Welcome To The New Bing

Bing has been working on a new version of its search engine for about a year now. On June 1 they announced that new search engine is now live.

The idea is real simple. They are connecting the search engine with your own social network. There are a couple of reasons why I think this is a significant development. First of all, let’s forget the fluff that Bing is selling about getting information from your friends. That’s just a sticky selling point. Here’s the reality.

Google is putting all of its gold into Google+. That’s the social network for the search engine giant. And it’s a major move toward integrating all of Google’s services including search. Until now, Bing has been nothing more than a search engine.

Instead of developing its own social networking, Bing has decided to partner with two of the most popular social networks – Facebook and Twitter. So your search results will include results from your social network on those two popular social media websites. That’s pretty huge.

You can learn more about the new Bing here.

Now for the big question: Does it work as well as it should?

You’ll have to check it out yourself to find out. I think for some queries it’s good and other’s it’s not so much. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. What if Bing can improve its search engine plus social networking feature to be at least as good as Google’s. What will that do for the web?

I think it’s entirely possible that we could have a set of Google loyalists and a set of Bing loyalists. The Bing loyalists will be active on Facebook. The Google loyalists will use Google+. The most effective marketers will use both. And should. Because to be really effective at reaching your target market, you have to go where that market is and put aside your own preferences.

June 3rd, 2012 / Search Engine Marketing

Why Links Are Content Too

The age old debate among search engine optimisers is whether or not links or content is more important to achieve high search engine rankings. The “content is king” crowd says what you put on your pages is infinitely more important. The “links are grand” crowd says it’s all about link building. Who is right?

Most SEOs, thankfully, fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. That is, they practice a little bit of both.

I’ve always believed that links were themselves a form of content. Off-page content, but content. And if you’ll bear with me a little bit, I’ll explain why.

Most link builders will tell you that what is important about inbound links to your website are:

  • Anchor text
  • Relevance to the page linking to
  • Age of the link
  • Age of the linking domain
  • Authority of the page linked from
  • Diversity of links in your portfolio

And that’s just to name a few. But if you look at all of those criteria, they each have something to do with content.

Anchor text is verbiage. That’s content. Relevance is content on the page being linked to. Link age is indirectly related to content. Domain age is likewise related to content. Page authority is a reference to content. And link diversity is a reference to the diversity of the content from which pages are linked to. It’s all about content.

Content is really a catch-all word to describe anything you publish online. Whether it has links or not. Photos are content. Videos are content. Apps are content. And so are links.

When it comes to ranking your web pages for search traffic, don’t categorize your content in terms of “content” and “links.” Make all your elements work together for the common good.

February 13th, 2012 / Search Engine Marketing

Is Google In Violation Of Antitrust?

It’s possible that we might see at least one country within the next couple of weeks start an antitrust investigation into Google over its ranking practices. The primary concern will be Google+.

A group of engineers at Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have gone public with a bookmarklet that allows users to see what Google’s web results would be without the influence of Google+. The claim is that Google boosts its own social network content above the content of its competition and that this is unfair. The bookmarklet is based on pretty solid data.

It’s hard to argue with it, either. When you see that certain celebrities have hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Facebook users and share content on those services daily but have few, if any, Google+ users where they haven’t shared any updates in months and their Google+ profile appears at the top of the search results while their Twitter and Facebook profiles are buried, well, what do you make of that?

Furthermore, if you were a searcher and you were looking for those celebrities, which social profile would you want to find?

This doesn’t look good for Google. It certainly doesn’t look good for searchers. Even if you are a Google+ user, when you search for information, don’t you want to find the best and most relevant information for your search query rather than the information that the search engine itself prefers that you find?

I predict that even if an antitrust lawsuit isn’t on the way Google will still make changes to its algorithm to bury some of those Google+ profiles that don’t deserve top rankings. If they don’t, they should.

What do you think? Is this good search policy or harmful?

