Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Google is Getting a Redesign

The Google we know and love is getting a significant navigation overhaul. Introducing the new Google Toolbar which has Google’s CEO, Larry Page rather excited:

A screenshot of Larry Page discussing the latest changes to Google and the Google Toolbar on Google Plus

In short, the bulk of the navigation will now appear in a drop-down menu which will appear whenever you hover over the Google logo. The area which once Read more…

A friend of mine recently asked me to comment on why I felt so strongly the rel=”author” attribute would play a large role in the future of search rankings. In order to answer his question I felt I needed to take this a step further and explain how rel=”author” appears to fit into a much grander plan Google is implementing around personal profiles. Please note, what I have shared with you below is merely my opinion based on experience, analysis, and  discussions with some of my fine colleagues in the SEO community; not the least of whom is John Carcutt (my co-host on SEO 101 Radio).

First consider what we know:

  1. Google is taking into account the personal blocking data (the block site option in results) from users that have a long and trusted profile; confirmed by Matt Cutts in his September 21st Q&A (the first answer on the linked page).
  2. Right now, if you have a highly trusted profile and you have authorship markup (rel=author) on your articles/copy you will get representation in Google search results – by having your photo show up next to the article.
  3. In order for this markup to work you need to have a Google Profile and it must be correctly associated with the sites you write on and your author page on the site has to connect back (a few hoops are necessary) to your Google Profile to finalize the association.
  4. Google is integrating Plus into most (if not all) of their products – this was confirmed by Vic Gundrota on a recent Web Summit 2.0 interview with him and Sergey Brin.
  5. In order to be on Google Plus you have to have a Google Profile.
  6. Your Google Profile prompts you to connect all of your social profiles so Google knows your social fingerprint and can highlight content in search results that your friends have socially shared/liked.
  7. Links are an important part of Google’s algorithms but they are heavily gamed and likely cause the majority of spam found in Google’s results.
  8. If Google sees that others like your content then it has a better chance of appearing at the top of relevant searches.

Next, let’s connect a few dots and make some educated assumptions:
Read more…

A screenshot from a live video feed of Matt Cutts answer Google questionsThe head of Google’s webspam prevention team, Matt Cutts was kind enough to conduct an impromptu 45 minute live Google questions and answers video chat on YouTube in September which I decided was so chalk full of content it would make a great article; it just took me a lot longer than I had expected to get done! Anyway, I tie it up with a fun ode to a future Movember Matt.

Also you can listen to some discussion on this Q&A on the Oct 3 2011 episode of SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM which I co-host with fellow SEO veteran John Carcutt; you can find the show on iTunes here.

The Prelude to the Google Q&A

Before he did the Q&A Matt wanted to cover a few points which I outline below along with direct links to the most pertinent section of the video where he explains each point; so you can hear it in his own words (and I don’t have to write them all down). After these points you will find his Q&A where my short-hand should give you the answers you need; if not you always have the video!

Pagination: Matt mentions the use of rel=next and rel=previous to aid in the improved indexation of paginated pages. This is not a light topic so he understandably does not get into great detail but watch Matt’s short explanation on pagination here.

Reconsideration Requests: Matt discusses an article by Tiffany Oberoi and Michael Wyszomierski from the Google Search Quality Team called “Reconsideration requests get more transparent“. As the title aptly describes the Google will now be much more open about whether your site has been penalized or not should you submit a reconsideration request. Here is Matt’s description of the changes to reconsideration in his own words.

Requests for Crazy Ideas: if you have “crazy ideas” for how to search which Google has not done they invite you to add your ideas on Matt’s blog where he posted a request for those ideas recently: What cool new websearch ideas should Google launch in 2012? 


Matt Cutts Answers Google Questions

NOTE: each of the linked titles below will take you directly to the relevant segment of the video – in case you want to hear it from Matt directly. Otherwise I have done my best to paraphrase his answers; a shorter version of the actual transcription. Read more…

Google announced earlier in the month that they will be making some changes to their quality score algorithm. They say that overall relevance and the quality of your destination URL will contribute more to your quality score than in before.  For the last 5 or so years Google has been making many changes to their quality score algorithm in regards to how much weight is appointed from the destination URL. The more relevant the landing page, the better the quality score resulting in a better performance from your account.

What will this do for My AdWords Account?

As long as you have been using relevant and quality destination URLs for your display ads, you should have nothing to worry about regarding your paid search account. Google says that relevant landing pages may even see a ‘strong boost’ when it comes to your display ads quality score. Read more…

Friday, September 30th, 2011

How Well is Your Website Performing?

One of the most important parts of online marketing is to know what the traffic on your site is doing, and finding out what changes can be made to help the performance of your site. In order to maximize the performance of your site you need to know some things like; where your traffic is coming from, what pages are the surfers visiting, how long are they on the site, where and/or why are they leaving the site, etc.

