Critical Factors Google Uses to Judge Your Content Quality



As you no doubt know, Google has long judged your Web site on content quality. But research reveals other vital factors about Google’s algorithm changes.

“Google’s Hummingbird algorithm change means the search engine now has a better understanding of the intent and meaning of searches which improves its ability to deliver relevant content in search results,” said Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics founder and CTO.

imagerymajestic supply chain risksCharacteristics of strong quality

Google looks for comprehensive information and content that’s easy-to-understand.

This means your site probably entices users to stay on your site longer and has higher click-through rates. And you have effective internal links and quick-loading pages with less advertisements.

All of this is explained in a 2014 Searchmetrics study.

The report reviewed 10,000 trendy keywords and about 300,000 Web sites that rank in their top 30 search results.

However, big brands are ranked high even without meeting such content standards.

Well-known brands don’t have to have much content, internal links or keywords in the search-engine description.

But big brands benefit from high-quality backlinks from news-media sites and other highly ranked sites. Strangely, Wikipedia is according big-brand status by Google.

Smaller brands and sites have to work harder to attract Google’s favorite status.

“This means search engine optimization is increasingly a holistic discipline. It’s not enough to optimize and rank for one relevant keyword – content must now be relevant to the topic and include several related terms. This helps a page to rank for several terms and creates an improved user experience at the same time,” Mr. Tober added.

More findings

Google spots high quality, relevant content. Sites enjoying No. 1 and No. 2 rankings have comprehensive relevance with at least 900 words with images and videos.

“Just creating more content does not positively influence rankings,” Mr. Tober explained. “It’s about developing relevant and comprehensive content for users dealing with more than just one aspect of a certain topic.”

He says search engines now analyze “content clusters” not just single keywords – subjects that are based on keywords and a myriad of related terms.

Readability is important to Google – higher ranked sites were easy-to-read using the Flesch readability scale:

Score Notes
90.0–100.0 easily understood by an average 11-year-old student
60.0–70.0 easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students
0.0–30.0 best understood by university graduates


(NOTE: Personally, I find this Google practice of using a readability scale to be very offensive and is a catalyst for dumbing down of people worldwide.)

Social signals are important. No surprise:  Google favors its own Google followed by Facebook shares, Facebook Likes, Pinterest pins, and tweets on Twitter.

“Our study provides a comprehensive overview of the factors that correlate with a high Google ranking as well as an analysis of what the top sites have in common on average,” explained Mr.  Tober.

“Search professionals must realize that good rankings cannot be achieved by cherry-picking a few factors. Having many backlinks and a fast load-speed will not result in a high ranking if the content on the page is not relevant to the user. Good rankings are based on the interaction of many weighted factors,” he added.

The bottom-line:

“My advice is to focus on optimizing the overall search experience for visitors to your site. Create high quality, accessible content which is relevant and valuable to you target audience; ensure your site is technically excellent to drive a good user experience; and promote it using social media and PR to drive quality natural backlinks,” concluded Mr. Tober.

Here’s a helpful infographic:


From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:


Do You Want to Prevail on Google? Watch the Cheesy Stuff — If you want to win on Google, heed its warning.   Sure, every online publisher wants to earn money from advertising these days. Note the emphasis on the word, “earn.” But there are ways to do right and ways to do it wrong.

Good Blogs Have Nothing to Fear from Google’s Updates — Alarms bells are sounding all over the Internet after Google’s seemingly incessant algorithm updates. The search engine’s changes can be unnerving for bloggers, but there’s no reason to panic. Use patience and tenacity to succeed.

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks. Those are the conclusions from a 2013 Searchmetrics study.
 
Google Tips – 23 Key Questions about Your Web Site — Google has unveiled vital information about what it considers important for Web site ranking. Without divulging proprietary information, Google emphasized it’s all about value – quality for Internet users. In other words, there are no shortcuts for success.

8 Red Flags Your Web Site is Out-of-Date (Here’s What to Do)
— Just like your finances, human resources and other aspects of your business, your Web site should be continuously monitored for red flags and to be sure it’s not out-of date. Yes, it’s time-consuming and expensive, but any problems should be solved. The trick is to do right, cost-effectively.

If you Google some sites about the link between vaccines and autism, you can very quickly find that Google is repeating back to you your view about whether that link exists and not what scientists know, which is that there isn’t a link between vaccines and autism. It’s a feedback loop that’s invisible.”

-Eli Pariser

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study



There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

Those are the conclusions from a 2013 Searchmetrics study. (Searchmetrics is a top provider of digital marketing software and services.)

search-engine-optimization-575032_1280Seemingly, the study confirms what I’ve long maintained — if you rank well on Google, you’ll show up well on Bing and Yahoo. (Here’s how small businesses can profit from cyber strategies.) 

For other than top brands, the study reveals only 24.7 percent of Web pages that show on the first page of Bing results also appear on Google’s first page.

The study analyzed 10,000 popular keywords and 300,000 Web sites ranked in the top 30 search results on Bing. (See correlation data here.) 

The study’s key findings: 

1. Bing and Google give brands special treatment; helping them rank higher in search engine ranking pages (SERPs). Top brands dominate on both search engines. However, Google’s algorithm seems to be a little more effective at identifying brands and separating them from non-brands.

