and content?
  • What are your growth expectations for the next 12-18 months?
  • What do you want to accomplish in terms of SEO in the next year?
  • Do you own any secondary domains that you’re not currently using?
  • What other forms of advertising are you currently participating in?
  • What is the current marketing strategy?
  • Who is your web host?
  • What platform is the website built on?
  • What company are you using to design your website currently?
  • What are some major roadblocks you’ve hit in the past with your SEO/ PPC / and Social campaigns?
  • How important are bing and yahoo to your organic traffic?

Social

  • How often are you updating your social media currently?
  • What would you like to focus on primarily?
  • Do you have a blog setup?
  • How often would you like to update social campaigns?
  • What do you want to convey through social media?
  • What type of image do you want to portray in terms of messaging, attitude, etc?

As I said before, this is just a small list for you to use to gauge your clients or your own needs.  Did I leave any important questions off?  let me know!

QR Codes for SMBs / Enterprises

The company I currently work for has recently jumped on the QR code bandwagon… and I am glad they did.  We’ve been implementing QR codes in almost every aspect of our print marketing for the last 3 months and have seen noticeable dividends.  For those of you unaware of what a QR code is, it’s essentially a bar code that you can create and using a smart phone, you can process the information encoded within the QR codes.  This information can be almost anything from text, vcards, or URLs.  Currently, we’re using QR codes on our print collateral at shows and on select business cards.  We have been seeing substantial buzz from industry and potential clients / customers.  We’re also able to track the QR code “clickthroughs” via services such as bit.ly.  It’s been a pleasant surprise to see the responses and be able to test out new mediums for advertising efforts.

Now, on to the business implementation. I see great benefit for smbs and select enterprises that want to incorporated QR codes into their print advertising specifically for :

  • coupons / deals
  • leave behinds
  • business cards
  • banners
  • print ads
By incorporating these simple images in your current advertising efforts, you will be able to measure (to an extent) how your advertising is working while letting your potential customers know you’re technology savvy and on the forefront of technology.

Google Commercials – effective advertising at its best

Last night while watching TV a new google commercial started playing on the television.  I immediately sat my iPad down and gave my full attention.  In less than two minutes my girlfriend was in tears. The commercial titled “Dear Sophie” is an amazing and effective commercial about a father using Google Chrome and other google products to keep a journal for his daughter as she grows.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it tugged my tears a little bit.  After the commercial ended and my girlfriends tears subsided, I quickly grabbed my iPad and showed my girlfriend Google’s Super Bowl commercial titled “Parisian Love”.  The waterworks came flowing once again.

I haven’t seen this level of effective marketing in a very long time.  Nike usually puts out amazing ads, coca-cola is a close second.  Budweiser is consistent as well.  As a marketer, the effectiveness of the Google ads got me wondering… why are they so effective and how did they get my girlfriend to cry twice in less than five minutes?

It’s a simple answer.  Google has created an environment that translates easily to across race, sex, and religion.  Almost every person who uses the internet interacts with google in some way on a daily basis.  From Chrome, to Google.com, the new Plus 1, and Picasa, people can immediately relate to these commercials at a personal level – because they’re already doing everything Google shows in the ads… and that relates to the viewer.  Bravo.

Google Chrome: Dear Sophie

Video SEO – How did we get here?

I’d be late to the party if I were to say that “Video” is the next logical step in SEO strategy.  Industry experts and otherwise have been talking for over two years about the importance of video to drive traffic for websites.  As broadband speeds have increased at near exponential rates, media has become easily accessible at almost every level.  You can now watch netflix on your phone.  Think about that for a second.  10 years ago, if someone would tell me that i’d be watching HD quality tv shows and movies on device more powerful than the computer I was currently using that fits in my pocket I would have thought they were insane.

With the copious amounts of broadband streaming across the world, video consumption is the logical choice, and with that, youtube has quietly become the second largest search engine in the world.   Want to learn how to play guitar? you could google it, or you could use youtube and find countless tutorials for all your favorite songs.  The same thing goes for cooking, drawing, fixing your car, computer, or air conditioner.  Youtube has quickly become one of the primary sources for instruction, entertainment, or anything else.

With this growth, Google has (along time ago) started including relevant video content in search results if a video would be helpful in the results.  Knowing this, a clever SEO could start properly tagging videos with relevant keywords and use the videos to boost their brand above the fold on the SERP without needing to have their webpage showing up organically.  If done properly, the video and landing page could work in tandem to garner amazing SEO results.  Video SEO is the next logical step in the ever changing algorithms.  By providing great quality content, through video, social, or organic, everyone will win.

The Amazon Cloud Is Down

April 21, 2011- a day that will live in infamy.  The amazon cloud has failed.  It has been interesting to see all the buzz over the last few years focusing on the “cloud.”  Business continuity, reliability, file storage, and security have all been touted as the primary reasons to switch to cloud computing.  Today, numerous sites including reddit.com, foursquare, and hootsuite are all offline… because of the Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud.  I was, and am, a big supporter of switching to cloud computing for all of the for-mentioned reasons.  I see true value in the cloud for data storage and hosting. I have experienced Data loss due to hard drive failure, viruses, or user failure too many times to not appreciate what the cloud has to offer.  I also want to find a reliable cloud option for data storage including my music, videos, photos, and important files.  Unfortunately, I feel the price for cloud storage is still substantial enough for me to avoid a cloud option for the time being.    I am interested to see the fallout for both amazon and other business touting cloud services.  I think this outage will be a temporary blackeye for a service that definitely needs to be appreciated and embraced.

