Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Google Discusses Its New Official Link Rules

Google has some new rules for the kinds of links it allows (or doesn’t allow, rather). The concepts are actually not exactly new, but Google has updated its official documentation to reflect its views of certain kinds of links.

As you may know, one of the things Google says in its Quality Guidelines to avoid is participation in link schemes. Google has updated the link schemes page, as Search Engine Land (tipped by Menaseh) recently reported. (more…)

How to Use Google Better

Even though more Web users search with Google than any other search engine, many have yet to take full advantage of the power of the tool at their disposal.

From finding a quick answer to just about any question, query or calculation you encounter to more easily finding relevant results in Web links, read on to learn how to get more from your Google search experience.
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Google Discusses Its New Official Link Rules

Google has some new rules for the kinds of links it allows (or doesn’t allow, rather). The concepts are actually not exactly new, but Google has updated its official documentation to reflect its views of certain kinds of links.

As you may know, one of the things Google says in its Quality Guidelines to avoid is participation in link schemes. Google has updated the link schemes page, as Search Engine Land (tipped by Menaseh) recently reported

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Does an Underperforming Ecommerce Site Require a New Website Design?

This is a very common reason to get a new website and can be a completely wasted opportunity to improve your business. Changes are clearly needed if your website is under-performing but you first need to find why it’s happening. If your ecommerce takings have suddenly slumped it might have nothing to do with the design and functionality of your website.

Poor customer service and brand image might be deterring customers from even going to your website. A seasonal change like great beach weather might mean less people in general are shopping online. In this instance Google Analytics can provide the answer for you. If you compare the amount of customers visiting your site to a previous period where the website was performing adequately you will hopefully have a better idea of the slumps cause.

Google Analytics Screen Shot

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Should Facial Recognition Be Allowed On Google Glass?

The “Terminator” films have been mentioned more than a handful of times in discussions about Google Glass, and this is not going to do anything to make the comparison less relevant. Facial recognition is reportedly coming to Google Glass, potentially opening up the doors for anybody to have Terminator-like features.

Google itself is not offering facial recognition with Google Glass. At least not yet. But that’s not stopping others from developing the technology for the device.

Matt Warman at The Telegraph, noting that Google’s terms do not forbid the use of the device for facial recognition, reports that San Francisco-based Lambbda Labs is set to launch its API to developers “in days”. He writes, “The first version of Lamda Labs software forces users take photographs, tag them with information on who is in them and then compare any subsequent photographs taken to those previously uploaded. Future versions, however, may allow real-time recognition of faces.”

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Google Analytics Adds Powerful New Filters

For the legions of fans who use it, Google Analytics is an indispensable tool that allows site owners to segment their audience in a granular fashion, learning what works best for each slice. Data can be segmented in a multitude of ways, from geo-targeted traits to specific applications, screens, and custom dimensions.

It’s common sense that aggregate data is meaningless in its raw form; to find the value, you must see the stories that the data is attempting to tell. Thanks to recent filter additions and updates, Google Analytics now gives site owners the ability to slice and dice their audience metrics all the more. The more you fully grasp how, when, where, and why your users are engaging with your content, the more you can grow your business and give the people what they want. Take a little time to get up to speed on the new Google Analytics features and amp up your site-building know-how.

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Maximizing Google+ For SEO

After much debate about Google+ and whether it is worthwhile or not, more and more people are accepting it and jumping on board. There are some definite SEO advantages to having a Google+ profile. In order to enjoy the benefits, you need to ensure you have it properly set up. Let’s take a look at the benefits and then go over the setup.

Some of the benefits that come with a Google+ profile are:
Google+ allows you to link to all of your social media profiles, sites and Blogs in a neat, organized manner. You can also link to any sites that you regularly contribute to. All of these links are followed links AND you get to select the anchor text (in your bio).

Tip: The more people share your posts, +1 your posts or link to your profile, the more valuable these links become to you. The takeaway here is that you need to network and build connections that will help spread your content.
Google will also follow the links in your posts and again the value of these links increases as the post is shared, linked to and +1ed

Tip: If your post is really good and goes viral or is shared by a high authority profile, the value of the links increases more.

With many social media sites, you have little to no ability to edit your content once it has been posted. Google+ allows you to go back and make edits to posts as you see fit. They don’t restrict you. This is great if a post has spread and gained traction and you want to update the information. You can easily go in and add to the post, bringing the information current and to your satisfaction.

