Quality Content, Google and E.A.T.

In this video I discuss changes to Google’s quality guidelines and the concept of Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.

If you would like to ensure you’re getting the best results for your online presence then you need to watch this video.

Should I ‘Google Now’?

Whenever I ask a client or team member the number 1 way to perform research, they instantly say ‘Google It’.

Google have always played a strong part in the growth of the Internet and for over 13 years have been committed to the growth of their online community.

They have released and acquired (whilst invested Billions of Dollars) in a number of key products, designed to grow their core offering whilst sticking to the core principle of delivering the RIGHT information to their end user as fast as possible.

Google have really have become a part of our daily lives and in many ways they have earned our trust as the place to go when you’re looking for information.

Heck… they’re the number one site in the world (according to Alexa)

Google ranks number one in Alexa

In order to remain the market leader they understand the necessity need to innovate and integrate.

With their strong vested interest in Smart devices (like mobile and tablets) Google are slowly shifting their focus to think more about their mobile users, what they need and how they can make their lives easier (with that market leader focus)

Enter… Google Now

Google Now

What is Google Now?

Google Now is a simple way of proving mobile users with information they require on a day to day basis, especially when they’re on the go. Although it has been available for about 12 months now on Android, they recently launched an App for iPhone’s iOS, proving that Google are committed to the ongoing growth of this service.

How Does Google Now Work?

With the introduction of Google Now you’re able to access all of your favourite information in one source.

Google is taking all of the information they’ve gathered (about your search trends) and are integrating that information into one central source. It will remind you of appointments, flights, bookings, update you on news you’re interested in and even tell you how far away you are from work, offering alternative routes if the traffic is too heavy.

Here are just some of the areas that people will find:

  • Activity – Tells you how far you’ve walked. This takes data from your location.
  • Flights – Flight information based on booking confirmation sent to your Gmail. Don’t expect anything to pop up here if your booking confirmation didn’t go to Gmail.
  • Boarding Pass – QR code of your boarding pass. List of airlines are limited for now.
  • Hotel – Hotel information based on booking confirmation mailed to you. This is complemented by directions using Google Maps.
  • Public Transit – Shows public transport schedule whenever you are somewhere near a bus or train station.
  • Public Alerts – Important advisories covering your area.
  • News – News items related to the last one you read.
  • Weather – Weather information based on your location.
  • Packages – Gives you shipping details, estimated date of arrival and delivery update. Will be quite handy since you won’t have to check online every time.
  • Appointments – Pops up before the event. This is based on items on your Google Calendar
  • Places – Information on nearby businesses. Shows you restaurants, bars and other businesses in your area.
  • Real Estate – If Google detects you’re interested in real estate, this card will show you property listings.
  • Stocks – Information on stocks you’re tracking. Based on your Google Finance information.
  • Research Topics – Topics available based on your recent searches.
  • Sports – Live scores, recap and highlights of games your favourite team played.
  • Currency – Google Now detects you’re in another country so it gives you currency conversion information.
  • Translation – Translates words and phrases to help you in a foreign land.
  • Attractions – This card will give you information on tourist sites and interesting places in the new city you’re visiting.

It can also predict what you need to know and want to know… that’s the power of data.

How It Works

So how does Google do it? Google Now harnesses everything Google has learned from you, from the search terms you’ve put on the search bar, your flight confirmations, hotel bookings, and more importantly, your location. Google Now uses relevant information it gathers from your Gmail, Google Calendar, Google+, Location and your recent searches on Google.

The level of integration and how much you share is in your hands (and unlike another very popular social network they are pretty careful when making changes).

Google Lets You Hold All the Cards

Google Now provides a simple interface using cards for every interest you have. Let’s say you booked a flight and you got an email notification of your booking. At the time of your flight, you will get information on the status of your flight, driving directions to the airport, and if you checked in online, you’ll get the QR code for your boarding pass.

As mentioned earlier, it’s designed to bring it all together in one location.

 QR code of a boarding pass
You can choose the cards you want or need and turn off those that you don’t want to see.

Google Mobile Features

Google Now tries to be predictive but there will be times when it will make a mistake about your expectations. For instance, you could have searched about a certain movie and Google interpreted this as genuine interest in that movie, so it would give you a Movies card to tell you when the movie will be shown in your location.


What’s In It for Businesses?