“Brands rank in the top positions even if they don’t meet certain criteria that non-brand sites have to — or don’t meet them to a sufficient extent,” says Marcus Tober, CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics.

“For example, brand websites rank in the top positions on Bing and Google despite using keywords in the title or description much less frequently, offering less content on average and having a lower number of internal links. These are things that non-brand sites seemingly have to do more if they want their pages to rank well.

“And both Bing and Google consider it natural for brands to have comparatively more backlinks with the name of the company in the link text alone — what we refer to as ‘brand links’ — and still not be rated negatively as would happen for non-brand sites.” Why isn’t the influence of brands clearly defined on Bing as on Google?

The brand factor seems mainly to affect the very first position in Google’s results, whereas for Bing, the first four to six positions show some kind of influence that seems to be caused by the brand factor,” says Mr. Tober. “It seems like Bing is less sure about which sites belong to top brands and so deserve special treatment.”

For other than top brands, the study reveals only 24.7 percent of Web pages that show on the first page of Bing results also appear on Google’s first page.

2. Backlink numbers are closely linked to higher rankings on Bing. While both Bing and Google try to reward pages that have a profile of backlinks that looks natural — not as though it was artificially created by linkbuilding experts — Bing seems less rigorous about this than Google.

“A natural link profile means a site should not simply have a large number of perfectly optimized links that include keywords it wants to rank for in the anchor text. It should have a proportion of ‘no follow’ links which do not convey ranking benefits on search engines and links that contain neutral ‘stopwords’ such as ‘in’, ‘and’, ‘to’ in the anchor text — as well as links that are generic words like ‘there’, ‘here’ and ‘page’,” explains Mr. Tober.

But Mr. Tober says the link profiles of high ranking pages on Bing are still significantly dominated by pages with both a higher proportion of links featuring keywords and smaller proportions of no-follow links, as well as fewer links with stop words.

The study shows about 53 percent of the backlinks of Web sites ranked among the top 30 results on Bing contain keywords in the anchor text, which is about 10 percent more than Google). Two percent of backlinks of pages ranked in the top 30 on Bing contain a stop word. While on Google it’s 10 percent.

“The number of backlinks seems to be the most relevant metric for Bing, whereas the majority of the other backlink features — such as no-follow links or the presence of stopwords in the anchor text — seem not yet to be as relevant for rankings as they do for Google,” says Mr. Tober.

3. Social signals are closely linked to higher rankings. Web sites that rank in the top positions on Bing usually have a large number of social signals according — shares, likes, comments, plus ones and tweets. Plus, the worse the ranking, the lower the number of social signals. But Mr. Tober says correlation is not the same as causation.

“There’s a lot of debate in the search industry about whether social signals directly influence rankings or are just closely correlated with rankings – because highly ranked pages will get more traffic and so attract more shares, likes, plus ones etc.,” he points out. “On the one hand, the data cannot help us say definitively which is true — but on the other hand, social signals are an important user quality signal which you would very likely expect to be taken into account by search engines.”

4. Quality content is important for search rankings. The quality of content on web pages is an important ranking factor. As with Google, in Bing searches pages with more text are positively correlated with rankings indicating that higher ranking pages have more text.

But on average, pages ranking in the top 30 Bing results feature about 100 more words than URLs ranking in the corresponding positions on Google.

“If we assume that the existence of more text is an indicator of quality, then quality content is linked to higher rankings on Bing as well as Google, according to our study,” says Mr. Tober. “On Bing we actually found that this relationship exists up to a limit of around 700 words on average — after this the correlation tended to decrease. So you can’t just go on adding text in the hope it will continue to drive a more positive rankings boost.”

In Google searches, the higher the number of images on a Web site, the better the ranking in general. For Bing, the correlation of the number of images is much lower. Search engine algorithms also take into account keyword semantics and clusters of keywords related to a topic when presenting search results.

5. Consider vital on-page technical factors. Certain on-page factors tend to have a low correlation because they are present on nearly every page that appears in the top 30 search results on Bing and Google.

“These factors tended to be the very basic on-page factors such as the existence of H1 headings, a keyword in the meta description and site speed,” says Mr. Tober. They are almost ever-present and should not be disregarded by SEO teams.”

He says the low correlation for these factors does not mean they are not important.

“Fulfilling certain on-page criteria is now not about achieving a favorable ranking; rather, it is the opposite: It is simply negative for the rankings when web pages do not meet these criteria,” he asserts. “On-page factors are therefore considered more of a prerequisite for ranking higher in search results pages.”

From the Coach’s Corner, related Internet tips:

SEO: Strategic Primer for a No.1 Rated Blog — For a popular blog, you must understand the process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO).  If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. SEO is arduous work. You must have a strategic blogging goal. 

Optimize for Bing to Achieve 30% Reach on Internet — Yahoo and Bing are expected to combine for 30 percent market share. If you haven’t already, start optimizing your Web site for Bing. Here’s how. 

Checklist: 14 Strategies to Rock on Google — Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites. But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy.

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”

-Bill Gates


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Security Needs Update: Russian Hackers Steal 1.2 Billion Passwords



About 1.2 billion Internet usernames and passwords from hundreds of thousands of Web sites and 500,000 e-mail addresses have been stolen by a Russian crime syndicate, according to an Aug. 5, 2014 report in The New York Times.

