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Category Archives: Blogging

Google Reveals 77 Percent of Its Online Traffic Is Encrypted

Google Online Traffic

 

 

 

 

 

Google is disclosing how much of the traffic to its search engine and other services is being protected from hackers as part of its push to encrypt all online activity.

Encryption shields 77 percent of the requests sent from around the world to Google’s data centers, up from 52 percent at the end of 2013, according to company statistics released Tuesday.

The numbers cover all Google services expect its YouTube video site, which has more than 1 billion users. Google plans to add YouTube to its encryption breakdown by the end of this year.

Encryption is a security measure that scrambles transmitted information so it’s unintelligible if it’s intercepted by a third party.

Google began emphasizing the need to encrypt people’s online activities after confidential documents leaked in 2013 by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US government had been vacuuming up personal data transferred over the Internet. The surveillance programs exploited gaping holes in unencrypted websites.

While rolling out more encryption on its services, Google has been trying to use the clout of its influential search engine to prod other websites to strengthen their security.

In August 2014, Google revised its secret formula for ranking websites in its search order to boost those that automatically encrypted their services. The change meant websites risked being demoted in Google’s search results and losing visitors if they didn’t embrace encryption.

Google is highlighting its own progress on digital security while the FBI and Apple Inc. are locked in a court battle over access to an encrypted iPhone used by one of the two extremist killers behind the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California, in December.

Google joined several other major technology companies to back Apple in its refusal to honor a court order to unlock the iPhone, arguing that it would require special software that could be exploited by hackers and governments to pry their way into other encrypted devices.

In its encryption crusade, Google’s is trying to make it nearly impossible for government spies and other snoops from deciphering personal information seized while in transit over the Internet.

“Our aim with this project is to hold ourselves accountable and encourage others to encrypt so we can make the web even safer for everyone,” Google encryption “evangelists” Rutledge Chin Feman and Tim Willis wrote in a blog post.

The statistics show that Google’s Gmail service is completely encrypted as long as the correspondence remains confined to Gmail. Mail exchanges between Gmail and other email services aren’t necessarily encrypted.

Google’s next most frequently encrypted services are maps (83 percent of traffic) and advertising (77 percent, up from just 9 percent at the end of 2013). Encryption frequency falls off for Google’s news service (60 percent) and finance (58 percent).

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., says it’s still trying to overcome some of the technical problems that have made it more difficult to encrypt some of its services. Some older devices are also unable to handle modern encryption standards, according to Google.

Nearly 96 percent of Google’s unencrypted traffic comes from mobile devices.

Source : Gadget 360

Website Launch Checklist: 25 Things to Test Before Your Site Goes Live

website-launch-checklist

Launching a website is a little like making homemade soup. You’ve got many ingredients coming together, and before you’re done adding them, you sample it to see that you got it just right. But this step – the testing – is often ignored before a site goes live.

Testing a new website can seem overwhelming. Teams aren’t sure where to start. But you may have more help than you know. Every team member can assist in the pre-launch process.

Most websites have writers, web developers, marketers, search engine optimizers, and network administrators coming together to create the site. These same people can help test it. Here’s how.

For the Writer or Editor

Writers and editors have strong attention to detail when it comes to the written content on your site. And this attention to detail can also be used for other tasks as well. Here’s what they can do pre-launch:

1. Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation

Check for proper spelling, typos, and grammar site-wide.

2. Forms

Fill out the forms on the site and go through the following questions:

  • Can the flow be improved?
  • Do you get stuck?
  • Are the instructions accurate?
  • Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?

3. Site speed

Check the size of your page sizes and their load time. Here’s how:

  • Download Google Chrome
  • Navigate to your page in Chrome
  • Press F12
  • View “network” tab
  • Behold!

While Step 3 may appear technical, it doesn’t require a very technical person in order to be useful. The Gantt chart on the network tab will show what a page is doing when it loads in a browser. In the top right corner, they’ll be able to see the total load time.

Website Launch Checklist

In the Gantt chart, it shows how much time each element takes to load. Almost anyone can help find the culprit slow page. Just show the long, horizontal bars to your web developers or network administrators, and they can help.

4. Context

When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask:

  • Why would I visit this page?
  • Is the content ready for visitor?
  • Does the page address the audience?

For the Web Designer

Web designers know what the original design intent is, and they have an eye for the visual details. They can usually spot when things don’t look quite right pretty quickly.

5. Compatibility

Multi-browser rendering is the bane of the Internet, but as website creators, we have to live with it. Check to make sure the pages render well in common browsers. Browser share is a moving target so to help prioritize efforts, here’s a site that continually examines it.

6. Fonts

Sometimes font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look funny. Check to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.

7. Images

Make sure all display text renders on the image when you hover over it (the alt attribute). Make sure the images display correctly. Are they larger than 120 kilobytes? If so, find out of there is a good reason for that. You really only need 72 dots per inch (dpi) for web images in terms of quality.