So what’s in it for businesses? A lot, especially if you understand the importance in creating a solid online presence.

Google Now incorporates Google Places and reviews. That means, you get better exposure for people looking for a business in your locality. That also means it’s important for you to be listed on Google Places or Google+ Local.

Google Places and Reviews on mobile and tablet computer

When users access the Places card, they’ll be shown businesses in the area. Having good reviews on your Google+ Local page will definitely boost your online presence and the more you interact the more likely your business is to appear as a recommended business.

What are the Down Sides?

It would be remiss to look at Google Now and not cover the downsides of this service.

It’s still pretty new, meaning it’s a work in progress.

If you’re using older versions of Android all of the features do not integrate as seamlessly as on newer versions (like having Google now on the phones lock screen. This doesn’t work on older versions of Android – older than 4.1).

It can use up a lot of battery power, voice recognition isn’t quite at the same standard as ‘Siri’ and there’s also issues with random crashes.

Also, let’s address the Elephant in the Room – Your Privacy

There is the question of your personal information… Do you want Google to know everything you’re doing?

Due to the nature of its set-up, the more you use it the more suggestive it will become… there are some super cool features in relation to traffic data, recommended places to dine and eat and more. But for some it may be stepping over the line and considered invasion of privacy. If you’re in that corner either customise what you share or wait a little longer to see how it evolves before you jump on board.

What do they collect and is this an invasion of your privacy?

If you’re still not sure, think of the Internet as a public forum. Anything you do, say or put out there is up for public scrutiny and knowledge. There are certain measures you can put in place but always be mindful that you’re always on show. If you want more information about the info Google use and gather, check out their privacy policy here – http://www.google.com.au/policies/privacy/

Start of Something Great

Google Now is a new experience that’s both exciting and impressive that has a long way to go. At the end of the day you will get out of it what you put in.

Over time the Big G will no doubt evolve the offering as people use it.

Will I be using it?

I already am… I’m actually looking forward to better understanding how it will help ‘my everyday’, how they will continue to develop the service and how it will impact clients online business.


SEO Techniques and Trends

MarketingSherpa have just released their 2012 Search Marketing – SEO Edition report, outlining past and future trends in SEO.

As a teaser to the report, they have also released an excerpt, highlighting several key SEO findings within over 1500 organisations.

Main reasons people Engage in SEO

The top reason people are investing in SEO is to increase traffic, which in a way is what you would consider to be the most important element of a website. In reality the most important reason to engage an SEO firm is to increase the leads and conversions through your website.

Even if your site is only attracting a few 100 visitors per month, if your campaign is highly targeted within your industry and you’re getting business through your website, then I would call that a success.

We recently started SEO’ing a site that attracts over 50,000 visitors a month, but the conversion to lead or customer was very low. By implementing a few on-page conversion strategies, we are slowly converting their traffic to leads to customers.

SEO Tactics to Rank

If you are new to SEO or you are considering DIY SEO this will give you an insight and may help you to understand why you should outsource this service. The graph below indicates the SEO methods in use and the level of difficulty through the use of each technique.

Keyword research is the second most commonly used tactic and rightfully so. Your keyword research will determine the success of your overall strategy.

A point of interest is that content creation is the most commonly used strategy and considered to be the most difficult strategy. This really does hit home that ‘content is king’, especially in light of the recent Google Panda updates.

SEO growth over the next 12 months

The following graph is broken down into 3 different sections; Trial, Transition and Strategic. It shows the level of investment expected in SEO over the next 12 months. Businesses within the Trial phase using SEO are generally run in-house, spending money on wages and staff salaries, with Transition and Strategic outsourcing either all or components of their SEO.

Further more, Transition and Strategic companies are continuing to increase their SEO budget, understanding the solid Return On Investment (ROI) in relation to dollars spent.

This also rings true with a number of our clients either previously performing the SEO tasks themselves or assigning the task to one of the members of their staff. Due to the nature of SEO, many of these tasks can be performed on a larger scale and with more consistency at a lower dollar investment.

ROI for SEO – Do the Maths

Really think about this last point and do the maths. Consider assigning an admin person with 10 hours a week of consistently performing SEO tasks (article writing, link building etc). If you are paying this person $45,000 per annum based on a  40 hour week, then you’re essentially investing just under $12,000 a year on SEO.