This should revive interest in the movement to eliminate passwords.

Google’s efforts in 2013 to make the Internet more secure by eliminating the use of passwords has already drawn praise from one of the nation’s leading authorities on digital security.

“The premise is indeed interesting and is most likely destined to become reality,” says Stan Stahl,Ph.D., at Citadel Information Group, www.citadel-information.com, in Los Angeles.

Published reports including “Google Prepares to Leave the Password Behind” in PC Magazine indicate Google wants to use “a tiny cryptographic USB card called a YubiKey with a modified version of Google Chrome.”

Google ostensibly wants to make a gadget available that would corroborate the identity of users on all machines from computers to mobile phones.

“Passwords are challenging and difficult for people,” acknowledges Dr. Stahl. “Strong passwords are hard to construct – in part because we do a lousy job of instruction.”

It can be a tedious process if you have a lot of passwords.

“Strong passwords are hard to remember,” says the security guru. “And when we need several of them, they become very are hard to manage.”

Feasible alternative

“Replacing passwords with authentication devices could have the positive benefit that both the web site and the user will be able to authenticate the other,” says Dr. Stahl.

“Right now, it’s often too easy for a fraudulent web site [set up by a cybercriminal to steal your information when you visit, for example] to look legitimate to an unsuspecting visitor,” he adds.

“Done right, an authentication device could authenticate the user to the site and the site to the user,” asserts Dr. Stahl.

But what if the device is lost or misplaced? Indeed, the PC article reports Google probably has a solution.

The search engine has “developed a Google-independent protocol that requires no special software to authenticate a security device. It even includes measures to prevent websites from tracking users via their security devices, and only requires that the user be running a browser that supports the protocol.”

The Google approach appears to be easier and more secure than passwords. However, don’t get complacent and start celebrating.

“…no technology – including technology that replaces passwords – is a silver bullet in the fight against cybercrime,” cautions Dr. Stahl.

“A cyber criminal who takes control of the computer you use to access your bank account will have your access to that bank account, whether you gain access through a password or through an authentication device,” he adds.

From the Coach’s Corner, visit Dr. Stahl’s informative security blog, where you can sign up for his complimentary security updates.

More of Dr. Stahl’s expert opinions:

BYOD, Mobile-Banking Warnings about Security Prove Prophetic — Not to be gauche, but in 2009 you saw the Internet security warning here first – mobile banking is so risky an IT security guru said don’t do it. The warning was prophetic.

5 Safety Measures to Thwart Mounting Social-Network Attacks  — An epidemic of social-networking attacks represents unprecedented dangers to companies. Here’s how a Facebook user cost her company a $1 million loss.

Who Profits from Android’s Security Issues? Not Users — Countless headlines detail the cyber dangers of Android-based devices. It has to do with the apps.

Cyber Security Legislation that Affects Your Business — A data-breach bill has been re-introduced in the U.S. Senate that would regulate how businesses behave – informing customers when their personal information has been stolen. Actually, you should take the enclosed precautions even if the law doesn’t pass.

Lesson about Passwords after Theft of 16,000+ UCLA Patient Records — Unfortunately, we’ve learned another lesson about passwords at the expense of 16,288 patients who’ve been treated at UCLA’s network of hospitals and clinics.  The patients’ sensitive information are in the wrong hands following a burglary of a doctor.

 “Criminals should be punished, not fed pastries.”

-Lemony Snicket

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Marketing Lessons from Rick Santorum’s Failed Candidacy



So, former Sen. Rick Santorum unsuccessfully campaigned for president again in 2016. But he failed to do as well in 2016 as he did in 2012.

Ostensibly, he didn’t learn the marketing lessons from his failed 2012 campaign.

Most recently he has been CEO of Echolight Studios. Without even considering his political views, the former senator from Pennsylvania doesn’t have a prayer unless he makes some marketing changes.

Unintentionally, Mr. Santorum’s unsuccessful presidential campaign — with inadequate branding — provided business with Internet marketing lessons.

Mr. Santorum 


Perhaps you noticed the inflammatory results in searching the Web for him. When you searched for “Santorum,” the deprecating site of “spreadingsantorum.com” was first on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

For curious voters interested in the campaign, it was an especially disappointing search. The site is no longer ranked No. 1 for the keyword, Santorum, thanks to Wikipedia, but remained in the top 5 the last time.

The derogatory site was created in 2003 by a part owner of The Stranger publication in Seattle, who was annoyed by then-Sen. Santorum’s comment about a U.S. Supreme court ruling that was favored by the gay community.

Understandably, Mr. Santorum complained to Google about the rankings – after all there are precedents. Indeed, it can be argued that Google could do something about it.

You might recall Google penalized the derogatory monkey-face depictions of Michelle Obama. There are countless security examples from when Google and the other search engines have issued a warning about a Web site when it believes a site is a security risk to users.

Until and unless Google and the other search engines take corrective measures, the Santorum campaign should have focused on what it could control.

However, the campaign failed to use best practices in Internet marketing.

Its salient shortcomings:

  1. Failure to use SEO techniques
  2. A call to action without giving the right incentives – branding and value propositions
  3. Poor organization – lack of preparedness

Without even considering his political views, the former senator from Pennsylvania doesn’t have a prayer unless he makes some marketing changes.

