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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):


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


10 new changes to Google algorithms

New features from GoogleYesterday, over on the Google Inside Search blog, Matt Cutts shared 10 recent changes to the Google search algorithms from the last few weeks.

As always these posts can get a bit technical, and anyone subscribed to the feed can just get it from the horses’ mouth. The goal of this post is to put the changes into clearer terms from a SEO perspective:

Translated search titles:
When searching with languages where limited web content is available, Google can translate the English-only results and display the translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results. This also translates the result automatically, thereby increasing the available web content for non-English searchers. If you were selling products that appealed to a global market, but hadn’t yet invested in translations/global site structure, this could drive fresh traffic to your sites/products.

Better Snippets:
Google’s mantra is always ‘content, content, + more content’, and now the snippet code is focusing on the page content vs. header/menu areas. Because of the way sites use keywords in the headers/menus, coding the snippets to seek out body content will result in more relevant text in search snippets.

Improved Google generated page titles:
When a page is lacking a title, Google has code in place to assign a title to the page using various signals. A key signal used is back-link anchor text pointing to the page. If a site has a ton of duplicate anchor text in the back-links, Google has found that putting less emphasis on those links creates a far more relevant title than previously. In this way the titles in the search results should be much less misleading.

Improved Russian auto-complete:
Languages are a constant headache for search engines, and new features like auto-complete can take a very long time to mature in languages outside of English. Recently the prediction system for auto-completed queries was improved to avoid overly long comparisons to the partial query to make auto-complete function much better in Russian, and closer to how well it works for English queries.

More information in application snippets:
Last week Google announced a new method of improved snippets for applications. The feature’s pretty technical and looks like an entire blog post is coming on just this topic. Here’s an example image that hopefully gives you a gist of how the snippets are giving details, like prices, ratings, and user reviews.

Example of application snippet from Google search results.

The feature has been very popular and Google recently added even more options that will elicit a full blog post soon here.

Less document relevance in Image searches:
If you look up search engine optimization in Wikipedia and look at the entry for Image search optimization you will note that there’s really nothing to say about SEO tactics towards images. This hasn’t been true, there are signals that Google has to look for when deciding what image to show for a particular keyword.
Previously, an image referenced in PDF or other searchable documents multiple times would get higher placement in the results. Google has done away with this signal as it wasn’t giving improved results and could easily be abused. *Innocent whistling*

Higher ranking signals on fresh content:
Consider if you will, how Google would look if they never gave new sites/fresh content a shot at the top, or a moment in the limelight? By default most ratings systems will show you the ‘best of the most recent’ by default just to avoid older content dominating the results. As a person on the phones taking SEO leads I can tell you there’s always been a ’10 mins of fame’ situation on Google where the explainable happens in the search results with fresh sites/content, only to return to normal later on when the dust settles. Google claims the recent change impacts roughly 35% of total search traffic which could be a significant boost for sites that take the time to publish fresh content, or for new sites looking for a chance to be seen.

Improved official page detection:
We’ve blogged recently about the importance of the rel=author attributes, tying your content to a G+ profile, and completing the circle with a back-link from the profile to your site. Google’s added even more methods to establish ‘offical’ pages and is continuing to give ‘official’ pages higher rankings on searches where authority is important. If you missed our article on this topic from last week, here’s the link.

Better date specific results:
The date a page is discovered may not always be the date the information is published. Google has the difficult task of sorting out the ‘date’ relevance for search results, and they keep improving on this where possible. A good example would be using duplicate matches to avoid showing you a 3 year old article that was posted two days ago if you specify that you only want results from say ‘last week’.

Enhanced prediction for non-Latin characters:
You’d think it’s hard enough to get a predictive query straight when the character set is limited to Latin, and you’d be right. When it takes several keystrokes to complete a single character in non-Latin, a service like Google’s auto-complete would be hard pressed to know when to start guessing. Previous to this update predictions in Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew were giving gibberish results as the user was forming characters.

These are 10 changes out of 500+ made so far this year. We try to document the most important changes for you but there’s lots of times where Google can’t release info because of exploits/cheating. When that happens you’ll see us chime in with experiments and our personal experience when we can. So while I’d normally suggest folks interested in this topic subscribe to the inside search blog, we know that you’ll only be getting part of the story by doing so. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 1:16 pm on November 15, 2011


Google+ plus company profiles, plus company page, plus site link?

Pleasing plus is presently proving to be a problem with the plethora of possibilities. Confused by all the Plus linking options suddenly available? Here’s a round-up of what it looks like right now.

