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The last USB flash drive you’ll ever lose..

Do you have a general distrust of the local area network? Store all your SEO research, metrics, stats, etc.. on a USB flash drive and end up lending it to mischievious co-workers? So you know what it’s like to lose a flash drive to someone’s pocket?

Well those days are over my friends, the chicken foot USB drive is both comical and functional:
Chicken Foot USB Drive
Not only is it IMPOSSIBLE to miss it’s presence protruding from a PC, but it’s also a good laugh when people do a double take wondering why there’s a chicken jammed head-first into your PC.

Plus if someone pockets the drive, the odds of it making a trip through the laundry are much slimmer than a traditional USB flash drive.

You can’t put a price on this kind of functionality folks!

After going through a bucket of pens I’ve become very wise to the powers of the co-worker pockets.

“You want to borrow a pen to go over a webmaster tools checklist? Sure!”
Want to borrow my pen?

Have a great weekend.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:55 am on December 9, 2011


 

Couped up with Google Verbatim Searches

Still upset that Google changed the + functionality in searches? Haven’t tried the verbatim search option, or you have but it didn’t match what you were expecting? This is a blog post for you, the dear + lover seeking to restore your lost Google-Fu.

Lets say you were hoping to search for a place to store some chickens, you could search for chicken coop, chicken coup, chicken coupe, and probably a ton of other variants while always getting the result for “chicken coop”.

a chicken coop

Great times! Now what if you were searching for a not so famous musical group, from the deep south, with ‘Chicken Coupe’ as the only part of the name you can recall? Searching for Chicken Coupe would get you the above results and wishing you could get an exact match.

In Google Adwords the exact match is done by putting square braces [around] a word. Sadly, putting square braces around a chicken coupe still doesn’t get the result we want?

a chicken coupe

Until Google realizes they passed up a handy way to keep their tools in harmony, the result we want is still two more clicks (seriously) away.
more tools
The first step is to let Google know we mean business by clicking on ‘More search tools’.

Why this is located at the bottom left of everything?
Google is concerned about our neck and spine health?
First person with a theme or script to put these options on the first page gets an honourable mention…

EDIT: Adding ‘&tbs=li:1′ to searches seems to be a quick way to toggle verbatim?

So if you have custom search engine entries, you could add a ‘v’ short cut set to something like this (Chrome syntax):

{google:baseURL}search?q=%s&gl=us&num=50&tbs=li:1

A ‘v’ entry with the above code would look like this:

verbatim search shortcut

(Each time you type ‘v’ the browser will search for the next word using the ‘verbatim’ search option)

verbatim search
The next (and final) step:

Now that you’ve forced Google’s hand into showing you more search options..
.. you should see ‘Verbatim’ at the bottom of the list?

Click on that link and the results should change?

If all went well you should be a lot closer to the music you had in mind when you started this search.

This is also VERY handy if you use Google to spell check exotic/localized words.

Just keep an eye out for the blue ‘learn more’ bar and it will tell you when you are doing a verbatim search.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:46 am on December 6, 2011


 

IE – Outfoxed and Polished Off?

At the end of this month major traffic watchers and statistical houses started releasing data showing that for the first time, Internet Explorer is below the 50% market share level for internet browsers.

out·fox (out-foks)
tr.v. out·foxed, out·fox·ing, out·fox·es
To surpass (another) in cleverness or cunning; outsmart.

pol·ish (polish)
v. pol·ished, pol·ish·ing, pol·ish·es
Phrasal Verb:
polish off Informal
To finish or dispose of quickly and easily.

The Data

As anyone experienced with data will tell you, the flaw is in the details.

Data can only be as complex and smart as the sources it’s coming from, which is always a problem. So as you gaze at the various data sources, remember that nobody can really track every browser session, the best they can try for is a ‘fair average’.

