Tag Archive | "Search"

Google’s Amazing Growth, By The Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Google may not be the new kid on the block anymore, but it’s still growing like one.

As this infographic from Statista shows, the company continues its upward trajectory, at least if you go by revenues, stock price, net income and market share. As of the first-quarter of 2012, Google seems set to once again have its biggest year ever.

Though Google+ has dropped some impressive stats lately, the company has a track record of social media failures and a federal antitrust probe could also derail Google’s growth. But as a snapshot of this moment in time, Google appears to be at the height of its powers.

Do you think Google can keep the momentum going? Let us know in the comments.

For the full-size version of this infographic, click here

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Domain Names 101: How to Avoid Dot-Com Disasters [INFOGRAPHIC]

The overflow of quick and witty reaction tweets to the new iPad name proves a name is never just a name. This applies for domain names, too. Here are tips to help you avoid these classic dot-com disasters — poolife.com, therapistsfinder.com or IPallover.com.

DomainNameSales.com, a name registration and web hosting company, created an infographic to teach brands domain name 101.

The first tip is to invest in your domain name as you would secure a primary location for a storefront.

“Don’t cut corners with your online identity,” says Frank Schilling, founder of DomainNameSales.com and an Internet entrepreneur. “A better domain name will lower your lifetime marketing costs.”

A great example of this is Diapers.com, which gets an average of 106 million unique visitors. More than half of these visitors found the site by using “diapers” as a search term. It’s the first thing that comes up on Google before a Wikipedia article about diapers, Walmart.com and Amazon.com.

Short, generic, descriptive and memorable adjectives make great website domains. Skip dashes, long names, broken language and made-up terms.

Many businesses make a mistake by quickly choosing to go with a name rather than weighing all the options, Schilling says.

SEE ALSO: Tea Party Domain Name Could Fetch $1 Million

Using a company name such as MagnoliasCupcake.com may be an obvious choice, but not the right one. Shorter, more memorable names like mycupcake.com and ilovecupcakes.com can make a difference.

Schilling said you should ask, “What message does your domain send?” when considering a branded domain or generic domain.

“Cupcakes.com may not be for everyone,” he said. “But owning the bold, generic single word or multi-word phrase that describes your services sends a powerful message to competitors and industry.”

Just as Facebook has secured numerous anti-Facebook or common Facebook.com typos, Schilling said you should do secure domain names for your brand — or someone you love. The domain guru registered a domain name 10 years ago for his 10-year-old nephew.

“The 7 billionth person has just been born on this planet and, in 10 years, he too will want an email address,” he says. “All these people will eventually aspire to own better names. The time to secure those better names is now.”

What crazy domain names have you seen on the Internet? Tell us in the comments.

Domains 101

Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr, liquene

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3 Ways to Optimize Search on Your Ecommerce Site

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES New York, the leading search, social and display conference. From March 19 to 23, get five days of education, inspiration and conversations with marketing experts from the digital space. Register with MASH20 to save 20%.

More people are flocking online to get their shopping done these days. But, an online shopper doesn’t necessarily equal genius website navigator. You need to ensure that your business website’s search tools are simple and intuitive for those who are less technologically inclined — or risk losing customers.

About 60% of online purchases result from a customer search, according to ecommerce design solution Volusion. Not only should you do everything you can to land your business in the search engine sweet spot, but you should also optimize your in-site search for convenient user navigation.

The following tips will help improve your ecommerce company’s search functionality, both on-site and via organic search.

1. Navigation Bars and Filters

Usability studies indicate that a user’s eye naturally progresses from left to right; therefore, place navigation bars to the left. Also, you’ll probably have more room for detail if the navigation bar runs down the left side of the screen.

From there, you may choose to expand navigation bars into drop-down boxes that display sub-categories. For instance, a navigation heading displaying “Automotive” might expand into subcategories that include “Carburetors” and “Transmissions.” Just be sure not to get too specific (e.g. “Bi-Xenon Headlamps”) or else the user could become overwhelmed and discouraged.

SEE ALSO: How to Design the Best Navigation Bar for Your Website

Once the user has moved beyond the navigation, he will be taken to a page full of products. Provide a filter option that allows him to narrow products further — by price, color, fabric, most recent, etc.

In addition to pairing products with colorful, high-resolution photos, make sure to include unique, intriguing product descriptions. Not only will the shopper be more intrigued to click through to the main product page, but Google is more likely to prioritize unique product descriptions versus unoriginal content.