  1. Create a Google+ page for the company.
  2. Create employee G+ pages.
  3. Add your employee G+ pages to the company.
  4. Add a link or badge from your website to the G+ page for the company.
  5. Add rel=author links between content on your site and your employee pages.
  6. Add +1 options to the homepage and content/product pages.

Here’s a very busy illustration of the process:

URLs and Code Pages
Create Google+ Pages
Link your website to the Company G+ page
Add rel=author links between your content pages and the employee G+ pages.
Make sure your site’s landing page, content (blog), and product pages have +1 buttons.

I’d put your content/blog posts on your website first, and then follow up with a share to the G+ profile page of the employee/author responsible for the content.

That’s the whole process for G+ interaction between a website, staff pages, and the company page. Doing this properly will tell Google your content is legitimate and maximize the potential ranking signals for your site as it pertains to Google Plus.

Last step is getting folks to follow your Google+ page, hit the +1 buttons, and interact with your Google Plus postings/profile. We’ll have some ideas for this and followers other social networks as the excitement over recent Panda updates quells and we have more time to get back to addressing followers/traffic. Don’t forget that past articles (of which we’ve had a few) may still apply or at least offer some ideas.

Hope everyone has a good long weekend!

SEO news blog post by @ 3:22 pm on November 10, 2011


Get your own Google+ Page

Today Google announced they are ready to let users claim pages on the G+ domain. It’s a bit busy over here: Create a Google + Page

Stampede to get Google+ pages.The servers over at Google+ must feel a bit like this?

… but you may want to bother with the line however because this is where you claim your name, brand, trademark, for Google+ pages.

Since I’m waiting in said line-up, I can’t demo the experience and relay first hand info, but I can share what I do know:

- Pages are ‘private’ right now.
- Only the creator has access, so for a company, use the company account
- Access on company pages for other users is coming
- Expect page invites to be a bit excessive on larger profiles to start with

Oh joy my page is waiting for me to setup! Are you folks still reading this? Go!

SEO news blog post by @ 11:55 am on November 8, 2011


New Google Reader GUI Gets Bad Press

Just in time to make your candy hangover even worse, Google’s decided to fiddle with the layout/appearance of it’s Reader product. Naturally the squeaky wheel gets the up-votes, so most of the reactions getting attention are going to be negative. Let me break that trend and explain why with this post.

Google Reader Logo getting Club'd

Over on the official Google Reader Blog, Alan Green had the task of explaining the new look and improvements. The first image posted is ideal, great use of space, very use-able and very little room for improvement:

New Google Reader Layout

Sure there’s a bit of ‘padding’ in the header, and there’s a bit of white space going on, but as you can see, a well used reader account won’t be staring at gulfs of great white spaces that most folks seem to be taking issue with.

The next common point of ‘contention’ is the display of news items, and the amount of screen space that the actual text is getting on the reader screen:

Complaint about reader space

This really seems to be coming from the ‘more is better’ camp who only have 19″ screens. If you put things for me to read stretched across my screen from edge to edge, I would take longer to read it, and my neck would get sore from panning my large displays. If I was making this observation on my home setup it’d be even worse than my work displays.

Plus there’s already a ton of CSS hacks you can apply to change/tweak the layout to fit your needs. A Google search will dig up tons of these, I don’t need to sponsor any particular solution but the first I found did a great job of tightening up the UI.

So with all the negativity aside, what was the Google Reader update all about? Well I can sum it up with one word “Google+”.

To quote the official reader blog:

The ability to +1 a feed item (replacing “Like”), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (replacing “Share” and “Share with Note”).

Integrating with Google+ also helps us streamline Reader overall. So starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality.

So it was a needed update, with a bit of give and take. The authors of the post knew there’d be feedback, negativity, and the usual ‘quiet riot’ around the changes. They even suggested, to anyone that doesn’t leave over the update (their words not mine), that comments and concerns would be great to hear. Plus they also gave a handy link to the import/export settings so your decision to stay doesn’t have to be marred by concerns of how to make the switch.

Now we move on to discuss the new GMail UI changes.. Does it ever end? :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:18 pm on November 1, 2011


A Google Engineer who sees the outsider perspective?

I know that as a stubborn old nerd I can be pretty hard to win over, and as much as this Google Engineer claims to have accidentally leaked his rant, I read this as intentionally made public from the get-go just by the way it was written to ‘everyone’ in a few spots. I could be wrong, but I’m not reading this as a leak, just as a rant.

Ranting google employee

The full post is, amazingly enough over on Google+ as a public post (although the original author has pointlessly deleted it). I shouldn’t say it’s really amazing that the post is still public, people duped it instantly so there’s no point in trying to remove it now.