Failure to use SEO

As a result of his strong showing from largely grass roots efforts, Mr. Santorum’s campaign attracted an unprecedented number of voters who were curious about him. They could find the right site easier when they search using the key words, “Rick Santorum.”

But if they searched using “Santorum,” they get the derogatory site.

In effect, however, the campaign allowed Mr. Santorum to become a victim of political sabotage sans common SEO procedures.

Yes, the Santorum campaign had options to effectively to eliminate the adverse impact of the sarcastic site. Curiously, “spreadingsantorum.com” only has a Google page rank of 5. That wasn’t insurmountable for the Santorum campaign, if it employed proper SEO techniques, and understood how to win on Google.

Hint: If you can win on Google, you will on the other search engines, too.

So see the following:

— Five factors to get peak Google results

— Google details its new reasoning for best Web site rankings

— Understand the 23 key questions Google has about your Web site

— Checklist: 14 strategies to rock on Google

As for the Santorum campaign, it needed to develop and focus on one site – just one site dedicated to the candidate. But it mistakenly directed Internet users to a donation form – one of two duplicate content sites (supportricksantorum.com and ricksantorum.com).

Premature call to action

The Santorum donation site set a poor example by only asking for money. There were no stellar branding and value propositions. Visitors weren’t readily able to learn anything about him – neither his policy positions nor his background.

All of this meant the right sites showed up twice – but they were below the fold on Google.

Moreover, duplicate content hurt the cause. Two different domain names containing similar content defeated the purpose. The two sites effectively insured his Web presence was diluted – the search engines don’t know which was paramount for users.

Poor organization – lack of preparedness

With such a confusing marketing approach, the campaign inadvertently sent two unintended signals.

Firstly, it showed poor organization and lack of preparedness — note the verbiage in this Santorum tweet:

“Your great support has caused some unexpected downtime on our website! You can still support us at our temp page: ricksantorum.com”

Because the campaign instituted some redirects – the tweet sent people to the donation site. That’s a violation of best practices in marketing – never assume the voter has enough incentives before you ask for a vote or beg for donations.

Secondly, such strategies — unbranded donation page and desperate-looking tweets — left users with the impression that he’d fail because he was desperate for donations.

Further, as an example of over-reaching, the campaign constantly changed the tag line that appeared on the search engines. The candidate needed to be consistently repetitive with his branding and Web presence. Aside from the duplication issue and failure to install the donation page in one site, he needed to attract thousands of new links from good Web sites.

Whether he realized or not, failure to take such precautions adversely impacted his credibility as a viable candidate. After all, even if he could have won his party’s nomination, he would have faced a Democrat who long ago demonstrated extraordinary Internet expertise.

Good Internet marketing lessons for business from Mr. Santorum.

From the Coach’s Corner, for more resources, see this portal’s Marketing and Tech archives, which are packed with solutions.

“Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive.”

-John D. Rockefeller




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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Google Details its Reasoning for Best Web Site Rankings



The world’s most popular search engine has released detailed information on how it evaluates and ranks Web sites. Released in November 2011, the information is still critical for domain success.

Ordinarily, for proprietary reasons, Google is a bit guarded when discussing its algorithm processes. But a blog post by engineer Matt Cutts was unusually informative. 

It contains 10 points.

It’s fair to say Google has been forthcoming about its search ranking methodology, such as reported previously on this portal in Google insights – 23 key questions about your Web site and Google’s continuing quest to increase page speeds. 

Research companies routinely peg the search engine’s market share at 66 percent or more in the U.S., and higher around the world. 

One wonders whether the new transparency is the result of the FTC probe of Google. My sense is that the FTC Probe isn’t warranted in Google’s business practices.

Google’s dominance has actually improved user experiences on other search engines. It forced Bing, for example, to make enlightened innovations.

From the Coach’s Corner, for Internet success, here are more resource links:

10 Tips to Optimize Your Web Site for Higher Sales — If you haven’t optimized your Web site for sales, you might want to reconsider. There are more and more indications that online shopping will continue to grow. In an article entitled, “Cyber Monday Prep: 10 Tips for Greater Sales,” Website Magazine offered some excellent strategies.

Startup Toolkit – How to Make a Hit on the Internet — First impressions are critical for entrepreneurs. People will buy depending on what they feel about you emotionally. Just like your bricks and mortar location, your Internet presence will be strong if you always remember why people will buy from you. It’s important to tap into the psyche of your prospective customers – there are five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy.

Best Practices to Manage Your Global Brand, Your Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation. The key to Internet dominance is to think integration – naturally, the first steps include a quality Web site and synching it with your social media, business listings, inbound links and other elements.

The Key to Internet Dominance: Think Integration — Whether you’re a new or established business, it wasn’t that long ago that a strong Internet presence meant having a great Web site with a top ranking. Partially, that’s still true but the competitive marketplace continues to rapidly change daily, which means the No. 1 objective should be a vibrant, integrated presence.

Checklist to Create Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales Success — In order to celebrate your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you must first create a happy buying environment. That means reviewing  your store and Web site to attract prospects and to create happy customers. If you’ve prepared your merchandise and cleaned your store, you’re half done in creating happy customers. Your Web site should be updated

“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

-Sergey Brin


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Checklist: 14 Strategies to Rock on Google



Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites.