Cross-link between product pages and categories. That way, the shopper will more easily find related products, all while spending more time on your site and lowering your bounce rate. Cross-linking is one of the most effective search methods for ecommerce customers, especially those browsing without a clear purchase in mind.

2. In-Site Search Box

If your site has a larger population of product pages, a search box can help with targeted navigation. Follow TasteBook‘s example and consider including brief search hints like “keyword,” “ingredient,” “fabric” or “sport.” Depending on the effectiveness of the tool, the search should bring the shopper to page full of corresponding products.

However, you still want to entice users on a mission to explore the site. Consider a floating sidebar of most popular products or categories that follows a shopper throughout her search or a feed of sales activity, like Fab.com’s social shopping page. And an ecommerce homepage should constantly cycle through featured products, sales and curated content so that repeat customers are more enticed to explore.

3. Organic Search

Speaking of homepages, Google will crawl the pages of a website that have the most SEO juice, which is usually the homepage. Therefore, the pages that you link to your homepage should be the most important. Keep in mind that these pages might not necessarily reflect the categories on your navigation bar. Give prominence to other highly-clicked pages like the “About” page, for instance — they’re more likely to be indexed by Google.

Be sure to index all of your main pages, category pages and even specific product pages. Use Google Webmaster Tools and Webmaster Central to learn how to effectively index pages, then track how users searched for and found those pages. You can even view the ratio of your total URLs compared to how many have appeared in Google’s web index.

In order to maximize SEO, be sure to attach strategic keywords (including long-tail keywords) to your site pages. Use Google’s free Keyword Tool to estimate the traffic you can expect from certain key words and phrases.

Finally, be sure to index user reviews as well — Google favors fresh, user-generated content. For this reason, you may also choose to invite curators to regularly contribute related content to your website, which will not only improve SEO, but will also add a community element to your business.

How does your website design and optimize its search features? Which are the most easily navigable ecommerce sites out there today? Let us know in the comments.

Series supported by SES New York

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES New York Conference and Expo, connecting the digital dots between search, social and commerce. The SES New York Conference and Expo takes a critical look at the latest developments to help marketers traverse the quickly developing landscape, with a special focus on the latest digital marketing trends and the latest technology launches from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Register with MASH20 and Save 20%. Join the discussion #SESConf.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alexsl

More About: ecommerce, features, Future of Search Series, Search, search optimization, SEO

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How Google’s Social Search Shift Will Impact Your Brand’s SEO

Erin Everhart is the director of web and social media marketing at 352 Media Group, a digital marketing agency that also provides web and mobile app development. Connect with her on Twitter @erinever.

In what could be hailed as the update that sparked an all-out Internet riot, Google has launched “Search, plus your World,” which pours personal social results into your public search listings. The catch is that it only factors in your Google+ social graph, leaving Facebook and Twitter, arguably the more active social networks, out in the cold.

This could prove to be an even bigger search engine development than Google’s infamous Panda update, which aimed to remove sites with low-quality content. Why? Because it’s easier to write good content (or at least, hire someone to write good content) than it is to get people to share your content.

The Impact on Brands

What does a change this big mean for businesses that depend on their Google rank for traffic and sales?

Personalized results are the default when users are logged into their Google account, so it will be harder to determine your rankings. It’ll also be harder for your customers to find you, and for you to get traffic from the same ranking because more often than not, Google+ results will be appearing before public listings.

But the biggest problem is, they’re not always relevant. While the savvy surfers know to switch between personal and public, you can’t assume all of your potential customers are going to know the difference.

I can use my own company as an example.

When I search for “web design company,” one of our top keywords in Google, it’s pretty clear what I’m looking for: A web design company. But you wouldn’t think that with the results I get:

Two out of three top results, traditionally coveted for clicks, are filled with social mentions. And social mentions that have nothing to do with a web design company.

Google’s long been under fire for an algorithm that struggles to produce the most relevant results, and with Search+, it seems that they aren’t doing much to head in that direction. Yes, it does add more trust and authority to your results, but not relevance.

What Can Brands Do?

You know that you can’t have search without social, and Search+ reinforces it. Since Facebook and Twitter results aren’t aggregated into public search, it’s put an even bigger emphasis on not only creating a brand page on Google+, but being an active member. Sounds like Google’s plan all along.

