Google Unleashes Penguin

At the end of April, Google released a new algorithm update designed to improve search results for users by targeting what Google considers to be “webspam.” The “Penguin Update”, as it is known, follows the “Panda” series of algorithm updates, which focused on penalizing low quality sites with poor content.

Targeting webspam is not a new thing for Google. As Matt Cutts explains in his Webmaster Central Blog post on the subject, this latest update is about improving their approach:

“We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.”

With the aftershocks of “panda slaps” fresh in memory, webmasters may be worried about “penguin pecks” and want to steer clear of offending practices. Some examples of webspam tactics include:

  • Link schemes – cross-linking for the sake of improving rank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites
  • Keyword stuffing – filling a webpage with keywords in an unnatural or hidden manner for the sole purpose of manipulating rankings
  • Cloaking – presenting users and search engines with a different webpage or content
  • “Sneaky” JavaScript redirects – using JavaScript to deceive search engines
  • Doorway pages – poor quality pages optimized for specific keywords
  • Duplicate content – substantive text blocks across or within domains that totally match or are significantly similar

When optimizing a website, the key is to first focus on creating a quality site rather than on ranking tricks. For example, while keyword stuffing is bad, writing useful, quality content that allows for the frequent use of keywords will add actual value to the webpage. And while link building schemes are verboten, it is still possible to build links without offending Google. In a recent Search Engine Land Local Search column, Andrew Shotland, explains that directory submissions are great way to build links, if attention is paid to four important factors:

  • Quality – only use high quality local, vertical and niche directories
  • Relevance – make sure the directories you link with are relevant
  • Diversity – use a variety of deep links with varying keyword rich descriptions
  • Timing – rather than using an automated tool, submit links over time

Whether Panda or Penguin, as the algorithm updates roll out, Google acknowledges there is always the potential for wrongful penalization. In this case, webmasters can request Google reconsideration of a website that has been unjustly slapped or pecked.

Social Media Explained with Donuts

What do social media and donuts have in common? Both are something one may enjoy at the start of the day. Both are available in a wide variety of types and flavors to suite a broad range of individual tastes. Recently, a North Carolina based marketing company tied these two subjects together in an interesting illustration that generated a great deal of interest, including some 100,000 likes on Facebook.

In the form of a chart handwritten on a whiteboard, the illustration provides a concise explanation of the various forms of social media, using a simple common thread. What makes this chart so great, beyond providing the opportunity to talk about donuts, is the simplicity with which it boils down a rather complex subject.  There is no denying the impact of social media, and that it is rapidly becoming one of the most important facets of marketing for a growing number of businesses. This fun and clever social media explanation makes its own case for this in the attention it has brought to the company. The important message here is that social media does not necessarily need to be a complicated endeavor.

If you are a marketer who is new to social media, you may feel overwhelmed in trying to gain a full understanding of how these platforms work. By looking at each platform through the perspective of “how can I use this to promote my [donut]?” you can identify a simple starting point. After gaining some experience and familiarity, you can take your campaigns to more complex levels. For example, as the owner of a small neighborhood café, you may start with a simple Facebook business page, and invite customers to “like” it. As your following grows, you may post coupons or menus.  The next step may be to offer patrons a free order of biscotti for “checking-in” when they visit. Eventually you can incorporate other special Facebook features such as sponsored stories to generate interest in your business.

Ready to bite into the world of social media, but find you’re in need of a little assistance? Consider Upright Communications the coffee to go with your donut. We’ll awaken you to the myriad of social media opportunities that are available, and we will help you supercharge your efforts!

 

Want to learn more about the social media mentioned? Check out the links below:

Twitter – “Twitter connects businesses to customers in real time—and businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and influencers. From brand lift to CRM to direct sales, Twitter offers businesses an easy way to reach an engaged audience.”

Facebook – “Facebook allows marketers to stay connected with people throughout their day whether they are on their computers or mobile devices, at home or at work, watching TV or shopping with friends. This allows businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing – word of mouth.”

Foursquare – “Foursquare makes the real world easier to use. We build tools that help you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock deals. Whether you’re setting off on a trip around the world, coordinating a night out with friends, or trying to pick out the best dish at your local restaurant, foursquare is the perfect companion.”

