Synopsis: If your website is suffering from some dropped rankings on Google consider checking the geographic targeting in your Google Webmaster Tools site settings and read up on how to make the right selection (or not at all).

A screenshot of the Geographic Target setting in Google Webmaster Tools. In this case it is set to be saved for the USA

Did you know that changing your geographic target in your GWT site settings can have an impact on your rankings? The impact can be positive in one regard and negative in the other: Read more…

Just an hour ago comScore released the U.S. search engine rankings for September. Without further adieu here is the lowdown on the search engine wars:

September 2009 U.S. Search Engine Rankings by comScore

* Based on the five major search engines including partner searches and cross-channel searches. Searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five search engines are not included in the core search numbers.

Americans conducted 13.8 billion searches in September, down 1 percent from August (which had one additional day compared to September). Google Sites accounted for 9 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! Sites (2.6 billion), Microsoft Sites (1.3 billion), Ask Network (541 million) and AOL LLC (416 million).

(Source:  comScore Report)

google-base-now-merchantThis Monday Google launched a new face for Google Base called Google Merchant Center which allows ecommerce businesses to upload product feeds to Google so individual products are searchable via Google Product Search (once known as Froogle).

I am not sure what drove the reasoning behind this transition but the new name definitely makes more sense to the average user. Google also removed the “beta” element of the Google Base logo which is another indication that Google Merchant Center is the polished edition of Google Base.

Here are the benefits of Google Merchant Center as noted on the brand spanking new home page:

google-merchant-center-benefitsAs far as I know there is no change in terms of the benefits offered using this service over Google Base except that Google claims it “should” be easier to use. That said, I don’t claim to be a Google Base expert by any means. If you have any input on this please feel free to comment and inform your fellow readers.

Is Google Base beta Completely Gone? No, Google has stated that there are still users that need to upload non-product data who will be using Google Base for now as it has some facilities that Google Merchant Center does not currently have. To quote Google’s blog post on the subject:

Google Base is still available for other types of structured content, but the Merchant Center provides a better, optimized experience specifically for product listings. The Merchant Center is where we’ll continue adding features and improving the tools for uploading and managing product listings.

That said, I expect Google Base will be phased out as soon as possible since the the new name “Google Merchant Center” does not preclude integrating the non-product submissions in the near future – and why bother having to maintain two merchant access points?

This Web Pro News video was taken at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose a few weeks ago and drives home some points about how to react to a perceived or actual Google penalty that I think are worth sharing to our audience. You can also see the full article on this subject that was the inspiration behind this video: How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger.

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Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Google Addresses Duplicate Content Myths

I just came across this excellent post at WebProNews that brought to my attention a new video posted by the Google  Search Quality Team. The video discusses duplicate content on Google and how it is managed. The best part is it once again highlights that Google does not penalize for duplicate content – it merely omits content that is redundant within specific searches. In fact, content that may be omitted on one search may be highly ranked in another search.

Anyway, it is worth viewing for anyone who may still be concerned and/or confused about how Google handles duplicate content:

YouTube Preview Image

Google made a minor change to its interface on Wednesday which is notable only because, well, it is Google. What did they do? Well they stretched the home page search box and increased the size of the font for the search box. Not much to report really but the Wall Street Journal decided it was worthy of a remark when they posted the story along with several “snarky” remarks from fellow search engine writers who were very underwhelmed by the whole update.

The one, tiny take away from this? The WSJ article noted that Softpedia’s Lucian Parfeni thinks the changes could have something to do with the increase in searches on smaller screens due to the rise in netbook usage. I think he is right on the money there and I will add that Google could be catering to the aging baby boomer population (cough… Eric Schmidt… cough) that is bound to be finding the larger text a bit more comfortable :-)

google-interface-update

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Monday, August 31st, 2009

Android Bruises Apple in China

On Friday the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Apple signed a lucrative deal in China with China Unicom to sell (what I call) a censored version of the iPhone (it has WiFi removed for “security reasons”). The Chinese FlagThe deal will herald an impressive increase in Apple’s phone share but what should not be missed is that Android somehow flew under the radar despite signing a similar deal with China Mobile; a company with 3 times the subscribers of China Unicom! Something tells me that Android is going to take a way larger piece of the mobile pie than its competitors thought… silly competitors. They should know that since Google is involved it is going to do well – more likely than not.

The HTC Dream (AKA. the Google Phone)From a personal perspective I have the Gphone (HTC Dream – one of a few Android phone styles) and I love it; the benefits of many free apps and excellent integration with Google makes it very appealing to me. From that perspective also consider that the success of Android will inherently improve Google’s foothold on search which means great things for any who have top search engine rankings on Google.

BONUS: for those that don’t like being told what they can or cannot do with their phone you might appreciate Android’s success because it is an open source OS which is very unlike the iPhone’s totalitarian OS.

Anyone, even someone 100% immersed in online social media is likely to have moments where they just feel so overwhelmed they need to sit down and shut down their mind for a while. I can’t say I am even dedicating half of my time to online social media and I constantly find myself overpowered by:

  • the speed at which new startups are launching,
  • the new web marketing tactics emerging on a daily basis,
  • the information that is shared and is largely untapped,
  • my own ideas for new social tools that I could never find the time to launch… but still distract me,
  • the potential for the future of many of the social communities/tools I use on a daily basis,
  • etc…

Read more…

comScore’s latest intelligence shows that “teens” between 12 and 24 have dramatically increased their use of the popular microblogging tool Twitter and the kids between 2 and 11 are increasing as well (age 2?!  comScore is thorough! ). Although the demographics they chose were odd I think it is still valuable info to see that market segment growing. It is especially interesting to think of how the emergence of that demographic could improve number of breaking news stories that happen on Twitter. After all, it is safe to say that most people of that age group don’t let their messaging devices out of their reach 24/7.

A comScore chart showing significant Twitter usage growth in the 12-24 age bracket

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Thursday, August 20th, 2009

How to Identify a Google Penalty

Last week I wrote a story called “How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger” and since then I have received a lot of inquiries about how to identify if a site has been penalized. Instead of answering every email individually, which I could never find the time to do, I figured I had better create a quick list of the most obvious indicators of a Google penalty which I could refer people to and build on when I have more time.

Read more

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