To that end here’s one of the best charts I could locate:

Browser market share as of Nov 2011

First thing to note is the decline of IE, but more interesting is that Chrome, and Safari (hiding behind the others) are gaining ground while FireFox is losing some ground. Technically Safari is growing faster than Chrome, but when you consider that Safari is the default browser of all those iOS devices selling like hot-cakes, the fact that Chrome’s growing almost as fast, really tells us something.

I know there’s been some ‘landmark’ moments in browser shares before. I think I’ve even blogged on here about it before, but this is a unique moment that I don’t think we’ll see again for some time.

Short lived losses?

Windows 8 will be a really big win for IE market share.
This is how Windows 8 will greet the user by default:

Windows 8 built in IE

..notice the inception of Microsoft Bing, inside Microsoft IE, inside Microsoft Windows 8?

I’m sure milk comes shooting out of Google’s nose when they see stuff like this going on with new products that will be sold to the world.

I won’t rant on this point, I’ll just remind readers of the post I’ve already made on Windows 8 earlier this year.

In a nutshell I’m almost tempted to print the above image (here’s a larger version) and stick it on the wall because once Windows 8 rolls out I don’t think we’ll see that blue section that small for a long time.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:42 pm on November 3, 2011

Categories:Articles,Misc,SEO Tools

 

Back to the Future – Mid October Tech Announcements

SEO News is often dry and since the search engines drive the news, there can be some slow days for discussions on topic. Today was a perfect example of headlines that just don’t make the grade, but at least they had a common theme: Back to the Future?

Quantum Levitation brings the hover board closer to reality:

In this video we see how ‘quantum locking’ (or flux pinning) can work with a superconductor to ‘levitate’. That’s the gist I got from it, yet the whole time I’m thinking about how I’d love one of those hover boards from Back to the Future:

Marty McFly's hoverboard.
(Yeah those are tin pie pans..)

Coming Soon: Electric Deloreans!
The DeLorean Motor Company “DMC” announced a DMC-12 Electric Delorean:

The Delorean DMC-12 Electric Sports Car

..okay so that’s where the McFly references ended.

While you could do a web search from the dash of an electric car, it’s not very web related? To tug us a bit closer back on topic, yet not entirely, I’ll close with a reminder about Google’s remote desktop beta extension for Chrome.

Chrome remote desktop beta getting positive feedback:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gbchcmhmhahfdphkhkmpfmihenigjmpp?hl=en-GB&hc=search&hcp=main

All you need is a Chromebook or Chrome browser on both ends, start a sharing session, send the code to the other end, and viola, you’re connected.

This does away with IP addresses, running services, or trusting one of the 3rd party commercial vendors with secure access to your machines.

Since this is a challenge/response setup in the beta phase, Google’s solution won’t be replacing large IT support offerings, but for 1-on-1 support it’s very handy.

Next time a client asks me about some SEO statistics on their PC, instead of describing what I think they can see over the phone, I’ll give this a whirl so we’re both on the same page. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:17 pm on October 18, 2011


 

Blech to Blekko

One of the biggest SEO stirrings this morning is over the 30million that Yandex just invested in Blekko. If you haven’t heard of either one, don’t sweat it, my spell check is painting red squiggly lines under both of them too.

Blech to Blekko Search

Why so negative? Well Blekko is trying to ‘get started’ in a game that’s already been in play for some time. When you look at the competition’s investment in search engine work it’s a bit like France suddenly saying they’re ready to join WWII. In this case ‘better late than never’ really doesn’t fit the situation.

Why is a new contender such a bad idea? Take a moment to compare search results on Google, Bing, Blekko, and Yandex for a major site, something that’s been around for some time, had some serious competition and SEO efforts.

This site (Beanstalk) in particular is a great example, we’ve had thousands of our pages duplicated over the years, so try a search for ‘seo services’ or a keyword we really should be at the top of the rankings for. Blekko won’t show us in the top 20, heck even if you search for “beanstalk” we’re #4 because of ‘duplication’ penalties. To Blekko, crawling the web with fresh spiders, all the duplication looks the same, they can’t tell who owns the content or who published it first, they would have to use Google or some really well developed search engine to get that data.