Instagram – “Snap a photo with your iPhone, choose a filter to transform the look and feel, send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – it’s all as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.

YouTube – “YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”

Linked in – “Influence consumer perceptions and purchase decisions by messaging followers across LinkedIn and the Internet. Post relevant updates, like company news, product promotions, videos, and industry articles. Amplify your brand message and benefit from follower engagement (likes, comments and shares), interactions that are virally distributed across a follower’s networks.”

Pinterest – “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.”

Last FM – “Last.fm is a music recommendation service. You use Last.fm by signing up and downloading The Scrobbler, which helps you discover more music based on the songs you play.”

G+ – “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once.”

#1 Ranked Facebook takes Social Media to a New Level

According to research done by Experian® Hitwise®, a part of Experian Marketing Services, Facebook claims the top-visited website title for 2010 for the first time, unseating the search engine giant, Google. According to the report, 8.93 percent of all website visits in the US were to Facebook.com, surpassing the 7.19 percent of visits made to Google.com. Mail.yahoo.com snagged the number three spot with 3.52 percent of all visits.

Looking at the combination of Google and Yahoo properties presents a slightly different view, with total Google sites pulling 9.85 percent of all US visits, and Yahoo properties accounting for 8.12 percent. This, however, does not diminish the significance of Facebook’s accomplishment as the social networking site that pressed its way past the major search engines. Facebook had a fantastic year in terms of search terms, as well. Four of the top ten most typed in searches were Facebook related, including the number one and two terms, “facebook” and “facebook login.”

The stellar performance of Facebook likely accounts for the latest buzz about huge new investors and the possibility of future public offerings . All of the success and growth potential of Facebook indicates that it is no flash in the pan. At least for the immediate future, Facebook will remain a key player in the world of internet communication, and thus a vital tool for online marketing.

According to research done by comScore, Facebook serves almost 25% of all US internet display advertising. In a recent article, Search Engine Land suggests areas of potential Facebook growth following new investments:

“Mobile advertising is one obvious place, e-commerce is another (shopping is a big opportunity for Facebook) and local is a third opportunity. But search might also be another place that Facebook inevitably turns.”

What all of this ultimately means for small business marketers is that social media is a marketing asset that should not be dismissed or overlooked. As the popularity and presence of Facebook continues to grow, so will the opportunities for savvy businesses to leverage the power of social media. Read more about Facebook marketing.

Still Time to Send Holiday Greetings!

With only one week to go before Christmas, you may be thinking that there’s no time left to send holiday greetings to your clients or customers. But thanks to the magic of Google it’s not too late! With a new Google Maps app, you can create your own e-cards by selecting from 10 holiday covers, and even personalize them with a special message and Google Street View image of your business. Create your card in four simple steps, and send it to up to ten recipients at a time.

E-greeting cards feature many advantages over traditional paper cards, such as:

  • Free, or available for a modest cost
  • Environmentally friendly, no paper waste
  • Delivered instantly
  • Customizable

For more e-greeting options, check out the websites listed below. Have your own favorite site? Please comment and share it!

123Greetings

123Greetings offers a wide selection of e-cards ranging from cute and funny to the traditional and the classic.

CorpNote

CorpNote offers unique card designs, customizable features and professional delivery. Free e-Cards are limited to 10 per day.

Vintage Christmas E-Cards

Vintage Christmas E-Cards allows you to send virtual nostalgic Christmas postcards e-mailed as e-greeting cards.

Katie’s Cards

A selection of e cards especially animated to spread Christmas cheer to all without leaving a carbon footprint.

Upright Expert Cited in Cincinnati Business Record

In a recent Cincinnati Business Record article, Topping the Web, our very own SEO Director, Allison Kulage, provides expert insight on the best ways for businesses to garner top search engine rankings. The focus of the article, which also includes the observations of two other area SEO professionals, is on the most effective methods for capturing the attention of search engine spiders.

Read More

Friday Funk: Google Doodles

If you’re like me, and use a custom iGoogle theme page for your Google searches, you may be missing Google Doodles. These are the creative interpretations of the classic Google logo that the search engine displays on certain days. They appear on the main search page to mark everything from holidays to noteworthy days in history to important current events. Recently, TechRepublic.com featured a collection of the Geekiest Doodles from Google. Included are some of the more unusual and obscure events they’ve commemorated, such as the 50th anniversary of the first dogs to engage in space travel. Not only are these mini masterpieces fun to browse, they may serve to feed your own creativity. For more inspiration, you can explore the entire Google Doodle archive, which includes over 300 designs.

comScore Search Website Trends, February 2010

Last month comScore, an online market research group, published fascinating trends in what it calls expanded search usage.