Job Board SEO – some thoughts

A few years ago I had the pleasure of briefly working for an amazing startup “job board.”  They are a niche job posting site focusing on high-end analytics jobs.  I truly enjoyed my brief stint with the company. I joined this company with aspirations of expanding my skillset with a focus on sales.  While I was moderately successful in helping the company achieve their sales numbers, I found myself being more useful offering ideas on SEO and marketing.  After about half a year, I came to terms with the fact that I would never be truly comfortable cold-calling and smile and dialing and parted ways with the company.

Although my stint with this company was brief, I was and am lucky enough to call all the employees and owners my friends.  To this day, I still assist the founders from time to time with recommendations and strategy to help point them in the right direction.

That’s just a little back story to the real reason I am posting today.  My friend shot me a message with a unique issue that I honestly found very intriguing.  This board has hundreds of recruiters and business posting jobs on their board at a time.  After each position is filled, it must be taken down, and the page must be expired.  What is the best way to handle the pages once they expire? Do you take them down with a 404, 301, or a custom this job has been filled page?  I highly recommended avoiding the 404.  I think that is the worst way to handle the response.  I am also a little finicky about the 301 redirect, but this was my first thought.  The final thought was to create a new page saying something like “this job is filled, but please check out the following similar jobs” and post a table with current similar jobs on the site.

I am not sure how this current Lose Weight Exercise will play out, but I am still researching some other methods and plan to suggest some more A/B testing, but it is obvious that their rankings are hurting.  They also may have gotten a little grief from the google #panda / #farmer update.  Which is also unfortunate because they’re not scraping content, all jobs are posted by companies, recruiters, or representatives.  Needless to say, this is my first post with more questions than advice.  I will post again next month with results from these events.

mac bandwagon jumper – part 1

I never thought I would say this… I am officially on the bandwagon to apple town. In full disclosure, I unknowingly started my journey to apple fandom 2 years ago when I purchase my first iPhone 3G. At the time I was completely blown away by the functionality this new device could offer.  I could download apps, play games, check my facebook, and drop calls…. oh and listen to my music.  Other than the network issues with ATT, I was in bliss.  The iPhone opened my world up with the ability to connect and interact with my friends at a whole new level.  I could now go to dinner with a group of buddies and completely ignore them while sitting at the table playing fieldrunners, angry birds, or flight control.  At first my friends would mock my disregard for companionship in public for my iPhone, but they soon would learn as they fell one by one into their addiction to the iPhone.  Soon we’d be a group of 4-8 people sitting at a bartop completely ignoring eachother while we engaged our devices to interact with friends not present.

The love affair with my new toy had begun.  For some reason, I found myself beginning to follow apple news and watching liveblogs from apple events on gizmodo and engadget.  I was excited about the 3GS, but decided to pass and wait for the iPhone 4.  As momentum and press built for the iPhone 4, I was completely hooked.  I followed the 4 leak story on a daily basis and was waiting for my chance to get my hand on the device that would redefine my redefined phone experience.    The 4 launched with mixed reviews from the antenna issues that “plagued” the iPhone 4.  I decided it would be in my best interest to wait a few months to see how the devices issues would play out.  Steve Jobs went on the TV and told everyone not to worry – good enough for me.  I had one problem… my phone was working fine.  There was no reason to upgrade.  A week before my 28th birthday (which would also be my first trip to vegas) I was in luck.  My phone magically stopped charging.  Instead of taking my 3G to one of the hundreds of “iPhone repair shops” popping up throughout the metroplex, I knew it was time for an upgrade.  Now, I was presented with a new issue.  Every single retailer was sold out.  For the first time in as long as I can remember I was without a phone.  For 5 days I was literally the most disconnected I had been since the late 90’s when I officially “cut the cord” and removed my landline permanently.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a difficult period.  The first two days were the worst.  Checking facebook 10+ times a day was interrupted.  Texting my girlfriend and other friends was impossible.  To talk to anyone required access to my girlfriends cellphone, which she gladly supplied in the evenings.

24 hours before my trip, I heard a rumor that a few Apple Stores in DFW received shipments of the iPhone 4.  My Girlfriends cousin had received hers, and I was destined to find mine.  My first and last stop was the Apple Store in Northpark Mall (the same location of Dez Bryants recent troubles.)  I could now take my trip reconnected to my friends, family, and facebook, all in HD. Needless to say, my trip was a blast.  My friends were all amazing, and I had the opportunity to record our misadventures in 720p.  I downloaded and remixed video and pictures from the trip on the fly with a new app called iMovie.  I felt like a regular J.J. Abrams at this point.  It was amazing uploading high-quality video and photos of my friends and I, all set to the beat of Kanye West, without sitting at the keyboard once.  Steve Jobs was definitely on to something.

Shortly after my trip, Starcraft II came out, instead of buying the iPad, I upgraded my computer and found my long lost love for the Blizzard RTS.  The fall remained calm and my satisfaction with the iPhone remained at an all-time high.  I had no qualms paying between .99 and 1.99 for apps on a weekly basis.  My library of games and entertainment on my mobile device was growing steadily.  Then, I started hearing rumblings for the iPad 2….

More to come shortly.