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Google MayDay Update: Definitive List of Resources
Monday, May 31, 2010
We, like many, have monitoring a number of sites to see if they have been hit by the latest Google algorithm update, which was dubbed "Google MayDay" by Webmaster World. The good news? We have not seen this impact any of the sites that we work on including large e-commerce sites.   This is a vote of confidence in the recommendations that we have been sending to our clients as their sites are doing the right things to become authorities in their given industries.  This includes:
  • optimizing for the proper mix keywords between head/torso/long-tail phrases as part of your keyword strategy
  • creating unique, informative and useful content through content development strategies
    • creating unique product descriptions anyone?
  • obtaining quality links by producing useful content as mentioned above
Many in the industry have chimed in including Google's Matt Cutts in a video that you can find within the links mentioned below. 

Matt Cutts:  "This is purely our algorithm thinking that some sites are better match for some queries than other sites..." (read: long-tail).  This will change how Google assesses which sites are the best match for long-tail queries.  Matt goes on to state that if your site is being affected to:
  • go back and ask yourself do you have a high quality site?
  • are you showing up for the most qualified searches?
  • what can I do to add great content?
  • do people consider you an authority?  (read: quality inbound links)
There has been some great discussion about "MayDay", from Search Engine Roundtable to Vanessa Fox and Matt Cutts.  One month after initially reported, we have come up with the definitive resource list for the Google MayDay algorithm update.

Google MayDay Update:  Definitive List of Resources
  1. Google MAYDAY Update Hitting Long Tail Ranking? - Search Engine Roundtable
    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022128.html
  2. Google MAYDAY Update - SERP Changes May 2010 - Webmaster World
    http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4125460.htm
  3. Whiteboard Friday - Google's May Day Update & What It Means for You - SEOmoz
    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-googles-may-day-update-what-it-means-for-you
  4. Google Confirms “Mayday” Update Impacts Long Tail Traffic - Vanessa Fox - SE Land
    http://searchengineland.com/google-confirms-mayday-update-impacts-long-tail-traffic-43054
  5. Google May Day Update Confirmed, Our Fourth Post - Search Engine Roundtable
    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022289.html
  6. Video: Google's Matt Cutts On May Day Update
    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022293.html
  7. Is This Google Algorithm Update Costing You? - Web Pro News
    http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2010/05/27/webmasters-say-google-algorithm-update-costing-them
  8. Mayday! Mayday! Google Changes Impact Long Tail Search - Marketing Pilgrim
    http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2010/05/mayday-mayday-google-changes-impact-long-tail-search.html
  9. Google "Mayday" Update - New Long-Tail Indexing from Google? - Marketing Jive
    http://www.marketing-jive.com/2010/05/google-mayday-update-new-long-tail.html
  10. Google’s Mayday Update and What to Do About It - Step Forth
    http://www.stepforth.com/blog/2010/googles-mayday-update/
Expect more stories on "MayDay" to emerge.  The fact is "MayDay" is an algorithm update, confirmed by Google itself.  You probably do not need to panic because by now you should be doing the things that you should be doing to make your site a great resource for your audience.  Your site should feature unique and informative content that will help you become the authority your need to be on your given discipline.

Labels:

posted by Jody @ Monday, May 31, 2010   0 comments
Five Must Read Articles on Google
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
As always there is a lot going on at Google.  Late Spring/early Summer seems to be a busy time for Googlers.  Here are a couple of great articles that are Google related that you might want to consider sharing with your online marketing or SEO teams.
  1. Google SEO experts explain what REALLY affects search results - http://www.labnol.org/internet/google-answers-seo-questions/13731/ five Google experts shared their thoughts on SEO from things such as duplicate content to XML sitemaps.  It is a good reminder for many in the industry with some nice nuggets thrown in. 
    For example, with regards to HTML sitemaps, Matt Cutts suggests: If you have time or a script that can generate a pretty HTML Sitemap (e.g; for a blog, you could have one page for each year or month of your blog, depending on how much you write), that can work nicely.
    As mentioned there are some pretty great reminders here.

  2. Google's encrypted search casts shadow on web analytics - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/25/google_ssl_search_and_web_analytics/.  An interesting articles on the impact of how "SSL snuffs browser referrals".  Here's a brief snippet from the article: "Web browsers typically turn off referrers when going from HTTPS to HTTP mode to provide extra privacy," Google says. "By clicking on a search result that takes you to an HTTP site, you could disable any customizations that the website provides based on the referrer information."

