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.]

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 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.

Google’s Change to Search Algorithm Affects 35% of Sites’ Search Results

Google continues to roll out massive, structural changes and, just like their Panda release earlier this year, this latest change will affect 35% of sites showing up in search results. More than 1/3 of the sites on the Internet may start or stop showing up on the first page of results.

Do you even know if your site has been affected? And if it is, do you understand why?

Google has made this major adjustment to force “more recent” content as the highest results. While this makes sense for searching on many news, gossip, financial and political topics, it could reek havoc on a great product-oriented website.

Once again, Google has upped the difficulty. You need to understand what “recent” means in your industry and for the type of site you have designed.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, though, to work out what qualifies as ‘recent’, according to Google fellow Amit Singhal in the official Google blog post on this new change.

Google Adwords Big Change Coming?

Upcoming Adword Format Bad for SMBsWhile catching up on the latest SEO articles, a disturbing post showed up today. It appears that Google is testing the effects of showing how many clicks an Ad or Advertiser has previously gotten.

While we promote Google Adwords to many of our small business clients, there are various aspects that are real disadvantages to them. The overall complexity and several default settings are definitely an issue for SMB and independents without some type of Search Engine Marking (SEM) resource.

Well, Google is trying an Adwords experiment that may indeed be another major problem for small businesses. There are apparently two types of displays being tested, one that just says “Clicks”. The other one says “clicks from this advertiser”. In this image, notice the difference between the two almost identical Ads for the same basic product/brand:Google Adwords Click Display Experiment

Showing “Clicks for this Advertiser” in the Ad will create a very unfair advantage for large brands, big Ad budgets and National Ad agencies.

Notice that the top Ad has 156,000 previous clicks and the one below it has 59,000,000. Which would you click?

We’ve been very successful pitching SMB Ads against major brands with deep pockets. We rely on niche targets, whether time spots, longer tail keywords, more refined and selective demographics or sites. If successful, our Ad typically shows higher than the wider casting net of the big check books.

Think of it another way. A big budget allows for less granular keyword bids, less related Ad text to keywords they are bidding on and finally, paying a bit higher due to a lower quality score. If we are able to place our SMB Ad alongside the more generic text from one of their Ads, we stand a better chance of getting the click due to our more relevant copy and keywords.

Unless that other Ad has 59,000,000 clicks displayed and we only have 156,000.

The real shame? All 156,000 of our visitors could have bought a product, while 200,000 of those other clickers could have bounced away from that site’s competing product immediately without buying anything. If that Advertiser’s 58,800,000 of those clicks are for Ads that send them to another page, not that related to our client’s product, then they won’t even be penalized much. And the users that might have clicked and bought, will instead gravitate towards the Ad with more clicks due to the Lemming Effect.

This also means longer running Ads and Advertisers could have better click through rate (CTR) advantage.

3 Best SEO Practices that Could Penalize Your Site

Well, we recently posted about the need to change a common “Best Practice” SEO technique for incoming Links to your site. It’s been considered a good thing to have those links use the most relevant keywords that matter to your site, rather than every link on the web using “Click here for more”.

Now it appears two other SEO Best Practices may hurt your site’s search ranking results, at least Google’s results anyway.

Joining “important keywords should be used on inbound links” are these two common SEO techniques:

1) Don’t Waste Page Titles on your Brand Names, use Keywords instead

2) Keeping page content specific to one subject

It now appears, after Google’s Panda and Mayday updates, that both of these techniques will no longer help you and may indeed hurt you, dropping your rank on Google’s search pages.

Here’s an in-depth article that will detail these two important changes, as well as discuss the common anchor text on inbound links practice. It’s called, “Breaking 3 Old SEO Habits“.