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It isn’t enough that Google thinks it knows what users are searching for, but in a new testing initiative, the search giant has gone a step further by testing limited results. Results are being hidden when Google is confident of what the user is searching for. There have already been complaints on WebMasterWorld where searchers claim a search for “BBC Football” only returned a single web result. Should this experiment become a reality, the ramifications for online business are huge.

The official line on this from Google’s Matt Cutts is, “Sometimes less is more with search results”. Another statement from a Kapoor in the Google display team reads, In an effort to provide the most useful results for searchers we are constantly testing new features. Putting users first has served us well so we continue to do that”.

Are we facing a future where Google becomes an Read more

Without knowing it, your landing page could be lowering your quality score on Google Adwords. Knowing exactly how to increase your quality score is impossible because Google won’t tell you exactly what is wrong with your ad(s), keyword(s) or landing page. However, there are a number of quality guidelines you can follow to ensure you aren’t hindering your own progress by breaking some of the cardinal rules. Remember, once you have implemented this checklist it will take a while for the Google Adwords bot to crawl your page and re-evaluate your score; so be a little patient.

  1. Check the speed of your page using http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
  2. Check for site validation issues using http://validator.w3.org
  3. Check your site for hidden error pages
  4. Make sure your page has a keyword density of at least 2%
  5. Make sure you optimise headers (H1/H2/H3) with your keywords Read more

Google PandaGoogle has confirmed that a little over a week ago they carried out a data refresh of the Google Panda algorithm, and added that there were no additional changes. This refresh is an update of sorts but more of a reshuffle. I have come to call these “appeasing tweaks”, meaning the list of moaners who actually carry some weight in the web world is in, and Google then adjusts things so those big players get their rankings and traffic back.

There are some grumblings across the web from webmasters who have been hit again, and on assessment it seems affiliate marketers have yet again taken a bashing, seeing their review sites hopped over by blogs and random sites with seemingly less quality content. Largely, what we are seeing is Read more

Matt CuttsThe recent Google Panda updates supposedly had a stab at penalising ad-heavy pages, but an announcement from Matt Cutts has indicated that there is more to come in terms of stopping sites plastering pages with ads. Google’s Matt Cutts warns, “If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it,” asking publishers to consider, “Do they see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?”

This latest dictation from the Ivory Castle has got the web community railed again as people accuse Google of being more than a little deceitful in their endeavours of late. Looking at the evidence it would seem that Google are only seeking to publish smaller sites using ad-heavy pages. This is fairly obvious after all the major sites hit by Panda were readjusted one by one. Not to mention that sites such as Yahoo!, MSNBC, WSJ, Forbes, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Mashable, The Huffington Post, and Techcrunch to name just as few, are all ad-heavy, and it’s hard to see Google penalising any of these sites. Read more

There are over 200 factors that Google considers when ranking your web pages, yet they refuse to disclose even one. Not even a measly one out of 200 to give you at least a head start. Google claims this is because these factors change and evolve over time, so therefore a list produced today may well change by next month rendering all of your newly implemented SEO tactics useless.

So how does a search engine optimization agency know where to start when it comes to optimising your website? Well, as a community we kind of know that there are around 50 factors that haven’t changed in a very long time, factors that remain static no matter what Google does. Then, on top of these 50 factors we have our own personal trade secret techniques derived through research, analysis and experience. Read more

When choosing an online marketing service there are a number of user behaviours you need to consider. Traffic and user volume are clearly the key two considerations, but one sorely overlooked aspect of advertising is the amount of time a user spends on a particular platform.

It is natural to gravitate towards advertising on the most popular mediums, Google remaining the most obvious choice. But surely the best places to advertise are the places in which users spend the most time. Think about it like this, the longer or more regularly a user visits a platform the more time they will have to view an advertisement and consider following the link. Read more

You couldn’t make this up, and why would you want to; MC Hammer taking on Google, whatever next! The “Cant Touch This” rapper announced WireDoo at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He explained that the “Deep Search Engine” would go beyond Google’s ability to deliver “deep” results based on the relationship between keywords and searches.