You then have to get your Google+ brand page into as many influential people’s circles as possible. These people also have to be in many other circles if you have hopes of reaching people outside of your immediate network. This isn’t an easy feat.

But there’s more: Search+ essentially forces brands to use their Google+ pages much like their own website. That means brands should integrate their main keywords into Google+ posts to increase their relevance in important searches. But again, this must be done in a natural, non-spammy manner.

This is especially true because purely personal search is hiding a lot of public content, the biggest being local results, which SEO consultant John Doherty has pointed out. That doesn’t mean that local SEO isn’t as important as we originally thought: It means that you need to be relevant, well-found, and well-liked (or at least, well-shared) by influencers.

Finally, if guest blogging is a part of your SEO strategy, which it should be, you need to ensure that each site that publishes your content is using the rel="author" tag that leads back to your Google+ profile so you gain more clout and authority from Google.

As we learn more about “Search+ your World” and how users are interacting with it, we’ll learn more about how you can work these changes into your overall SEO campaign.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, gmutlu

More About: Business, contributor, features, Google, Search, SEO, trending, Twitter

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Skip the Research and Let Sortable.com Find the Product That’s Right for You

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Sortable

Quick Pitch: Sortable is a search engine that finds the right product or service for you based on your personal criteria.

Genius Idea: Lets users skip the research and easily find what they are looking for all on one site without having to search Google.

Searching the Internet to find the exact product or service you want is too often frustrating, overwhelming and time-consuming. But a new startup company now makes it possible to find exactly what you’re looking for all on one page – Sortable.com

Sortable is a search engine that quickly sorts through the products you’re interested in and discovers the one most suitable for you. Rather than clicking through hundreds of search results on Google or other search engines, Sortable helps users find the exact products they’re looking for based on their personal criteria, all in one place.

“Sortable helps you understand the real differences among the products you’re looking for,” Chris Reid, co-founder of Sortable, told Mashable. “Users tell us what’s important to them and based on the information, we point out all the best features about the products and services that they’re most interested in.”

Users can use Sortable to search for recommendations on products from five categories – TVs, phones, tablets, cameras, laptops. Once you choose a category, select the features in the personalized bar that are most important to you and Sortable will score the products based on your personal criteria.

For example, if you are looking for a pocket-size, waterproof camera with a GPS system, all you have to do is check off these features in the top bar and Sortable will instantly sort the products for you based on your preferences.

To ensure users understand a product and its features, Sortable lists important information such as the price, size, special features, advantages and tradeoffs. Users can also find additional detailed information by clicking the “i” button next to the product they are interested in.

Just in case you notice any missing information about a product, Sortable lets you edit and add details when you create an account on the site.

After you review the list of recommended products, select your top two choices and Sortable will compare the products’ core differences to help you figure out the best one to buy and where to buy it.

By suggesting where to buy a product, Sortable helps companies sell and advertise their products to visitors on its site. For each product sold on Sortable, the company earns up to 8% of the sale value.

Although there are similar search engines on the web such as decide.com, findthebest.com and hunch.com, co-founder Reid says Sortable is different because the team reviews and recommends a product based on all its features rather than just one or two popular ones. Reid also says Sortable informs their users about a product’s most unique or interesting feature in comparison to similar items.

“Sortable creates a holistic experience where users can learn about and feel educated about the products they’re interested in and all of the features they have to offer,” says Reid. “It’s better than going to a store where the salesperson may not know everything that is important about a specific product.”

So far, Sortable has provided 41 million recommendations to up to four million site visitors before it officially launched on Monday. Although users can currently only search for electronic items, Sortable plans to add additional categories such as movies, books, vacation spots, restaurants, etc., in the near future.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Gerlos

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, electronics, Search, search engine, sortable

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Mozilla Extends Search Partnership With Google

Mozilla has extended its search partnership with Google for at least three additional years, the company has announced.

Under the terms of the agreement, Google will continue to be the default search provider for Mozilla’s web browser, Firefox.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Google Search deal has been a key source of income for Mozilla, generating 84% of Mozilla’s $121.1 million revenue in 2010.

The original deal between Mozilla and Google expired in November 2011, and in October Mozilla launched Firefox with Bing, sparking speculation that it might switch to Bing as its search provider.

The new multi-year arrangement with Google squashes such rumors and shows that the rivalry between Firefox and Google’s web browser Chrome wasn’t enough of a hurdle for the two companies to strike a deal again.