  3.  The Value of Google Result Positioning - there have been a number of articles out recently based on click-thru percentages from the organic results of Google search results.  Chitka Research shares their information.  Some interesting stuff here.  What does top spot in the organic rankings mean?  According to Chitka, 34.35% which is considerably higher than what others including our own research have stated.  (Our research suggests that the top spot typically returns a CTR of around 26%. In addition, one of the stats mentioned based on the Chitka research was that going from the 11th spot to 10th (from the second page top the first page) sees a 143% jump in traffic.   The numbers are based on a sample of 8,253,240 impressions across the Chitika advertising network in May, 2010.
    http://chitika.com/research/2010/the-value-of-google-result-positioning/


  4. Something Is Up (Or Down) With Google's Search Algorithm - SE Roundtable has shared their thoughts on the Google "MayDay" Update which we had previously touched on a few weeks back.  Is it this possible algorithm update that is taking place at Google or are people experiencing traffic fluctuations due to Google's redesign?  http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022264.html

  5. Google’s Push To Speed Up Your Web Site - As Eric Enge points out on his SE Land piece, Google continues to make a big push for improving your website download performance.  Arte you one that thinks that page speed is not an issue?  Well Eric provides an example of a site that did in fact experience a drop in rankings and traffic as a result of slower page load times:
We recently became involved with one website that had seen a drop in rankings and traffic right around the time that Google announced that speed was a ranking factor back on April 9th. Our investigation found that they had been having significant server outages as well as a fairly long average page load time (greater than 5 seconds). While it is not possible to be definitively sure that page speed is the reason for the drop, our investigation has led us to believe that this is in fact the case. We have, of course, addressed the issues and hope to see traffic pop up again soon.
There you have it a couple of great articles about Google.  Google is up to a lot of things these days, from potential algorithm updates to SERP redesigns to encrypted search.  It can be a full time job keeping on top of all of these initiatives, but the main thing is to be patient and see how this will impact you site.  Do not be too quick to make changes for the sake of making changes, but be aware the Google is continuing to evolve its search offering.

Thanks to Tina Kells for pointing us in the direction of a couple of the articles mentioned above.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 25, 2010   0 comments
Google News from Google IO 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Web Pro News has some great coverage from Google's largest development event of the year, Google IO 2010. Google I/O featured 80 sessions, more than 5000 developers, and over 100 demonstrations.   Thursday's agenda looked most impressive:




Some of the additional highlights as reported by Web Pro News included:
  • The launch of Google TV
  • Keynote from Google IO 2010
  • Discussions about new open technologies in relation to the social web
More information:
http://code.google.com/events/io/2010/

    Labels:

    posted by Jody @ Thursday, May 20, 2010   0 comments
    Concerned About Indexing in Google? Read This...
    Quite often we deal with clients who have concerns over indexing in the major search engines, specifically in Google.  Depending on the size of your site, this can be a serious issue for your website.  Let's say that your an e-commerce site with millions of pages, yet Google is telling you that you only have 100K pages indexed.  This large of discrepancy might suggest that you in fact do have an indexing problem with your site.

    In order for you to be concerned with this issue, there are a couple of ingredients that you need in your indexing monitor recipe:

    Monitoring the Search Engine Indexing of Your Website

    You really should be monitoring the indexing of your website and not just in Google but also in Bing and for now, Yahoo.  In order to monitor the indexing of your site, there are a couple if key elements that you need to have an understanding of.
    1. Size of your site - First, you need to have some idea of just how many pages your site(s) consists of.  For smaller sites (<100K pages) this is fairly easy to get a grasp of.  There are various sitemap generator tools that you can use to compile a list of your site's pages.  Quite honestly it amazes me about how many site owners do not actually have an understanding about the actual size of their web sites.  I mean I understand that larger sites can have tons of dynamically generated pages, but you should still have some assemblance of the actual size of your site.  Sitemaps are important not only for your visitors but also for search engine crawlers. 