For the Web Developer

Web developers know the inner workings of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and how browsers handle those languages. There are some important technical items that a web developer is best suited for when it’s time to go live. Here are a few.

8. Live URLs

Often, sites are built at a URL (uniform resource locator) that isn’t the website’s final destination. When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. All the URLs change at this time, and they need to be tested.

On small sites without any tools, you can navigate to each page to make sure they all work. On a site with fewer than 500 URLs, you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free to find bad URLs. For larger sites, there is a modest annual fee.

9. Validation

W3C-valid code is the one thing you can do prior to launch to have some confidence around a search engine spider being able to crawl your site. It’s pretty simple to know if a page is valid. You just paste the URL in question here, and you’ll get a report almost instantly.

With that report, you can attack the issues and get the page into compliance. To help even more, here are 10 common fixes.

10. Minify

This is a technique that combines and compresses website code into smaller chunks to speed up your site. You can read more about it at Google. Then, look at the website pre-launch to see if the site is using minify where it can.

11. 404 pages

When a 404 (“page not found”) error occurs, make sure you have a custom page to help your visitor find something else of use, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. Do you have an HTML sitemap there? Does the 404 page include a site search?

12. Favicon

Favicons are those little iconic images that show up in the address bar and tabs of your browser. How does it help? It’s a small branding opportunity that lends credibility to your site. It’s nice to have one when you launch.

For the Search Engine Optimizer

SEO professionals bring an understanding of the web marketing focus. They can look at a number of things with perspective that can help the site right out of the gate with search engines.

13. 301 Redirects

Sometimes content is repurposed or gets moved to fit the new navigation structure of a site. If you have an existing site and you are changing the URL structure with your new site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve mapped the old URLs to the new ones.

The Screaming Frog spider mentioned earlier can be run on both the old site and the new. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to document this effort. Column A has the old URL, and you place the new URL in Column B. Each row represents a redirect from old to new. On launch day, it’s time to execute.

14. Title Tags/Meta Data

This may sound like old news to some, but this easy-to-fix mistake happens every day. Make sure every page has a title tag, and make sure they are unique.

Also make sure each has a meta description. This is still a common source for search engine spiders to draw from to understand what the page is about and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the page contents from the results.

15. XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your new website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format. Both users and search engines care about this important element as it helps them find the pages they are looking for when other methods fail.

16. Tools

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, and Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are set up and ready to go.

17. Social Media Integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, share a page versus “Like” you on Facebook.)

18. SERP Display

Are the search engines displaying your pages correctly in the search engine results pages? Did you write proper meta descriptions, but they aren’t being used? Are the images you placed on your Places page being displayed in the SERP?

19. Search Engine Submission

It used to be that all new sites needed to submit to be crawled and indexed. Today, the search engines are more sophisticated, and will likely find and crawl the new site anyway, but it is helpful to include this in your launch checklist.

20. PPC Setup

Make sure if you are running any PPC campaigns that it’s set up and ready to go with the site launch. To avoid a lapse in service, if you have a Google PPC rep, you can set and pause all your campaigns to the new URLs prior to launch, and instead of the ads getting disapproved, your rep can approve them manually.

For the Network Administrator

These folks manage your web servers, the software that runs on them, and all the traffic components that keep your web traffic coming in. Their technical expertise on some of these tasks is like gold.

21. Monitoring

A site monitor checks pages regularly to make sure it is available for visitors. Basic monitors check if the page is working.

Important pages within the site should have enhanced monitors that test if a completed form behaves the way it should. Enhanced monitors are more expensive to setup and keep running so the page in question needs to justify the additional expense.

22. Backup System

Have you thought about what happens if the server goes down? Make sure the backup system is configured properly, and the recovery process has been tested so you know it works.

23. Traffic Loads

Think about what might happen to your site if it gets an influx of heavy traffic. There are load test software tools that allow you to simulate heavy loads. If you are expecting big crowds, this is a must.

24. Protected Pages

Does your site have pages that require user credentials to view? If so, do the credentials work? From the opposite angle, also check to see that the pages can’t be viewed without proper credentials. Make several attempts to get to those URLs without proper credentials to make sure the security is working as expected.

25. Secure Certificate (if Required)

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll want to check your certificate on launch day.

To do this, go to the encrypted section of your site. When the lock appears in the address bar, right click on it and read the message your visitors will read. It should have your name on it and state that it’s valid. If the lock doesn’t appear or the name isn’t right, let your provider know.

Summary

Hopefully you can see that everyone on a marketing and web team can be assigned tasks to test leading up to a site launch. This team approach does the best job for the diverse challenge of testing a website. If you can rally your team around these tests, no one person needs to bear the full weight of a site launch.

Author : Mark Knowles
Source : Click Here

 

 

7 Great Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Videos have become one of the most important components of the online user experience. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube per minute and this number is only going to increase due to the growing number of online devices with video capabilities and the successful user engagement videos create.

