Google SearchWiki - The Impact on SEO

Monday, 24 November 2008

On November 20th, Google has officialy launched a new feature in their search results pages, called SearchWiki. Already, the new feature has generated quite a lot of buzz including positive and negative feedback.

What is SearchWiki?

SearchWiki is a Web 2.0 inspired functionality that allows signed-in Google users to customize and interact with the listings of the search result pages. Signed-in Google users can improve, remove, add and comment on listings in their Google search results page ( See the Search Engine Land 101 Guide to SearchWiki).

The changes in the rankings only apply to the user account, when he performs the same search and therefore have no known impact on the search engine results pages in the Google index. However the comments can be seen by any signed-in users who perform the same search and click on the "See all notes for this Searchwiki" at the bottom of the Google SERPs.

The Impact of SearchWiki on SEO

Even if the user modifications have no influence on the official Google listing, Google has not excluded the possibility of using the data collected ( all the comments, vote and addition are saved in your Google account) to improve the relevancy of their search engine rankings.
While there is not apparent plans of using user data in the near future, it looks like Google's long term plan is to include a social touch to their almighty algorithm...

Such change could have a tremendous impact on SEO as Google will become an human-algorithm-powered search engine, a sort of mix between the current Google search engine and Digg. Other search engines such as Irazoo have explored this concept in the past, but if Google follow this trend, the way we do SEO will change dramatically!
Relying on the traditional on-page optimization and link building might still get your website on the first page of the Google listing, but if the content, the design or anything else does not please the users, your website might drop into the lower pages.. The rules will definitely change; More importance will be given to the content quality, website usability and customer service effectiveness rather than the number of link and on-page factors.

OK it is a futuristic scenario! In the near future, SearchWiki is not likely to have a huge impact on search engine rankings. As mentioned by Danny Sullivan, one of the potential benefit is to have your website listed in the "See all notes for this SearchWiki" for your main keyword as well as generating comments that could influence internet users to visit your website... Except this, SearchWiki is at this stage a way to make Google more Web 2.0 and social media-ish!

SEO Jobs in Sydney - November 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Linkedin is definitely becoming a serious player in the recruitment industry. I had a quick look yesterday at their job section and I have been positively surprised!
Even if the number of jobs directly published on Linkedin is not huge (yet), their partnership with the vertical search engine Simply Hired, offers them the ability to display jobs from a large range of local and international jobs websites as well as the ability to make money every time they refer someone (that's the beauty of affiliate programs!).

Among the latest SEO jobs offers in Sydney, I have selected the following ones:

Online Marketing Specialist, Sydney CBD, Digital Agency Role. Broad Range of Skills required (SEO, SEM, Email, Social Media). Nice Package of $70,000. Apply here.

SEO Manager: Sydney, Surry Hills. Search Agency Role. This role has been around for a while, as it was already published on our October SEO Jobs Review. 80k to 90K Package +Bonus. Apply Here.

Junior SEO Consultant:, Sydney, Search Agency Role. Managing Clients' SEO and SEM Strategies. This position is open to graduates and SEO professionals with 1-2 years experience. Apply here.

SEO Strategy Manager: Sydney CBD, In-House role. Leading online company. The role consists in managing the entire multi-website search strategy from end to end. The role is open to candidate with experience in product development. Great Remuneration: $100K. Apply here

Google SEO Starter Guide Released

Sunday, 16 November 2008

On the 12th November, the Google Webmaster Team has released a 22 pages SEO Starter Guide, which explains the basic principles of SEO and give some guidelines on how to apply these principles.

The SEO Guide covers the following topics:

- Title Tags, Description Meta Tags
- Search Engine Friendly URL Structure
- Headings Tags
- Search Engine Friendly Navigation (Site Map)
- Quality Content
- Links Anchor Text + Nofollow attribute
- Image Tag optimistation with the Alt attribute
- Robots .txt File
- Analytics & Webmaster Tools

Overall the guide is quite interesting. The information is quite basic if you are are used to SEO, but would be really useful if you are a beginner. The guide includes plenty of real life examples and takes you through the most common SEO concepts in a friendly manner.
The only missing point is link building. While there is a little mention, it would have been great to hear Google's voice on it.
It is a good start though! Such initiatives could lead to more transparency from Google and maybe an Advanced SEO Guide later on!

Download the Google SEO Starter Guide

Sensis and Google Alliance: Maps & Search

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

On the 3rd November, Google Australia and Sensis have come to an agreement to offers users of Google Maps the ability to search the local business listings provided by Yellow Pages (part of Sensis).