Make no mistake, there’s a few good points from Steve Yegge; I find some of the observations to be true but mostly from an outsider standpoint which is shocking because it was written by a fellow with almost 6 years of experience in the company. Google does have platforms, they do use them, and they do share them. True there’s always been an obvious panic towards security that’s effected accessibility, but then Google’s track record probably wouldn’t be as amazing with a more casual approach to giving outsiders access to core tech.

Amazingly of all the points made, the one that echos most with my opinion is that Google is becoming arrogant and almost needs two versions of projects like Google’s Chrome browser. One version that runs super secure, fast, compatible, and sleek, with no frills or compromises. The other needs to be as bloated as FireFox/Opera, and it’d run like a buggy mess of poorly considered features that are starkly incompatible with themselves. To quote Steve on arrogance and Chrome development:

“You know how people are always saying Google is arrogant? I’m a Googler, so I get as irritated as you do when people say that. We’re not arrogant, by and large. We’re, like, 99% Arrogance-Free. I did start this post — if you’ll reach back into distant memory — by describing Google as “doing everything right”. We do mean well, and for the most part when people say we’re arrogant it’s because we didn’t hire them, or they’re unhappy with our policies, or something along those lines. They’re inferring arrogance because it makes them feel better.

But when we take the stance that we know how to design the perfect product for everyone, and believe you me, I hear that a lot, then we’re being fools. You can attribute it to arrogance, or naivete, or whatever — it doesn’t matter in the end, because it’s foolishness. There IS no perfect product for everyone.

And so we wind up with a browser that doesn’t let you set the default font size. Talk about an affront to Accessibility. I mean, as I get older I’m actually going blind. For real. I’ve been nearsighted all my life, and once you hit 40 years old you stop being able to see things up close. So font selection becomes this life-or-death thing: it can lock you out of the product completely. But the Chrome team is flat-out arrogant here: they want to build a zero-configuration product, and they’re quite brazen about it, and F*** You if you’re blind or deaf or whatever. Hit Ctrl-+ on every single page visit for the rest of your life.”

As Steve deleted the original post he put up a good bit on why it’s bad to have such things in public:

“Please realize, though, that even now, after six years, I know astoundingly little about Google. It’s a huge company and they do tons of stuff, and I work off in a little corner of the company (both technically and geographically) that gives me very little insight into anything else going on there. So my opinions, even though they may seem well-formed and accurate, really are just a bunch of opinions from someone who’s nowhere near the center of the action — so I wouldn’t read too much into anything I said.”

I really couldn’t agree more. If this had come from someone working with Google’s engineers on something such as the GO language it would have been a different story, but Steve’s admittance of the scope of his role is very honest and worth considering as you read his rant.

TL;DR – Google guy rants about Google’s strategies from an outsider’s perspective and calls out some of the lingering issues with Google’s dev teams/arrogance. Everyone would like to see Google bend more and give more, though nobody can seem to qualify themselves to say if it’s really the wisest strategy.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:07 am on October 13, 2011


Google Screwed Up

When Google+ reared its neonatal head from the nether regions of mother Google, everyone danced around like a new dad on 18 cups of coffee.  There was excitement, wonder, curiosity and just a little bit of fear for what was to come.  And, just as every new father predicts their child will be a physicist or world-class athlete, the opinions on the future of Google+ began to fly all over the web.   Anyone with a respected author profile (or not) gave their predictions for the future, and was promptly smacked down by scores of commenters.  For every post outlining the reasons Google+ was a Twitter killer, there were three more predicting the demise of Facebook.  In hindsight, it all seems rather amusing.

It has been just three months since the plus was added on to the Google, and yet only recently have we begun to figure out the purpose behind it.  In the October 2011 issue of Wired magazine, Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz shines a 1000 watt floodlight on the grand purpose of Google+.  He says “…every single Google property acted like a separate company.  Due to the way we grew, through various acquisitions and the fierce independence of each division within Google, each product sort of veered off in its own direction.  But Google+ is Google itself.”  The devil himself probably heard every reader exclaim ‘oooohh NOW I get it…’.  Google+ IS Google, not the other way around.

The plus really does mean ‘in addition to’.  Google+ is intended as the new umbrella brand to all the other Google properties, and it wasn’t until someone actually put that into words that we all got it.  Which begs the question:  why didn’t we see that before?  Whose fault is it that web users and experts didn’t understand the gravity of the plus?

In the humble opinion of this wide-eyed writer, Google screwed up.  They supposedly have some of the brightest minds in the world running the treadmill for them, yet the marketing plan for the plus was vastly understated and misunderstood.  Now to be fair, maybe they didn’t know this was the plan and through the evolution of usage the plus evolved into something bigger with more potential than originally planned.  Or maybe they screwed up.