Being able to generate sales or leads through YouTube should be an essential item in every marketer’s toolbox for several reasons:

  • It is cheaper to get more visibility compared to other advertising tools
  • It helps increase brand recognition while still targeting relevant users
  • It integrates with many traffic sources since it allows the use of remarketing

Before getting into several ways to advertise on YouTube, we are going to have a quick look at how advertising on YouTube works in the first place.

Advertisers can choose among two ad formats to advertise on YouTube:

  • Video Ads
  • Banner Ads

Read on for the instructions for banners and the seven ways to advertise on YouTube:

Using Video Ads to Advertise on YouTube

Using video ads is done through the use of a Google AdWords Account. You first need to log in your Google AdWords account.

If you have never created a video campaign or are looking to create a new one, click on “+ Campaign” and “Video”:

advertise on youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next step in the creation of a video campaign is to actually link your YouTube Channel to AdWords for videos. This will give you additional data on the performance of your campaigns.

In order to link YouTube to AdWords, click on the settings wheel in the top right corner and click on “Linked accounts.” You will then have a number of options including YouTube. When you click on “View details” below the YouTube paragraph, AdWords will guide you through the account linking process.

advertise_on_youtube_link_adwords_youtube

 

Any video campaign you create will show up in the campaign tab. Here is an example of a video remarketing campaign:

advertise-on-youtube-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are creating a video you want to use as an ad, here are some best practices.

Video Creation Best Practices

  1. Create a video that directly addresses your audience
  2. Say the most important thing in the first 5 seconds
  3. Keep the video short (around 30 seconds maximum) and easy to understand
  4. Use a professional voiceover to maximize results
  5. Create at least two variations of the video to test what generates better results
  6. Add call-to-action overlays

Using Banner Ads to Advertise on YouTube Videos

This is an extremely powerful tool to increase brand awareness. To get started, you need to create a display campaign:

advertise-on-youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will then be able to choose the campaign type based on your marketing objective:

 
advertise-on-youtube-5-760x503The next step is to select the proper targeting once your campaigns have been set up. Targeting is located in the display section of the campaign menu:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtubeYou should then add youtube.com (or specific video and channels) as a targeted placement and you will be all set.

Banner Creation Best Practices:

  1. Include a call to action
  2. Use colors that contrast to stand out
  3. Don’t include too much text
  4. Test the use of people as opposed to text only
  5. Create banners that reflect your brand

7 Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Now that it’s clear how to get started with YouTube ads, it is time to discuss the target methods you can use in your campaigns:

1. Placements

Placement targeting allows advertisers to pick specific videos they would like to appear on. The main advantage of placements targeting are:

  • You can pick highly relevant videos
  • You spend money only where you have a higher chance to convert
  • You will be able to control bids on the placements that are likely to make the difference for you

This method also holds many disadvantages:

  • Volume might be small
  • CPCs are higher due to a lower amount of available impressions
  • The campaign will be difficult to scale up

2. Topics

Each person has different topics of interest and being able to target those topics allows you to target a relevant audience while generating volume.

The main advantages of topics targeting are:

  • Large impression availability
  • Targeted, but not too narrow
  • Good CPC compared to placements targeting

The main disadvantages are:

  • Lower conversion rate than placements targeting
  • It doesn’t guarantee websites talking about your topics will be relevant to your business
  • It might be too broad for items targeting specific niches

3. Contextual
Contextual targeting works with keywords and helps identify pages whose context fits the context of your keywords. Picking the right keywords becomes key to the success of this campaign type.

The advantages of a keyword driven display campaign are:

  • It allows you to target contexts relevant to your business
  • It is a good way to scale up campaigns at a low CPC

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might not convert very well at first
  • It needs a lot of negative placements to make sure the campaign doesn’t invest money on bad websites.

4. Remarketing

This is one of the most effective ways to target people on YouTube since it is based on targeting people who have already visited your website without converting.

Remarketing is extremely powerful and its main advantages are:

  • High conversion rates
  • Extremely relevant to the users
  • It can be customized based on users’ behaviors on the site

Remarketing doesn’t have many disadvantages:

  • You need to make sure not to target irrelevant users, such as people who bounced right away from your site
  • It might become too invasive if it has no caps on impressions

5. Interests

Interests can be found in the same place where you add a remarketing list:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtube

Interests include:

  • Affinity audiences: This option allows you to target large groups of people based on their long-term interests
  • In-market audiences: This option targets people who are actively shopping in the market for your products or services

The main advantages of interest targeting are:

  • Possibility to reach out to a large number of targeted users
  • Lower risk to target irrelevant users
  • It focuses on the user behavior and not only on page content

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might still target audiences that aren’t relevant enough

6. Demographics

This target option speaks for itself. It allows you to target users based on age and gender. Additionally, Google introduced an additional targeting layer which consists of targeting a parental status. Here is what the end result looks like:

http://mavistechnologies.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/advertise-on-youtube

Demographic targeting has a few powerful advantages:

  • It helps exclude people who aren’t relevant to a business
  • It allows you to customize bids by age, gender, and parental status

The main disadvantages are:

  • It general and targets too many irrelevant users for businesses that don’t aim to the masses\
  • If you get a lot of traffic from “unknown” users, you won’t be able to optimize based on performance and you will be running blind

7. Combination of Targeting Methods

This is certainly one of the most interesting targeting options since it allows you to take the best of each targeting method and reduces targeting disadvantages, since different methods compensate for the flaws of others.