Hammer explained that a search for a car is about more than just a car, but also about the model, the mileage, the specifications and the location of the dealer. Similarly, a search for a home is related to the surrounding community, shops, schools, crime, etc. “It’s about relationships beyond just the keywords,” Hammer said on stage.

With the tagline, “Search once and see what’s related, “ Hammer didn’t elaborate too much further on WireDoo, only saying that it could search vertically on multiple levels. WireDoo is still in Beta but you can sign up here WireDoo. Read more

No doubt by now you will have heard about the nerd fight going on between Google and Bing. Popcorn has been thrown back and forward all week as each side responds in a war of words that represents something like, “My dad can beat up your dad”.

Google accused Bing of copying search results after suspecting unethical practice and setting up fake search results to see if they were copied. It seems they were and the sting operation was successful.

Google Bing Results

Matt Cutts and crew went around pointing algorithms at the Microsoft engineers laughing like schoolboys who’d just
seen a friend kissing a girl, only to be shocked when Bing claimed that the results showed little more than a lesson in how to commit “click fraud”. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Senior VP of Online Services, determined to have the last word, spat back at Google like a viper:

“We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting. Google engaged in a “honeypot” attack to trick Bing. In simple terms, Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.”

As the school kids fight it out, one thing is clear, Bing have come off well out of this. Why? Because many people who know nothing much of search outside of Google now know Google has a major competitor. Mark my words, Bing searches will escalate in the wake of this argument. The other side of the coin is that Google have made it obvious that they fear Bing. I mean if they didn’t then why would they invest time in trying to smear Bing’s reputation, or are they simply exposing unethical practice?

In truth this proves nothing, because Bing readily admit their users’ activity in Google affects their search results, but then so do a thousand other factors. Bing claim that if you do a search for a term that makes no real sense in English, and Google has created a fake search result for that term, Bing is likely to give you those fake results, too.

I fear that Google have made a huge unfounded accusation based on a manipulated test that is speculative at best, and anyway who cares if Bing copied a few search results, we all know Google is the definitive search platform so why wouldn’t a competitor replicate their practice.

Last week I wrote about the full launch of Google’s Social Search facility and the positives and negatives of ‘results from your social circle’. Not long after publishing that post I was contacted directly by a few of you voicing concerns about just how far Google intends on going in terms of violating a persons right to online privacy. This got me thinking, and it is only really when you take time out to think about Google that you realise they know a hell of a lot about us. Perhaps our online privacy has been completely lost, but in all honesty it’s a little too late for us to bolt the stable door.

On one hand we love the Internet for its freedom, and whether the latest leaked document on U.S. operations by Wikileaks or the exposure of a celebrity involved in a nude act, the fact is Read more

Last week we explored the new Facebook Questions application which is newly built in to the wall of your user account. I received a few emails after the post asking me whether Facebook Questions would be searchable in Google. Understandably clients wanted to know how effective this would be for website business marketing. Naturally I presumed the facility would be searchable, but surprisingly it isn’t.

A Facebook spokesperson made the following statement:

“Currently, search engines cannot access questions and answers through our Questions product. That may be something we consider for the future but have no current plans to allow it”.

This comes as a surprise and a small blow for website business marketing, yet it seems strange that Facebook would want to ignore all this traffic. Facebook is currently avoiding the search engines by only allowing logged in users to access questions and answers. Perhaps Facebook is concerned with not allowing the facility to become simply a base for web site promotions.

I did a quick search of a site:facebook.com/questions/ within Google and only a few results came up, none of which linked straight into any questions or answers. See the results below:

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Considering that 62% of Yahoo Answers upstream traffic comes from Google there must be a tactical reason Facebook are ignoring this traffic stream initially. Don’t be surprised if this policy changes suddenly in the near future.

It’s not all bad for web site promotions though; you still have 500m users to target which should keep you very busy.

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