Ahead of the impending release of business profiles in Google+ here at iCrossing we get asked how do we feel this latest social network will impact on a web site’s search engine visibility.
The question for marketers:
Can you improve your short- and long-term natural search performance by becoming active in Google+?
Yes – becoming highly active in Google+ will be one of many key factors in natural (and paid) search performance in the Google SERPs
Why is this?
Google+ has a number of features that can inform its algorithm on new signals that can further determine the relevancy of a web page for certain queries.
Google+ is tracking the speed of traffic by time-stamping clicked URLs. This helps determine “QDF” factors (query deserves freshness) and rank sites accordingly.
Social network LinkedIn has announced that they will be launching status update capabilities for the more than two million businesses with Company Pages on their site. Followers of the page will be able to see the latest updates allowing companies to share news, events, announcements or promotions.
The move by LinkedIn brings its Company Pages more in line with the Facebook Page offering, transforming once static pages into dynamic feeds for brands. Administrators of that page will be able to post updates of up to 500 characters, to the ‘Overview’ tab of their pages.
This could be a great support for B2B marketers who traditionally lean to this platform as an engagement tool for their audiences.
For more details please download the PDF or check out the video below.
Internet Retailing 2011
I was fortunate enough to attend Internet Retailing earlier this week and wanted to share some of the key themes from the day with you.
Miriam provided a brilliant keynote to open the event, highlighting not only the milestones in eBay’s 16 year history, but also the fact that eBay is now being viewed as a fashion destination. Miriam focused in on the ‘Wherever, Whenever, However’ element of retail today. In order to succeed retailers must embrace multichannel, not see it as a conflict between traditional channels and digital newbies. It is no longer about just driving ecommerce; it is about driving your total sales through whichever channel the customer chooses at that specific time. She recommends embracing multiple channels, partnerships and technology in order to succeed.
Jo provided a very interesting angle to online retailing by highlighting some of the key findings shown from the ICS UK Customer Satisfaction Index. She introduced the ‘Renaissance of Customer Service’, driven in part by the digital and technical possibilities now available and most of all the changing attitudes of customers meaning that they are,
- More likely to complain through varied channels
- Hold a greater propensity to switch
- Expect 24 hour service 7 days a week but still want the personalised touch
- Merge channels – expecting to buy online but return in store for example.
One thing that catches the SEO community out is the irregular search engine updates that will either boost our clients overall visibility or swiftly remove rankings. When the Florida update hit back in 2003 SEO forums were flooded with threads from webmasters trying to figure out why their websites had been affected by the recent update.
Until this update SEOs have been trying to figure out how to game the system and do whatever they could to improve their sites visibility, but now SEOs know that it is better to work with the search engines rather than trying to cheat the system. After some online discussions Yahoo published the first weather report in 2005 about the latest update to their index. Shortly after Yahoo’s reports Google’s Matt Cutt’s started to provide his own reports through his blog.
All the way to 2010 Yahoo were providing regular updates, however the updates from Matt Cutts were irregular and infrequent, although he did provide a number of unofficial heads-up through his blog and his YouTube Channel.
While the Google weather reports are infrequent they never really want to give too much of the game away because SEO could learn how to get round the latest update. So for now we will continue to receive updates like the one shown below, it does not give us any game changing information, but we know that an update is round the corner.
This morning there has been some buzz as to whether Google has shut down its PageRank Toolbar. Below are two viewpoints of members of the SEO team on this matter:
Is Google Shutting Down Toolbar PageRank? Yes
By Alex Ovsianikov
As of this morning, it seems that Google PageRank ceased to function – at least here in the UK. You can still get the PageRank value if you are using the Google toolbar and you will only see N/A if you are using 3rd party tools.
According to the blog post by Search Engine Round Table, Google PageRank patent will expire at some point in 2011. Well, it seems that the day has come. At the present moment there are no sources to confirm that the patent will be renewed.
The good news is that this will stop the unnecessary obsession of many webmasters trying to achieve a higher PageRank. In the meantime, you can still rely on metrics such as MozRank (provided by Seomoz), which represents a link popularity score and in fact, Rand Fishkin confirms in this forum discussion that there is a close correlation between PageRank and MozRank.
When Panda rolled out earlier this year, the algorithm update was described to have been based on editing the SERPs to filter out weak content based on whether they rated well against a number of questions. During this time I looked into these questions to see if any of our clients would be affected.
At iCrossing we have a number of international clients many of which are based in the US and translate their content into a number of different languages. I have been speaking with our international clients about the impact of not ‘translating’ US content into British English for the UK market. Examples of these are ‘Optimisation’ vs. ‘Optimization, ‘Grey Hat’ vs. ‘Gray Hat’ or for seasonal language like ‘autumn’ vs. ‘fall’.
