Tag Archives: google

The modern dilemma – to give, and be ‘needed’: or hold-out and be lonely!

Just looking into a traffic drop that looks like it only affected events-style content and on some very precise informational terms from Google web.  So, with my ‘tinfoil-hat’ on and assuming that we are the victim here of the behemoth that is the omnipotent and omnipresent Google.  I am referring to knowledge graph and structured mark-up. And specifically how much information do we give away.

The modern dilemma

Should we give, and be ‘needed’: or hold-out and be lonely?

If we give too much data to Google we [website owners who monetize them] we will loose visits, impressions and the chance to build brand/loyalty and monetize. So, with no directly obvious return for our time, effort or investment. If you run your site for ad revenues; for clients who expect web analytics to give you the only measure of success then this is important.

Schema mark-up, microformats etcetera present our information in a way that can be used by the engines in a number of different ways. It can be used to provide site links in the SERPs to its own page, or, it can be used to provide site links to other related pages on your site. However, [tinfoil hat moment] it is also giving data/facts and information nuggets to the engines, so they can present the answer via knowledge graph/one-box answers or mash-it-up in another clever way for their own gain.

So we, as media owners/publishers are between a rock and a [very] hard place. We are all moving to separate data from the presentation layer. Moving to html5, modular design, focusing on site speed and mark-up to make quality, scalable sites. We have, as an industry, pushing for the latest standard, code to enable anywhere/anyformat viewing of our brands.  We are progressive SEOs to an extent, have always understood that our presence is not just our own sites but this is making it very real indeed.

But, we can’t not, keep supplying this data as we want to be found/seen to be experts and add value via the entry to the web. And like all imbalanced relationships, if I don’t give, Google what it wants, they will leave us for our competitors. Without even a kiss goodbye!

Google wants to the be the repository of all things in knowledge and [I believe] is starting to display portal like tendencies by keeping users on its own properties. So, what to do?

Right now – embrace it, see how it goes. Maybe in the future, we will have forced to change our thinking and divide our sites into two types. 1) Pages that may get visits, but do give information to users [maybe just not on our site], and 2) Landing pages, entries onto our own web properties as we do right now.


A Penguin and Panda recovery story

Enjoyed this, some straight forward honesty with some real experimentation. A lot of us go through some of these things for personal and professional sites and most SEO have a number of personal play sites. Some good, some bad, some deliberately bad to act as a barometer. So, even an casestudy without domain names can confirm what you think you see in your own bubble. Thank you for sharing Michael.

Penguin 2.0 and future Google changes

So, the clear long term direction is to keep making a quality, well written, engaging, fast site that people would choose to recommend to their friends and family and mention on social. So, no change there.

If you are doing things to game Google, which everyone has to [to some degree] as there is a addictive dependency that has been created. A vicious circle of traffic need/expectation and the sheer dominance of one traffic provider.

In an article earlier this week by Search Engine Land they wrote up about the next significant algo update. The interesting thing in this article is that the after shocks in the last year or so have been just incremental updates, and a full 2.0 is coming.

This latest video featuring Matt Cutts of Google, talks about what changes are coming. Even IF you take his commentary as controlling spam through PR efforts; there is normally some directions/themes that you can take out of it.

Here is that video.

It seems that more changes are coming. Enhancements some might say. The tone of the video suggests that this is to be more comprehensive than before.

  • There is a Penguin 2.0 a web spam change – to continue to target [hate myself for using this term] ‘black hat’. So, more comprehensive would mean more identification, to go deeper with bigger impact for site that are caught
  • Advertorials, to prevent these from passing any page rank. If they are done just for SEO, then they are in violation of their “quality guidelines”. To make this a bit stronger in detection and decision making on value to pass. There are no issue with advertorials – unless they are just done to pass page rank for cash
  • If you are running loans, porn, pills or hard SEO areas you are being targeted by name into your link practices! This included a named mention of finding networks and all sites associated with them

There were some positive things

  • Better communication and information if your site is hacked or have malware inserted
  • An attempt at giving sites the authority they deserve, and then the visibility there too
  • Great news for many who were caught up partially or unfairly by their Panda update. Matt talks about looking for more +ve signals that may move some sites out from the borders
  • And, some presentational things in the SERPs around clustering domains to a user. And, if you do see them once, you would be less likely to see them again on subsequent pages

So, to be honest, if this is true. Then the coming changes would be genuinely quite good for most hard working decent folk! Let’s hope it treats my sites well!




Guest blogging. Good idea?

Like many topics in SEO, it comes down to quality, moderation and balance. Aim for fewer, higher quality and normally it is deemeded worthwhile and wholesome. Too many, automated and low quality = bad = spammy.

Matt tells tells us

…it can be good

…but it could be bad

Like chocolate at Christmas – apply self control and moderation and you can enjoy it!

Quick thoughts on Google’s June & July updates

I was trying to find some quick themes inside the Google’s announced updates via their Inside Search blog on their June and July updates post.

These are their published updates from June and July. I first tried to understand this post, by doing a crude, word cloud. Sometimes themes just poke their head up!

June & July Google update post's tag cloud

June & July Google update post’s tag cloud

But as you can see, this is a bit like search of old and just by being frequent, it doesn’t necessarily convey the sentiment or meaning.

