Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category
in Search Engines, Web Marketing
An announcement was made by Google today that “carousel” has been officially launched for Google’s Knowledge Graph local search results. You may have noticed the interactive band of images pop up at the top of your search intermittently for the past several months. Now it’s official – carousel is here to stay!
According to Google’s announcement “Starting today, when you search Google for restaurants, bars or other local places on your desktop, you’ll see an interactive “carousel” of local results at the top of the page.”
Not only is this new way to search aesthetically pleasing- it’s interactive and helpful too! When hovering over the one of the images you are able to see it’s location pop up on the map. Click and you’ll get extra details like address, phone and user reviews. Use the arrows to the left and right on the carousel to visually page through the search results without jumping from website to website.
Did you notice local results are gone? They ARE the results in the carousel. Also, try zooming in or out on the map…the carousel results are automatically updated to reflect what’s in the map’s viewable area.
What do you think of the new image carousel? How will this impact searches in the future? Weigh in below, I’d love to hear your opinions!
Posted in Search Engines, Web Marketing | No Comments »
in Search Engine Optimization, Search Engines, Web Development
Have you ever searched for something online, clicked a link to a promising website and then you land on a webpage that doesn’t answer your questions? Have you ever navigated to a site that you know had good information but can’t find it through the site’s navigation? Filtering through modern websites can be a hassle today. With so many sites having over 50 pages or more and similar content on multiple pages, finding exactly what you need can be tricky and search engines don’t always get you where you need to go. This means that having a powerful and intuitive site search feature in your web development is very important. Let’s break down the benefits of site search.
Site Search Benefits Your Consumers
The fact of the matter is that a site with site search installed helps visitors stay longer on site, find what they were looking for, make purchases, contact you and potentially come back again. We have all been disappointed before when we click on organic results and the site we are taken to doesn’t answer the question. Without site search, chances are most people will leave the site completely. Many consumers today will go straight to the site search before navigating for an answer. Site search is beneficial because:
- It satisfies the “I want it now” problem for today’s searchers
- Consumers expect site search on today’s websites
- Reduces bounce and exit rates and increases time on site
- Can help suggest related content the customer is interested in but didn’t know to look for
Great For E-Commerce
On e-commerce sites, up to 30 % of users will use the search box and show intent to buy by typing in searches for product names, product codes and product categories. Great e-commerce sites utilize site search with added features that maximize on online shopper’s intent to buy. E-Commerce sites can use filtering options to narrow down “Clothing” to “Men’s” and then even further to “Dress Pants.”
Site search boxes should be placed in a prominent position on the page and be visible across the entire site, ideally near the top navigation. By using text in the search box before the text area is clicked, you can help give search parameters and advice to help consumers better find what they are looking for. (Make sure the text disappears when users click. This can get annoying if they have to manually delete text) Lastly, aut0-complete or auto-suggest is a great feature for site search because it speeds up the search process, avoids incorrect spellings and ensures consumers will receive the search results they want. Below are the benefits of site search for e-commerce:
- Improved Sales- Effective searches means customers can easily find products they want and then make purchases.
- Increased Time on Site- Easier site search means customers will stay on site longer, perform more searches and eventually return to the site after a satisfied experience.
- Customer Retention & Loyalty- Satisfied customers can lead to return customers and positive reviews and/or word-of-mouth.
Allows Better Analytics
How can you prove that site search is worthwhile? How can it help the site owner? The answer….Analytics. Our preferred Analytics partner, Google Analytics, offers a site search analysis feature that can help you dig deeper into the minds of your consumers and improve your site with your findings. The first step is setting up site search in your profile
- Click the Admin tab at the top right of any screen in Analytics and click the account that contains the profile you want to set up Site Search for.
- Use the Profile menu to select the profile you want then click the Profile Settings sub-tab.
- Under Site Search Settings, select Do Track Site Search.
- In the Query Parameter field, enter the word or words that designate an internal query parameter, such as “term,search,query”. Sometimes the word is just a letter, such as “s” or “q”. Enter up to five parameters, separated by commas. For information about identifying query parameters, see Identifying Search and Query Parameters for Your Site.
- Select whether or not you want Google Analytics to strip the query parameter from your URL. Note that this strips only the parameters you provided, and not any other parameters in the same URL. This has the same functionality as excluding URL Query Parameters in your Main Profile: if you strip the query parameters from your Site Search Profile, you don’t have to exclude them again from your Main Profile.
- Select whether or not you use categories, such as drop-down menus to refine a site search.
- If you select No, you are finished. Click Save Changes.