Content on Google+ is indexed pretty darn quickly. Some say almost instantly. It’s a great way to get posts by you into Google’s index quickly when there is a hot topic.

You can network with influencers in your industry (see more on that below).

Author/Publisher markup (rich snippets) creates extra exposure for your listing in the SERPs (search engine results pages). This one is worth expanding on. Google knows you have gone to a lot of effort to create your high quality content, so they want to ensure you can truly take ownership of that content. The author tag is for an individual claiming content on a page. The publisher tag goes on the homepage and is for a business to claim ownership of a site.

NOTE: You need a Google+ profile in order to implement the Authorship Markup. And you do want to implement authorship markup. Trust me, you do!

The benefits are:

1. It makes your listing more robust, because it includes a photo, your name and links to more content by you. It’s a great way to make your listing stand out in the SERPs and get more exposure. There are also indicators that your authorship markup may give you a boost in rankings. While some say it doesn’t directly help, others have reported an increase in rankings after implementing it.

2. Your authorship markup also helps you build trust – wouldn’t you trust a nice smiling face next to a listing over one that has no imagery? It establishes you as a real person in the often anonymous online world.

3. It also allows you to claim your name (you don’t want someone trying to steal your name!) and your content (you’ll be seen as the original and rightful owner of the content and won’t have to worry about a copy scraper outranking you).

4. You can improve your click-through rate by playing with your profile image (which is what is shown in the SERPs). Most people are finding that different images get different click-through rates. Images that perform best seem to be close-ups where the eyes are looking to the right towards the listing in the SERPs.

Let’s move on to how to properly set up your profile to ensure you get maximum benefit.

To set up a personal profile, you can go to:
https://plus.google.com/?hl=en

Business profiles can be set up here:
http://www.google.com/+/business/

You can use the same login for both and in the upper right corner, if you click to the right of your photo, you’ll see the business page listed. All you have to do is click that to view/use the business page.

Below is a screenshot of my account as a sample. The button circled in red takes me to my personal profile and the one circled in yellow takes me to the business page.

Once you are logged in, click on Profile on the left hand side to bring you to the section you need to complete.

Business Pages:

Make sure you use keyword phrases (never stuff keywords, use them strategically) in the Tagline and Introduction boxes under the Story section. Google indexes this, so it’s a great place to ensure you write compelling info that includes your keywords.

In the Links section, you can link to your site and Blog. If you have a critical site page, you can also link to specific pages.

When you write your Description be sure you also use keywords and create links (don’t forget to use keywords in the anchor text). The keyword you choose to use should be related to the page you are linking to. Again, I have to remind you, Google won’t tolerate spammy practices so don’t turn your profile into a link farm.

Personal Pages:

On the personal profiles, it’s important to get keywords in the Occupation and Skills section and also in the Tagline and Introduction. Think of the Occupation section as your Meta Description tag (on a normal site) so you want to ensure you have your main keywords in there.

In the employment section, put a description of services offered and not just the company name.

Tip: Once you’ve completed your profile and you start posting, keep in mind that the first sentence of your Google+ post becomes part of the title tag. As you probably know, the Title tag impacts rankings and influences click-through rates.

Rich Snippets: Author Vs Publisher Tag

Don’t be fooled (I was) by Google’s ‘rel=publisher tag’. It’s still a good idea to use, but you won’t get the image in your SERP listing like you do in the authorship tag! I should clarify. What I mean is, if you test the publisher tag in the rich snippets testing tool, it looks like your logo will appear next to your listing. That is not the case right now. The tag will expand in the future so it’s worth using.

Right now, the author tag DOES display an image, so you may want to consider using that.

A couple things to keep in mind: you can’t use both the author and publisher tag on the same page AND if you use the publisher tag, it’s only for the homepage, not internal pages. You can use the author tag for internal pages with content.

Networking on Google+

There are a lot of different ways to connect with influencers in your industry. Networking with influencers is often one of the core focuses of people using Google+. It’s fairly easy to do because there are so many ways to do it, but be sure you don’t abuse the privilege. If you get known as a spammer, it’s going to be very difficult to grow your presence.

Here are some of the ways you can reach out and connect:

Depending on their particular settings, they will be notified if you:
Mention them in a post
Share a post with them directly
Share a post and you’re in a circle they subscribe to
Comment on a post they created
Comment on a post after they comment on it
Add them to a circle
Suggest new people to add to their circles
Tag them in a photo or tag one of their photos
Suggest a profile photo for them
Comment on a photo after they comment on it
Comment on a photo they are tagged in or that they tagged
Start a conversation with them
Send them an invitation or update an event
Any activity on events they created

The above actions are a great way to connect and let people know you are there. It’s worth repeating, do not abuse this system and spam people. Only reach out via one of these actions if you plan to truly connect and create a conversation of value.