The best practice is to combine two to three targeting options, but no more, to avoid limiting your audience too much.

Conclusion

With the ever-increasing demand for video, you can never know too many ways to get your ads in front of the right audience. However, not every business has videos ready to go and banners are a great way to get started with YouTube. Try these tips to increase sales and brand awareness.

Remember to combine different targeting options and continually test what works best.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Image by Rocco Baldassarre
All screenshots by Rocco Baldassarre. Taken September 2015.
Source : Search Engine Journal
Author : Rocco Baldassarre

 

 

Google Mobilepocalypse Update

A day after the alleged major update, I thought it would make sense to highlight where we are at in the cycle.
Google suggested their fear messaging caused 4.7% of webmasters to move over to mobile friendly design since the update was originally announced a few months ago.
The 4.7% of the websites Google pushed to go mobile friendly likely include some sites which would have been mobile friendly anyhow by virtue of being new sites on hosted platforms with responsive designs. But for the rest of the sites, was the shift worth it?
That is a tough question.
It is too early to tell.

  • Google still hasn’t put much weight on it in the rankings yet.
  • Mobile traffic is typically worth far less than desktop traffic for most websites.
  • Time which was spent on mobile friendly conversion could have been spent on other forms of marketing.
  • Some sites which became mobile friendly took a significant revenue hit in doing so by switching out long running effective ad placements with mobile responsive units which may not have performed as well.

The problem with going early is you eat the expense upfront, while the rewards are still unknown.

  • Many people who jumped on the “secured everywhere” bandwagon last year saw broken security certificate issues and broken plugins which were hard to fix. And the upfront cost wasn’t the only expense, as many AdSense publishers saw less relevant ads, lower ad CTR, and a sharp drop in AdSense earnings after going secured.
  • Those who spent the money to integrate Google Checkout to get AdWords discounts had to spend again to remove it when Google stopped supporting it.
  • TV makers who were early to integrate Google’s YouTube API (which allowed ad free streaming) will now have to deal with a rash of customer complaints as Google sunsets the old API to make way to be able to sell an ad free subscription service.

If you are spending your own time & money and you believe in what you are doing and the longevity of a project then it doesn’t matter too much if the rewards come slowly or never come. A sense of purpose & a sense of pride in your work is a form of payment.

However, if you are spending a client’s money & you ring a 5 alarm fire to rush to make some technical change & then see no upside after the much hyped announcement, that erodes client trust. If there is no upside and a huge drop in revenue, then the consultant looks like a clueless idiot burning money for the sake of it doing various make work projects.
A few years ago a Google rep stated Panda would be folded into the regular algorithms. Then recently we were told it was a near realtime. Then we were told it was something where updates needed to be manually pushed out & it is something Google hasn’t done in 4 months. If we trusted Google & conveyed any of these messages to clients, once again we looked like idiots. If we choose to invest client money based on the cycles and advice we are given, quite often that is a money incinerator.
Imagine dropping $30,000 on a link cleanup project where you remove links which were helping your Bing rankings but the Google update “coming soon” takes over a year to show up.
Invest money to lower your current income while you’re waiting for Godat.
Good times!
So after Google made a big show of this pending mobile update by pre-announcing it, speaking about it at multiple conferences, comparing it to Panda and Penguin & stating it would have a bigger impact, sending out millions of warning messages via Webmaster Tools, etc etc etc .. when the big day came, did Google make the people who trusted them & invested in their advice look good?
Not so much.
Ayima recently launched a SERP flux pulse tracker tool which shows desktop and mobile flux side-by-side.

ayima-pulse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, nothing happened.

mobilepocalypse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far, no rewards. Maybe they will come. Though here is a hypothetical example where it could be very much NOT worth it for some publishers to go mobile friendly…

  • a webmaster managing an affiliate site converts it to a mobile responsive design
  • but user conversions on mobile devices in some verticals are unlikely, due to it being a pain in the ass to enter credit card info and so on …
  • well … person makes their site mobile friendly
  • that leads their mobile version of their site to rank better in Google
  • that leads to a greater share of their overall organic Google search traffic coming from mobile devices
  • their engagement metrics on mobile are somewhat weak, particularly when compared against desktop users, as is the case for many websites
  • their lower aggregate engagement metrics could create a signal which lead an edge case site into a false positive panda penalty
  • that then lowers their desktop search rankings
  • which lowers their desktop search traffic
  • which lowers their desktop search revenues
  • …worse yet, …
  • those affiliate cookies they dropped on mobile devices don’t count for them when the user later converts on a desktop device

Any form of penalty (even a false positive) can become self-reinforcing. And many of the things which seem like they might help could cause harm.
Did you jump the gun or wait and see?

