Google

What Google’s Patents and Acquisitions Can Teach Us About SEO

seo for lawyers

Matt Cutts, the head of search spam at Google, recently released a video in which he discussed a future where links weigh less into the ranking of a website. To save you 3 minutes, Google knows that as long as they’re dependent on links for the majority of their algorithm, it will always be easily manipulated. So it would make sense for them to try everything they can to get away from links as the primary factor in ranking.

The First Step Away from Links as a Backbone

Back in 2005, Google filed a patent called Agent Rank for a technique that would allow them to rank a piece of content based on the person who authored it. In theory, when content is added to the web, there would be a digital signature connecting the real life author to the database’s digital author profile. This signature could be unique, and attached to every piece of content that author puts on the web, creating a portfolio of sorts for each author.

An authority score given to different authors, or “Author rank,” could then be used in the future to give weight to new articles and content authored by the author. For instance, the author could launch a brand new website, and because their author rank is high across 20 other websites, Google would associate this author with other great content and potentially give more authority to that website, even though it is new.

seo for lawyers

Google Authorship (Click to Enlarge)

Some websites, though, don’t include authorship info, and Google doesn’t have any good way to assign value to these pages outside of links. But that could change with Google’s acquisition of Deep Mind, home to the world’s leading researchers involved with artificial intelligence and deep learning. The term “deep learning” has come around since the mid-2000’s to describe a programming architecture in which it could make connections between different sets of data. It would make sense then, that it deep learning is most effective when it has large quantities of data to sort through and analyse.

How Google Will Come To Know Us Better Than Ourselves

Well, as of Jan 2014, Chrome has a dominating market share at 55% of all internet browsing, Google Analytics is on over 15 million websites, the Ad Network reached over 2 million websites, and Gmail is the leader in web mail, so it’s no secret that the amount of data that Google is able to collect is simply unfathomable.  Up until now, sorting through so much data and drawing informed conclusions has been troublesome for computers. From TechCrunch,

World-renowned artificial intelligence expert and Google’s new Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, wants to build a search engine so sophisticated that knows users better than they know themselves. “I envision in some years that the majority of search queries will be answered without you actually asking.”

law firm seo

But now, Deep Mind’s AI program will play a role in all of Google’s infrastructure, including search, advertising, and social. With the end goal to document and draw smart connections between the real world’s people, places, events, and things, we must assume that Google is going to be using their mass repositories of data to create individual user profiles for each of us – including authors and readers.

Big Data + Deep Learning = Personalized Results

Users will see an increased level of relevancy in searches. For instance, if someone has emails in their inbox discussing the purchase of a new Honda Civic, and then they like Honda on Google+, and finally post pictures of their new Honda Civic to G+ with hashtags, then when that user goes to search for “change spark plugs”, Google will tailor the search results to include videos and tutorials specific to the user’s history, which is changing spark plugs on a Honda Civic.

Conversely, authors will see an increase in engagement from their users. Let’s say I’m a mechanic and operate a blog detailing simple maintenance on Hondas and Toyotas (Japanese cars). Google sees that I frequently discuss related topics to car maintenance, and that I mention Japanese name brands, not American. Hopefully the users who are searching for “how to change my car’s oil” and own Fords won’t see my blog, and by the same token, the time users spend on my site will likely increase because the content is more relevant to their lives.

In the future of the internet, where digital and real life become more integrated, it will be important that we associate ourselves and our businesses with others that are considered to be industry leaders, in hopes of being given credit and benefit of the doubt based on association. As such, we should all start building a digital reputation for ourselves now, so that we aren’t behind when the time comes.

May 8th, 2014 – Posted by to Search Engine Optimization.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: blewis@thesearchengineguys.com


Quarterly SEO Update: What Has Google Changed in 2014 So Far?

lawyer seo news

With the first quarter of 2014 behind us, we wanted to take a quick look at some of the biggest news on the SEO / Google front so far this year.

January:

  • Webmasters speculate that an unconfirmed algorithm update occurred between January 8-10 due to shifts in placement and traffic drops.
  • Google punishes a large French blog network called Buzzea.
  • Google tests a knowledge graph snippet overlay, meaning a snippet pops up when you hover over a search result. (Note: I currently do not see this feature happening, so the test may have already ended)
  • Matt Cutts personally addresses guest blogging on his personal blog. He writes this message “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
  • Matt Cutts posts a video about not posting to article directory sites such as ezine.com.
  • Google announces a “page layout algorithm improvement,” which could potentially penalize any website that has excessive advertising above the fold.