Of course the other side of the coin is that we, the users, saw the plus with blinders on.  Were we so used to pegging our social, professional  and personal online activities into separate holes that we didn’t consider everything could be under one brand?  Maybe that notion was a little too scary to consider.  Or Google screwed up.

Why does it matter?  Because if Google+ is their brand, then they have a mountain of work to do in the area of marketing and re-organization.  As Horowitz said in his Wired interview, all the Google properties acted separately past a certain point.  It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out that is probably the reason most products failed.  Now they will bring everything together under the plus and fortify the artillery.  Stay tuned, the next year is going to be exceedingly interesting when it comes to the plus.  If they don’t screw up again.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:17 pm on September 30, 2011



“The New FaceBook”…or, “We Fear Change”

Most of us engage in social media everyday and a huge percentage of us are devout FaceBook users. You have probably noticed several particularly large sweeping changes over the last few weeks since the launch of Google+. Now that Google has completed beta testing and opened their new social platform to the public, many more drastic changes are anticipated from FaceBook in the coming weeks as the two giants continue to battle for market supremacy.

New FaceBook Changes

Mashable has reported that FaceBook plans to implement a major user profile redesign at its F8 Developer Conference tomorrow. While the specifics are vague, reports from two anonymous sources have stated that the redesign is "major" and will initially be focused on increasing time on site for users and to make FaceBook profiles a “nexus” for consuming content.

Other reports state that this roll out is just one component of a much larger roll out that will be followed with a music and media platform. FaceBook appears to have made several agreements with a number of companies to feed content from what users are watching or listening from around the web and feed this information into their FaceBook profiles in real-time to share this media with others. Spotify, Rhapsody, Vevo and Rdio are believed to be the first of FaceBook’s new media partners.

This appears to be only the first tier of major revisions coming to FaceBook. There are rumors of a FaceBook app store and that the redesigned profiles are part of a larger push into social ecommerce. Some sources believe that FaceBook intends to give FaceBook Credits more prominence as well.

The social media giant is reported to be working on something called "Project Spartan", which is a HTML5 version of its platform that would become a distribution mechanism for Web applications through Apple’s mobile Safari browser. At this point however, FaceBook has been very tight-lipped and has not confirmed any of these rumors.

Some of the more recent changes from FaceBook include:

  • View Shares button allows users to see how their content is distributed.
  • Updated lists and Smart Lists, which can auto-generate lists based on location or how people know each other.
  • Custom URLs for new Pages. Previously, 25 fans were needed before a Page could set their custom URL. Not anymore.
  • Poke Button has gone into hiding into a dropdown menu at the top right of a users profile.
  • Page Messages, users will no longer be able to send messages to fans as of September 30.

Many of us will be waiting the new changes with baited breath this Thursday to see what changes will be announced and to find out when they might be implemented. I know that many of my contacts cringe when they find out that FaceBook is about to, or has made changes to the platform, so I try to remind them that change in the social networking world normally brings about positive change…and that no, they will not revert back to the previous version no matter how many people sign a petition to change it back. :-)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:02 pm on September 21, 2011


Google+ is now Public (No invites needed)

I *was* working on another story when I saw this on the Google search page:

Google opens Google+ to uninvited users

We had talked about sneaky ways to get into Google+ in previous posts like this one:

Google+ Free For All

However this time Google actually wants users to flood on in without any invites, they are ready for it now, and none of your friends will have a problem signing up.

Heck now that no invite is needed, and no sneaking required, perhaps we’ll get more of those elite types that won’t accept anyone doing them a favor and wouldn’t signup to the Google+ system before?

That’s it, not a long post, but if someone gets a lead on how we can edit the “utm_source” to get credit for referrals, please do drop us a line? :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:19 pm on September 20, 2011


Google+ and its Potential Impact on SEO

Beanstalk’s Byron Mulcaster has just completed an excellent article on Google+ and it’s potential impact on SEO. This is of course a property early in it’s evolution and all our readers should be sure to visit our blog often as Byron will be writing followup articles as the evolution progresses.

Right now Google+ is set to be abused by SEO’s and webmasters and others in social media.  While Google works hard to counteract this the early adopters (SEO’s and nerds -  the people most prone to abuse the system to see what they do) we’re all trying to find the best marketing and SEO angles for ourselves and our clients.  And unfortunately for Google – one of the best ways to amass users and businesses is to open the gates and give us the benefits.  Well in this article Byron covers some of these benefits and how you can use them to further your site and marketing efforts.

SEO news blog post by @ 3:20 pm on August 23, 2011



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