But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy.

Google has perennially owned about a 66 percent search-market share in the U.S. and a 90 percent share worldwide.

Combined, Bing and Yahoo have about 30 percent in the U.S. Most of the other search engines are also powered by Google.

So, obviously, it will behoove you to take full advantage of strategies to maximize your presence on Google.

Here’s a checklist:

  1. Make frequent changes on your home page. But be sure it’s all about quality and relevance to Internet users.
  2. For content marketing, regularly blog about relevant topics (see Google Speaks Out About Frequency vs. Value).
  3. Interact with your target audience using the salient social mediums: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Here are 8 Tips to Optimize Sales with Social Media, But Beware of a Red Flag.
  4. Be very careful about what you post – keep it professional and on business. Don’t assume that your professional profile can be separate from your personal life. Did I say be careful?
  5. Be aware that Google is influenced by links from the news media, quality online press releases distributed by authoritative firms, and other sites with a strong Google page rank (PR).
  6. Be careful about your other links. Do not allow weak Google PR pages to link to you. Minimize your links to other sites, as Google will perceive you as being manipulative.
  7. Make certain your profile or bio is professional and consistent throughout. Use the same picture.
  8. Insert relevant videos.
  9. Check your Internet reputation on a frequent business. Here are Best Practices to Optimize Your Brand, Manage Your Web Reputation.
  10. If you have employees, develop and implement a social media policy regarding your business reputation.
  11. Change your passwords frequently – make sure they’re strong. 6. Separate business and your personal life. Avoid posting compromising photos, text or videos.
  12. Accelerate your site’s download speed, which is important. See Google’s Continuing Quest to Increase Page Speeds and In SEO, Your Site’s Download Speed Matters to Google.
  13. Understand what matters to Google – see Google Insights – 23 Key Questions about Your Web Site.
  14. Despite what you might read, pay close attention to your use of meta tags and key words. They will influence Google and the other search engines.

By the way, don’t be fooled by the incessant hype about Facebook. Your Web site and prominence on Google will always be more important than what you do on Facebook. (See Winners and Losers in Facebook’s Invasion of Google’s Turf.)

My only regret about Google: That it hasn’t found a way to restart its real-time feature with Twitter. If you use the 14 recommended strategies, and if Google and Twitter get back together for real-time results, you’ll really rock.

Oh, here’s more good news — surprise — these strategies work on Yahoo and Bing, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more resource links:

10 Tips to Optimize Your Web Site for Higher Sales — If you haven’t optimized your Web site for sales, you might want to reconsider. There are more and more indications that online shopping will continue to grow.

Startup Toolkit to Make a Hit on the Internet — Just like your bricks and mortar location, your Internet presence will be strong if you always remember why people will buy from you.

By Adding Bells and Whistles, You Risk Losing Money with a Slower Site — At alarming rates, many top e-commerce Web sites risk losing sales because they’re too slow according to a study. Here are ways to accelerate the speed of your Web site.

“The only thing Google has failed to do, so far, is fail.
-John Battelle


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 






Google’s Quest to Increase Page Speeds but Offer Expires



Google has been very concerned about page download speed to help it maintain its image as a search engine. So much so that in July 2011 they offered Web site owners a limited time offer, which has now expired.

For higher performance, Google evaluated your Web site for download speed. They also offer to give out a new code that will made sites faster for enhanced user enjoyment.

PageSpeed Service was turned off on August 3rd, 2015. Please see Turndown Information for PageSpeed Service.

Your might recall Google’s process enhanced Web sites; prominence on the No. 1 search engine, and it enabled Google to operate at a faster rate for users.

Google’s goal has been to enable sites to download more quickly by as much as 60 percent.

“Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe,” according to Google.

“The extent of speed up depends on a variety of factors such as content on your pages, browser, geographic location of access, bandwidth, etc.,” Google explained.

On its page-speed service page, Google also provided a link for publishers to test their site’s speed. Most tests took less than five minutes.

“The test involves rendering your website on the selected browser by directly visiting your site, and repeating the same test by proxying your site through Page Speed Service,” Google said at the time.

Again, PageSpeed Service was turned off on August 3rd, 2015. Please see Turndown Information for PageSpeed Service.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are resource links to help your site’s Google presence:

“The Internet is the Viagra of big business.”

-Jack Welch

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Was FTC Probe Warranted in Google’s Business Practices?


Over objections of a consumer advocacy, a federal judge approved that $22.5 million fine of Google. This resulted from Google’s settlement with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in August 2012.

Google was charged with bypassing privacy settings on Apple software. This allowed Google to show personalized advertisements by tracking surfers’ online movements. It was a violation of Google’s deal with the FTC involving its former Buzz service.

So, instead of solving important budgetary and other policy issues, Congress launched an investigation in Google’s privacy policies.

In other ways, Uncle Sam has set itself up as the digital-age czar. You’ll recall the Microsoft antitrust case in which it averted a breakup. Only this time it’s the FTC instead of the U.S. Department of Justice persecuting Google.

Google was targeted because it has acquired enemies en route to its huge Internet success with free services. Adversaries include cable and telecom companies, competing advertising firms, content and media publishers. Oh, let’s not forget Microsoft.