 

Source : http://goo.gl/LGtih7

Announcing .NET 2015 – .NET as Open Source, .NET on Mac and Linux, and Visual Studio Community

It’s happening. It’s the reason that a lot of us came to work for Microsoft, and I think it’s both the end of an era but also the beginning of amazing things to come.

The .NET 2015 wave of releases is upon us. Here’s what’s happening and we announced it today in New York. There’s a lot here, so drink it all in slowly.

Be sure to check out all the blog posts I’m linking to at the end, but here’s my personal rollup and take on the situation.

We are serious about open source and cross platform.

  •  NET Core 5 is the modern, componentized framework that ships via NuGet. That means you can ship a private version of the .NET Core Framework with your app. Other apps’ versions can’t change your app’s behavior.
  • We are building a .NET Core CLR for Windows, Mac and Linux and it will be both open source and it will be supported by Microsoft. It’ll all happen at https://github.com/dotnet.
  • We are open sourcing the RyuJit and the .NET GC and making them both cross-platform.

ASP.NET 5 will work everywhere.

  • ASP.NET 5 will be available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Mac and Linux support will come soon and it’s all going to happen in the open on GitHub at https://github.com/aspnet.
  • ASP.NET 5 will include a web server for Mac and Linux called kestrel built on libuv. It’s similar to the one that comes with node, and you could front it with Nginx for production, for example.

Developers should have a great experience. 

  • There is a new FREE SKU for Visual Studio for open source developers and students called Visual Studio Community. It supports extensions and lots more all in one download. This is not Express. This is basically Pro.
  • Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET 5 will support gulp, grunt, bower and npm for front end developers.
  • A community team (including myself and Sayed from the ASP.NET and web tools team have created the OmniSharp organization along with the Kulture build system as a way to bring real Intellisense to Sublime, Atom, Brackets, Vim, and Emacs on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Check out http://www.omnisharp.net as well as blog posts by team members Jonathan Channon

Even more open source.

  • Much of the .NET Core Framework 4.6 and its Reference Source source is going on GitHub. It’s being relicensed under the MIT license, so Mono (and you!) can use that source code in their .NET implementations.
  • There’s a new hub for Microsoft open source that is hosted GitHub at http://microsoft.github.io.

Open sourcing .NET makes good sense. It makes good business sense, good community sense, and today everyone at Microsoft see this like we do.

Source : http://goo.gl/pLZZry

Experts Weigh In On Google’s “Pigeon” Update Aimed At Improving Local Search Results

Google’s Pigeon Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, Google made new search waves when it rolled out updates to its local search algorithm.

The “Pigeon” update (the name Search Engine Land gave it in absence of an official name from Google) aims to deliver improved local search results, with enhanced distance and location ranking parameters.

According to Google, the new local search algorithm ties deeper into the site’s web search capabilities, leveraging hundreds of ranking signals, along with search features like spelling correction capabilities, synonyms and Google’s knowledge graph.

Search Engine Land reported last week on how the “Pigeon” update solved Google’s “Yelp problem,” with local directory sites already experiencing improved visibility in Google search results:

It looks like Yelp and other local directory-style sites are benefiting with higher visibility after the Pigeon update, at least in some verticals. And that seems logical since, as Google said, this update ties local results more closely to standard web ranking signals. That should benefit big directory sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor — sites that have stronger SEO signals than small, individual restaurants and hotels are likely to have.

Now that we’re a week out, we asked a few local search experts what they have seen since Google set its “Pigeon” update free. Here’s what they had to say:

David Mihm, Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz

Overall, this update seems like an amplification of the previous silent Hummingbird update from last fall. Just like last time, I would argue that the quality of the SERPs has been downgraded, with “search results within search results” (i.e. directories) getting rewarded relative to their pre-Pigeon position.

Directories with strong brands (like Yelp, as Matt McGee already pointed out) often show up multiple times for the same search, especially on recovery searches for specific small businesses – many of which occur when the searcher clicks a Carousel result. But they’re even prevalent on far less-specific discovery searches, and on searches performed on mobile devices (in my own limited testing).

I fail to see how this is an improved, let alone a good, experience for searchers.

The outcome of Pigeon unfortunately rewards Yelp’s recent “whining,” and with the EU antitrust settlement largely behind them, it seems an odd time to move the SERPs in this direction.

A number of folks have commented in places like Max Minzer’s Local Search community, and Casey Meraz highlighted it as well, that there seem to be many more two and three-packs than there were before, which takes even more real estate away from small businesses and increases the relative opportunity for directories.

Perhaps in competitive industries where most companies have already maximized citations, reviews and user-generated content about their businesses, it is simply getting harder and harder for Google to identify the best of the best businesses by place-related signals? That defeatism seems decidedly un-Google, however.