While Google+ numbers aren’t as large as Facebook, they are growing and as with most things, it’s the early adopters that do well in the long run. Get in now and establish your position.

Looking to get active on Google+ without spending too much time? Take a few minutes a day and do the following:
+1 great posts or comments
Comment on posts and engage people in conversation
Start a hangout
Grow your circles

Tip: Ensure you add a +1 button to your pages so your visitors can easily +1 your content. Don’t forget to +1 your own Blog posts and key site pages.

Google+ is likely here to stay and also likely to get more important to your rankings and traffic.

About the author: Jennifer Horowitz is Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com. With over 13 years in the industry, Jennifer has amassed much knowledge and experience and has much to say about all things SEO, marketing, copywriting & social media. Jennifer says “My focus is always on results based marketing. It’s not about reports and rankings, it’s about results. It’s about business growth. My job is to uncover areas of new growth for clients. My job is also to educate site owners that want to be proactive in their marketing efforts. I focus on the details and the data – that is where the success lies!”

Google+ and Facebook With Author Rank Breeds Success

Google+ and Facebook can nab you a high Google ranking. Add author rank and you have a powerful combination.

You must first have Google+ and Facebook accounts, but these are easy enough to get. All you have to do is to use Google as your web browser, and also know how to create a Facebook Business Page, rather than simply use your Home Page and Facebook Wall.

We shall assume you are already using Google+ and Facebook. On Google, click on the +YourName link at the left side of the black Google menu bar. If you don’t already have an account, go to the Google search engine page and click on +you link on the same bar. You can then create an account by clicking on the red rectangle at top right.

Google+ Pages

Once you have joined Google, and are on your Google+ page, scroll down the left hand navigation bar until you come to ‘more.’ Click on that and then ‘pages’ — you will find instructions on setting up your first Google+ Page.

Google+ enables you to create groups of people known as Circles. The defaults of ‘friends,’ ‘family,’ acquaintances,’ and ‘followers’ explain what Circles are about. You can also create a circle of people with similar expertise or interests.

So how do you use Google+ to help your Google ranking?

Google gives more weight to links to and from its own social networking applications. A Google+ +1 vote is worth more to Google than a Facebook ‘like’ — but you can still make use of both. You can create a link from one to the other and back again. Then, when you post either to your Facebook business page or to your Google+ page, the link will be visible on each publication.

By the simple expediency of including a link to a page on your website or blog, you will have generated a powerful link network that is extremely friendly to Google Panda and the Penguin update. You can increase that effect by maintaining a regular website and also a blog as a subdomain on the same main domain. You can then expect to receive multiple listings on the search engines, particularly Google, for each of these publications.

Google Webmaster Tools and XML Sitemaps

To maximize your ranking, you must register your main site with Google Webmaster Tools. Then verify ownership by means of one of the options that Google will give you, and submit an XML sitemap. If you have a WordPress blog, then there are excellent plugins available that will do this automatically. If you have a regular site, you will find sitemap generating tools available online. They are free for a one-time use, which is all that you need.

You can make the best use of Google+ by including a +1 link on your website — in fact include one on each page.

The Google+ chicklet is known as a +1, and it works in much the same way as a Facebook ‘like.’ Each vote is known as a +1, and the more you accumulate the better. It is assumed that your ranking is partially influenced by the +1 votes you accumulate.

Authorship and Author Rank

When you are able to claim authorship of the content you write and articles you publish, your name and profile will be published in the search listing for each of your web pages. Your photograph might also be published if you have submitted one to Google+. This is an excellent way of being recognized as an expert in your business or niche. In effect, Google is endorsing your content.

Make sure that you have linked the website containing the content to Google+ by means of an official e-mail address belonging to and listed on the site, or by adding a few lines of code to your site. Then you can claim authorship for all content on your site. Webmaster Tools explains how to do this. Author rank is a measure of your authority in your niche.

Each time you publish content away from your linked website, simply write ‘Author=yourname’ to get author ranking for the content. ‘Yourname’ is your username for Google+ or any other name associated with the account.

Article directories do this for you when they publish your articles, but you can do it yourself for blog posts and when guest blogging.