The software giant is chagrined, in part, because Google has overwhelmed it despite entering search in 1998 – after Microsoft’s MSN. MSN failed as most of us initially used AOL or Yahoo. Now, two thirds of Internet users prefer Google.

Ironically, the purpose of antitrust suits is to protect millions of consumers – not competitors. History shows two large companies faced with antitrust suits – AT&T and Microsoft – became sidetracked, which hurt businesses and consumers. More on that later.

European Union competitors have also targeted Google. The French firm, 1plusV, has complained about Google’s AdSense. That’s because AdSense prevented 1plusV from advertising its legal search engine from 2006 to 2010. Others include an Italian case, and Microsoft going abroad to complain.

AT&T breakup

Antitrust actions have long intrigued me. A Hollywood script-like drama was building for months in 1974. Finally, the intrigue was over. On Nov.21, 1974, the Justice Department filed the biggest antitrust case in history as it sought the breakup of AT&T. The legal war lasted nearly eight years.

The government argued that the vertically integrated company, which provided both long distance and local services, was a monopoly and caused unfair competition. AT&T’s long-distance rates had been subsidizing the local residential service rates. AT&T was forced to break up its Bell system of local-exchange telephone companies so that it could go into the computer business.

This was heady stuff for me as a young journalist, as it followed the end of the Vietnam War and Watergate. The economy was in bad shape, even a few years after President Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls. Middle East oil shortages exacerbated inflation. The lines at the gas stations were sometimes very long.

All the case did was to accelerate the company’s demise. Such legal action drains company resources. They become distracted, which hurts consumers who no longer benefit. Indeed, AT&T could no longer innovate.

AT&T’s looming divestiture coincided with changes in how the TV and radio networks distributed their news and other programs to affiliate stations. Before the AT&T breakup, TV broadcasters used the company’s microwave relay and coaxial cable systems. Radio networks used the company’s “leased lines.” New satellites, Satcom 1 and Westar 1, provided competition with higher audio and video quality with lower costs.

Many stations, however, still had contracts with AT&T or they didn’t have big enough budgets to buy expensive earth stations in order to get the network feeds. I worked at two such stations, including one owned by the legendary Dick Clark.

Google was targeted because it has acquired enemies en route to its huge Internet success with free services. Adversaries include cable and telecom companies, competing advertising firms, content and media publishers. Oh, let’s not forget Microsoft.

Microsoft’s antitrust precedent – and a disclosure

Many analysts have noted that this FTC-Google issue is, of course, reminiscent of Microsoft’s war with the Justice Department. The federal antitrust lawsuit lasted from the 1990s to the early part of the 21st century. Microsoft finally emerged from government oversight in May of 2011.

Although I empathized with Microsoft, I understood firsthand why the company was sued. Microsoft’s legal department was very busy.

Disclosure:

In 1992, I purchased a firm, MSN – Marketing Services Northwest. The financial and human resources needs of my new clients prompted me to expand my consulting services.  Three years later, to reflect my services, I updated the firm’s name to MSN – Management Services Northwest. I spent a small fortune on branding and collateral materials. Then, considering its software/digital age dominance, Microsoft entered the search-engine competition rather late with its MSN. As my business exploded, I neglected to fully protect my company’s name.

Unexpectedly, I encountered two issues with Microsoft:

    1. The company apparently used the MSN moniker without any regard to precedent (mine).
    2. MSN had accounting problems and its customers mistakenly telephoned my firm nonstop, 24/7 to complain.

When I contacted Microsoft about my two concerns, I was marginalized. A company employee told me: “Join the crowd…this would be lawsuit du jour.” Frustrated, I contacted two noted attorneys who empathized but declined to take my case. They knew we’d be outgunned by Microsoft’s vast resources. In the late 1990s, I was stuck with a big tab for new collateral and marketing.

However, I freely admit Microsoft’s behavior was a factor in my strategic planning. Thankfully, it included becoming a news media columnist – a full-circle return to my career roots. Ten years later this portal was born.

A few years later, when I was the Biz Coach columnist on Belo Web sites, cybercrime regularly raised its ugly head. I wrote in 2003 that Microsoft was not performing adequately in security. Like AT&T, it seemed as though Microsoft failed to innovate – it was not using best practices in security.

However, long after the legal war, it’s worth noting that Microsoft is now serious about security and is better serving business and consumers. The company provides a free service, Microsoft Security Essentials. It does a credible job of providing real-time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious invaders.

FTC’s antitrust allegations against Google

The FTC is investigating whether Google is an abusive monopoly – a predator that unfairly exploits competition and is harmful to the public interest in its search-advertising business.

Not only do Internet users count on Google in 66 percent of all search results, the search giant helps in comparison shopping, e-mails, mapping and travel. It’s also in mobile phones, television and videos.

Competitors – such as Expedia, TripAdvisor and Microsoft – allege Google is disingenuous. Microsoft, in particular, has been rather vocal. The competitors claim Google directs Internet users to its own interests and basically hides competitors’ links – at the expense of its rivals.

This is Google’s second hassle with the FTC. You might recall Google agreed to settle FTC complaints of deceptive practices and violations of consumers’ privacy after it launched Google Buzz, a social network, in 2010. Google was also accused of lying about its treatment of European Union (EU) users’ personal information – in violation of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor privacy framework. For the next two decades, Google will have to submit to privacy audits.