February:

  • YouTube videos are enlarged in the SERPs. If someone is searching for a specific music video, the results page will show the YouTube video at the top of the page, making it more accessible for the user.

natalieimbruglia.PNG

  • Google punishes a German agency and link schemes.
  • Google updates the “page layout algorithm” for the third time. This was only a refresh and had little impact in the SEO community.
  • The Google Panda update celebrates its third anniversary.
  • Google Analytics rolls out a new user interface to make it cleaner and easier for users to access data.
  • Google’s OneBox answers become more detailed. Google uses knowledge graphs and authoritative websites to answer questions typed into the query box. Below are two examples of how Google answers these queries:

onebox1.PNG

onebox2.PNG

March:

  • User interface in the Google SERPs has been updated several times over the past few months. Some of the most recent changes include:
    • Google Ads are now labeled “Ad” in a yellow box instead of being highlighted in a light peach color
    • Underlines in each search result have been removed
  • Due to the redesign in the SERPs, the font size for title tags has increased, resulting in a decrease in characters displayed on the page. Moz has released a title tag preview tool that can help webmasters choose the length of their title tags.
  • Google continues its attempt to fight spam by penalizing link networks in Spain, Germany, and Italy.
  • Matt Cutts announces that Google is working on the next generation of Panda updates that will soften the algorithm.

What to Expect for the Summer:

  • Fewer announced updates from Google
  • More user interface changes, especially in the knowledge graphs and Google cards
  • More intuitive answers and results from queries
  • An increase in mobile site optimization

Google has kicked off this year with a whirlwind of changes and will only continue to push more updates in order to improve and evolve into a better and more user-friendly search engine.

If you have questions about Google updates and how they may have impacted your website, call us at (512) 806-7955 for more information.

Nancy Tran  April 1st, 2014 – Posted by to Search.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: ntran@thesearchengineguys.com


Google Announces Local Carousel Display

local seo for attorneys

Over the years, Google has continually updated the layout of search results. On June 18th, Google announced they were rolling out an interactive carousel of local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop” that will be featured at the top of the page. Below is an example of the new Local Carousel:

GoogleCarousel
Click to enlarge
 

On the day of the announcement, Google+ Local community manager Jade Wang offered advice for businesses in a post on the Google and Your Business Forum:

How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?

While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.

Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?

We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.

I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!

We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.

My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?

The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.

While the answers to the questions listed above offer some great insight, you may still be asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the most important factors that stand out on Local Carousel?
  • How will the carousel change user behavior?
  • What does this mean for local businesses and how will this affect their local search strategy?

At The Search Engine Guys, these are all important questions we discuss when building our local search strategy. We have dedicated our time to studying the history of changes regarding local search and keep ourselves informed regarding the most recent updates.

Standing Out On Local Carousel

In comparison to the previous local results on Google, the new carousel displays results horizontally versus vertically. There must be at least 5 local results for the carousel to be displayed. If there are any fewer, it will show the original 1, 2, 3, or 4 pack display. It was noted by local search expert Mike Blumenthal that “the new Local Carousel will show up to 20 results if there are that many in any given market.” Depending on the size of your screen, the number of results that will display before using the scrolling feature will vary. Each business result will feature a photo, the business name, and rating and review information. The photo below shows how the Local Carousel aligns with the old 7-pack result set:

GoogleCarouselResults
Click to enlarge
 

The Carousel Effect: Higher Click-through Rates

I am interested in seeing if the clicks for local results will be more evenly distributed now that the results are showing horizontally versus vertically. In an article posted on Search Engine Land, they discuss a study conducted by search marketer Matthew Hunt who used heat maps to gauge interest levels for results. It was discovered that 48% of searchers click the carousel while only 14.5% of users clicked the map. I also look forward to seeing if the photo selected by the Google algorithm for local listings has an impact on click through rates.

HeatMap
Click to enlarge
 

Round and Round We Go: Back to 5 Star Ratings

Now more than ever, it is important to place locally on Google. Because the carousel features an image for each business, it is important that all of the photos you have posted are high quality and representative of your business. Reviews will also become more important because of Google’s announcement discussing the return of the 5 star review system. Once a business has received 5 reviews, the stars will be highlighted in gold , which could be a determining factor for piquing user interest.

