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Xstremeology Blog

The latest search industry news in one healthy dose. 

Google…Music?

Yes, it’s true. Or it will be soon. Google is launching an iTunes competitor that has some interesting competitive differences. First, Google is offering to store your music in the ‘cloud’, (also known as on their servers) and thus make it accessible from any web-access point. This ‘locker’ option will enable users to stream their music for a mere $25 a year. Looking for more benefits? How about Playlist sharing and other Social Media integration…Seriously Apple, where ya been with that one? Read More…

Let’s Talk Market Share

Google is the clear search industry market leader, and has recently expanded it’s market reach to handheld platforms. Are Yahoo and Bing beat, or did the move cost Google?


On the Lighter Side

The world of search is rarely humorous, and the discussion of religion is rarely broached. Then came this post by Justin Rohrlich at Minyanville.com. In the post Justin looks at a few religion-specific search engines, which is interesting for two reasons: 1) It is potential legitimately beneficial resource for concerned parents (go for SeekFind or jgrab.com; look past the Pagan Search) and 2) It illustrates the customizable possibilities that the Internet and web searches can provide. Will we one day jump on KentuckySportsSearch.com to find the latest UK or UL basketball news from ALL sources? I’m not sure about that but the move to the Web 3.0 Semantic Web may just make it possible.

by Dan Dixon, Web Reach Consulting

OK. So you know what a keyword is. It's the word you want to rank for at the top of Search Engine Result Pages. Easy enough; just put that word in a couple of places on your website, and be home in time for dinner. I hate to be the kill-joy, but sit back down, get out your pocket protector, and get ready to geek out on some data. The process of finding the best keywords is time-consuming. Here's a few tips to get you started on your research.

Selecting Strategic and Conversion-Focused Keywords is Critical for SEO Success

It is necessary to have the right keywords to have a presence on the internet. If you have a new website, or a site that is not optimized for search, it is especially important to incorporate keywords so that potential customers can find your spiffy new website. Choosing strategic keywords will involve a few steps. First, brainstorm all the words you think might describe your business and your product. Ask friends and customers how they would describe your business. Remember that people who are searching may not know the professional and technical language that you do. Next, come up with a list of words that can make your original set of keywords more specific. These are called keyword modifiers, and they can significantly lower the competition of your keywords and increase the relevancy.

Keyword Phrases and Adding Modifiers

A single keyword that represents your product is going to have a high competition. Some single words have higher competition than others. For instance 'magazine' has over a half billion search results in Google, and 'umbrella' has a mere 37 million search results. But here's the important part, 'red umbrella' has about 300,000 search results. 'Red patio umbrella' has just 200,000 search results. That's a pretty significant change from 37 million. (When doing your research, be sure to include the quotation marks around the search terms. This will show the competition for that exact phrase). The longer and more specific your keyword, the less competition, and the greater the relevancy. And the best part, long tail keyword searches are done by people who are farther along in the buying cycle; people who know what they are looking for.

Broad keyword searches for more general, one-word search terms typically represent people who are still in the research phase. They are still trying to figure out what they're looking for. In contrast, a person who types in red patio umbrella knows exactly what they want. They just need to find the right venue to purchase that umbrella from. Another thing to consider: it's useless to have a keyword that no one is searching for, so be careful about getting TOO specific. Even if you have red polka dot patio umbrellas for sale, no one is searching for the term 'red polka dot umbrella'.

The idea is to collect as much data as possible on potential keywords and then select the best words with the lowest competition, but a significant search volume.

Selecting Keywords for YOUR Business

Your business is unique, and the type of site and product offered will determine the number of keywords you need to optimize for. The good news is there are lots of free tools out there to help you collect data. Researching search terms to find the best keywords will provide the added bonus of helping you get in touch in with your customer base and their search habits. For example, Google's free keyword tool, will not only give you data on the term you are looking for, but it will also suggest related keywords and give you data on those words. It is a great resource to help you generate keywords you might not have thought of. Another great free tool, WordTracker, lets you easily put in a search term and it will generate up to 100 related keywords.

