Mr. Google, Matt Cutts, foretells the Future of SEO

ImageMatt Cutts has recently given a heads-up for what webmasters and SEO experts should expect over the summer of 2013. He addresses Google’s “Most Wanted” List of Top Ten things to watch out for:

http://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-black-hat-link-spammers-less-likely-to-show-up-in-search-results-after-summer-159185

[Giving a Shout-Out to Barry Schwartz over at SearchEngineLand for that link to a really nice summary of Matt’s presentation. I often keep an eye on Barry’s posts, along with other great journalists at SearchEngineLand.com.]

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Are you Kevin Bacon Close to your Customers?

Are you Chuck Norris Bacon Close to Your Clients?

Chuck Norris Bacon Number

Google just added a new search option, called the Bacon Number. Adding Bacon Number to an Actor or Celebrity name will calculate and display the other actors that have mutually worked with Kevin Bacon or your provided actor in the same movie. Or worked with an Actor that later worked with one of them. For each actor that is needed to link the original actor to Kevin, that counts as one degree of separation.

This fun little actor trivia game is based on Six degrees of separation, a concept that refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

So, now that you have Google’s help, see if you can find an Actor with a Bacon Number greater than 3. You’ll likely be amazed how small, or tight, the “Hollywood” industry appears when viewed from a “How Connected Are They” search tool.

Unfortunately, your industry doesn’t have a Bacon Number Tool, but it is almost certainly as connected. You are probably no more than 3 degrees, and no further than six degrees, away from every client or potential client. And they are that close to each other as well.

This close connectivity within an industry, or a community, is what makes social networking so effective for businesses, even small ones. Ask your next new customer how they found out about you. If it’s a person, thank them on your Facebook page and Twitter.

SXSW: Bing gets Social. Google Wants to Paint Too Much SEO Black.

The SEO community is all-a- buzz about an SXSW presentation on Search Engine Optimization. Two really interesting items resulted from a panel with “Mr. Google”, Matt Cutts and Bing’s counterpart, Duane Forrester. Both of them discussed interesting aspects to their approach. One that matters for larger businesses, one for smaller businesses.

The SEO blog-o-sphere is chattering about an audio post from SEOLand of the SXSW discussion. Essentially, Matt is pre-announcing an upcoming change that may target websites that are “overly optimized”.  He was defensively responding to a question about the increasing frequency of top results being irrelevant to the actual search. They want to stop fluff sites from over-ranking relevant sites, including Mom & Pop shops. Previously, his stance was a site couldn’t be overly optimized, unless using black hat techniques.

Most businesses seem to struggle with doing the basic fundamental best practices across all avenues of their online marketing, so this approach is likely a good thing. Now, don’t misinterpret Matt. Good, solid SEO techniques are still critical to ranking higher on Google’s Search Engine Result Page (SERP) as shown in this video:

The real news for smaller businesses is Duane’s response, just following Matt’s. Because of  Bing’s continued relationship with Facebook, their response to this issue is to promote what users on Facebook are sharing and liking. This will help content rise even if no links point to it.

Microsoft also announced more about their deal with Twitter.  Duane stressed that products or services from smaller or newer businesses will receive higher search results if social network amplification is occurring. (Meaning, someone sharing or liking something that was exposed to them from someone in their network, which is further shared by someone another degree away.)

Duane’s response exposes Google’s current weakness that Bing could exploit if it can attract enough searchers.

Google SPYW: Is Rome Burning?

As discussed earlier, Google has begun blending and promoting their Google+ social network skewed results in their traditionally neutral search results, and doing so by default.

This favoritism and skewing of results is garnering tons of negative opinion pieces and articles around the web, such as this excellent overview on VentureBeat.com. It is quite easy for anyone to perform a search using Google and see how results favor Google+ pages and personalities over the much more relevant and frequently used pages or accounts using Twitter and Facebook.

We understand Google’s belief that they must somehow recreate and utilize a similar human network of web indexers such as their potential competitors seem to have achieved using Facebook ‘likes’ or Re-tweets. However, they do seem to be betting the farm with this decision.