CastleberryElison
Click to enlarge
 

The Future of Local Search

It is hard to be certain what changes or updates will be made in the future, but it’s important to always be prepared. Will Google slowly roll out the Local Carousel to other categories, such as attorneys? We aren’t quite sure, but we are adjusting our local search strategy in case it does. Will the local carousel extend to mobile search results, where the local results predominantly show before the organic results? If so, it will be crucial to gain local placement. Here at The Search Engine Guys, we begin researching updates as soon as they are announced and discuss what potential changes could happen in the future in order to be better prepared. We are anxiously waiting to see what Google will do next.

Shea Benedict  July 1st, 2013 – Posted by to Google.


Google Chairman’s Predictions Hint at AuthorRank

Excerpts from an upcoming book by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt were published by The Wall Street Journal last week. In the article, Schmidt laid out his seven predictions for the future of the digital age, but for marketers one sentence stood out from the rest:

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in more users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.”

To many, this seemed less like a prediction and more like a veiled confirmation of what marketers had long suspected: AuthorRank is coming.

Great AuthorRank graphic by Mode Digital.

Great AuthorRank graphic by Mode Digital

The AuthorRank saga began in 2005 when Google filed a patent for something called “Agent Rank.” The document described how the search engine could use a number of metrics to determine an “agent’s” position within a subject area. By outlining a way to consider an agent’s popularity and authority within a given subject area, marketers inferred that Google was looking to supplement the cold statistics of search with human factors.

Traditionally, Google had not had access to enough data to warrant using social interactions as a direct ranking factor. The company found a way to solve this problem in 2011 with the introduction of Google+. With its social network providing access to a trove of qualitative data, the logical next step was to incorporate it into search. Thus, AuthorRank became a reality.

Simply put, the goal of AuthorRank is to determine the credibility and popularity of an individual and the content they publish. Many factors that will likely have an impact on AuthorRank are old-hat for SEOs, such as: the number of followers on social networks and the frequency of shares, as well as the number of links, Likes, tweets, etc. The difference, however, is that Author Rank ties these metrics to the individual who publishes the content – not the website that hosts it.

This change has huge implications in the SEO world, but the first step for anyone marketing online is to claim authorship of their content. Any content a marketer has created should be tied to a verified Google+ profile. This means an author’s Google+ profile must have a link to the pages that host their content, and vice versa. Once this is done, the long climb to dominant Author Rank begins.

Everyone in the SEO industry is anxiously awaiting Google’s Panda Update 25. It is not yet known if this specific update will further the push from Page Rank to AuthorRank, but Google is clearly headed in that direction. The web strategists at The Search Engine Guys have been preparing for the move to AuthorRank for some time. If you have questions about SEO, AuthorRank, and how to prepare your website, please contact us today.


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

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.


Google Introduces New Gmail Search Options

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

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

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.


Purchase web content with Google Wallet

As reported by CNET, Google is experimenting with using micropayments for individual articles and other content on the internet.  Micropayments have been an idea for purchasing web content for a long time, but no one has ever used it effectively. Users will be able to pay for internet content using Google Wallet.  The idea is that people will be able to buy individual articles for an average of $0.25 to $0.99 each, and they will then own it forever.

The home page for the new product says that they are experimenting with several top content creators to see if users will use it “if the buying process is sufficiently easy.”  Refunds are made very simple and extensive previews help users feel comfortable making a purchase- All done with a single click. Google is optimistic even though countless similar efforts have failed. This may because past attempts were too difficult to use with complicated formats, requirements to install software, and a lack of quality previews.  If any company can make it work though, it’s probably Google.


Google overtakes Microsoft to become 2nd most valuable tech company

On Monday, Google Inc. surpassed Microsoft Corp. to become the world’s second-largest technology company behind Apple.  The Washington Post reports that Google’s stock rose 0.7% to $759.98 for a market capitalization of about $249.2 billion. Microsoft, however, dropped 0.3% to $29.67 a share, for a market capitalization of about a $248.7 billion.

One of the main reasons for this is that the internet’s increasing abilities and features are reducing the need for more complicated software (Microsoft’s forte) to be installed on computers.  In addition, Google’s search advertising business has grown immensely and there has been a lot of hype over its growing wireless program. With all of this knowledge, Google’s stock price has risen 48% in the last year alone.

In May 2010, Apple became the world’s largest technology company when it overtook rival Microsoft. Apple still sits high above the competition, but Google’s rapid growth and new projects on the horizon may mean that there could be some competition for the top spot in the coming years.

Ready to start working with us? Call (512) 806-7955 or Email Us Now