The ‘Panda’ related questions below are some of the few where I feel that the UK sites using US English could fall down based on their worthiness to rank in Google.co.uk when compared to a site which uses British English:
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
In yesterday’s Google Webmasters Help video Matt Cutts made it clear that bad spelling and grammar can influence search visibility of content on your site. So this topically raises my question – Will Google see American spelling in UK SERPs as a negative? Will they be considered as spelling mistakes, bad grammar with poor editorial control and as a result be penalised? I believe that they should be, but with Google being a US led business, will they have considered some minor language difference in this way?
What do you think?
Since writing this post I forwarded the question about US content and Panda to Matt Cutts twitter feed..
and he responded with this:
Sounds like US spelling on UK sites isn’t going to be judged negatively in the UK SERPs! Thanks for the clarification Matt and nice new profile pic!
The rel=”canonical” tag was created to resolve duplicate content issues on a website, now the rel=”next and rel=”prev” tags can be used to highlight a relationship between a group of pages on a site. These tags are also implemented in the <head> section of the source code and can be used in conjunction with the canonical tag.
This can be useful if you have content that spans across multiple pages, such as retail sites where products are spread across several product lister pages. It could be that you run a blog where there are too many posts to fit on one page, the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” can be used to tell the search engines that the paginated pages are part of a series of pages and should not be treated as duplicate content.
PageRank – one of digital marketers’ most widely-used metric has stopped appearing in for the most popular add-ons and extensions running on the major browsers. At this stage it is unclear whether Google has stopped providing API access to these third party tools or has changed the way its API works as it has happened several times in the past.
If the latter is the case, the different third party Pagerank tools will ssoner or later start working again. If, however, Google have decided to stop providing users with PageRank data, so the metric stops appearing in the browsers’ toolbar, that could have a big impact in the way many internet marketers decision-making.
Even though there are many (and better) replacements to Google’s toolbar PageRank, this metric has been still widely used, most of the time in the wrong context, in many different occasions such as:
- Estimating a website’s ranking potential in terms of link popularity
- Calculating an existing domain’s monetary value
- Assessing link placement and outreach opportunities
- Assessing whether a site has been violating Google’s quality guidelines such as participating in link schemes
For instance, toolbar PageRank has been particularly popular amongst bloggers who rely on it in order to promote their blogs as influential, authoritative and trustworthy. Savvy digital marketers, however, rely on other metrics which are much more reliable and seem to correlate a lot better with rankings such as:
- Citation and Trust flow from Majestic SEO
- Page Authority and Domain Authority from Open Site Explorer
- Ratio between linking root domains and overall number of backlinks (Majestic SEO, OSE, aHrefs)
- Traffic and user engagement signals such as the number of times a page has been shared or liked on Facebook, the number of tweets, Pinterest pins, or even the number and quality of comments on a page.
Toolbar PageRank should not be confused with Google’s real PageRank, which is logarithmic and not linear and is still being used by Google’s algorithm as a query independent page level metric. That means that:
- Two sites with the same Toolbar PageRank is highly unlikely to have the same real PageRank.
- PageRank should not be used as a domain level metric.
In conclusion, there are several other (and many) metrics for internet marketeers, website owners, web masters and bloggers following a permanent toolbar PageRank shut down.
According to Mashable Facebook are set to introduce a new form of interactive marketing which takes into account the number of a user’s friends who ‘like’ a brand and then expands that ads screen real estate in relation. Simply speaking the more of your friends who like the brand the larger that ad will be. The latest development from Facebook is rumoured to be launched during advertising week in New York but we wanted to give you a heads up and highlight some of the areas we feel are likely to influence brands.
Anything that utilises social recommendations will improve an Ads likelihood to engage with the user. A similar product, Sponsored Stories has been a great way for us to engage users and bring them to a branded Facebook destination. This seems like an opportunity to take this to the next level. Google have rolled out the ability to +1 Ads served on the GDN and DoubleClick network in an attempt to integrate social recommendations into display ad serving and targeting.
Alongside this announcement Facebook has announced a new page metric – “people talking about“. “Liking” on its own requires a significant commitment from a user and does not reflect softer social brand recommendations. It is black and white.. Social groups “talking about a brand” – taking into account liking, posting links on Walls, commenting etc – would provide additional social recommendation insights that advertisers could use in future Ad Formats.
We look forward to more information on this latest development from Facebook and will be sure to keep a close eye on the developments from advertising week. More details to come soon!
In a bid to encourage more online shopping through a greater sense of security, Google is launching “Trusted Stores”, an e-commerce certification program.
This certification is available to online retailers who have a good history with on-time delivery and quick resolution of issues through customer services. The retailers themselves can apply for the certificate and can receive it once answering a number of questions and providing data to prove their delivery & customer service claims.
In return the retailer will receive a logo to display on site which will be a signal for secure online shopping and should increase sales as a result. It has not yet been mentioned but it is possible that with tagging of microformats, the Trusted Stores stamp may be displayed within the SERPs of natural listings and also increase CTR, we will wait to see if this is introduced.
The logo will be displayed as below and on roll over the retailers performance stats will be displayed.
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