More About: Firefox, Google, mozilla, partnership, Search, trending

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5 Google Paid Search Products You Need to Know

For many digital marketers, the fall of 2011 might be remembered for bringing dynamic advertising to paid search. Google’s newest offering, said to flip “the search engine on its head,” does away with the traditional keyword advertising approach in lieu of matching landing pages with the right user search.

Dynamic Search Ads is just one of dozens of innovations Google has made to its AdWords product over the past few years. Google paid search has evolved to include everything from video to coupons and a call feature, all in the name of improving advertiser results. Not every Google product is a good fit for every advertiser – in fact, some of its offerings aren’t even available to the masses yet. But Google is nothing if not progressive, and for this reason many of them warrant a closer look.

  1. Google Image Search. Instead of advertising exclusively on Google’s web results page, this product allows brands to place their listings next to Google Images. Typically, this approach is best suited to those who’ve noted a distinct benefit to presenting consumers with a product image up front. The campaign is set up through AdWords, except that instead of uploading ad copy alone, the advertiser also submits an image that will precede the organic image search results on the page.
  2. Google Media Ads. Previously known as Google Video Plus Box, this program was initially tested in beta with advertisers ranging from automotive to CPG. A box beneath a standard search ad would display a web-only video such as an instructional product clip, and advertisers would pay the equivalent of their cost-per-click text ad bid when the video hit the 10-second mark. The unit has since morphed into Google Media Ads and is open only to the entertainment vertical (at least, so far).
  3. Google Product Ads/Extensions. Similar to the video extension, this unit allows brands to include additional promotional material in their text ads. The ad pulls information from an advertiser’s existing Google Merchant Center account and can include anything from images to business center maps, product titles, detailed descriptions, and prices. Brands can promote their entire product inventory through paid search and, in theory, generate more qualified clicks because they’re providing the user with more product information up front.
  4. Google Redemption Ads/Offer Extensions. Through this program, brands can deliver a coupon directly to search engine users from their paid search ads. Several user options exist, including having the coupon emailed to a desktop or texted to a mobile phone – they can even be saved to a user’s Google Wallet. Redemption options, too, are varied: depending on what the brand is looking for, consumers can redeem in store, online, or by mail.
  5. Google Call Extensions/Metrics. When generating phone calls is a campaign priority, Google’s call feature can help. Advertisers include in their paid search ad a unique toll-free number provided by Google that links to the marketing client’s existing phone number. Advertisers can then track which AdWords campaigns their calls are coming from, along with the duration of the calls and the caller’s area code, through their existing Google account.
  6. Google Sitelinks. One of the most useful of Google’s newer products, Sitelinks affords the ability to include up to six additional links in your AdWords text ad. This gives brands complete and immediate control over the pages, products, and messaging they wish to promote.

    Considering the length of time it can take for Google to re-index a site, and the urgency of updating ad copy and Sitelinks for such events as new product line launches, this can be a critical advantage. “You’re giving the user seven links to choose from and letting them select exactly where they want to go,” says Nathan Lewalski, one of Enlighten’s senior interactive media planners, “but you’re also gaining a competitive advantage by owning more real estate on the results page.” Click-through rates on these ads tend to be higher because users instantly know what to expect from a site. “Without paid search,” Nathan says, “it’s unlikely the user would see a brand’s newest messaging or get sent directly to new pages in time.”

Google is infamous for experimenting with its AdWords products (not to mention giving them countless different names). The advantage for advertisers is a glut of program options and a fresh take on how to supercharge those two little lines of text. Take some time to learn what’s new in Google Ad Innovations. The company’s next unit could be the one you’ve been waiting for.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hillaryfox

More About: Advertising, Google, Marketing, mashable, Search

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Not Buying Yahoo: “Sometimes, You’re Lucky”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that Microsoft dodged a bullet when it failed to acquire Yahoo in 2008.

In February 2008, the technology giant famously made an unsolicited $44.6 billion acquisition offer for Yahoo. Cofounder Jerry Yang (then Yahoo’s CEO) and the Yahoo board rebuffed the offer and did what it could to kill the deal. In May, Microsoft gave up.

Not long after, the market crumbled as major banks failed, and the market took Yahoo down with it. Carol Bartz failed to turn the company around and was recently fired. Yahoo is now worth $19.5 billion, less than half the amount Microsoft offered in 2008.

