Google+ Pages – More Social Real Estate

on Google+

Google has released Pages for Google +

Google+’s Pages are similar to Facebook Pages and allow Brands such as companies, organisations, local businesses, celebrities and other entities to create a presence on Google+

Previously there had been a lot of criticism of Google for not allowing these from the start of Google+. To the point that the “Real Names” policy caused the deletion of some profiles that are now essentially what Google+ Pages is meant for.

Similarly to Facebook Pages, you can add your brief business information and start using Google+ to share information.

There are some key things to note with these Pages

  • Google+ Pages can’t add others to their circles (or follow / friend) until those people have added the brand page to their circles (to try and stop spamming)
  • As a follow on from the first point, it is more difficult to promote your page without having a personal Google+ account to promote the Page, the more people in your personal account circles the better.
  • The profile information is limited, if you want to get more information out there, use links to your website or use the post facility to add them into your stream
  • Your personal Google+ profile is your administrator account, you can switch between the two and post as the respective accounts.
  • It is important to do the Google+ Direct Connect (this puts you in the running to have the ability to be found on Google Search by adding “+” at the start of your name like a keyword)

It would have been nice to have a connection between your Google Places listing and your Page, I hope this is integrated as this would be a sensible way to combine these common things (maps, business details etc)

It is also a new kid on the block. There are no Apps like in Facebook to add other functionality like E-Commerce, but I expect this will be added later.

Hangouts (where you can host a video chat session) can be a really novel way of interacting with people following your page. I can see this being really good for video training, Q+A sessions and other mass interactions that are currently done via forums, wiki etc.

Getting to the Sharp end of the Wedge

Over the last few weeks there has been plenty of stories backwards and forwards about the quality of Google’s results, specifically that the quality is going down.

Google counter in an official blog post to counter that specifially by saying that search quality is better than ever (though conceding a short term increase recently)

Penned by Matt Cutts, it tries to convince people that Google are always trying to improve their results, that they take web spam seriously and they are implementing new changes to combat the new threats.

Google are in a different space these days than when they were fighting spam a decade ago.

Now they are the overwhelming search leaders and are beginning the attract the kind of attention that Microsoft has had to deal with due to their size.

Any small incident or problem will be leapt upon and made larger than life.

Reports generated by people with close links to opposition search engines will appear forcing Google and it’s fans to dispute the findings.

With webspam, the easy fight has been fought and mostly won. Computer generated content is easily found and algorithms created to weed them out. Each iteration from the spammers is met by an algorithm change at the Search Engines and the fight goes on.

But now we are talking about “low quality” content, often written by people (rather than scraped off other sites) for small amounts of money, on topics far and wide to capture and convert as much traffic as possible.

But here in lies the problem:

Most online business owners are in the game of creating content and hoping it drives traffic and revenue. Same as this new form of Web Spam.

What Google are complaining about is that this content does not add to the search experience of the end user. In their eyes, the end user clicks on a link that takes them somewhere that will not solve their question or provide the appropriate information.

So, does that mean that Google are now the arbiters of what is “low” or “high” quality content? These are much murkier waters than before and we trust that Google do this job properly, not to the detriment of everyday content writers that have something valid to say but may not be the most polished of journalists.

Plenty more ammunition for the anti-Google to fire up with.

Do you think this is a fight too far? Can you algorithmically determine high from low quality?

Search Trends for 2011

Here is an interetsing video from Matt Cutts of Google with Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand, talking about future trends for search in 2011.

They talk about the increased importance of social media in influencing ranking. While still small, it shows a shift towards social as a means of determining importance of content on the web.

Towards the end of the video, they talk about how Google is trying to avoid the poisoning of somones persona on the web by taking multiple sources of information, reviews etc to try to weed out any malicious or extraneous reviews or comments. Matt says that they take over 500 sources to try and determine this, I wonder what they are?

Another important note, is that even though these sites are classed as social networks, if Google can’t crawl them, (possibly because of high security settings) then that information remains hidden and cannot be used in building ranking.

So will SEO now become more about the persona of the individual or company, will the “quality” of the persona be just as important as the “quality” of the links or the “quality” of the content?

The next big industry….Persona Management 🙂

Xtra/Yahoo NZ back in the Search Hands of Microsoft


Will it be Binghoo or Yabing?

With the announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo collaborating on search for a 10 year license term, one of the key outcomes is that Yahoo search will now be powered by Bing, the new Microsoft “Decision Engine”

After Xtra ditched MSN and went to Yahoo, Microsoft is back in the fold.

Regulatory issues in the US could mean we won’t see “powered by Bing” at the bottom of our Yahoo results for a couple of years.

