Posts tagged with ‘Google’

Google May Be The Best, But Not The Only, Way To Be Found

I’m a regular reader of Techdirt, a blog that deals with many issues facing us in the digital age. Mike Masnick, the author, poses an interesting point in a post from last Thursday: Has anyone noticed that sites don’t have to rely on Google so much for traffic anymore? Now, remember, the key words in that sentence are so much. There is no doubt that for now and the foreseeable future, Google is the dominant player in search, and you’ll want to be seen there.

However, more and more people are finding that their traffic is coming from a variety of places. Facebook is definitely a great place to find new things. Also, don’t forget about Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other places like them. These are great networks to find new people, places and content. I find my most timely news comes from Twitter. I’ve found some of the most interesting analysis of current events on Reddit. There is one caveat, however. You do need to have good content that people actually want to read and share.

Google can be a tough nut to crack. You don’t want to put all of your “eggs” in one basket, so I suggest you find your place somewhere in the social media-sphere. You’ll find there are many to choose from that provide the perfect platform for your unique voice.

Is Google Instant Preview Bad for Websites?

Snapshot decisions may change the way we search…but not really.

Many SEO and web development circles are up in arms about Google’s installment of the Instant Preview feature. When you search for something using Google, each search result will have a magnifying glass icon next to the search result.  Click on the magnifying glass to reveal a snapshot of the web page in the search result like this:

Some experts think this is the end of organic search, and the beginning of snapshot judgments that will hurt many websites and their rankings.  When considered, Google Instant Preview aligns itself with current web trends and user habits in order to make the web searching process faster and easier.

The Internet has made all users able to make fast decisions, and move on. We are constantly searching for the next great source of information, new innovative product, and best way to share pictures and videos with friends and family. The result? Shorter attention spans and less patience for searching, clicking, and scrolling.

Google Instant Preview takes this into consideration and allows users to view website layouts and basic information before navigating away from Google. Users won’t waste time clicking on a website if the Instant Preview shows any of the following:

  • Not enough text
  • Too much text
  • No images
  • Outdated design

The user experience is becoming more streamlined as a result of this, but it won’t drastically change the way websites are designed and outlined. Instead, website owners may be encouraged to keep their web design, content, and functionality up to date to attract web users instantly, and to retain their interest.

In short, Google Instant Preview does not revolutionize or even threaten the way we search. It simply recognizes the way we search the web in order to make it easier.

Snapshot decisions may change the way we search…but not really.

Google Is the New Phone Book

I’m sure those in my age group (30’s) once used the phone book to find listings for people and businesses. Many in the older age groups still do. However, people are increasingly using Google to find out about their immediate surroundings. The web has become more than just a giant encyclopedia, and businesses need to adjust.

As I have said before, the smartphone age has brought mobile search light-years ahead in a short amount of time. People just aren’t looking to phone books for business listings any more. Businesses are finding that phone book listings are just too expensive for what you get. Even though phone book companies have tried to setup their own web services, they are having a hard time competing with Google. That’s because Google provides the same services as a phone book company to a wider audience for no cost.

If you want people to find you, make sure you have a solid presence on Google. Their Places and Maps services are becoming very important to search results. Get familiar with the way Google works, or you risk being left behind.

Google IS a Four Year Old

A few days ago my partner’s 4 year old son was in the office and he asked his dad to play with him. He was very specific about where his dad could sit and what he was allowed to do. He told his dad that he was going to run around the table this particular way and only when he got to a certain spot was he able to reach out and grab him. Once the rules were clear, the game began.

The little boy took off like a light exactly as he described and when he rounded the side of the table to the exact spot he had selected; his father reached out and scooped him up in his arms! The boy laughed with such glee that everyone in the room couldn’t help but smile. His dad placed him on the floor again and he took off in the same direction just like before. He got to that same spot and his dad reached out and grabbed him again and swung him up into the air. But this time the little boy had a huge frown on his face and stated loudly, “Dad, you didn’t do it right!”

“What do you mean I didn’t do it right?” My partner asked. “I did it the same way I did before and it was fine.”

“But the rules changed this time.” Said the defiant little tike with his arms placed securely on his hips.

“Well, when did the rules change?” asked my friend trying to figure out what he might of missed.

“Daddy, they change when I want them to change.”

And that’s when it hit me! Google is a four year old child. They don’t have to tell you anything or explain a thing because they change when they want to change. And like dealing with a four year old; you just got to go with it and realize you probably won’t be laughing as much when it’s Google.

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When SEO Doesn’t Make Sense

I recently had a conversation with a doctor about search engine optimization.  He was excited to talk about the idea that he wanted his name, and to a slightly lesser extent the name of his practice, to pop up all over the front page of Google.  He was disappointed when he googled himself, not to see his name popping up at the top.  He wanted to know how much it would cost to get that kind of result.  I told him it wouldn’t be expensive at all.  He got excited.