“When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz on the agency’s Web site. “This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations.”

Meantime, of course, Google took another shot at success in social networking with Google+, which connects its users – a direct challenge to Facebook.

Google’s initial response to FTC probe

A Google blog post stated “it’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are.” Google also said “our success has led to greater scrutiny.”

The search giant asserted that the majority of complaints stem from disgruntled competitors who feel angst over inferior search rankings.

“Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow,” the company said in its blog post.

“We make hundreds of changes to our algorithms every year to improve your search experience,” it added. “Not every website can come out at the top of the page, or even appear on the first page of our search results.”

Conclusion

Yes, Google is aggressive and innovative. It adapts to consumer preferences. It hasn’t behaved perfectly, but all businesses are aggressive if they want to survive.

During all those months when Microsoft was in its advertising-search merger talks with Yahoo – their quest to overtake Google – no one complained about the two companies’ prospects in ganging up on Google to achieve search dominance. In fact, I recall many times when using Yahoo, I wanted to search on Bing, but Yahoo refused to let me. A popup question appeared – asking me if I really wanted to leave Yahoo for Bing. It was annoying and Yahoo’s defensiveness was a sign that it was desperate. But I wasn’t going to complain to the FTC.

Has Google been a monopolistic predator operating against the public interest? No. I have found Google to be innovative, responsive, and transparent about its goal to be known for relevant content. It provides a bevy of blogs and videos to help publishers.

Furthermore, its success forced Bing to become more innovative. My sense is that Bing now competes well with Google in delivering relevant results. That means Yahoo does, too. The three account for 96 percent of Internet-search market share. As a result, all Internet users have benefited.

The Internet has become so big and so fast, what makes the federal government qualified to be the final arbiter of what services should be made available to consumers? Why not let the markets be the final say?

Google’s success is largely from developing a unique algorithm system that’s enabled it to become the most popular among Internet users. Without giving too much information to spammers and cybercriminals, Google has been transparent by frequently providing tips to publishers on how to succeed for better rankings. (Read further for six links to articles on how to succeed on Google.)

The Internet competition has benefited consumers and businesses, alike. We’re all benefiting from Google’s leadership. The complainers need to stop whining. It would be more productive for them to better satisfy their customers – by analyzing their companies’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then, innovate for the benefit of Internet users. That’s how I dealt with the adversity from MSN, and it’s why Google triumphs over its competitors.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are resource links for Internet success:

“Your brand is created out of customer contact and the experience your customers have of you.”

-Stelios Haji-Ioannou


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Are You Up-to-date to Capitalize on Major Web Events?



Major players Internet players — such as Bing, Yahoo, Facebook and Google — continue to innovate to disrupt the progress of each other.

As a marketer or businessperson, are you positioned to capitalize? Consider:

Google

Because it’s the longtime mega search-engine leader, let’s consider Google first. Depending on which research firm you prefer, Google has about a 66 percent search market share. So whatever innovations it makes, it’s important.

ID-100301078 adamrGoogle has made major changes in how it ranks search results probably because it’s been under siege — manipulated by certain Web sites it lists. Google detailed its reasoning for best Web site rankings.

The vaunted Google algorithms – its tools that determine how it ranks Web sites – have been fine-tuned to reward publishers of original content, especially in-depth thought leadership. Here’s a strategic primer for a No.1 rated blog.

Google says it involves about 12 percent of search queries. That might not sound like a lot, but 12 percent of more than 190 million bloggers in search queries is meaningful.

Google also considers search engine optimization practices.

You might recall numerous recent news stories: JC Penney, for example. The 2010 $17.8 billion retailer was chastised for dubious Internet practices. The retailer denied it approved spam-like behavior by its search-engine optimization company, SearchDex. But right after the story broke, SearchDex was fired.

Indeed, it must have been an eye-opener to Google to be labeled as the “tropical paradise for spammers and marketers” by a U.C. Berkeley scholar, Vivek Wadhwa. Hence, its algorithms upgrade.

Another search development: The Google Chrome Web browser now permits sites to prevent other sites from appearing in their results. (Its competitor, Blekko, does the same.) Google continues to prevent Web sites that have little or no unique value to dominate in search results.

Google is to be commended for dealing with a crisis confronting its quality of relevant search and its image, and placing a premium on frequent, strong informative content.)

Bing – social search

Bing grew to a 16-percent market share in February 2011, but has stayed in that position. It’s created new buzz by adding Facebook “likes” that allows Internet users to see the results that their friends like.

Here’s how it works: Pictures of your friends appear when you search after you connect with Bing with your Facebook account. You can disable it easily if you choose.

The Bing-Facebook partnership is unique and it affects word-mouth-marketing – as their users — businesspeople and consumers make buying decisions. This helps to make marketing fun.

It’s also a reminder that content, search-engine optimization and social media should be synergized and orchestrated in your overall marketing:

  1. Monitoring Internet-user preferences
  2. Interacting with them to maximize your opportunities
  3. Continually measuring results
  4. Fine-tuning your approach

What else is important about creating buzz with social media? Marketers, senior managers, business owners, and consultants crave it for revenue. Career-minded individuals engaged in self-promotion also want it. Another term for buzz is the “salesperson effect.”