It must be really tough making these kind of decisions in a company and industry that didn’t even exist more than a decade ago, give or take a few years. There aren’t any examples or historic events that they can consider when faced with these choices.

Or are there? Why are Search professionals so up in arms about this decision? Shouldn’t Google promote their own properties? Shouldn’t all companies and industries do so?

Turns out, these examples do exist and have been tested time and time again in their very own industry. Because Google is in the Advertising and Publication industry, the same as Sports Illustrated or Style or the New York Times. The content of search results are the articles and Adwords or Adsense are their Ads. Pure and simple.

And this decision? It’s the same one any Publication has faced and turned away from, or likely didn’t survive. Editors and Publishers both understand that the content must bring the consumers and the Ads will follow. When Publications begin promoting their Advertisers as news, it seldom works for long. Content consumers quickly deduce paid infomercials, whether obviously stated or not.

So, Google is breaking the oldest Publication law in the books: Editorial favoritism toward advertisers over unbiased or more relevant information. A huge no-no. Will they succeed and survive? Only time will tell.

Google Search Risks Relevancy to promote Google+

Google Search is rolling out “Search Plus Your World”. Basically, they are officially blending in your personal content and related friends’ content into your search results on Google.com. But, even if you aren’t logged into Google+, they are promoting Google+ business and brand pages beyond the obvious relevancy they deserve, especially compared to the content they already index from Twitter and Facebook. Ignoring the impact of unveiling to you how much personal data they have, this decision clearly shows them favoring their properties, content and brand products over the relevancy of the search results.

This means that you can no longer rely on Google as your only search engine. (You shouldn’t anyway, of course). Rome has started burning.

Danny Sullivan, renowned Search Engine Land Editor, has a well written article with annotated screenshots of his initial research. See what you think and let us know if you think Google’s “Search Plus Your World” or SPYW, spys deep enough into Twitter or Facebook. Or whether it spys too deep everywhere.

Fewer Words Matter

The hardest part of any marketing task is communicating your message in just a few words.

I have been telling friends for years that a marketing degree should start with “Marketing 101: How to Describe It in 100 Words.” It would be a weekly course and every week the student would have to describe the same item, but in fewer and fewer words. The final would be a Google Adwords Ad…here is it’s format:
25 Characters
35 Characters
25 Characters

That’s less than 100 Characters, including spaces. And in that 100 characters you have to grab a person’s attention, differentiate yourself and entice them to click on your Ad among all others.

Most firms we begin helping have a tough time saying what they do in a paragraph.

One of the SEM mentors I follow posted this video, which I think sums all this up in two spoken sentences and one written one.

Can you describe your company in seven words or less? Give it a shot, you may be surprised at the results!

Are You Watching Your Google Rankings?

Don't Play Around with Panda
One reason for considering professional Search Engine Optimization experts is to help you keep abreast of changes and ramifications. Google has been increasing the number and significance of their algorithm changes every year. Last official count averaged more than one per day.

Unless you monitor your results using best practices you won’t know what changed, when it changed and how it affected your ability to show up on the first page of search results.  Almost every client we start with, either thinks their results are fine (they usually weren’t) or think they’re terrible (they weren’t always) because they don’t really understand how to go about searching and what words to use. And how to check it consistently time after time.

For instance, a CEO of a Trash Can manufacturer might use “waste can” when searching for his product and be happy it showed up. Maybe all their content used “waste” and was indexed accordingly. Or, worse yet, maybe the CEO was signed in and using Google’s “personalized search results” feature that is set by default. Once the CEO is shown the majority of normal searches (in the US) use the word  “trash” and not “waste”, he would be a bit disappointed. He would likely be even more disappointed with their results once the “personalized ” feature was disabled.

Why remind folks of this aspect? There are lots of benefits and lots of reasons why you really should consider learning finding a professional to help you in this area. You can spend hours every week reading what other experts are testing, what new methods are most effective and what techniques might now be getting you in trouble. Or just spend a few hours one week researching a professional.

A new article talking about the biggest three changes last year prompted me to post this article. Did you hear about Google’s Panda change? Did your site’s search results drop? You might be very interested in the following article from Duncan Heath at SearchEnginePeople.com about the big difference in Google’s latest search change, called Panda.