For a similar (or lower in many cases) level of investment you’re able to outsource this service, and have a dedicated team of people working on the strategic direction of your site working close to double that amount. They are also specialised in the art of SEO and have their finger on the pulse of all current and future trends. Hmmm… A No brainer?

As you would expect, a large number of our long term clients sit within the Strategic section and are constantly looking at increasing their ROI through other mediums like email marketing campaigns and social media.

SEO and the Wild West

This report shows that SEO is still in it’s infancy, with a lot of opportunity and growth available for many small to large business. It’s still the ‘wild west’ online and this report shows SEO’ers are taking positive steps towards standardisation.

The investment for the report is $397 for the .pdf version and is a good read for anyone that has an interest in SEO trends.

To download the report for a $100 discount, download the excerpt and fill out the form on the last page. You can download the excerpt from here – https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=31953#

SEO and Social Media – Is this the Missing Link

For the last 2 years, Google have pro-actively integrated social media (especially twitter) through ‘Google Realtime search’.

It shows the strength of social media, especially when comments are re-tweeted and in certain circumstances, shown in the Search Engine Results Pages.

Sounds like a good idea for a person searching on a certain topic? If a particular subject is trending at any given time and the social world is interested then Google will tell you about it in their results. This is great!

On the 3rd of July they decided to stop using Twitter as a factor in social media trends with no real explanation. As you can read in this post by Cyrus Shepard in SEO Moz the theoretical intention is to start using Google+ as the social medium to replace twitter. Here’s the article here – http://mz.cm/owXtfx

In Cyrus’ article it shows a few examples of social media and its direct influence to the Search Engine Results Pages. The image below from this article demonstrates an example of pre 3rd July.

Will this impact my SEO and should I panic?

While this certainly demonstrates the importance of social media in any online campaign it doesn’t mean you should go out and set up a million campaigns and get a tonne of Google +1’s to your homepage. Aside from the fact that this is ‘black hat’ you’ll eventually get caught.

What it does demonstrate in some instances the importance of a solid social media profile and that it can potentially influence your position in the search engines. If you are serious in your online presence should you ensure you have a solid social platform? Maybe… in reality it could be overkill and you could end up spending a lot of time and money with your BDM or team member performing tasks that won’t actually give you any real measurable results.

Truth told, we are certainly recommending to certain clients that they look at their social media presence, especially if their SEO competition does the same and is doing it well.

Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. Like most Search Engines, in order to rank you don’t have to ‘do it all’; you simply have to do it a little better than your competition. By ensuring you’re keeping an eye on your competition (using social monitors) you’ll understand if now is the time to react, or if you should invest your time in other activities that offer a better return on investment.

A nice Niche for Search Engines – Google’s, What Do you Love?

I recall reading a book discussing the fundamentals of Google. The book was
written by Mark Malseed in 2005, and was called ‘The Google Story’.

One of the main points of the book I recall was discussing the structure of a
Google employee’s week and how they are encouraged to develop their own projects
one day a week.

Over time if you project was interesting enough it would be integrated into
Google’s overall offerings.

I have no doubt Google Maps, Froogle (now Google product search) and a multitude
of other offerings from Google were as a result of this method of encouragement
and development.

One of the latest projects just released is ‘What Do You Love’ (can be found at
www.wdyl.com), which is a cool way of showing many different online mediums in
one summarised area on a particular topic.

You can see the full story on their blog here –

They explain it to say ‘A while back, a few of us wanted to make a little tool
that we could use to show just about anybody more of what Google makes. That led
to some simple ideas, and then a few more ideas and ultimately, to a challenge:
how we could connect people to products they might not know about and may find
useful, but make the discovery relevant to them and keep it fun.

Playing about with that challenge produced a website—What Do You Love?—that we
hope meets at least some of the challenge by demonstrating how different Google
products can show you different things about any particular search query.’

This tool reminds me of iGoogle, which is the tool that you can customise to
bring back specific information when you are signed into your Google account.

The difference with this site though is it’s offering of other interesting
snippets of information including Blogs, Patents, Images, 3D, Books, latest
news, and many other cool features.

A useful add-on? From an SEO perspective, visit the site and type in your
business name. This will give you a nice cross section of what’s out there in
relation to your business. Even better, type in your product or service and see
what comes up.

Could you could use this as a cool tool to track your competitors. Hmmm

Resource – Official Google Blog – http://bit.ly/nLJUIl