So, here are some groups/themes IMHO.

  • Panda quality factors updates are mentioned a few times – so maybe more on-page factors are being refined
  • The phrase, more relevant answers from “Trusted Sites” I thought stood out. Is this for Brands (Vince) or for those who are socially strong?
  • Native languages, understanding of synonyms and context which is definitely a move to knowledge/understanding rather than just quantity of words
  • Maps, Knowledge graph and Local to be updated. I would speculate to allow even more personalised SERPs

And a number of presentational updates to

  • Site-links
  • Inline services e.g. nascar results, in-line with F1
  • Flights search and departure/arrival info
  • Autosuggest on native language

If you look at this and the previous few updates, then its more about sentiment, understanding, oh and some user experience stuff; with a massive purge on quality as an underlying assumption.

Just a few quick thoughts.

Data, Information and now the Knowledge [graph]

We knew it was coming and here is their [Google] announcement. They explain this as improving search and helping people explore. If you ask Google a questions, historically it gave you a list of possible places to find the answer. If, they understand your question, they can try and give you an answer. Or at least, throw many possible ways for you to find that answer all in one place.

Anyway, I am sure there is much more to come and many pundits to comment. Here is their video.

Index status. New in Google’s webmaster central

Google have just released another new toy inside their webmaster tools. As many of these tools they provide shapes that you need to read [like tarot cards] in context to what you have done onsite.

You can find the tool under Health and then Index Status.

I use the screen grab of this personal blog. I can see that since February Panda (coincidence?) that more of my pages have been found. I definitely haven’t produced that much extra content!

Index status inside GWMC tools

Index status inside GWMC tools

I remember the days when we would manually log this figure using the site: command in the search box.

There is an advanced view too – see screengrab below for the buttons location.

Index status - Advanced view

Index status – Advanced view

Here you will see the breakdown. Showing how many unique pages that have been crawled, how many have been taken into their database, how many not selected and how many you are blocking by robots. So, if you made a change you can see it take affect.

Lets see if it becomes useful overtime. I hope they join the data to other sections of crawl stats and more importantly crawl errors.

How to use the Google WMT crawl data – once you fix the date format!

The crawl data that you can download from Google’s Webmaster Central Tool would be much more useful IF you could arrange the data by date. You can’t pivot or sort data if the data is [first of all] in American date format, and 2ndly some is in date format, some in text format and some just throws an error.

So, how do you cleanse this data?

Step 1 – download your crawl data

Click on the “Download” option inside in Google’s webmaster tools interface

Step 2 – Open excel and import your data as “From Text”

Here is the advice from the Excel help file

Importing text files
You can use Excel to import data from a text file into a worksheet. (On the Data tab, in the Get External Data group, click From Text.) The Text Import Wizard examines the text file that you are importing and helps you ensure that the data is imported in the way that you want.

There are two ways to import data from a text file by using Excel: You can open the text file in Excel (which does not make a connection to the text file), or you can import the text file as an external data range (which does make a connection to the text file).

There are two commonly used text file formats:
Delimited text files (.txt), in which the TAB character (ASCII character code 009) usually separates each field of text.
Comma-separated values (CSV) text files (.csv), in which the comma character (,) usually separates each field of text.

You can also change the separator character that is used in both delimited and .csv text files. This may be necessary to make sure that the import or export operation works the way that you want it to.

You will be importing a .csv

Step 3 – Use the Text Import wizard

Use the Text Import Wizard. I have never had to make any changes on the first step.

On step 2 of 3, you should choose COMMA and not Tab.

Here is the important bit. On step 3 of 3 you can choose what is the format for the import. So, in the “Data Preview” pane, scroll to the right. Select the Date column and choose your preferred date format (see arrow).

Excel's Text Import Wizard - choosing data type

Excel's Text Import Wizard - choosing data type

Click Finish. Select the location you want your new table.

You would think that you would now be finished! No, Google also give us 2 date format


Standarding the year format

I am sure that there must be an easier way than this, please share if you know. You can’t just format cells to date. So, insert some new columns to the right of the date column.

  1. Hightlight the Date column. Select “Text to Columns” on the “Data” tab
  2. In the wizard, choose to seperate by “other”, enter a slash “/”.
  3. Now use the good old fashioned “Find and replace”. Replace “12” with “2012”, then find all the accidentally created “202012” and replace with “2012”. And repeat if you still have 2011 data in there
  4. Then just Concatenate the 3 columns back together using this formula structure (assume in columns 1,2 and 3 and use the text insert of a slash inbetween quotation marks)
  5. =CONCATENATE(a1,”/”,a2,”/”,a3)

  6. Double click on the bottom right hand corner of the cell to copy all the way down
  7. Copy the resultant column, “Paste Special” next to it as “Values only”
  8. Delete the rest of the working columns

You are now ready to actually use your own data. Google please help us!

However, there are still bad data and formats in the data. So, I always prefer server side tools.

How does Google work?

Its a start. Google shares everything, but still doesn’t tell you much in absolutely detail, as normal. They are making SEO accessible to the masses, by explaining to the lay-man about crawling and indexation on the basics of retrieving and recalling web pages. Shame he didn’t go into personalisation and how social signals are influencing that.

Without further-ado, here is the latest video presented by Matt Cutts.