The alliance is quite a smart move for both players. The Yellow Pages content is arguably one of the best and most exhaustive local business content in Australia, which should give Google Maps another competitive advantage.
For Yellow Pages (Sensis), the agreement comes at the right time to give a kick to Yellow Pages. According to the IAB/PriceWaterhouseCooper report for the third quarter of 2008, the share of online budget spent on classified has only grown by 2% compared to the same period in 2007, and the biggest players in the market: Seek and RealEstate.com.au have not shown many signs of growth either. The agreement will potentially increase the reach of Yellow listings and should therefore increase their value.

The deal also includes search! Starting in January 2009, Sensis will serve Google Adsense Ads in combination with the ads served from the BidSmart program (Sensis owned PPC Advertising Network).

As mentioned in Search Engine Room, the newly developed alliance also put Yahoo and True Local (News.com.au) on the side as Google was previously using True Local listings on Google Maps and Sensis was using Yahoo Search Marketing to provide search advertising ads. It is definitely a bad year for Yahoo!

More information on ITWire

Pay Per Lead TV Advertising

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Advertisers are more and more interested in spending their advertising budget in high ROI channels with a maximum transparency. The pay per performance model (CPC,CPL, CPS) introduced by online advertising networks seems to have spread out well over the online channel.
I recently came across a TV commercial on free to air promoting Pay Per Lead TV Ads!
The value proposition is really good. The reasons behind this are:

- It is hard to accurately measure the impact of TV commercials on sales and leads.
- TV is also an expensive media channel so more transparency on the ROI is always welcome!

I went to their website, where they (too)briefly explain how it works. Basically it is really similar to online advertising:

- Advertising Advantage create your TV ad with conversion in mind
- They choose the media, where the TV ads will be displayed
- They implement a third party tracking system
- They report on the results.
- The advertiser pay for all the leads.

Ben Shepherd mentioned that it could be really hard to measure the results from TV as TV exposure has impact on other channels (Someone sees a TV ads and then uses search to find out more, and then convert).
While it can be true for a "classic" TV ads, I not convinced that it would apply to Pay Per Lead TV (if it does, Advertising Advantage would lose quite a lot of money)
From what I have seen with the Pay Per Lead TV campaigns they have done, the TV ads implies a call to action through the phone and/or internet, which can be tracked easily and accurately. For example, the advertiser can redirect the audience to a specific landing page of their website or/and set up a specific phone number for the ad and measure the number of calls.

Ben Shepherd is right though. It is highly likely that people exposed to the TV ad will use other channels to reach the advertiser. Search is a great example.
In Drive to the web activities, I have noticed up to 5% of the audience using a search engine rather than the URL display in the Ad. These 5% represent additional leads that won't be tracked (lucky for the advertiser, which won't have to pay for it). However, the situation can also be tricky if a prospect uses a search engine to reach the advertiser, but cannot find it!

An Offline/Online intergrated approach will make sure that the offer is accessible in multiple channels. A Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaign targeting a handful of keywords will be a cost effective approach, that will allow to capture all potential leads generated by TV and therefore keep a maximum transparency on the TV Ads ROI.

Google Analytics New Enterprise Level Features

Monday, 3 November 2008

On the 22nd October at the eMetric Summit in Washington, the Google Analytics team has released new enterprise-level features to Google Analytics.

The new features include:

1. User Interface refresh.
2. AdSense now integrated into GA. ( Private Beta - Invitation Only)
3. Advanced visualizations: Motion Charts!
4. Custom Reports!
5. Advanced Segmentation!!
6. The Google Analytics API. (Private Beta - Invitation Only)
7. Automatic importing of AdWords cost data into Urchin.

In Australia, I have noticed last week that the Custom Reporting and Advanced Segmentation have been released to most of my Google Analytics accounts (I have not seen the user interface refresh though. The user interface refresh has been launched a few days after advanced segmentation and custom reports).
These new features, usually included only in highly priced analytics packages,offer some pretty amazing opportunities to filter, correlate and analyse your website traffic according to the criteria that you choose.

Advanced Segmentation

Advanced Segmentation allows you to filter your traffic based on a set of standard metrics such as paid search visitors, new visitors or visits with transaction.
If you are looking at analysing the behaviour and action performed by your organic traffic, or the most popular pages seen by your visitors coming from paid search, just tick the box and click!
The Advanced Segmentation features also offer custom segmentation so that you can analyse segments based on your needs.
More info on Advanced Segmentation

Custom Reporting

Custom Reporting is also an invaluable tool that can easily give you so much information on your visitors. If you want to know how many visitors from Sydney have bought product XYZ in the last 2 days, you can very easily create a report using the drag and drop interface and get that information.

Except the fact that Google Analytics is free, the best thing about these new features is the easiness of use. In no time, with no training or deep knowledge of the software, you can pull actionable reports.
The Google Analytics team has definitely done a pretty good job. With features like these available for free in Google Analytics, high end packages such as Omniture will definitely have to lift up their game justify the high cost of their offer!