      I recommend keeping a periodic inventory of your site pages.  This is especially helpful if you are planning a site redesign as you will want to have an idea of the sheer volume of your site pages.  It is also great to monitor your site as it grows with fresh content that is added.  Consider keeping a timeline of page size of your site.  How many of you can honestly say that you know how many pages  existed on your site say a year ago?  Two years?  Five years ago?  Keep tabs of this in a spreadsheet, it is not a difficult thing to do.  This data can be very valuable in the future.
    2. Understand how to monitor the # of pages that you have indexed in the search engines - there are a number of tools that can be used to accomplish the best.  We're gonna kick it old school and mention a couple of ways that you can monitor the number of pages indexed in the major search engines:
      • Use the "site: command".  This works well in Google, Bing and to a lesser extent Yahoo.  Let's say that I wanted to see how many pages that I had indexed in Bing.  I would simply go to Bing and type in the following query:  "site:www.marketing-jive.com".  Now there are variations of this command that you can use.  If you have sub-domains, you'll want to use the query "site:www.marketing-jive.com" sans the www.  Here's what the results for Marketing Jive look like in Bing:




        Bing is reporting that I have roughly 1,600 pages indexed within Bing.  If I perform the same query in Google, it tells me that I have about 432 pages indexed.  In Yahoo, it states that I have 1,671 pages indexed.  What's interesting about this is that while not exact, Yahoo and Bing are more accurate than what Google is reporting.  News Flash:  Each of the major search engine crawlers have different manners of crawling and indexing web content.  You should expect to see a variation in the data... do not be alarmed by this.  Furthermore, should I panic because Google is reporting a lower number of pages being indexed than say Bing?  Perhaps, but I know that they are only showing a sample of what I actually have indexed. I can use a second method to evaluate the number of pages that I have indexed in Google...



      • Use Google Webmaster Tools - this is a great tool for site owners and webmasters.  You can create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google.  From here you have access to a number of key areas including crawling and indexing issues.  We should point out however that via Google Webmaster Tools, Google often reports that only a fraction of the pages being submitted via XML sitemaps are currently indexed in Google. This is normal, but it can also be a sign that Google may be having issues with crawling and indexing of your site's pages.  The point here is to be careful of taking Google's word as the Gospel here.  Cross reference with the "site:" command to get a more accurate reflection.  Typically the numbers that you get from Yahoo and Bing are a more accurate assessment of the try number of pages that you have indexed.  Again, Google tends to show but a sample.

    3.  Spot Checks are Important - realize that you should be performing regular spot checks in the engines and especially Google to see if there are certain sections of your site that are having indexing issues.  An easy way to perform a spot check for a given section of your site is to use the "site:" command.  Let's say for example I wanted to see how many pages Google has indexed for my 2010 archives.  I would simply type the following command into Google:
      site:www.marketing-jive.com inurl:2010
    So really if you are concerned about indexing in Google, you may not need to be.  There are a number of quick diagnostics that you can perform to see if there really is an indexing issue:

    1. Cross reference with the other engines
    2. Examine your Google Webmaster Tools data
    3. Check your robots.txt file
    4. Ensure your XML sitemaps are up to date and have no errors
    5. Spot check sections of your site using the "site:" command
    6. Monitor your meta data - have you inadvertently placed a "no index and/or no follow" on a certain section of your site?
    7. Keep an eye on crawling and indexing trends
    Look, we're not saying to disregard the information that Google is sharing, just do your homework and dig a little deeper before you start making drastic changes to your website. The problem may in fact be an issue with Google not necessarily your content.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Thursday, May 20, 2010   1 comments
      Content Development Strategy: 10 Items to Incorporate into Your Requirements
      Friday, May 14, 2010
      We recently discussed all of the content touchpoints that a typical piece of web content goes through.  As part of any content development strategy you will want to create requirements that will assist any of these touchpoints and prevent bottlenecks from occurring.  So what should these requirements consist of?  Well the quick answer is that it depends.  It depends on the process that you currently have in place, it depends on resources that you have access to and it depends on the frequency and amount of content that you are looking to produce.

      Having said that, there are certain items that, regardless of the above, you will want to have as part of your content requirements.  As you plan or refine your content development strategy you will want to ensure that you have the following in place.  These requirements will allow you to efficiently produce the content that you need to reach your desired target audience.  Content is king is the digital space.  There is a reason for that.  It's content and information that people are looking for and are expecting to find when they go online and use Search.