With both Google and WordTracker, the keyword suggestions are generated from actual searches done on search engines. As you are beginning your keyword campaign, try to start small, so you can manage all the data you are collecting. Set achievable goals so that you can be successful without being overwhelmed. And remember, finding the most relevant and competitive keywords is the first step in building traffic for your website.
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

by Dan Dixon, Web Reach Consulting

The latest news from the search industry in one healthy dose.  Stay up to date -- check back next month for more quick hitters.

Google Caffeine

In another sign that real-time search is becoming more viable every day, Google reworked their algorithm, and branded it Caffeine.  The speedy new architecture is said to provide 50% fresher results than the old version by updating the search index on a continual basis and from a more globalized index.  The Caffeine index is now larger than ever before, and the result is fresher information for searchers and a new wrinkle for search marketers.  But once again Google has retained their core value – continually adding fresh content to benefit SEO has and will be an age-old SEO standard..

Google Wave

Google made its Wave collaboration platform available to the general public on May 18.  Google Wave is a collaboration platform that provides a communication medium applicable to practical business applications (read more at the Google Wave Blog).

Business: Co-workers at companies large and small are using Wave, from writing software code at Lyn and Line and coordinating ad campaigns at Clear Channel Radio, to international project communications for Deloitte's As One project.

Education: University students and professors worldwide have used waves within and beyond the classroom to collaborate on Latin poetry translationswrite academic research papers and even build new functionality with Wave's APIs. An ICT teacher also enjoyed having her 5th-graders do their class research in Wave.

Creative collaboration: From virtual art classes to writing the Complete Guide to Google Wave itself, waves make it easier for groups to review and critique multimedia content like images and videos. (We've heard that Wave is fun for gaming, too.)

Organizations and conferences: The Debatewise Global Youth panel explored climate change across 100 countries and waves at eComm (Emerging Communication Conference),LCA 2010 conference and HASTAC 2010 helped track speaking sessions. We are using waves in the same manner at today's Google I/O conference.

Journalism: Mashable used Wave to interview journalists on the future of journalism, and The Seattle Times experimented with a public Wave to develop their Pulitzer Prize-winning news coverage.

 

Yahoo/Associated Content

Yahoo bought Associated Content on May 18 for $100m.  Yahoo expects the acquisition to boost content delivery to its 600 million-plus users.   Associated Content boasts 60,000 topics from 380,000 freelance contributors. This marks a return to a potential growth strategy for Yahoo in contrast to recent strategic cuts and restructuring, including the sales of GeoCitites and the decision to make Bing their search result provider.  Yahoo plans to expand the Associated Content platform around the world to grow their consumer base.  The acquisition also provides opportunities for contributors to make better profit margins through new income-generating opportunities.


AOL/Bebo

AOL has unloaded Bebo in a sale to Criterion Capital Partners, to save the struggling social media platform from being shut down.  AOL, focusing more on content, has been unable to grow their $850 million investment from 2008.  Criterion Capital Partners, a merchant banking and financial advisory firm based in San Francisco, specializes in rebuilding companies and sees opportunity in the user base and technical infrastructure that Bebo possesses.  Nevertheless, while it was popular with younger generations in Europe, growth has faded and Bebo has become a black sheep in AOL’s new content-focused strategy.  It will be interesting to see if Bebo can rebound under Criterion’s guidance to close some of the gap on the industry frontrunners.

(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
by Dan Dixon, Web Reach Consulting

In the world of search, Google has held all the cards for a long while. With Yahoo spinning their wheels and no other contenders in site, it at one time seemed that Big G was destined to be dominant for the eminent future. But alas, recently Microsoft has stepped up with a new search engine that's getting a lot of buzz. But is Microsoft Bing too little too late?

Bing's Strategic Approach

In order to understand why Bing is growing in popularity, we first need to review the angle they're taking to reel in new searchers. The most prominent difference in strategy is Bing's willingness to integrate elements of commercial influence in search.