Now we know how ideas are spread, what messages go viral on social media, and how to predict it from UCLA psychologists who explained what triggers people to share on social media.

With Bing and Yahoo’s advertising partnership in which the latter uses Bing’s search technology, the Bing-Yahoo online search partnership amounts to a 30 percent market of Internet search. If you haven’t already, here’s how to optimize for Bing.

Yahoo

Yahoo has been trying, but hasn’t been able to move the needle. Once the big dog among search engines, it’s suffered from bad senior management. You say could not seriously discuss leadership and former CEO Carol Bartz in the same sentence.

But Yahoo has since experienced success in its business and management. Despite the hysteria over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s telecommuting ban, her decision is a positive example for other companies needing a turnaround. Yahoo’s telecommuting ban is a model for struggling companies.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Yahoo showed good management judgment in firing its biased news manager.

So don’t be surprised if Yahoo can figure out how to move the needle. Meantime, you can still capitalize on Yahoo and the fierce competition among the search giants, which means good things for businesses and consumers. So stay current.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks for recommended reading:

Tech Drama: How Microsoft-Yahoo Can Beat Google — Here are the critical factors that will determine whether the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo merger will succeed vs. Google.

Enterprise Software: Google-Microsoft Battle Turns White Hot — Google has blatantly thrown down the gauntlet. The enterprise-software war is raging as Google has declared war on Microsoft. Both tech giants want your business.

Marketing – Why Visual Content Works on Facebook, but Hashtags Don’t — Ninety-eight percent of top brands have a Facebook fan page, but Facebook’s hashtags don’t enhance engagement with consumers.

“Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs.”

-Henry Ford 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of adamr at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Winners and Losers in Facebook’s Invasion of Google’s Turf


It was a big deal when comScore data indicated back in 2010 that cyber citizens spent more time on Facebook than the Google sites.

Cyber citizens spent an aggregate 41.1 million minutes on Facebook — 9.9 percent of their search-time. That beat the 39.8 million minutes, or 9.6 percent, on all of Google’s sites.

It was a major catalyst for Google to create Google+. It’s noteworthy because Google, of course, is the leading search engine and has Google News, Gmail and most-importantly, YouTube.

In my experience, Google+ is now a proven asset in marketing.

However, regarding Facebook, it would appear there are questions to consider:

  1. What should businesses do in marketing on Facebook?
  2. What precautions should businesses take to make certain their Web sites are not obliterated by Facebook?

To maximize the marketing investment, businesses should consider establishing a Facebook page.

But don’t count too heavily on Facebook or other social media for sales. Facebook and other social media only drive 1 percent of e-commerce sales. A study shows a strong presence on Google’s search engine will better increase your odds for income.

But for a Facebook presence, Website Magazine’s Linc Wonham published some basic tips:

    • Set goals for your Facebook page and monitor your progress
    • Make your page interesting and informative, and update it as often as you can
    • Promote your Facebook page on your business website and elsewhere; add a Find us on Facebook button wherever you can
    • Reward your Facebook Fans with discounts and special promotions
    • Create a Facebook user group that will be of interest/useful to your audience
    • Join other Facebook user groups that pertain to your industry or niche
    • Take advantage of Facebook’s tools; track your success with Facebook analytics

“Businesses can add a Facebook Place to their Facebook Page, or the two can be combined,” according to the writer. “The result of either option is getting your company’s address, map, phone number and other data in front of Facebook’s massive user network and giving them a way to share the information with friends.”

Mr. Wonham specifies the benefit:

“The result of either option is getting your company’s address, map, phone number and other data in front of Facebook’s massive user network and giving them a way to share the information with friends.”

His tips for Facebook ads:

    • Be as specific as possible with your keywords and demographic selections
    • Use compelling images, titles and copy in your ads
    • Make your ads as interactive and engaging as you can
    • Frequently update and refresh the images and copy for better results
    • Be vigilant about testing your ads and monitoring the results
    • Bid high to get your ads approved faster by Facebook
    • Start with CPC ads if you have a very small budget, otherwise CPM is the better bet
    • Use Facebook Ads Manager, which can be downloaded and installed on Firefox

Warning: You might as well know that advertising professionals are increasingly criticizing Facebook for being obnoxious (see: Facebook Draws Fire for 6 ‘Stubbornly Childish’ Behaviors).

That’s not all. There are two additional dangers to Facebook marketing:

  1. Facebook tends to supersede the importance of your Web site in the minds of cyber citizens.
  2. The most successful companies achieving success on Facebook have done it by slashing prices and offering coupons.

For more on this angle, see this article: Aside from Privacy, Security Issues — Facebook is a Threat 2 Ways.

But always remember the best mediums to drive cyber citizens to your Facebook page and Web site — broadcast advertising and strong PR — the ultimate keys to your marketing mix.

To target credit-worthy or high net-worth customers, broadcast news and authoritative business Web sites are especially your best bets.

So, harness the power of Facebook, but don’t let it make your Web site irrelevant. You want to dialogue with consumers on your own turf. Use these measures and you’ll be a winner in Facebook’s invasion of Google’s turf.

From the Coach’s Corner, consider reading: 11 Tips to Make Money on Facebook 

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”

-Eric Schmidt

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.