- If you select Yes:
- In the Category Parameter field, enter the letters that designate an internal query category such as ‘cat, qc,’.
- Select whether or not you want Google Analytics to strip the category parameters from your URL. Note that this strips only the parameters you provided, and not any other parameters in the same URL. This has the same functionality as excluding URL Query Parameters in your Main Profile: if you strip the category parameters from your Site Search Profile, you don’t have to exclude them again from your Main Profile.
- Click Apply
The benefits of tracking your site search is pretty unbelievable. The Usage report can show you how many people use the site search feature versus those that do not and if you have e-commerce capabilities, it can even show you what percentage of site search users make a purchase so you can gather ROI data.
The Search Terms report shows you what keywords people are using, what items they may not be able to find within your site navigation structure, what products are missing traffic and which keywords need more focused attention. You can also see destination and start page reports which can highlight dead ends on your site, pages that don’t answer enough questions and ways to improve on-page optimization.
Site search is beneficial to e-commerce and content websites alike. A great site search software can help you retain customers, increase sales, track under-performing pages and keywords and even more. The easiest way to get started with site search for those that don’t use it currently, is to find the best option for you. Two great options are Google’s Custom Search which is an inexpensive option for small and medium-sized businesses and another partner of Beacon, Nextopia. Read a Q&A session that Beacon’s CEO, Mark Dirks had with Nextopia’s CEO & Founder, Sanjay Arora to find out even more about Nextopia’s site search options.
Tags: benefits of site search, ecommerce site search, Google Custom Search, Google Site Search, nextopia site search, site search, site search for ecommerce
Posted in Search Engine Optimization, Search Engines, Web Development | No Comments »
in Freebies, Search Engines, Web Development
There are many third-party search engines you can choose from for your website. Some third-party installations and upkeep are more involved than others. Some offer free limited search capabilities and others are paid with extra features. These all depend on what your needs are for the website.
To help narrow it down, Google has provided an easy way to search your site, be it free or paid with custom search. The free version comes with Google ads that relate to your site, but not limited in other areas like other third-party search engines. If you have a tax-exempt business website according to Google’s guidelines, you have the option to turn off the ads. The paid search is also very affordable and allows you to turn off the ads.
You can customize the whole search experience and everything needed through the Google Custom Search engine site. It requires very minimal setup to your website with simple copy and paste code. With Google hosting the search engine, you don’t have to setup any background files or plugins on your own web server and maintain it.
It works well for search engine optimization and your website rankings, since it gives the ability to work with Google Analytics. You can see what people are searching for on your website to help improve or update it and get maximum results.
Tags: custom search, Google Custom Search, site search
Posted in Freebies, Search Engines, Web Development | 1 Comment »
in Managing Web Content, Search Engines, Web Development
Google provides a simple way to install Google Custom Search on your website. It has a flexible layout to include one website, multiple websites or specific webpages. You can customize the colors and branding to match your existing webpages. Other features include auto-complete, thumbnails and ads.
To get started, you will need the following:
- A Google account
- Administration access to the website that you will be adding the Google Custom Search.
Once you have that information setup, you can start by logging into Google’s Custom Search Engine.
- Once logged in click “New search engine”.
- Add the website domain in the “Sites to search” field. You can add any of these into that field, individual pages (www.example.com/page.html), entire site (www.mysite.com/*), parts of a site (www.example.com/docs/* or www.example.com/docs/), or entire domain (*.example.com).
- Select the desired language.
- Click “Create”.
From here you can add it to your site by clicking “Get code”, and place it where you want the search box and search results to appear, following Google’s guidelines.
If you prefer to tailor the look and feel you can do that by clicking on “Look and feel” in the left navigation. The “Layout” tab includes overlay, two page, full width, two column, compact, results only or Google hosted. The “Themes” tab is where you customize the look of the results. The “Customize” tab allows you to edit the search box, search button, results and more. The “Thumbnails” tab allows you to turn on and off from viewing in search results.
After that, click “Save & Get Code”. Place in the code to your HTML where the search box and results should appear, again following Google’s guidelines. These guidelines will be shown above the box where you copy the Google code to place into your website.
Other features that can be changed in your Google account without changing the code that is to be placed into your site include “Search features” to enable and disable promotions with multiple options, “Statistics and Logs” to get stats, Google Analytics and Audit log. The “Business” tab allows you to show or hide ads. To disable the ads you have to be an eligible organization according to Google’s guidelines or pay a fee to have them removed.
All the above information can be found at www.google.com/cse.