The Google Analytics LogoGoogle Analytics is one of the best web statistical programs available on the net, and the best part about it is that it’s free to use. Google Analytics has been around for years now and has seen many changes in its lifetime. In the last few months the Dashboard of your analytics account has had an upgrade to a new version which many people are very excited about. Google is up to it again with another major update to their Analytics program offering Real Time analytics data about your site.

How is Google Analytics Changing?

In the past the data you could see was only for past performance of your website whereas you could try to click on the current day to view your statistics but all fields would yield zeros. Now you do have the option to see your statistics in Real Time, which is great for testing new campaigns, watching a new source of traffic, troubleshooting your site, etc. Read more…

Clickable Phone Numbers with Mobile AdWords

If you are one of those mobile internet enthusiasts you should be thrilled that Google AdWords has clickable phone numbers displayed with their ads (launched in January). Since the change you have had the option to allow users to call you directly just the same way as if they were to click on your ad to go to your site. By setting this up in a separate part of your Google AdWords account, you can give the option for the system to make this functional. Read more…

I don’t usually write about scams, but had a fun phone call this morning and thought I would just put out a warning for the 1 or 2 readers out there who may fall victim to such a scam.

I got a phone call from an unknown-name, unknown number. Well, actually my wife answered the call, and when I overheard the conversation I quickly asked for the phone before she hung up – I knew immediately what the call was about and I wanted to have some fun.

The caller starts off by identifying himself as working for Microsoft, and that the reason he is calling is that he wants to protect my computer from viruses. You see, apparently my computer has been sending him error messages, kind of an SOS message, and his job is to respond to these messages and help fix the problem. Its awfully nice of Microsoft to be looking out for me like this without having to even ask. Read more…

Have you ever wondered how viewers respond to a particular movie or commercial? Does it retain an audience or do people leave straight away? Wouldn’t it be useful to know specifically what parts of a movie or commercial are popular so that your next video posting can be better than your previous?

Video Link: Humans vs. a can of Coke at high altitude

Within my own company, Applied Brain and Vision Sciences, we use StepForth’s web marketing savvy and tools like YouTube and Google Analytics to help us direct our own marketing approaches and help us identify market opportunities for technology development. One of the distinct advantages of having StepForth house my own company is our physical proximity to each other; there is a wonderful on-going cross-pollination of ideas and know-how.

Using The YouTube Insight Viewer Retainment ToolWe recently used the YouTube tool called “Insight” to quantify the success of one of our recent promotional campaigns for our high altitude research. The short-term goal of our project is simple: go where the oxygen availability is low and collect brain function and behavioral data. The long-term goal is a little more complicated. We will use the data to better understand how the brain works and how to develop better signal processing algorithms. First, however, it is important to raise public awareness about our project so that we don’t do all of this work in a vacuum (no pun intended) where nobody knows what we’re doing. Our means to raise public awareness was to create a video of us at high altitude that is exciting, humorous, and retains the attention of the audience. Read more…

Yesterday Google formally announced it is acquiring Motorola for $12.5 billion dollars in an effort to stem off intellectual property lawsuits from companies such as Apple, Oracle and Microsoft; here is the official investor’s notice to Google owners and here is the live blogging record from the press conference. The rest of this post will examine some of the benefits of this acquisition through related links and other external information. In a way, what you will see is my own research on this interesting move on Google’s part; I hope you find it informative.

Here is an snippet from the official investor’s notice which outlines very basically the reason for the purchase:

The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.

To get to the meat of this purchase, however, we need to consider the following snippets from the Wall Street Journal’s article on this acquisition:

Android is an example of open-source software that is designed to allow outside engineers to tinker with the way it works. While that makes Android highly customizable—companies using the software can optimize it for their devices—it also has left the operating system vulnerable to intellectual-property lawsuits.

Motorola’s patents will help Google address that weakness, which already has prompted a lawsuit by database giant Oracle Corp. Motorola, of Libertyville, Ill., holds or has applied for a total of 24,500 patents.

A version of the Motorola and Google logos in the same image

As noted above this purchase will strengthen Google’s position as a patent holder in the mobile space and hopefully thwart or minimize the legal actions against Motorola. That said, what kind of patents are of interest that would provoke such a major leap? I have little or no experience with patents (unlike search engine patent expert Bill Slawski) but it appears the following would stand out as welcome additions to the Google portfolio: Read more…

An image of Micheal Blumenthal - aka Professor Maps because he is a Google Places ExpertOn their radio show, SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM, Ross Dunn and John Carcutt had the opportunity to speak with Mike Blumenthal (AKA, “Professor Maps”); the guru of Google Places and blogger of “Understanding Google Maps and Local Search.”

If you are a business owner with a local presence, you are sure to find this 60 minute interview invaluable. Below is a summary of what was discussed. To listen the entire show, you can download it for free on iTunes at

Important note: These interview highlights have been paraphrased unless quotes are used.  

Ross - Mike Blumenthal has spent the last 6 years studying Google Places; how it works and how it affects the entire local ecosystem.

John - He is known as Professor Maps because he literally knows everything there is to know about this. I am really excited to pick his brain today. Read more…