The fact that Yandex’s CEO, Arkady Volozh, will be joining Blekko’s board is interesting. It’s notable because if Yandex could work out a deal to improve Blekko’s crawl data using the much better indexes over at Yandex, then they could make up for some lost time.

It’s not all bad over at Blekko, in fact it’s interesting to see what information they are sharing with searchers in an attempt to explain their anti-spam approach to search results. Have a look at the SEO link in any Blekko search result:

SEO Link on Blekko Search

Clicking that link will take you to a metrics page where Blekko seems to explain it’s result/ranking for that site. The tools they offer on these screens, including drilling down to backlinks by site, are fantastic:

SEO results for backlinks on Blekko Search

I’ve seen worse services from paid products pitched at professional SEOs!

If the crawl data wasn’t so poorly pulled together and had better history, it would be at the top of my list for SEO tools. It certainly is a great free way to see some SEO statistics from a fresh perspective, even if you can’t really get an accurate picture from the limited index.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:57 am on September 29, 2011


 

Google purchases Zagat – Answer to Yelp?

I will admit it, I have a very ‘frugal’ attitude towards information and the internet. So when Google bought Zagat it was the first I’d heard of the long running rating service.

Google takes over Zagat

For those who are web-frugal like me, it may come as a surprise that this paid food review service has managed to go from a printed format to on-line. Most attempts along those lines die quickly when it becomes obvious there’s a niche for the information. However Zagat’s originators were very clever in how they have gone digital and it’s worked very well indeed:

A paid member of Zagat gets a selection of discounts and promotions which quickly pay for the perks that come with paying $25 a year. Free members have to include payment details which helps to force genuine/honest sign-ups for the most part. This keeps the information useful, while still providing enough access to retain the casual user who might never pay, but is likely to contribute.

With any luck Google will quickly merge this product into their services, allow you to login with your Google profile, and eventually apply all these great search features to the entire database of eateries.

Food search on Google

As much as I like to ‘skim’ the net for free, without coughing up any info or details, I decided to try out Zagat’s 7 day offer.

The 1st Challenge:

A hamburger in downtown Victoria BC should be an easy challenge for a city packed with pubs?

Apparently not, since the only result was an “Eclectic / Int’l, Vegetarian” with an impressive almond burger. I’ve had non-meat hamburgers, but ‘Vegetarian’ is not what I was looking for and certainly the last place I’d suggest given my years living here.

The 2nd Challenge:

Pretending I was the average homesick traveller with no idea of the city’s offerings I decided to search for some ‘American’ cuisine.

Thinking of all the steak houses, and US brands operating in the city core, I was sure I’d get a good list to pick from, yet Zagat disappointed me again. This time they suggested a ‘Barbecue, Creole’ dive outside of the city core which is famous for it’s unpretentious ‘here’s sum meat’ approach to dinning. If I had typed in ‘budget BBQ’ that is the only way I would have anticipated such a result.

The 3rd Challenge:

I’d tried something specific, I’d tried an entire country, lets just see what they can list?

Well at first I felt I’d hit the jackpot, look at all the results! Then I started clicking on the places Zagat was suggesting and they were all over in Vancouver, an entirely different city, not even located on the same landmass as my city and currently selected location?

So that’s when I started to see the problem, tried a blank search for “Victoria, Canada” with a radius of 15 miles, and the result was only 29 restaurants..
At that point I started fiddling with the sliders/filters:Zagat filter settings.

  • Food
  • Decor
  • Service
  • Cost
  • Distance
  • % liked
  • Relevance
  • Reviews
  • etc..

Wow!
This is what I want!
Give us tools for doing specific searches!

I need these tools for more than just food, and now I can see another reason (beyond challenging Yelp!) why Google bought Zagat.