January 23rd, 2012 / Search Engine Marketing

What Social Search Really Means

For the past 13 years, search has largely been based two things: on-page content and links. To varying degrees, these two elements (on-page and off-page) have driven the lion’s share of search results for every business that has attempted to earn its place in the Google rankings.

At certain times, Google has emphasized the on-page ranking factors more prominently. At other times, links and other off-page factors have been more important. All of that is changing. Has already changed.

We discussed Search plus Your World. Now we’re discussing it again.

Billed as “social search,” a term that is not exactly new, Search plus Your World is Google’s attempt to control link spam. What it means to every business online that is fighting to achieve higher search engine rankings is that you must now trade your link value for social value. Inbound links will no longer be the Holy Grail of search engine optimisation.

Instead, social ranking factors will begin to play more prominently and boost content to higher search engine rankings.

What I’m talking about specifically are +1s, shares and reshares, and other significant social signals. Google+ could very well kill social metric tools like Klout.

There is really only one thing you can count on when it comes to search engine marketing. Everything changes. And that’s a constant state of being. You can expect search to be different one year from now than it is today.

With that in mind, Google has raised the stakes in the social media wars. It’s almost inevitable now that Facebook will have to try to figure out a way to gain a foothold in search. Whether that’s deepening its relationship with Bing or developing its own search engine to compete with Google plus Your World, that’s a big question.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Are links dead? Are they as important as they used to be? Will social signals rule search engine optimisation from here on out?

January 14th, 2012 / Search Engine Marketing

Google+, Blogger, And Your Ayrshire Business

Google+ is in a constant state of development. The latest development is an annotation in the SERPs that lets searchers know how many +1s a particular page of content has received locally.

In other words, if your business has received 100 +1s and 50 of those are from people in and around Ayrshire, Scotland, then when someone searches for information related to your business and your content appears in the search result, the searcher could very well see how many people in the same geographic vicinity has +1ed the content. So how does that help you?

It helps in a couple of ways. First, people are more likely to +1 content if they perceive it as already valuable. And if there are plenty of +1s, then it will be perceived as valuable.

But another way it can help your Ayrshire business is it serves as a useful metric for your local effectiveness.

Another development is Google is disclosing who shares content via Blogger. That could make Blogger a much more valuable platform for sharing and posting content.

Both of these developments indicate that Google is serious about making Google+ relevant. It could soon be much more valuable than people are giving it credit for being.

November 11th, 2011 / Search Engine Marketing

Google’s Algorithm Changes – How Do They Do It?

It’s nice to read about Google’s algorithm changes, and it’s even nicer to get a well-written in-depth analysis of them when they happen. But how often do you get that information directly from Google itself?

Google makes about 500 different algorithm changes every year. Some of them affect you, but many of them don’t. The question for online marketers, however, is What are the thinking processes that go behind each algorithm change? The below video answers that question and it answers it from the mouths of Google’s own top-level employees.

August 27th, 2011 / Search Engine Marketing

Why 85% Of Your Budget Should Be SEM

If you’re like most website owners, then you’ve likely noticed that 85% of your website traffic is coming from the search engines – probably Google and Bing. Given that information, you’d get your best marketing bang for your buck if you allocate 85% of your budget toward search engine marketing activities and the rest of it to non-SEM activities.

Search engine marketing is typically defined as pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimisation, and content creation. Non-SEM is everything else (social media, display advertising, etc.).

So how do you get that 85/15 mix?

Let’s assume your online marketing budget is $1,000. That means $850 of that should go into content creation and SEO activities. One of the best uses of that money is often a blog. You can usually hire a ghostwriter to write your blog and still have money left over for other content activities. You can also purchase articles and other website content. You may even be able to squeeze some PPC into that.

Now what do you do with the other $150? For $150, you can often have a basic social media strategy and you could even have an iPhone app designed for you, but you might have to think outside the box on budgeting ($150 X 10 = 10 months of your budget, for instance).

If you are in doubt about how to spend your Internet marketing budget, consult with a professional and see where it leads you.

April 25th, 2011 / Search Engine Marketing