Tags: Google Custom Search, Google Search, Google Site Search
Posted in Managing Web Content, Search Engines, Web Development | No Comments »
in Search Engines
A little over a year ago, Panda made its debut. The debut was not soon after it was revealed that AOL was prepping to add massive waves of content. A content farm to end all content farms. Panda put a stop to that.
There was speculation as to how Panda may handle that.
As a prelude, the first anchor text action was an end to anchor text boilerplate repetition. And now the second wave has hit. An end to exact keyword matching in anchor text.
There were predictions early on and later some indications that exact match anchor text was going to be a casualty.
With Panda 3.3, exact match anchor text no longer carries the weight it once used too.
There was always the knowledge that varying anchor text and using descriptive phrases in the anchor text was a good thing.
Google could detect indications when a growing link profile was unnatural.
In Google patent - Document Scoring Based on Link-Based Criteria :
“ This indication may be strengthened if the growth corresponds to anchor text that is unusually coherent or discordant. This information can be used to demote the impact of such links.
So ongoing, some techniques to follow with your link strategy:
- Try to build a natural link profile and avoid using exact match at least initially.
- Instead of exact match, utilize synonyms and phrases instead
- Incorporate your brand name along with the anchor text
Tags: Google Panda, seo
Posted in Search Engines | 2 Comments »
in Search Engines, Web Development
First trip to IRWD. Quick recap. A lot of focus on usability and what I call “mindwork”. We are at a point now where everyone is finally starting to look at conversion optimization onsite via improving usability and calls to action; offsite via personalization and segmentation. When I say “mindwork”, I’m referring to the marketing and technical minds formulating actionable insights behind the tools and data. Certainly, as I’ve said for years, the right tools and technology are essential, but successful websites have one or more creative, analytical minds guiding the operation. More of these types of people were at IRWD, so it was fantastic seeing how various companies brought business and technology together. Most of the sessions that I attended focused on unique ideas, usability and decisions being made to improve conversion rates based on data, testing, more data and more testing.
The exhibit hall had more Usability companies that I expected and of course there were a variety of companies promoting web design/development services, ecommerce software, site search software and digital marketing services, along with some firms that offered some interesting tools and services.
Here’s a random set of notes that and thoughts that I jotted down during the various presentation. I didn’t attend every presentation.
- 13% growth in online retail in 2011. (Corrected, originally stated 19%)
- 13% of web traffic mobile now.
- Asking visitors to register before checkout is still poor practice.
- Amazon & LL Bean continue to be what everyone compares to (but it is important to remember that each business has its own unique needs and very different budgets)
- gets 9M monthly visits, produces $2.1B in eCommerce sales, receives 2M daily product searches.
- was originally B2B and only dealt with business owners – but now it has opened a B2C channel to go directly to end users.
- uses GPS w/ mobile to help customers find their store and provide directions from wherever they are.
- It’s all about knowing your customers – and designing accordingly.
- Important features: I LIKE ALL OF THESE when financially feasible for our clients.
- Order History (reduces inbound calls, customer-focused service, helps with re-orders).
- Custom Catalog in left nav (for clients based on what they normally purchase).
- Previously Purchased Items in left nav (or as part of site search results).
- Need to spend more time analyzing onsite search logs
- Setup “Click to Call” or “Click to Chat” when a customer has been on a page a long time or if possible, when they move their mouse to the top right (looking for help/support links). This feature typically increases conversions and decreases cart abandonment.
- Belk – believes in “light and simple” home page, minimizing the number of things that are promoted to limit distractions. Max of two levels in left nav and 4 horizontal thumbnail images on listing pages.
- Tools: Clicktail (Video/User Monitoring feature), VisiStat, Adobe SiteCatalyst
- I liked Daryl Logullo’s concept of the “Principle of Continual Gradual Improvement”
- David Goldsholle pointed out that it is critical to get detailed SLAs from vendors (hearing that they have done this for many years isn’t sufficient). He also mentioned Google Commerce Search for its extended attributes.
- Mike Sidders pointed out that the old school continuum of “Attention, Interest, Desire, Action” still works – just needs to be mechanized via internet technology now.
- Lots of Usability firms in attendance as companies move from worrying about traffic to improving conversion rates via usability improvements, personalization and segmentation.
- The top two things that mobile users do while shopping are search on price and search for reviews.
- Check out Trello.com and KingArthurFlour.com to see responsive web design (re-size the screen and watch what happens)
- Confirmation about the need for SEO specialist involved in Design/Development process.