At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Federated Media’s John Battelle asked Ballmer a simple question: “Are you glad you didn’t buy Yahoo for $44 billion?”

“You know, times change,” Ballmer first said before talking about how the market collapse alone would have hurt the value of the Yahoo acquisition, especially since the deal would have likely closed after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

“Sometimes, you’re lucky,” Ballmer admitted. Microsoft and Yahoo finalized a search partnership in 2009 that gave Ballmer control of Yahoo Search’s market share without dishing out the $44 billion to acquire the company outright.

More About: bing, microsoft, Search, Steve Ballmer, Web 2.0 Summit, Yahoo

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How an iPad Browser Could Change the Way You Search

The search bar tries hard, but it’s just never reached its potential for efficiently finding information on touchscreen devices. Carlos Bhola, the founder of a startup called Kikin hopes to replace it with a “touch to learn” search — one that opens within the page you’re on.

Copying and pasting words into a search bar can be clumsy on a touch screen. So users of Kikin’s new iPad browser simply touch any word or phrase they want to learn more about. A small box appears with a list of search results pulled from a variety of engines such as Google, Wolfram Alpha and the Amazon database. Tapping on a hotel name in a Kayak listing, for instance, immediately pulls up price listings from other travel sites.

Kikin has made a iPad browser that turns traditional search on its head. An iPhone version is due out later this month. But it doesn’t want to be a search engine. And it doesn’t want to be a browser.

The company’s goal is to propagate the search technology it’s been developing since 2008. The technology looks at a user’s behavior and analyzes other words on the page to understand what search results are relevant. (See a more nerdy version of this explanation here).

In Kikin’s previous product, a browser plug-in for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome, it used these cues to guess what terms the user would want more information about, and presented results in a sidebar. In the iPad browser, the user explicitly states what he or she wants more information about by touching the term.

Focusing on context is how Kikin knows to bring up price listings for the hotel on Kayak instead of the hotel’s webpage or reviews. Similarly, if you’re reading an article about the original “True Grit” and touch its title, Kikin will know to exclude results for the 2010 version of the film.

Of course, as social browser Rockmelt has proved, innovative features don’t necessarily translate to market share in the browser game. So Kickin, which offers little advantages as a browser aside from its search, has other plans for its technology: a free embed for websites and apps.

About 1.5 million people have downloaded Kickin’s plugins, according to the company, which previously relied on ads and referral fees for revenue. Its new business model will revolve around selling paid search results (similar to Google’s). With an unlimited number of sites, apps and retailers who could embed the technology, the potential user base explodes — and along with it the potential advertising revenue.

Bhola says he thinks it will appeal to publishers and ecommerce sites eager to keep eyeballs from wandering from their pages to search engines. But will eBay really want Amazon’s prices listed next to its own on its website?

“They will if they truly care about delivering the best experience to users,” Bhola says.

Kikin iPad Browser

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More About: carlos bhola, kikin, Search

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Blekko Takes on Google — With Help From Russia

Blekko, a search upstart that believes in human curation, has added $30 million in fresh funding to its coffers and has found a new strategic partner, Russian Internet company Yandex.

Blekko is on a quest to build a search engine free of spam, content farms and malware. Its goal is to eke out a small percentage of the U.S. search market, currently dominated by Google. The startup has always contended that owning just 1% of all searches could turn it into a billion-dollar business.

Now, Blekko has the backing and support of Yandex — Russia’s most popular search engine — to help it get there. “There could be a future for us here,” Yandex’s CTO Arkady Borkovsky told the Associated Press on the company’s first U.S. search investment. “This is an interesting experiment for us and we are quite excited about it.”

“Having access to one of the world’s top pools of search talent and the fantastic products they have built will help us grow Blekko in the U.S.,” Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta says.

Yandex led the $30 million funding round with a $15 million investment. Arkady Volozh, founder and CEO of Yandex, is joining Blekko’s board or directors. New investor MLC Private Equity, and repeat investors U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Capital and PivotNorth Capital also participated in the round.

In total, Blekko’s piggy bank has grown to more than $54 million. Is it enough to lure searchers away from Google? The search alternative attracted roughly 225,000 unique U.S. visitors in August, according to Compete. But compare that to Google’s 165 million uniques for the same month and the challenge looks enormous.

More About: blekko, funding, Search

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