Sure my local city needs more reviews to help things along, but that’s not Google or Zagat’s fault, we just need to start discussing something we do every single day.

I know that personally I will give this service a few reviews, once I find a place to have lunch. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:39 am on September 8, 2011


 

Google’s Chrome Web Store

Yesterday I went public and openly admitted I’d managed to overlook Google’s all-in-one solution to Zynga, Microsoft, Grooveshark, Foursquare, etc..

The fact that I’ve played with Google’s ChromeOS makes this all the more amazing..

Google wants to make it possible to use a browser as your operating system, experiencing the entire internet via the world wide web.

I doubt that in 1989 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed adding the WWW specification to the internet he could have imagined it becoming a single point of access to the extreme of causing confusing between the two technologies. Yet here we are with an entire OS written around booting into a web browser.

ChromeOS

The result of this enormous effort to solve the world’s problems inside a browser makes Android, ChromeOS, and the Google Chrome browser much more useful/powerful than even I had expected.

Chrome web store is more than just games.

Yes, you can play Angry Birds, PacMan, SuperMario, and modern versions of PaperBoy until you’re divorced and homeless, but there are really handy applications and tools in the web store.

The two SEO applications that I’d like to take a minute to highlight are not all there is to offer, just the first two really handy apps that I’ve used and recommend.

First app is the SEO SERP Workbench, a tool for watching both websites and keyword phrases. This tool has all you need to track your position, your competition, and your market in real-time and historically.

SEO SERP Workbench

The interface is clean and simple, skipping a lot of pointless options that would inhibit less experienced users, and it works great. The only gripe I have with the tool is that it looks to give you ‘worst case’ results by fetching it’s info from a US based IP address on Google data centres in the US. If you were a UK site looking for UK rankings, this tool would not give you the correct results for your location.

The second app is ShiftEdit, an on-line tool for developing website code. It has (S)FTP support for direct edits, upload support for existing disk based projects, and it’s code engine can edit/markup PHP, Ruby, Java, HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

ShiftEdit

The beauty of having a single point of access for editing, where all you need is a web browser, is a dream come true for most developers. Accessibility is a huge annoyance for me and having a tool I can access from anywhere makes it far more useful and productive. If Adobe is reading this, it’s time you made an on-line version of Dreamweaver with full interoperability between the desktop version. Personally, I know that’s an upgrade I’d actually appreciate paying for.

I could go on all day discussing the Chrome Web Store, but I have to get some work done, and then get back to beating my CanvasRider high score on the Whistler Mt. sketch by Jon312.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:10 pm on August 11, 2011


 

What do you love ~ Google Thorough-Good

Just when I was wondering what Google’s been doing to tie it’s products together for the uninitiated, they launch the ‘What do you love?’ service.

I could hyperlink the URL, but it’s super easy to memorize, just wdyl.com
(as in What Do You Love)

*UPDATE: If this does not work for you, try it again tomorrow. I’m getting reports that the host name is broken for external DNS? Personally I’m using Google DNS which is 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 for the primary/secondary DNS addresses.

This is tying together the following services:
Google product icons

  • Google Translate
  • Google Trends
  • Google Books
  • Google SketchUp
  • Google YouTube
  • Google ImageSearch
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Maps
  • Google PatentSearch
  • Google Moderator
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Gmail
  • Google Voice
  • Google Groups
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Earth
  • Google News
  • Google Blogger
  • Google Mobile
  • And more products as they are released..

What do *I* love? Google! (It’s not a very interesting result when you put ‘Google’ into the WDYL tool, oddly enough?)

Just typing in random words can be fun, interesting, and even educational. I have to admit that as much of a ‘fanboi’ as I am with Google, there’s a few services I haven’t explored enough and this one site bridges that gap for me. From an SEO stand-point, there’s really no harm in trying your keywords in this new tool to see what comes from it. Worst case you may find some new avenues to look into for your business and on-line rankings?