I’m at a bit of a loss as to any economic benefit this boost to directories (with easier-to-reach, larger Adwords budgets) might provide Google, but I’m looking forward to hearing what other commenters have to say.

Greg Gifford, Director of Search and Social at Autorevo

In the automotive niche, we seem to be isolated a bit from the crazy effects we’re hearing about elsewhere. In some cities, we haven’t even seen a significant shift in map pack rankings (any more than what we’d see on a monthly basis anyway).

We’re still seeing map packs on auto dealer related search queries, and the vast majority of results are mostly the same.

We have noticed a few random anomalies though. In the past, “used cars CITY” always brought up a map pack. We’ve seen a few isolated cities where the map pack has disappeared for that query. For example, in Louisville, Kentucky, in an incognito search with location set to Louisville, we saw:

  • “used cars” = seven-pack
  • “used cars louisville” = no map pack
  • “used cars louisville ky” = three-pack

Before Pigeon, those would have all resulted in seven-packs. Other than a few random map pack switcheroos like that, we’re not seeing much difference.

Nicole Hess, Senior SEO Strategist at Delphic Digital

After reading about the potentially spammy results being brought in by the newest Google local algorithm update, I immediately began wondering the affect of it on several of my clients.

First and foremost, a national client of mine has hundreds of locations that conduct business independently and need organic traffic to produce valuable business leads. I began digging into the data to spot any trends that already may be happening or developing and take action on it.

In reviewing the local rankings pack, I did not find spammy results creep into listings; although, I have seen this in some searches – such as “Casino” and “Interior Design” – but not in this client’s space.

My three primary observations:

  1. Locations not appearing in local results: There were a few locations that are not appearing in the local pack of results, though at some previous point did appear there. The average drop in traffic for a location that is no longer in the local pack is 16% less traffic month over month (and this is in a good season where overall organic traffic is increasing).
  2. Locations appearing in local results, less traffic: Of the 50 locations I reviewed, seven are receiving less organic traffic month over month, though still rank in the Local results and have the same organic rankings. Five of the seven locations rank second in a pack of seven local results and for each of these, there are paid ads with star ratings that appear above the local pack.
  3. Locations getting more traffic: Ten of the 50 locations I reviewed are receiving more organic traffic, on average 24% more organic traffic than the same week of the previous month. Each location ranks in the local pack and most rank No. 1 or No. 2 in the local pack. Their organic rankings have also maintained steady positions month over month, so that factor can be eliminated.

Also, while there were still paid ads, most listings had paid ads that didn’t have star ratings to detract from the organic results. Noting that this is a good season for the client where organic traffic is improving in general, I’m not ascribing all the lift to the local pack rankings, though the lift in traffic for these locations is greater than the month over month lift in organic traffic overall.

So it appears there has been some favorable shifts caused by Pigeon driving more organic traffic.

From what I have witnessed, some local ranking shift has occurred and is driving more organic traffic to several locations. Being out of the local pack correlates with a loss of organic traffic for a few locations. A loss of organic traffic is also occurring where listings are competing against paid ads that have star ratings.

Andrew Shotland, Local Search Engine Optimization Consultant at LocalSEOGuide.com

We are really interested in how this update moved Google more in the direction of hyperlocal search. Something that has been flying under the radar on this update is the neighborhood specific location settings that previously seemed to be just a test are now live everywhere as far as I can tell.

I am also seeing a number of the local directory type sites I work with have almost all seen five to ten percent increases in organic traffic since the update. This lines up with the contraction and elimination of many of the local pack results that others are reporting. Directories would be one of the benefactors of this.

We are waiting to see if this holds over the next week before publishing any of the data. It’s highly likely there will be a fair amount of algo “tuning” so I wouldn’t be surprised if the results we are talking about change dramatically over the next few days or weeks.

Mike Blumenthal, Search Expert and author of Google Places and Local Search blog Blumenthals.com

To a large degree the jury is still out on the what, whys and outcomes of the recent Local algo update. Things have been changing since the roll out Thursday evening and are just now stabilizing.

Things we do know: there seem to be fewer seven-pack results than before although the drop is not as big as first reported as Google seems to have changed the impact of some local query modifiers. It was originally reported as a sixty percent drop in MozCast, and by their metric it was. However many of their search queries no longer seem to function the same way.

Things that seem to be “more so” since the change include:

  • Localization of geo search results appear to have increased based on user’s location.
  • Brands appear to have benefited with additional listings in the pack results and more three-packs.

The update does appear to have reduced duplication between the organic and local results. After the October 2013 update that ended blended results, a number of sites were seeing both organic and local pack results. Those seem to have been reduced to one or the other.

The directories, at least anecdotally, appear to have benefited from the change.

On many searches the radius of the “view port” of the Map has changed. This obviously leads to an effective ranking shake up as the businesses visible within the view have changed. On some searches we are seeing cross geo border expansion of the port and on others a reduction in the radius, totally excluding the locations in the burbs.