Social Media Integration and Google PageRank

By using Facebook ‘likes,’ Google +1 and authorship, you can make a significant impact on your Google ranking. It is important you take the time to learn how each of these work, and how they can be integrated to your advantage.

There are many other social networking sites that can be integrated in this way.

It is likely that author rank and +1s will supersede Google PageRank as a major factor in page ranking positions on the Google search engine. Algorithm updates over the past couple of years appear to be trending toward social media and author rank rather than PageRank calculated from conventional links between Web pages. Take the time to learn how Google+ and Facebook can be integrated to rank well in Google.

About the author: You will find more information on author rank and Google+ pages on Peter Nisbet’s website Article Services. Visit http://www.article-services.com and learn how to use Google+ and Facebook pages to your advantage.

How to Use Google Trends to Boost Your Business

Maintaining a successful online business requires a multitude of disciplines, not the least of which includes a watchful eye on the changes and trends in your industry. It’s now imperative that you understand the needs and interests of your demographic, and that you respond to large-scale shifts as quickly as possible.

Likewise, it’s just as important to spot trends that are just quick blips on the digital landscape. These are the waves you can ride out without adjusting your business strategy. The question is — how do you stay on top of what’s trending in your industry, and which trend do you need to respond to? There are many worthy tools that help you see the big picture, and one such gem is Google Trends.

Google Trends has been on the scene for about a year now, and it features data dating all the way back to 2004. It’s a free tool that displays historic search query information, updated hourly, which is sliced and diced in various ways to optimize full scale analytics. It’s most useful to small business owners who are about to embark on a new frontier, or who need to assess how their current offerings are faring in the world of search. With this tool, you can amass data about specific locations, age groups, niches, and related demographic info.

Google Trends gives you the power to study any search term and see how it measures up to other keywords, during specific time periods and/or in specified geographic regions. It’s important to note that you won’t learn how many individuals are searching for your selected keywords, but instead be able to gauge the popularity of a term over time. This is precisely the kind of invaluable insight that can help propel your business to new successful heights.

Types of Google Trends Data

In Google’s own words, Google Trends “analyzes a portion of worldwide Google web searches from all Google domains to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you’ve entered, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” Since the results are updated hourly, the data is about as current and relevant as it gets. Here are a few aspects of the data your business might be interested in analyzing:

1) Seasonal Results

If you run a business that sells sports equipment, there will be obvious sales spikes for certain sports items based on the time of year. Google Trends will show you exactly when baseball bats start trending more on a yearly basis, as an example, and can help you map out your marketing campaign strategies down to the day and hour.

2) Comparing Degree of Interest

Looking to see how different products compared to each other based on search volume and traffic? Google Trends will show you. You can slice this data based on location, keywords, or time of year. For example, if you run an online florist store and need to compare the interest level of roses versus carnations for a given time period, Google will chart the results side by side. Likewise, you can see if Louisiana is more interested in roses than Nebraska for the same time period. The side by side comparison options are hugely powerful.

3) Forecasting

Since studying trends should be a long term task, setting up forecast searches that you absorb on a regular basis is also a potential business booster. Watch and see how your targeted keywords fluctuate over time. Choose time chunks that range from weeks to months and years, and monitor predictable shifts. If you notice, for example, that for your flower company roses are less popular search terms in September, and Gerber daises are in fact more popular, you have insight on an excellent marketing shift.

4) Singular vs. Plural

Have you ever wondered if it matters whether your search terms are singular or plural, and which are more popular? Every letter of your keywords does indeed matter, so understanding exactly how your users are searching for these terms is critical. If your company sells exercise equipment, as an example, you’ll need to know if people generally search for “exercise bike” or “exercise bikes.” Google Trends will tell all.

5) What’s Hot

You can also eyeball the hottest searches from the past 24 hours, or look for searches that have had significant shifts in traffic. These insights are fabulous for media outlets and bloggers looking to report on hot and current topics.

Top Tips for Getting the Most out of Google Trends

The obvious top way Google Trends helps boost your business is through the accurate selection of keywords. Use the tool for extensive studies on which of your targeted keywords are actually used the most, and in what exact format. Trends will also suggest similar keywords and provide an analysis. It’s best, however, to use the information you find here in tandem with other keyword and analytics tools. Because this simply charts overall popularity, you don’t want to bank your entire keyword strategies only on Google Trends results, but you absolutely want to carefully consider everything you uncover.

