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

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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.

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  • 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:

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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) 394-7234 for more information.

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

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


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.


Google Stock Price Reaches All-Time High

As reported by CNN, Google’s stock hit a record high of $750.04 in late trading Monday.  The stock reached $747.84 around noon Eastern Time, passing a previous all-time high set in November 2007 of $747.24.  During the economic crisis in 2009, Google’s shares traded below $300 and investors worried that Google had peaked.

Today, Google continues to provide the most dominant search engine with over 65% of search traffic according to published studies (though our data suggests as high as 80%).  Google has also ventured into dozens of additional niches including: Android (software for mobile phones), Google Maps, Google Apps (cloud based tools for business), display advertising and Google+ (a social network that competes with Facebook).  Google generated $38 billion in revenue last year alone.  Not bad for a company that supposedly peaked in 2009!


Google to overtake Facebook in Display Advertising

According to research firm eMarketer, Google is likely to exceed Facebook in selling online display ads in the United States.  Google is expected to have a 15.4% share of the U.S. market. eMarketer said  Google is projected to make $2.31 billion in revenue from online display ads. These are more profitable than the text-based ads that appear next to search results and account for the bulk of Google’s revenue.

This lead in online display ad marks a historic day for Google. This is the first time ever that it will be the leader in three different modes of online advertising: display ads, web-search ads, and mobile ads.

eMarketer calculates that Facebook will hold 14.4% of the market this year with $2.16 billion in U.S. revenue. Back in February, eMarketer predicted that Facebook would be on top with 16.8% of the market and Google with 16.5%.

 

 

(Graph from The Wall Street Journal)

eMarketer estimates that the display ad market to grow 21.5% to almost $15 billion in the U.S. this year, compared to last year’s $12.3 billion. Collectively, Google and Facebook will have nearly 30% of this year’s display ad revenue. In the year 2014, eMarketer predicts the two companies to have 37% of the market.

Google continues to make it easy for advertisers to use one source for all of their online marketing needs, via traditional desktop Adwords, Mobile adwords, display ads and re-marketing – both within their search network and on thousands of partner websites within Google’s content /display network.

Contact us at The Search Engine Guys if you would like to explore options for PPC advertising on Google’s network.


Microsoft’s new “Bing it on” marketing campaign challenges Google

As reported by tech-news website The Droid Guy, Microsoft is adopting the methods of the Pepsi Challenge in their new “Bing it on” challenge against the Google search engine. The challenge pits Bing up against Google in a side-by-side comparison (with the brand names removed) to see which service provides better and more relevant search results.

According to an independent study that sampled nearly 1000 people across the United States for 10 rounds, users preferred Bing to Google almost 2:1. Out of the total amount polled, 57.4% chose Bing, 30.2% chose Google, and 12.4% were split. On Bing’s site, there are only 5 rounds.

Find out what you prefer at http://www.bingiton.com/


Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button has received a remodeling

Google has taken its famous “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, which takes you directly to the top search result, and has turned it into a scrolling advertisement for Google services, projects, and games. With the additions of toolbar search and Google Instant, it has become a rarely used feature. Now, if you go to the Google homepage and hover your mouse over the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, it spins to different emotions. Don’t like the emotion it gives you? Move your mouse away and hover over it again.

The “I’m Feeling Puzzled” button brings you to a Google trivia search game called “a Google a day”. “I’m Feeling Trendy” brings you to Google’s “hot searches” page. “I’m Feeling Wonderful” brings you to the World Wonders Project, which allows you to view wonders of the world from Google Street View. “I’m Feeling Hungry” brings you to a search of your local restaurants. There’s more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

The old feature hasn’t officially disappeared, though. When you start typing your inquiry on Google Instant, the autocomplete suggestions drop down below the search bar. If you place your mouse over one of the suggestions, an “I’m Feeling Lucky” link will appear to the right. Clicking it will work just as the old one did.

Forgotten, but not gone.

 

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