- One speaker mentioned that when you have a good web development company, recognize it and take care of the relationship because there are a lot of poor web dev companies out there. (Gotta agree!)
- Checkout Steve Krug’s book, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy”
- Mention of 4Q as a great survey tool.
- Online reviews build trust and help improve conversion rates. Nathan Decker (Evogear) stated that 4-7 reviews is enough to influence the purchase of an item.
- Check out PowerReviews.com, Monetate.com, PivotLink.
- 1-2 optimization tests per month is not enough. One company, I believe it was Freshpair.com ran 50-100/month to expedite overall site improvement. Expedite continual improvement w/ significantly more tests.
- Checkout Book: “Start With Why”
- Very, very impressed with Halley Silver’s presentation about King Arthur Flour. Checkout the website, kingarthurflour.com. Concept of “Responsive Mobile First” is the way to go. Takes more time, but the design becomes device agnostic. She estimated 2 months to develop 5 templates. Build mobile site first; tablet, second; website, third.
- Search “320andup” in Google and read through some of the links.
- Check out Threadless.com. Very cool concept… have artists submit artwork for t-shirts. Have the site’s community select a winner each week, print the winning design on t-shirts and sell them online.
- Great presentation/discussion between Seth Freiden (US Toy Co) and Shaun Ryan (SLI Systems) about the value and importance of Site Search (esp. tuning and cross-site searches)
- Exhibit Hall – Chatted with
- Chris Bannister (Nextopia). They have a great product that is priced right – plus (and this is important) their customer service is incredible – probably the best of any of our partner vendors.
- the folks at Bridgeline Digital (IAPPS Suite). Beacon is a development partner of theirs. The IAPPS integrated platform (CMS, eCommerce, Marketing, Analytics) eliminates a lot of the chaos of integrating multiple 3rd party software solutions.
- Lee Alison Rable at MyBuys. Really like their product/services.
- Lindsay Rice at Tobii. They seem to have a great list of products/services with respect to Usability research and testing, particularly eye-tracking (which I saw offered by several other exhibitors).
- Ortery – Cool to see their 360 image product in action. Seemed to be priced right to expedite the creation of product images for ecommerce websites.
Tags: irwd, irwd 2012, search engines, Web Development
Posted in Search Engines, Web Development | No Comments »
in Pay-Per-Click, Search Engines
I recently came across an article talking about the new Wordstream PPC Grader. Of course my curious self had to go try it out and I’m happy to report this tool offers a lot of insight into your Adwords Campaigns.
(Not to bad of a score if I do say so myself)
Here is some of the great info you can learn from this tool:
1. Wasted Spending on Negative Keywords – Luckily my wasted spend wasn’t to high but knowing there still was some tells me I need to go in and add some more negative keywords so I can get the number closer to $0.
2. Quality Score – Here is let’s you know if you scores are below average, average or above average. It also give you an estimate of how much money can be saved by improving your score a point. Example from my report: “By improving your Quality Score by 1.1, you can save $112.28, or get 35more clicks / month.”
3. Click Through Rate (CTR) – This section of the report shows you the average CTR curve and where you lie on it. It also gives you an estimate of how many clicks you can expect to get by increasing your CTR. Example pulled from report: “If you increased your CTR to 4.41%, you could expect 11 more clicks or 1more conversions a month.”
4. Activity Time – This part of the report doesn’t offer much insight although it is nice to see how where you rank among others when it comes to time spent updating campaigns. I ranked in the 87th percentile for this client and got this message “You’re actively devoting time to working on your account — this is good news for your campaigns!”
5. Long Tail Keyword Optimization - We all know long tail keywords are great because they are more specific and most of the time offer high conversion rates. This section of the report let’s you know where you stand with your targeted keywords and how you rank among competitors. As you can see from the image, my campaigns use a lot of 3+ words and I rank pretty well.
6. Ad Text Optimization – This section I found very helpful because of the visual it gives for your worst text ad and your best. Here I can compare the two in order to figure out why the worst one is performing so bad. As you can see from the image below, I’m doing pretty well with my text ads.
7. Landing Page Optimization – Here you can see how you compare to your competitors when it comes to the amount of landing pages you are sending traffic too. It’s best practice to have targeted landing pages for each ad group so that you’re sending people directly to the information they want to see rather than just sending them to any page on your site. Here I learned that my competitors have double the amount of landing pages I do and I need to step up my game in order to match them.
8. PPC Best Practices – This is the last part to the report and it gives you a Pass (thumbs up) or Fail (thumbs down) grade on each of the best practices experts have defined in order to have a successful PPC campaign.