Next, you need to analyze the quality of the search popularity, and not just assume high numbers means high interest. Oftentimes keywords trend in a negative fashion, due to scandals or current news topics. You obviously don’t want to associate your business with negative news stories, so be sure the spikes in popularity you are studying match up with the tone and spirit of your business. One of the best features of Google Trends is that it highlights which stories may have spiked the keyword trend for the given period you are plotting.

Use the tool to see how well your competitors are trending as well. Additionally, you can analyze the results to see which keywords they may be using with more success, and adapt your strategy accordingly. Likewise, look for search terms that directly relate to your industry; see which are currently popular, which have maintained popularity over time, and which are simply not used much at all. This allows you to monitor your specific brand, competitors, and overall industry.

Highlighting current trends in your marketing strategy is a great way to attract more traffic. For example, if you sell novelty items and have noticed the current moustache trend, you know for sure you want to include related keywords in your content and marketing materials.

Lastly, Google Trends is a great tool to help you spark content ideas. As mentioned above, if you’re looking for popular current search terms to shape a marketing campaign, or to write compelling content about, Trends is a goldmine. It’s the perfect place for social marketers to get ideas on what to talk about. Relevant and engaging content is the single greatest SEO tactic available, so use Trends to help you chart your next great piece of media.

About the author: Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

Google Analytics – Now in Real Time

Have you ever sat down for a Google Analytics analysis session and stopped poring over the results for a moment to wonder exactly how many people are looking at your website, right now? I sure have, and just in case you have too, Google Analytics has been making it easier and easier to find out.

The real-time feature was first rolled out in September 2011, and though other analytics providers had already been providing real-time data for years, none did it as well or as inexpensively (that is, for free) as Google. Recently, Google seems to have been paying more attention to real time tools, leading to some updates to real-time reports back in March, and some new widgets for real-time reporting on April 16.

Why Should Anyone Care About Real-Time Analytics?

In years gone by, traffic was slow to come by and booms and busts were longer in duration. Because of the proliferation of social media the idea of “trending topics” makes everything relevant for shorter periods of time, as one trend gives way to the next. Since trends can spread like wildfire for a short period of time and then be instantaneously doused by the next big thing, it’s important to know about exciting increases in traffic and engagement as soon as they happen. Knowing about dramatic traffic increases as they are in the process of occurring allows you to better capitalize on them – perhaps by highlighting a piece of content to the main page of your site, or offering a limited time discount to your new visitors.

There are also some extremely useful ways to use the new reporting features. If you have implemented tracking code to monitor your advertising initiatives, now you can immediately test to make sure it’s working – meaning you won’t miss out on any valuable data as you struggle to get it working.

Another way to use the real-time features is to monitor the effect of your offline advertising as it’s happening. If you’ve bought a radio or television ad, you can watch your traffic explode during the run of the advertisement and for the minutes after. And if you buy a spot in a newspaper or magazine, you can watch the traffic start flowing in as soon as you’re hot off the press.

Okay, I get It. Now how do I see how Many People are on My Site?

In Google Analytics, you should see Real-Time as an option in the left sidebar under Standard Reports. If you go to the Overview, you will see a summary of what is happening right now on your website – exactly how many active visitors are browsing, what portion of them are new or returning, the top referring websites and social sites, and what keywords they’re coming in on. There’s also a scrolling timeline of your pageviews for the past 30 minutes, a list of the most active pages, and a world map showing the most actively engaged parts of the world.

You can drill down to see locations, traffic sources, popular content, and events in greater detail.

What Other Real-Time Features are Available?

In the March update, Google added several new features. The Events section is new, which pulls from the event actions you’ve defined for your website to show you what is being triggered in real time. Under the Content report, you can now see what type of device is being used to access your website: desktop, tablet, and mobile. You can now create shortcuts for segments you particularly like – for example if you just want to see your United States visitors in real-time, or your mobile users. In addition, now when you drill down to a more specific segment, there is a checkbox above the scrolling timeline that lets you compare it to all traffic.

In the most recent update, Google added the ability to create a real-time widget in the form of a counter, timeline, map, or table. To add a real-time widget to an existing dashboard, navigate to your Dashboards section and choose “+ Add Widget” from the menu at the top. When selecting the widget type, be sure to choose from the four real-time options instead of the standard options.

How are you planning to use Google Analytics for real-time reporting? Share your plans or ideas in the comments!

About the author: Adrienne Erin is an internet marketer who loves translating the confusing parts of SEO to simpler terms. She does a lot of social media marketing in addition to her writing and SEO work. See what she’s currently up to by following her on Twitter under the username @adrienneerin.