Whether this is a cause or effect, we simply can’t yet tell but it does lead to turmoil in the rankings.

One could group this update with a number of other recent Google updates that have reduced visual “distractions” from the main search results; loss of video snippets, the loss of author photos, reduction in the number of review stars shown, etc. etc.

The impact is still unclear; we will have to wait for analytics data to accumulate to assess the net of the change both specifically and more broadly.

Mary Bowling, Co-founder at Ignitor Digital

I think it’s too soon to tell what may be temporary and what might stick, but overall I think Google may be trying to hyper-localize desktop results more.

Google has made several moves lately for the purpose of better aligning desktop and mobile results. Google’s interpretation of the searcher’s location may now be playing more into which results they see on their desktop, just the way it has been playing into which results they see on smartphones.

Some of the things people are reporting are a reduction in the number of local packs seen in the SERPs and a widespread reduction from 7 results in the local packs to 3 results. This may also be an attempt to better mirror on the desktop what mobile searchers see.

Chris Smith, President and Strategist at Argent Media

It’s actually still early to definitively state precisely what all Google may have changed to produce the results we’re seeing. While it is very clear that a significant number of local search queries have stopped displaying local search results, some of the anecdotal reports have been a bit too all-encompassing in declaring particular search queries as “no longer displaying local packs.”

For instance, while the term “house rentals” appears to invoke the local pack in far fewer cases, there are still significant markets where that query continues to invoke local pack results (at least, when I test the search in combo with city names). Searching for “house rentals estes park” or “house rentals gatlinburg” still has good seven-packs of local listings embedded in the SERP.

This suggests that the part of the search results page composition algorithm that handles determining when to serve local pack results has undergone a revision rather than elimination for many of these effected terms. The dial has been turned back some, if you will, and other qualifying elements have been introduced in how it functions.

Specificity of the query is an additional element. When Google first began displaying the local pack, they inferred locality intent associated with queries like “house rentals” or “pizza”, etc. For whatever reason, the assumption of local intent has now been dialed back in a number of cases, most likely based upon some sort of usability testing, or out of desire to further reduce “clutter” in search results.

Overall, the news that this update bumps up web search ranking signals more so than some of the local factors doesn’t necessarily pose a huge fear factor for local businesses. On the other hand, local companies that were enjoying good local pack rankings, despite having an SEO-weak website presence, will now have to step up their game in order to recover.

Some have reported spammy local companies have enjoyed better rankings since the update; but, I don’t think the dust has altogether settled. These companies may have a lot more to fear after another few weeks.

Finally, some directory sites appear to have benefited. To me, the recent shift has heavily benefit Yelp (I think they likely need to Shut-The-Front-Door on whining about Google mistreatment). Yellowpages.com also appears quite prominently in my sampling, as well as some vertical directories.

Some of the more marginal, less-popular online yellow pages and business directories are not all that visible or prominent these days. In some business category and market combinations, the organic search results are more populated by these directory sites than by the websites of local businesses – which will necessitate a bit of a shift in local companies’ online strategies.

If these ranking changes for local-intent queries were intentional upon Google’s part, it seems clear that they feel that there are many cases where searchers desire to perform comparative research to decide upon businesses prior to selecting listings. Businesses will have to adjust their strategic approaches accordingly.

Source : Search Engine Land

 

Finally Google Streetview comes to India

google-launches-street-view-india

Google Streetview will be launched in India on Oct 3 at Qutab Minar in Delhi. However, for now the street-level images will be restricted to 100-monuments only.

Streetview is coming to India in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India and the Ministry of Culture. The site which currently shows just the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, will expand to cover 100 national monuments soon.

Google will take panoramic 360-degree images of the monuments, which will be hosted on Google Earth, Google Maps and also on the Google Cultural Institute, a new initiative by Google to partner with museums and cultural institutions to host paintings, artwork and monuments online.

In the first phase, 24 World Heritage Sites will be taken up for the online project. The next 100 sites will be covered within six months according too Google. Google will take its own photographs of the monuments and the ASI will provide it with high resolution images that can be integrated into the Site View to allow users to see them in greater detail.

The ASI will also provide text to go with the 3D images on the Google Cultural Institute. Architectural floor plans of the monuments will be converted into digital models to help users navigate the site.

ASI director-general Pravin Srivastava said, “We are hoping that this will also increase traffic at our monuments. It is possible that the online presence of monuments can ignite people’s curiosity enough to propel them to visit the sites.”

Source : wat’sup

 

 

PPC Advertising for Maximum Web Promotion

Pay Per Click Services india Engaging in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has its own benefits and drawbacks. But what exactly is PPC advertising and what it can do to your business?

Business nowadays is doing different kinds of austerity measures when it comes to advertising their products and services. This is because of high rates of placing ads on print and on television. But there is a fast growing approach that businessmen can utilize to bring their services closer to the people and that is through Internet Marketing.