      10 Must Have Content Development Requirements
      1. Content Inventory - you should have an idea of the existing content that you have out on the Web.  you would be surprised at the number of times we ask a client if they have inventory of their key content and they respond with a shrugging of the shoulders.  You need to know what you are working with.
      2. Inventory of Acceptable Content Type - this is really a fancy way of identifying all of the types of content that is promoted via your web properties.  Can you leverage things like blogs, video, press releases?
      3. URL Mapping - similar to item one, you should have an inventory of URLs that is currently indexed in the major search engines.  This is especially helpful as you perform a content audit of your web properties.  This also helps remind you of the taxonomy of how your site is structured.
      4. Marketing Calendar- for both offline and online events.  This is a must if you will be adding fresh content to your site on an on-going basis.
      5. Sitemaps - both of the HTML and XML variety.  More importantly, you should have a process for updating each as new content is added to your website.
      6. Style Guides - specific to legal, formatting, brand incorporation and usability guidelines.
      7. Meta Data Guidelines - this may include a meta data template specifically for title and meta description tags.
      8. Content Template - a workable template for content by type (i.e. web page, blog post, press release etc.).  Working from a template can make it easier to create and add content to your website.
      9. Content Workflow Process Diagram - a visual representation of all of the touchpoints of your content process along with key stakeholders at each touchpoint.  This is also referred to as a Content Flow Diagram.
      10. Content Management Checklist - an outline of how content is to be reviewed, by whom and how often.  Checklists are easy to review and print off and can be used by all involved in the content development process.
      Of course the requirements for your content development strategy depend on your needs or more importantly the needs of your organization. Having these requirements in place can save you time, headaches and the need to explain the process to various personnel who participate in your content development strategy.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Friday, May 14, 2010   0 comments
      Web Content Development: Evaluation of All of the Touchpoints
      Wednesday, May 12, 2010
      Quite often the key to any marketing activity stems from content.  Consider the idea of advertising through whatever channel you so choose.  Regardless of the channel at the heart of that advertising is a message a.k.a. content.  When we talk about digital marketing in the online environment, content becomes all that more important.  It is true that better web content can mean better business.  This is true for both B2B and B2C websites.  You live and die by the content, and type of content that you feature on your site.

      There are a lot of things to keep in mind when writing content for the Web.  One of these things to keep in mind when preparing your content development strategy is to factor in all of the touchpoints that your content typically goes through.  While this can vary depending on the size of your business, there are numerous touchpoints that your content passes through from start to publish.  We have summarized some of the content touchpoints that your content typically goes through on a regular basis.

      Content Touchpoints

      Content creation and development is a shared responsibility with many people touching the content at one point.  Here are some of the common touchpoints in the Web content development process:
      1. Content Requester - this is the person or entity that requires or "requests" the content to be created.  this could be anyone from marketing to your actual client or customer.  The process typically starts here.

      2. Content Owner - similar to the requester and in fact sometimes the two are one in the same, there is a content owner who is responsible for envisioning what the content needs may be.

      3. Content Strategist -  those responsible for determining how content will be leverage on your web properties.

      4. Content Provider - those resources that have access to historical content or pending content that can be leveraged.

      5. Content Creator/Writer -those resources that can actually create and write the content.  These resources may be internal copywriters or external, outsourced resources.
      6. Content Editor - the reviewer and editor is quite often the same person, but this is not the case for all organizations.
      7. Content Reviewer - the person or persons that perform the peer review of the content
      8. Content Publisher - the publishing role can fall on various people.  It may include cross departmental teams that include IT and your Web Dev teams.  Sometimes, it may be your SEO team.  At the end of the day, the content that you create for the Web needs to "go live", it is the publisher that makes this happen.
      9. Marketing - your marketing team usually has a language of their own, but they still play a key role in the contribution of the content that you feature on your web site.  The one thing to remember is to remind marketing that the target audience quite often speaks a different language that the marketing jargon that graces your sales and marketing offices.
      10. I.T. - the technical team is quite often the folks who ultimately place the content on the Web for your organization.  Whether it is through a content management system (CMS) or manually uploading an HTML page, the IT team play a key role in the content development process.
      11. Web Usability Team - it never ceases to amaze me about just how much control the web team can have with regards to what content can be placed and where it can be placed.  Usability testing is a great thing, but there is a point where they can be extremely restricting in what content should or is actually featured on the site.
      12. SEO Team - creating content can sometimes be completed with your SEO team, but if it is not, you will want to ensure that your SEO team has the opportunity to optimize your content to help you improve visibility for relevant and appropriate key phrases.
      13. Analytics Team - most content that gets added to the website requires some sort of analytics coding to be added.  Asa result even your analytics team touches the content at some point.
      14. Legal - ah yes legal.  We all love legal don't we?  While it is true that Legal can hold things up, they have a job to do and a very important job to do.  Ultimately they will dictate what can or cannot be said on your website.
      15. Management - yes even management can be a touchpoint when it comes to the Web content that you add to your web properties.  With content taking many forms and shapes such as blog content, press releases, video and even tweets, everyone from the CEO to regional managers are touchpoints for content that gets published on the Web.
      As you can see, without even trying, we have come up with fifteen typical content touchpoints when it comes to Web content development.  Each play a key role and while some of these roles can be combined or shared, you see the importance of ensuring that you have a central Web editor to ensure that the content you publish is accurate, reflective and relevant to the intended audience.  Content development is not an easy thing to accomplish, an effective process needs to be established.  Defining the roles at each touchpoint can make the process more efficient and worthwhile.  Consider mapping out your touchpoints.  Think about all the people that touch a piece of content from creation to publishing.  I bet that you'll be surprised about just how many touchpoints there are. 

