From Page Rank to Author Rank: the Changing Landscape of SEO

Posted by | Google, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Uncategorized | One Comment

author-rank2At the annual Search Engine Strategies conference in London last week, Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober lead a session on “Meaningful SEO Metrics.” In the presentation, Tober tackled a variety of topics including the move from page rank to author rank in the future of SEO.

The presentation began with Tober explaining the importance of the “SEO visibility” metric. He said that the cumulative number of all relevant keyword rankings for a market reveal important trends. The ranking on single keywords is worth less, according to Tober, because of personalization, localization, and search history. Analyzing SEO strategies with this broader scope will allow businesses to see trends that are independent from seasonal effects or traffic spikes based on independent events.

One of the most notable moments in the presentation was when Tober directly disputed a statement made by Google Engineer Matt Cutts. When asked if Google +1′s affect a website’s ranking, Cutts answered “Not really.” Cutts claimed there was no “direct effect” on rankings from +1′s, but said Google does “have an authorship proposal.”

According to Tober, Cutts was not telling the whole truth. Tober excitedly told the audience that +1′s do indeed influence search. He explained that several experiments conducted over the last year in Searchmetrics Labs found that Google+ triggers instant indexation. He claimed that based on analysis with different unique postings, “URLs with a +1 are being indexed instantly and rank for the title as well as some longtail queries.”

These findings, Tober said, illustrate the move from Page Rank to Author Rank in SEO. He quoted Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt saying “Within search results, information tied to a verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” Tober continued to say “the true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Tober concluded the presentation by reminding SEOs to focus on the big picture and not get bogged down studying one metric. He recommended that marketers measure activity and outcomes saying, “understand how the business makes money, build a simple model, and remember that the best metrics guide behavior.”

Internally at the search engine guys we have been watching this closely… since May of 2012 Google+ profiles, circles and +1 (as well as other social media profiles which may factor into the author-rank equation) have become increasingly important to our SEO strategies. Please contact us to schedule a call with a web strategist if you have questions about SEO, author rank and how to prepare your website to “weather the storm” as Google continues to shift from page rank to author-rank.

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Posted by | Dining, Food for thought, Gaming, Music | No Comments

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Google Introduces New Gmail Search Options

Posted by | Google, Search | No Comments

Google launched new search features for its Gmail inbox this week.

Google introduced a new feature that enables users to search their Gmail inbox from Google.com on the desktop or their mobile phones. New search operators announced this week will allow users to search their inbox for specific types of information. Gmail previously allowed users to search flights by using [my flights]in the search. New queries are now available such as [my purchases], which will allow you to find your latest Amazon orders.

The new features also allow users to serach for various reservations. New search parameters like [my hotel reservation] or [my restaurant reservations] will bring up travel plans or bookins made through OpenTable. In addition, Google announced a [my events] operator that will show “information from Ticketmaster or Eventbrite about your upcoming concert, sports game or other event.”

According to the Google Blog, these new features are only avialable for users with @gmail.com addresses in the United States. The features are only available in English at this time. Google emphasized in its announcement that these features are still being tested. Gmail users are invited to sign up for a trial.

The new features are similar to the search giant’s existing Google Now product, available on Android 4.0. The product uses personal information to alert users of flight delays and check out times. The trial features are also similar to Microsoft’s Quick Views, released in 2010. Quick Views was integrated into Hotmail inboxes with search operators highlighted in the sidebar. Google executives, however, pointed out that Microsoft’s email service cannot be used to retrieve event updates and restaurant reservations.

Bing Attacks Google Shopper in New Ad Campaign

Posted by | Google, Marketing and Advertising, Search | No Comments

Microsoft launched a holiday themed ad campaign attacking Google on Thursday. The smear campaign is aimed at online shoppers and promotes Microsoft’s Bing search engine over Google’s for holiday bargain hunting. The “Scroogle” campaign, as it’s known, focuses on Shopper, Google’s product search engine. With the tag line “Don’t get Scroogled,” Microsoft hopes to bring attention to Google Shopper’s inorganic search results. The search engine only displays results from products and merchants that pay the company a fee.

Google introduced plans to change it’s product search on May 31, 2012, in what Microsoft calls an “under-the-radar announcement.” In that announcement, Google stated it was transitioning Google Product Search to “a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads.” The new Google Shopper went live October 17, 2012. Microsoft claims that when a search engine limits choices and ranks them by payment “consumers get Scroogled.”

According to Bing Senior Director Stefan Weitz, Bing Shopping results are based only on relevancy. “Bing results incorporate top deals from merchants across the Web and the rankings you see aren’t dependent on which advertisers paid to have their products listed.” Weitz added that Bing provides a number of tools to assist online shoppers, such as “aggregated expert and consumer reviews, product specs, related products, and many other filters.” He says shoppers can use bing to “get a great deal without having to dig through a ton of advertisements.”

Critics of the “Scroogled” campaign call it hypocritical. Bing also partners with merchants, the most notable of them being Shopping.com. The two announced a partnership last year with the search engine stating that paid offers would be “highlighted throughout Bing Shopping, including search results and product pages.” Weitz claims this model differs significantly from Google’s as Bing Shopping “includes millions of free listings” and ads are “listed separately and labeled clearly.”

Google has not responded to the “Scroogle” campaign directly. When reached for comment, the company issued a statement saying “Google is a great resource for shoppers to find what they need, at great prices for their loved ones this holiday season.”

Possible Settlement Between FTC, Google

Posted by | Google, Search | No Comments

A settlement may be in the works between Google and the Federal Trade Commission. Google chairman Eric Schmidt is said to be negotiating a deal that would end nearly two years of investigation by the FTC into the company’s alleged monopoly.

Larry Page, Google’s Chief Executive Officer, is trying to persuade the FTC that any agreement the company makes with the agency should not be bound by a consent decree. Google is seeking an informal “handshake” deal, not a formal agreement that could hurt its business prospects, familiar sources told Bloomberg.

Google, the operator of the world’s most popular search engine, has been in talks with FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz for the last week. The probe into monopolistic behavior by the company and subsequent negotiations have not addressed the most serious charge: that Google intentionally manipulates search results to hurt competitors. The FTC is instead focusing on patent issues and how the search engine displays comments from other internet services. According to The Washington Post, it is possible for allegations of search bias reemerge if negotiations collapse.

Google’s competitors, seeking to curtail the company’s growing power in the digital economy, have called on the FTC to be more heavy-handed with the Mountain View California-based company. Many were seeking a high-profile inquiry reminiscent of the Microsoft monopoly proceedings of the 1990′s. Some have predicted that Congress would address the issue if a settlement were proposed that did not include search.

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan has declined to comment on the negotiations.

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