One tool that is causing internet marketing popularity is PPC advertising. This is a technique used in search engine marketing that requires one to pay a fee every time someone clicks an ad on your website. Usually this placement is done through a bidding process. If you are a top bidder for your keywords/phrases, you are sure to be on the number one spot on all search engines. Just be sure of the effectiveness of your ad copy to get the most number of clicks you need for your business.

Here are the benefits of PPC advertising are:

1. You need not be a genius in computer and technology to be able to run this ad campaign.
2. Immediate results are seen after a few days.
3. No need to make a website conform to the SEO rules.
4. Nothing to lose even if you do not top the pages of different search engines. You can still always choose PPC advertising.
5. You can make use any search engine available.
6. You can type in any keyword you like.

Cons of PPC advertising includes:

1. Fixed payments every month to the search engine you choose.
2. Pay for each click received by your website. At times, visitors are just competitors or people playing pranks on search engines. This hassle wastes money you put in to this advertising.
3. Inability to pay for the fees next month would mean removal of your website on the paid listings.
4. This advertising can only be used temporarily because it is difficult to handle in the long run.
5. Pay-per-click pricing can be costly for long periods of time, therefore, this should be stopped after an ad campaign.

But how exactly PPC advertising can increase traffic, leads and sales?

PRE-QUALIFIED TRAFFIC. All visitors of your website are already considered as a qualified consumer or buyer of your product. PPC advertising leads your customers to you for a lesser cost.

INSTANT EXPOSURE, IMMEDIATE PROFITS. PPC search engines enable you to get your desired results fast. They will have your website live within just a few hours which means immediate increase in sale.

CONSISTENT TOP LISTINGS. This is to get your website on top of the sponsored search results for free. You just have to choose the keywords related to your site and business and place them within your web pages. After this, you are done.

PPC advertising enables advertisers to control their advertising campaigns. Advertisers have effectively targeted their audience and set their own price per click. PPC advertising networks provide the platform to identify the desired audience by geographic setting, topic and industry. These networks have a list of websites of the publishers where the ads will be placed.

Tools are provided by the networks to check how the pay per click limit is working for a certain advertiser. If its still competitive, would it be even listed among the paid search lists or does it generate sales? Of course, if the advertiser made the highest bid, the better chances the ad will be seen in the search engine. These networks too provide protection for the advertisers against click fraud. This advertising set-up allows advertisers to set a daily budget for his ads, thus, less spending for unnecessary clicks. Advertiser will never go over his budget.

In PPC advertising, what are important are the keywords and phrases. You have to select at least ten “very specific” keywords that would give you the best traffic in the search. Then, write the ad creatively but straightforward. Tell the truth about your product or service and do not lie. Good thing if your product or service will not disappoint those that are relying on your ad’s promise – but what if it did otherwise? Important too is the clarity of the ad. Do not use very vague languages. Include important details like the price.

You should also remember to budget your bids. Do not go overbidding because you will only lose your money and do not go so low that your ads will never get the chance to show up. Check your profit against your spending. If you see no progress then most likely you have to drop your ad campaign.

More and more advertisers have been using PPC advertising and it will continue to grow faster than any online advertising techniques. From revenues of $2.6 billion in 2004 to $5.5 billion in 2009, cost per click will dramatically go up as well from $0.29 to $0.36.

PPC advertising is new in online marketing and it is going to continue in the years to come. For advertisers, this means increase revenues with fewer advertising expenses, savings, more sales, good return of investment (ROI) and effective ad campaigns in the days to come. 

www.clickmavis.com

For more info : info@clickmavis.com

Reducing Load Time Through Image Optimization

Even though more and more Internet users switch to broadband every year, a large portion of the web’s population is still running on good old dialup connections. It is therefore unwise to count them out of the equation when you’re designing your website, and a very major consideration we have to make for dialup users is the loading time of your website.

Generally, all the text on your website will be loaded in a very short time even on a dialup connection. The culprit of slow-loading sites is mainly large images on your website, and it is very important to strike a delicate balance between using just enough images to attract your users and not to bog down the overall loading time of your site.

You should also go to a greater length and optimize every image on your site to make sure it loads in the least time possible. What I really mean is to use image editing software to remove unnecessary information on your images, and thereby effectively reducing the file size of your image without affecting its appearance.

If you own Photoshop, it will be obvious to you that when you save an image as a JPEG file, a dialog box appears and lets you choose the “quality” of the JPEG image — normally a setting of 8 to 10 is good enough as it will preserve the quality of your image while saving it at a small file size. If you do not have Photoshop, there are many free image compressors online that you can download and use to reduce your image’s file size.

On the other hand, you can opt to save your images in PNG format to get the best quality at the least file size. You can also save your images in GIF format — the image editing software clips away all the color information not used in your image, hence giving you the smallest file size possible. However, saving in GIF format will often compromise the appearance of your image, so make your choice wisely!

For more info:  info@clickmavis.com

URL: clickmavis.com

 

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