Oh and for something just a bit different, on the topic of new stuff from Google, OK Go and Philbus have whipped up a treat. For users of Chromium browsers (including Google’s Chrome (yes they are slightly different)) this latest ‘Chrome Experiment’ can be a lot of fun, if a bit excessive for the purpose.

I should mention it’s showing off Chromium’s multi-threading, so if you have a slow machine or don’t have multiple cores in your CPU, you may want to skip this?
All is not lost – Chrome Experiment

SEO news blog post by @ 11:51 am on July 28, 2011


 

Ooh Shiny! ChromeOS & ChromeBook

The beta versions of ChromeOS have been out for some time. I’ve personally run some of the builds and it’s coming along nicely. I haven’t had any hands-on with actual hardware, but I’ve used enough Samsung and Acer portable hardware to know it will be done properly.

Acer ChromeBook

Picture: Acer's version of the Google ChromeBook


So then it’s no shock to hear back from the May 10-11th Google IO developer conference that the last developer channel build of ChromeOS (R12) is going to be the shipping version of the OS for the ChromeBook next month (June 15th).

As the deadline approaches Google’s engineers are working on wringing out every last bit of UI polish and tweaks. On top of the fluff there’s apparently been progress made on battery life, touchpad functionality, and a much improved file browsing implementation with external VPN storage support.

Reports from testers are resoundingly positive and recent tweaks to WiFi/3G activation and setup are making the device trouble-free straight out of the box for novice users. Trouble free setup is great since the ‘less than 8 seconds’ boot time wouldn’t even give a speed reader enough time to so much as glance at an instruction manual.

In fact, with the improved Google Talk plug-ins, the ChromeBook is clearly shaping up to be more of a communications device than originally expected. An activated ChromeBook could be shipped to a branch office and would make an excellent easy-to-use conference tool for a very minimal investment.

The icing on the cake is the purchase price; Early word is that it’s monthly, around $35, and includes the internet subscription fees. Since the ChromeBook keeps everything in the cloud, you can exchange them just like cell phones, and you’ll never be stuck backing up/wiping/restoring user data.

June 15th will be a great day for businesses and individuals looking for a low cost solution to staying connected without all the hassle.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:22 pm on May 17, 2011


 

Goo.gl and Geo-targeting

Recently I was reading a debate about link shortening with non local country code domain extensions. If you use .co you are telling Google you’re Colombian, likewise if you use Tuvalu’s .tv or Liberia’s .ly extensions.

This issue was fixed last year and now you can remedy the location issues by using the geo-targeting options in Google’s webmaster tools; At this point even Greenland’s .gl extension is fair game.

When Google’s own URL shortening system, goo.gl, was released in 2010 producing URLs like http://goo.gl/Vz7B0 it didn’t make a big splash in the eyes of most users. In fact most web users already had a preferred shortening method and Google’s offering looked like a “me too” service nobody needed. Early bird gets the worm?

A couple weeks ago I was reading a really neat post on the simple tracking features of the goo.gl link shortening service and how you can use it to quickly see who is getting to links you’re putting out. If you had the time to make a unique link to some information, you could link the info vs. including it in an email, and a visit to the tracking page for the shortened link would give you a confirmation that someone has seen the link and read your email.

Shortened URL tracking

As you can see, it gives just enough information to be handy for confirmation of receipt. Plus there’s a link use-over-time graph that would really help someone with no other quick way to record popularity of a shared link. All you need is a working Gmail account/login.

When I see Google offering any method to submit a URL my SEO hat goes on right away and I have to speculate that if I was Google, I’d do well to crawl the destination URL of a popular shortened link, even if it isn’t found anywhere else online. This is something to really consider if you shorten a lot of URLs and have interests in Google caching the target URLs. Why use bit.ly if there’s a chance goo.gl will get you crawled faster?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:14 am on March 11, 2011


 

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