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Wednesday, May 12, 2010   0 comments
      Google's New Search Interface - We've Seen this Before?
      Thursday, May 06, 2010
      The new search interface Google had been testing in beta since last fall has finally been released.  My initial thoughts were that, "hey haven't we seen this before".  What came to mind was ASK.com's "ASK 3-D" search results page interface/experience from about three years ago, and then I thought that where else have I seen this before and Bing came to mind.  Seems to me like I'm not the only one who sees the similarities as well.

      Personally for myself, I've been waiting for a more aesthetically appealing Google SERP.  What is interesting has been the response from notable Google personnel such as Google VP of Search Products & User Experience Marissa Mayer where she once commented:
      our focus is on search and because it makes our clean, minimalist homepage even easier and more fun to use.
       If I remember correctly Marissa Mayer also made reference to the Google Search interface when she participated in one of our Webinars on 2010: The Future of Search by Leading Experts webinar over at Enquiro. It is nice to see that Google is finally changing it up a little with their search interface.  I've always stated that I felt Google has lacked in this area, but then again it has been one of their most distinguishing factors when compared to some of the other main search engines.

      Here's a comparison of a Bing, ASK and new Google results page based on a search for "blogger".

      Bing


      ASK


      Google


       If it wasn't for the high number of sponsored ads appearing at the top of the page with ASK's results that SERP would probably be my preference, but alas a search results page is not just about aesthetics, it is about relevant results and the ability to find timely, informative information.

      So while not exact, we are seeing similarities in how the search results appear for a few of the major search engines.  The past three years has in fact seen some drastic changes to the SERPs as we had known them pre-2007 as things like universal (blended) search, personalization and real-time search results are now occupying the real estate that previously only saw the ten blue links that we were accustomed to seeing. As a user that is pretty cool because frankly I like to see a more visual results representation within the search results of a given search engine.  I, by no means, want to be overwhelmed, but I do appreciate the richer experience.

      Labels: ,

      posted by Jody @ Thursday, May 06, 2010   1 comments
      Google "Mayday" Update - New Long-Tail Indexing from Google?
      Tuesday, May 04, 2010
      There has been some interesting discussion regarding a possible update from Google which folks have dubbed "MayDay".  Webmasters and search marketers are reporting that they are experiencing large drops in long-tail search traffic.  The interesting thing is that these reports are from webmasters from larger websites that appear to be well optimized and are somewhat clean. 

      Reports from SEO Roundtable suggest that:
      most of these complaints come over webmasters seeing a huge drop in traffic from Google over "long tail keywords." Keyword phrases that are 3 or more keywords long. One person said he had a "traffic dropped 50% in a few days, 100,000's of long tail k/w." Another person "recovered until this Mid April, when it started seeing some recovery, then bang now 90% of its traffic, mostly long tail disappeared." Then we get the "me toos," "that's exactly what has happened to my site. 50% loss of traffic and constant hammering by googlebot."
      Closely monitoring your long-tail search traffic might be a good idea to see if this "Google Update" has had a negative impact on your organic search traffic.  Especially if you are a large e-commerce site, you might want to double check your long-tail non-branded keyword traffic from your analytics.  Chances are you might overlook this on a keyword level, but collectively you will want to check for a major traffic decline from organic traffic over the past couple of weeks.

      Additional Resources:
      http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022128.html
      http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4125460.htm
      http://sec.wbir.com/article/00Iy0T2d63bxq

      Labels:

      posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 04, 2010   0 comments
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