I then told him that it would be money down the drain, with no real return on investment to speak of.  He looked puzzled, so I went on to demonstrate my point by pulling up a keyword tool on my iphone, and showing him the volume of people searching for his name. Zilch.  Or so few that the keyword tool wouldn’t embarrass him further by showing him just how few there really were, after you subtracted his own vanity searches.  His doctor-ego had just taken a hit, so I decided I’d better channel his energy in a positive direction.

Next, I asked him if he had any idea how many people searched for the name of the primary disease with which his particular specialty dealt.  We did the numbers (the name of the disease plus the name of the city in which he practiced), and he was astounded to see how many monthly searches there were.  Then I asked him if he would like for his name to appear all over the front page of Google for THAT phrase. To his credit, the light bulb sparked to life without much delay.  He asked me how much this strategy would cost, and I just smiled at him.

Rule # 1 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets, and the amount of money, effort, and time it will require to move the needle.

Rule # 2 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets and the potential returns to be had in going after the front page of the SERPs.

The work of SEO must always consider these rules when forming and deploying a meaningful strategy.

So what kinds of scenarios don’t make sense for a comprehensive SEO strategy?  I asked our SEO team to answer that, and this was their list:

  1. The market-busting product. If it’s so new and revolutionary that no one in the market even knows that they need it yet, then SEO is not going to help at all.  The real expense of marketing this kind of category-defiant product or service is in directly educating existing customers and potential customers about what your product is and does, and why it’s needed.  If no one knows what term or phrase to enter into a search engine to find you, they won’t be searching that way for you yet. (One exception is the revolutionary product that fits well into an existing, clearly defined market need, such as a new vacuum cleaner technology, or an amazing new spatula.
  2. The invisible Brand Name. Branding is a necessary function of marketing, but not necessarily the first priority of SEO. It’s not the low-hanging fruit.  Again, this comes back to knowing what keywords people use to find your product or service.  Getting the sale is the first priority, and if your brand name alone does not yet have the cache to move the market, stick to optimizing the keywords that describe your product or service until your other concentrated branding efforts catch up.
  3. The tangential product, or Red-Headed Stepchild. Many companies have a core competency they are known for, but there’s still this great little product or service on the side that seems to get far less attention.  SEO the heck out of it, right?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  If there is not a clear connection between the core offering and the sidebar deal, there may not be a smart way of leveraging the strength of the one to infuse the other with deserved attention.  Remember, Google doesn’t care that your company is branching out. It only cares about returning relevant search results to its visitors (and arguably making Gazillions in the process).  If your New Thing isn’t the same thing as your Tried and True Thing, the amount of effort necessary to get noticeable results begins to look a lot like an entirely separate SEO strategy, complete with its own budget and structure.  Diluting the strength of your tested and profitable web pages with large doses of The New Thing is not going to help anyone get rich(er).
  4. The low-profit per sale deals. We’ve had to talk some clients out of SEO, simply because the price point (and more importantly, the profit margin) on their typical sales didn’t justify the expense.  Quite simply, if the research shows that you can expect to pay the same price or more than you’ll net on a sale to acquire that sale through organic or paid search optimization activities, then either raise your prices, or find a different, more cost-effective method of marketing your goods or services.  We love to see clients who fundamentally understand the expected net value over time of a new customer relationship, because these are the clients we can truly have rational discussions about ROI expectations.  Don’t spend too much to acquire too little.
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Google Instant Controversy Is Much Ado About Nothing

For those that haven’t heard, there has been quite a bit of controversy over Google’s decision to “blacklist” some search terms from Google Instant. Basically, these terms won’t show up in Google’s suggestions once you start typing your search terms. You can still  search those terms, however. You just have to hit enter to see the results.

For some, this screams censorship. For others, this is Google helping keep people from material they may want to avoid. From my point of view, it is neither. Instant is a helpful tool, but if certain words don’t generate hints, you can still get results once you press enter. On the other side, people may still run into material they find offensive accidentally. Google’s algorithms aren’t perfect, and likely never will be.

Censorship must be defended against. However, let’s not waste energy on instances where that isn’t the case. As Google has gotten bigger, they have veered somewhat from their “don’t be evil” mantra. It’s important to call them on the carpet when they don’t live up to that standard. Nonetheless, let’s not get too worked up over something that really isn’t a big deal.

The Moving Target Called Google

No one really knows what Google is going to do.
The one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to Google is that it is always in flux. It is this constant motion that both confounds some and challenges others. You might fool yourself into thinking you have tamed the monster for a little while but in time it will roar back in full form. This makes dealing with Google a very difficult thing especially when you have a million other things on your plate to get done in your business.

It’s no different here at Harkins Creative except for the fact that we HAVE to stay on top of the changes in Google for our clients as well as ourselves. It is a part of our business and we spend time and resources making sure we find out as much as possible about what Google is doing. The reason we pay so much attention to Google is simple; they control more search traffic than the other search engines combined! When someone else comes along and knocks Google off that mark, and that could theoretically happen one day, then we will start watching the new king of search. Until then we will all have to learn how to “dance” with Google and try to follow its lead; like it or not.

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