So what affect will this have on the search market in New Zealand?

Not much.

It is pretty hard to compete with a competitor has over 90% of the market. The only thing I could see is that they might actually make an effort to increase their share. With each owning less than 5% share, it was even more futile. So now they have a chance, albeit a very slim one.

Microsoft will have access to key Yahoo technologies to make Bing better (Can’t see how this is good for Yahoo in the long run, past the 10 year license) and in Steve Ballmer’s words, reported by Danny Sullivan from the press conference.

Burden on Microsoft to deliver the goods and enable Yahoo to be successful

I think the key issue here is that Microsoft and Yahoo have finally decided that they will only be able to compete with Google when they stop fighting amongst themselves and consolidate their effort against a common enemy. Again as reported by Danny Sullivan:

Carol Bartz, Yahoo CEO: it’s hard to be a long term leader with Microsoft and Google keep stealing your employees

So I expect it will be a drawn out process, no surprise launch like Bing a couple of months back, but it will be an uphill battle for both to finally prevail as the No 1 search engine here and internationally.

$75 Free Advertising on Adwords for NZ businesses

This is a real winner, Google is providing $75 worth of free advertising on Adwords for NZ businesses that have not used Adwords before.

Google Adwords Offer

As a response the the current economic climate, the campaign is titled “Google Business Stimulus Offer” and is available till the end of August.

I recommend people take advantage of this offer, Adwords can be a great way to generate business.

Get in contact if you want to know how it works, click here or call on 0800 333 793

The Top 5 Benefits of Using Google’s Webmaster Tools

1. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a great way of telling Google what pages you want to be indexed.

Google will index your site regardless of using a sitemap, however, this tool makes it easier for Google to index those pages you want it to. You can exclude pages if you really want to, but you can use a generator to create the XML formatted file.

Here are some generators

2.  Content Analysis

One of the things Google hates is duplicate content, even worse is duplicate Titles and Descriptions (These are the important Meta Tags)

Webmaster Tools will allow you to see if there are any pages with duplicated titles or duplicated descriptions. This is a very important tool to get the most out of these tags

3.  Web Crawl Diagnostic

Once Google has crawled (indexed) your website, you hope all of your pages are visible in the index. This tool can help you find out if Google had problems finding and pages.

Obviously, if Google can find a page, it wont be in the search engine listings.

This can be bad links, moved content or other easily picked up issues.

4.  External Links

This shows all of the links into your website from other pages on the internet.

The best thing is the link on the right hand side that allows you to see all of the inbound links.

(Note: this does not show all of the times your website is mentioned, only the working links people can click on to find you)

In basic search engine terms, the more inbound links the better for you

5. Geographic Targeting

This one is bit more advanced and will affect a smaller number of people. One of the key changes in Google’s delivery of search results is the pre filtering that is done when you search.

Google will filter your results, even if you don’t ask it to.

As an example, if you do a search for a topic and DO NOT select the “web pages from this country” button your results are still biased towards the country Google believes you are in.

Alternatively, if you select the “web pages from this country” button, you will get results that Google think are directed to that country.

How does it do this?

It shows results for either websites with a country specific suffix ie .nz for New Zealand, or websites that are hosted in that country.

However, if you have a .com website hosted not in New Zealand, you will not be found in the search results for that country specific search.

The solution is to use Google’s Geographic Target, where you can specifiy the county you want to target (Only one, though)

There are plenty of other Tools, including Keywords, Search Phrases etc.

So Webmaster tools is a must have for all Web Designers, but also for those business owners who are keen to see how their sites are performing in Google.

Google Penalises Google for Paid Links

One thing that is a hot topic at the moment is paid links. Google has said for a few years that it frowns on the idea of paid links.

This also includes paid posts that include links (I suppose essentially the same thing).

Recently Google Japan was found to be doing just that and was penalised for it, dropping 4 PR points as a result of the penalty.

Matt Cutts twittered “ PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.” He expresses Google’s deep remorse and apologises on the company’s behalf in this video.

A few things stand out for me here:

  1. Google applies penalties across the board, BMW fell foul of Google a few years ago and was lost off the indexes for some time.
  2. If you have a PR of 4 or less, look out, if you are looking at this technique to build your ranking.
  3. Ignoring the webmaster guidelines (Which Matt says is evolving all the time) can be fatal for these grey and black hat techniques.

In another video, Matt argues against people who think Google are trying to tell webmasters what to do on their site. He points out that webmasters can do what they like, but so can Google.

With Google having over 90% share in the search market in NZ, you have to be careful to follow the guidelines or face the consequences.