Expanded search refers to websites (including but not limited to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing) on which searches are performed.  The chart below will help you understand this definition more fully.  The purpose of this entry is to uncover ‘movers and shakers’ in the expanded search landscape and offer advice on how to cater your online strategy to these outlets.  Let’s jump right in:

Search engine rankingsA) GOOGLE:Google continues to be the dominant player in the search field.  In January 2010, Americans conducted 15.2 billion core searches, with Google Sites accounting for 65.4% search market share. A Search Engine Optimization company like ours helps you to perform best as possible in search engines such as Google.  However, you must understand Google’s dominance in ‘organic search’ extends into other core offerings (such as Google Maps, Google News, Images and Video).  Increasingly, strong representation in these Google subsets will be vital to online marketing success in any industry.  Claiming and editing Google Maps listings is a great first step!  We can help.

B) YOUTUBE: Why? Because online video consumption rose 59% in 2009 and YouTube leads the pack. YouTube allows a link into your website to appear on your video’s page, and the ability to add keywords so your video is found more often by people who want to see it.  If you have not published any business videos on YouTube, do it today.  Publish your: expertise (presentations, trade show videos, interviews with experts on-staff), any TV commercials you’ve created, a How-To on a process performed at your business, a funny or controversial video interweaving your product, etc for increased website traffic and viewing by YouTube’s 1 billion daily users.

C) BING: Bing’s June 2009 launch has proven successful. Bing usage is 4% over predecessor MSN/Live’s market share last year at this time (jump from 5-9% of all search engine usage).  We are continuing to watch Bing for further growth, as it continues healthily.  We do not anticipate Bing’s growth to affect our overall SEO strategy, but businesses are definitely receiving more traffic from Microsoft’s search engine than ever before.

D) CRAIGSLIST: If your business provides a product or service that is a Sales Category on Craigslist, you are competing with them for site visitors. (Visit your city’s subpage at Craigslist.org for a full view of Sales Categories). The more Craigslist continues to grow, the higher its Category pages will rank in Google results.  Describe your products as fully as possible on your website to ensure Craigslist directory pages do not beat out your site’s rankings on general (Google) results pages.

E) FACEBOOK: Your business needs a Facebook Fanpage, even if you don’t think your business is ‘cool and hip.’  Enough said!  Facebook allows so many customizable fields that elevate your Fanpage’s placement within Facebook Search and Google results.  If I type our business name, “Upright Communications,” into Google, our Facebook Fanpage is the 3rd result! The ability to describe your business, add photos and videos, provide your business address and phone number, etc. allow you to make your business appear healthy and credible, in addition to increasing exposure across the online market.

Can You Actually Be On Facebook Too Much?

As we have said before in previous blog posts, Facebook is the world’s largest social media networking site, with over 400 million users.  The average user in the United States is a female between the ages of 25 and 34.  From 2008 to 2009, total minutes spent on Facebook increased from 1.7 billion to 13.9 billion, an annual growth of 700%.  Currently, most Facebook users spend, on average, 7 hours a month on the social networking site, passing Google by a long shot, where most people were not even spending 2 hours a month. Though Google responded to those statistics by saying: “We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our homepage as quickly as possible.” Good answer.

We’ve heard why so many people are spending less time on Google’s search engine, let’s take a look into why so many people are spending more time on Facebook.  Can there ever be a time when it’s too much- at least in Facebook’s mind?

According to many studies and blogs authored, Facebook has grown so popular because of the strong desire for people to communicate. In a 2009 survey, most Facebook users log in to maintain those relationships with people they have met offline.  According to Facebook themselves, they suggest that it gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

When you are given the power to share and connect, can Facebook stop you from doing so?  The short answer is “yes”.  In fact, a message shown below can actually appear.

2-24-2010 11-24-14 AM

I’m off to check my Facebook, but be aware of the amount of communication you are doing. It may be more about quality vs. quantity.