I was really impressed with this tool and it’s ease of use as well as the great information it has given me. There’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try considering it’s Free! So go here and check it out!
Tags: PPC, PPC Grader
Posted in Pay-Per-Click, Search Engines | No Comments »
in Other, Search Engines, Web Development
As a software development project manager at Beacon, I’m also proud to say that I’m both an NPR and data geek, so I was elated to hear a story this week that united all of my passions: Google Searches Are A Window Into Our Culture. The tool “Google Correlate” is actually a fascinating window into how people are searching for not only one specific term, but an entire web of other related (or maybe not-so-related) terms.
The political example given in the story was somewhat predicable (Democrats– veggie-loving, fitness buffs; Republicans– meat-loving, weight-loss program participants), but my own searches turned up some interesting results on Google Correlate. I am just starting work on a new website redesign for a well-known business school and was wondering what kind of associations I’d find if using terms related to that school (thinking I might be able to use this information with regard to site design and features). Here’s the terms I tried:
- business school– while many of the U.S.’s top business schools are listed, I was surprised to see the appearance of “art schools” and “art colleges” as correlating terms. Wonder if my client has considered cross-promotion with this demographic? Could a more “artsy” site design have benefits in this area?
- management school– like the “art” association listed above, I was suprized to find “hospital association” as a correlation with “management school.” Perhaps another marketing opportunity here? Would a site feature that included possible hospital careers be helpful to these visitors?
- mba school– oddly, this was a much more common search term in Utah than any other state. Not sure how we can leverage this, but I’m sure we’ll bat it around for a while!
Also, don’t miss the comic book on the Google Correlate site – fun! The most important point that the comic book emphasizes and bears repeating here– “Remember: Correlation is not causation.” Google doesn’t attempt to explain the correlation between terms, just show it to us in a manner for us to interpret and leverage. Happy correlating!
Tags: Google, google correlate
Posted in Other, Search Engines, Web Development | No Comments »
in Search Engines
- It is a constant battle with my middle and high school students to get them to use “authoritative sources” for school work (“but Mooooom, EVERYONE uses Wikipedia and my teachers don’t care!”). Having seen for myself the misinformation purposely posted on Wikipedia, I still insist on .edu, .gov, etc. sites for research and this tip makes that a bit easier (though the battle rages on…)
Search certain types of sites or just certain sites. You can search a wide variety of sites by inserting a close angle bracket (>
) symbol before the type of site you want to search. For example, [penguins site:
>.edu] searches for penguins across all .edu sites; and [crater image site:
>nasa.gov] searches for crater images across NASA.gov.
- Would have been soooo helpful on my three day, agonizing move across the country last year with the dog, two distraught teenagers and a dying minivan:
Find hotel prices directly on Google Maps. No more copying and pasting the address from one site into a map to see its location–for several major cities in the United States, you can easily see nightly rates when you search for hotels in Google Maps. Try it now: Search for a “hotel in Los Angeles” on Google Maps
- Not a particularly helpful tip, but makes you really want to be a “Google Master” doesn’t it? Or is that just me???
Gmail is a very deep program, with too many tips and tricks to list in this article. In fact, Google categorizes its Gmail user tips into four stages–white belt, green belt, black belt, and master. The tips for each belt can be found at Google’s “Become a Gmail ninja” site. There’s even a printible guide; after all, even ninjas forget their moves once in a while.
Tags: gmail, Google, mapping, wikipedia
Posted in Search Engines | No Comments »
in Operating Systems, Other, Search Engines, Web Development, Web Marketing
Based on data collected by Compuware’s benchmarks division, Google Chrome is the fastest web browser in the “real world” of desktop users. The data, collected over a one-month time frame, captured the results of 1.86 billion individual measurements on over 200 websites.
In the chart below, Google Chrome 12 has the fastest page load time (in blue) of 3.433 seconds. While, Safari 4 has the slowest load time of 6.149 seconds. The chart also shows perceived render times (in green) of browsers, which is the amount of time it takes for the visible portion of the page to load in the browser. Firefox 5 has the best perceived render time (in green) of 2.18 seconds, while Chrome comes in second at 2.374 seconds.
I personally use Firefox most of the time due to the number of Add-ons I have installed on my machine, but after reading this article I might have to make the switch to Google Chrome.
Here is the link to the full article found on LinkedIn, if you wish to read further.
Tags: Google Chrome
Posted in Operating Systems, Other, Search Engines, Web Development, Web Marketing | No Comments »