It may seem trivial to some that Bing has secured exclusive rights to be the default search engine on any Verizon Blackberry, but this is certainly a concern to search engine industry members who value the organic nature of Google search. Searchers don't want to have to work around limitations created by Microsoft strategic partnerships, so it should also matter to you on some level.

Another example is the Bing Cashback program. Microsoft has entered into partnerships with several retailers to integrate 'ads' for programs that provide cash back when searchers make a purchase at an online store after being directed there by a Bing Shopping search. While this may allure searchers looking to save a few bucks, it contrasts with Google's more organic approach.

This isn't to say that Google is free of ads. There was certainly some upheaval when Google announced they would place sponsored listings in the middle of organic search results a few years back. Nevertheless, Google was founded on organic search results and has held strong to this principal despite the potential to increase profits by entering into partnerships.

What Bing Has Accomplished

Bing has caught up with or surpassed Google on a variety of impressive fronts. A short review of those areas where Google needs to catch up will help us understand why Bing is generating some buzz (in addition to the word of mouth by those flashy television ads).

  • Helpful Sidebar Links Based on Queries: Bing's sidebar provides more and better options related to your search, as well as clickable search history links. This feature helps novice searchers find what they are looking for, and makes it easier for experienced searchers to quickly find desired information.
  • More on this Page feature: Bing provides the ability for searchers to view a preview of search result pages via an expandable arrow that previews content and provides other details. This is another user-friendly feature that helps searchers locate their desired content quickly.
  • Image Search: Bing image searches return results which are sorted better and have more easily usable features than Google can presently offer.
  • Video Search: Bing video searches return results from more sources, and provides a better user interface in their search results than Google.

What's All This Chatter About Bing Maps?

One area where Bing has certainly raised the bar for Google is their Maps innovations. Both Google and Bing have strong features for satellite views and other aerial location images. Although these vary slightly, the biggest development in the world of search engine Maps of late has been the Bing Photosynth feature, which allows users to stitch together multiple images to make a panorama. Bing Maps searchers are no longer limited to a single perspective view of the location they are looking for; they can see a much more complete 'Bird's Eye View' picture of a given area. This allows searchers to learn more about businesses in the area, interstate access, and more. Considering the level of innovation that Google reached with their Google Earth application, and the later integration into Google Maps, it's quite an impressive that Microsoft one-upped them here. Bing Maps still has a way to go, but they have been developing partnerships (surprise) that suggest that they are in it for the long-haul.

Bing's Achilles Heel: Search Result Quality

In the end, a search engine should return the best results, and here is where Bing still lags behind. Google's algorithm is significantly better at handling complex search results factors such as synonyms and contextual search elements, and thus will usually return better qualified search results. It's going to be hard for Bing to catch up here. Google has a huge head start and nobody has gained ground on them in this search quality in over a decade. To their credit, Microsoft realizes this and has admitted to Bing being a first step in the right direction rather than the giant leap it would take to catch up with or surpass Google in search quality. But the question is: do they REALLY want to catch up? They seem to be taking a different angle, one of user-friendly features and new innovations around online behavioral trends.

The Last Word

Bing has done a great job of creating a search engine that helps novice searchers find what they are looking for, especially in terms of shopping and commerce. Bing has also succeeded in getting Google's attention by innovating in areas of increasing online interest, such as images, videos and maps. These innovations should get Google's attention, and help Bing catch up their search result quality a little bit in the meantime.

Google is still the pacesetter in providing quality, relevant search result content for their users, and will be in the near (and likely distant) future. What Bing has done is impressive, and being backed by Microsoft and their many strategic partnerships ensures they will stay in the race as long as they have the motivation to do so.

But in the end, this search industry professional recommends sticking with Google for their search quality and overwhelming market share. Nevertheless, don't forget about Bing – especially if you surf the web more casually. And keep in mind that Bing isn't competing on the same playing field as Google; their strategic intent is more targeted towards shopping, multimedia, and speedy searches. It's a terrific angle that is probably here to stay.

And, if nothing else, the presence of Bing helps ensure that Google will stay on their toes. Which is ultimately in everyone's best interest.

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