Google News - 8/11 - Digital Marketing Agency

New Google Layouts

By | Google News | No Comments

Go to www.google.com (if you are outside America you may need to then select “go to Google.com”) and you will see that the Google search box is now larger than what you are used to.  In fact it is all larger – the box, font, buttons – are all a lot bigger than they previously were.  By rough estimate I would say 33% bigger.  This increase also includes the Google suggestions that drop down as you start typing.  These are now more eye catching and I think it will lead to more long tail searches occurring.

This is not the only change to Google’s layout recently.  At the end of last month Google started publishing the PPC results further left on the screen so they are closer to the ‘natural’ results.  This makes a lot of sense as all the eye trackers I have seen have shown that user’s attention is concentrated at the top left hand side of the page and then flows down with only skimming on the right hand side.  The closer the PPC ads are to the natural ones will increase people seeing them and therefore clicking on them.

Google's Next Generation Search Technology

By | Google News, SEO | No Comments

Google is working on some changes and updates to their search algorithm and index, which Google’s webmaster blog calls ‘next generation’ search technology.

The changes are being previewed now, although it is all to their ‘back end’, so only web developers or specialist SEO-ers will probably notice any difference.

This is where you can go and test it out – Google Sandbox

I find that terms like my name, our agency, or competitive terms like ‘car insurance’ are showing fairly similar results in the new technology as the old.

SearchEngineLand has found some rearrangement of Google apps, like news and video.

While undoubtedly many SEO-ers will be running around worrying how to optimise for these changes, I dare say that if you have a good quality, relevant site, your position should not change too much, and actually since Google is trying to improve results, if you are a good site, your rankings should improve!

So if, like us, you optimise sites by improving their quality and relevance, as well as improving their site structure, and web presence, then I think you are going to be quite ok….

News-Google War: The Battle of Real Estate

By | Google News, Search News | No Comments

The News-Google War (so-named by me because of the confusion of the phrase Google-News), is a well known battle between the big newspaper conglomerates and Google. The strangeness of the battle lies in the fact that the News conglomerates are both the customers and enemies of Google, a position that you would think would give them a lot of clout. And so they were hoping…but it is turning out that Google is not to be halted in its march towards Monopoly, and not only have they fought against some of their biggest sponsors once – now they are doing it again.

The reasons behind the war are many. The first battle, The Battle of Content, (emphasis on first syllable), was waged mainly in the US, by the big newspapers who were feeling that their news was being devalued, and plagiarised, due to dissemination from listing in Google. The rub for them was, did they want to block Google from their site, and thus lose millions of visits? Obviously they didn’t.

With newspapers across America being shut down, due to not being financially viable, it quickly became apparent that the business model of the newspapers was becoming obsolete, and they had to take a page out of Google’s book and move to the future. What they need to do is redefine their business strategy to encompass the threat of plagiarism and free views.

In Australia, the second battle has begun. The Battle of Real Estate.

Google Real Estate

Google has recently released Google Maps for Real Estate, where you can use the Google Map programme to search for listed properties. This development immediately raised alarm with News Limited and Fairfax, who run the domain.com.au and realestate.com.au websites. The new Google Maps application is direct competition for their real estate websites. Google creates its map listings through a free service available to all real estate representatives, including individual landlords.

Following its introduction, both Fairfax and News Limited have independently announced they would be reconsidering their generous spends on Google Ads. The biggest consideration for them would have to be the sacrifice of the large amount of traffic brought to them via Google.

While the news giants are complaining about this new development, real estate vendors and consumers seem to be considering it a good move for them, providing more information, and breaking down what was almost a duopoly in the online real estate market. It is another marketing venue for small providers, much like Google Adwords, where they can compete with the bigger players on a more even playing field.

However, the dangers of the new service will rise if it isn’t controlled properly, for example, by spammers or disreputable real estate agents and landlords. Also, the ever-present threat of the Google monopoly is a worry, if it discourages development in any of the areas it competes in, or renders it not financially viable to provide services which might otherwise be useful for consumers.

Can You Over-SEO Your Website?

By | Analytics, Google News, Internet News, Search News | No Comments

Matt Cutts, the Google employee who regularly speaks on SEO and the Google algorithm, has released yet another Youtube video answering questions from the public.

The question was basically – can you over-optimise a website? The example the questioner gave was excessive use of No-follow tags.

I thought the question of over-optimising was a great one, and was excited to hear Matt’s response. But like many of his video’s before, the answers were vague, not giving away corporate secrets, which is of course understandable, but didn’t satisfy my curiosity.

His one concrete statement was that you can put as many no-follow tags on your own site as you want – this will incur no penalty.

As for other SEO practices, he only seemed to discuss a couple.

The first was keyword stuffing – which is certainly an SEO strategy, but not a highly regarded one. Keywords are almost a necessity on a page, if you want it to rank highly. Some people take this to the extreme, and ‘stuff’ their keywords on there. Which means, that they put excessive amounts in – more than necessary for a human reader. As Matt said in his video, this can render a page spammy, make it unreadable or unpleasant to read, and does not make for a good user experience. He did not say though, that Google will penalise a site with keyword stuffing.

The other strategy, which is related to keyword stuffing, is to cloak keywords, or make them the same colour as the background. This means that human readers can’t see the keywords (and therefore their user experience isn’t affected by them), but the Google robot can. Surprisingly, Matt didn’t dwell on this for more than a second and didn’t say that it was a bad thing to do. Which is so wierd, because it is widely considered a black hat technique.

There was zero discussion of offsite SEO or structural SEO in his answer. Offsite SEO in particular is a huge one, and there are so many pitfalls, and ways in which you CAN over-optimise, that I actually thought this would be an obvious part of the answer.

Matt’s discussion seemed concerned solely with the user experience, insinuating that we webmasters could do whatever we liked to the site as long as the user wouldn’t be adversely affected. SEO practitioners would know that this hasn’t seemed to be true in the past, with black hat SEO techniques occassionaly being punished.

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