How Could Google Penguin Affect Your Site?

search engine marketingAre you familiar with Google Penguin? It’s not a flightless bird who searches the internet but rather the new Google algorithm update which determines the search engine rankings of websites — and it can make the difference between whether people will find your site or not.

Penguin was created to decrease the search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using so-called “black-hat SEO” — frowned upon techniques like keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes or duplicate content. Because the rules have changed, you need to be on top of the most recent update to take advantage of Google’s constantly evolving search algorithms.

That’s where Ajax Union comes in, and here’s a new way we can help keep your site in line with Google Penguin: the Top 3 SEO Strategies for 2014 webinar. Taking place tomorrow, April 10th, at 12 noon eastern time, this valuable webinar will teach you the ways you can use linkbuilding and other search engine optimization techniques to take advantage of Penguin and push your site up to the top levels of Google’s rankings for keywords relevant to your services. You’ll also learn about different online marketing tools like social media and pay-per-click advertising plus tracking and reporting your campaign analysis. Mark your calendar and join in!

Olympic Doodles

Google’s Doodles the past week and a half have been appropriately themed with Olympic-inspired graphics. The Olympics are lucky to have Google publishing advertisements for them! If your company or organization were to be featured in a Google Doodle, what would it look like? Tweet @ajaxunion.com.

Check the Doodles out here! 

google doodle

 

Google Launches New Adwords Pilot Program

Google, ever changing to keep up with demand and technology, has launched a new “Search as You Type” pilot program that will be available to U.S.-based Adwords advertisers. The pilot program is free for up to 25 million searches annually. Any more than that and a licensing fee would be required.

Search as You Type will use predicative text as well as instant product results to enhance the search feature on websites. Essentially, it is the new technology that has been implemented on Google.com and Chrome internet browser, but now available to businesses and merchants. It is only a pilot program, but companies can sign up to get in by fill out this form.

What it means for your company is quicker internal search results that get your customers where they need to go and finding the products they want, almost instantly. In a world where the motto “the faster the better” has become ever prevalent, it may do your business good to try to get into the pilot program.

 

 

Do Not Fear the Penguins

A few weeks ago we briefly talked about Google’s latest update, Penguin. But while some companies are shaking in their proverbial boots, you shouldn’t be. Well, let me clarify. If you’re a company promoting black hat SEO tactics, then yes you should be extremely scared because Google is cracking their algorithm whip. This is great news though for businesses who are playing by the rules because it will essentially weed out the cheaters –meaning it will be easier for people to find your company’s website.

Penguin will allow your content to shine, to be read by real people instead of just robots and scripts. The best way to take advantage of the Google update is to provide rich, educational, and useful content. We’ve discussed time and time again that good copy is key. Not only will it help your SEO efforts, but readers can actually learn something useful when they are taken to your site. Any and all copy should sound like it’s been written by a human, not a robot, with keywords carefully placed –they sound natural and not forced.

Don’t “over-optimize” your website with keyword stuffing and other bad practices and you will learn to love this adorable penguin rather than fear it. If you need more help, just turn to Ajax –the best in local internet marketing.

Smart Glasses from Google

Geniuses or crazy people working at Google? It’s a fine line, indeed; I think it’s both. Google is already looking for the newest way to tap into the market and this time it comes in the form of glasses that can stream information to the lenses in real-time. Can we say awesome? And potentially ultra-lazy? Looking on your iPhone apparently takes too much effort…

The glasses will be debuted by the end of the year and will cost between $250-$600. They will be Android-based and the small screen will stream the content over a 3G or 4G connection right in front of your eyes. Using your smartphone, you can scope out your Twitter feed, check your Gmail, or find out who that actor was in that movie you can’t remember the name of using IMDB.com. Essentially, everything you can do on your phone will pop up right in front of these Terminator-esque glasses. One cool feature will be an integrated navigation system, which certainly beats constantly staring at your phone while you try to walk or drive.

The project is currently being worked on in the Google X offices and will be more of an experiment rather than a way of making a large profit. Now how can we tap into that market for SEO purposes? We’ll just wait and see, no pun intended.

One in Eight: Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness

Although October is commonly known as Breast Cancer Awareness month, we cannot forget that we can support funding and research any time of year. According to BreastCancer.org, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. I don’t like those odds and neither does Ajax Union. That’s why Ajax Union is proud to support the Pink Pin effort, along with Google. How can you  help? Just visit our official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ajaxunion, and click the Like button. It’s easy peasy!

For every new fan, we will donate $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If that wasn’t awesome enough, we’re donating an extra dollar for every 8th fan. Oh wait, that’s not even the end of the generosity.  Google says they will match any small business donations up to $50,000! So start spreading the news and telling all your friends and family today. We only have until November 30. Tweet, Facebook share, Stumble Upon, Digg, Reddit –do whatever it takes to support an excellent cause. Together we can lower those statistics.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, remember those you’ve lost, be thankful for those still here, and help us put an end to breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness

In-House Vs. Online Marketing Agencies

In order for a company to survive these days in a heavy online market, you have to know a thing or two about SEO. You might be tempted to put together your own in-house staff to work on your online campaign, but before you do so, consider the immense benefits of reaching for outside help. If you’re a small business, you probably don’t have the budget to even consider about expanding and trying to learn the in’s and out’s of social media, Google rankings, PPC (and so much more) can prove to be time consuming.

online marketing

When you choose to outsource to an online marketing company, like the savvy people of Ajax Union, you’re choosing experience. Trying to do in-house will most likely mean a very small team of people trying to reach the outskirts of the online universe. At an agency, we have departments dedicated to specific areas of interest. Together, we work as a team coming up with strategies that will work best for your company. If Google makes a change in their algorithm, we’ll be the first to know because we’re staring at these numbers and statistics all day long.

We know this plan works over that plan and those keyword are best, because hey, we’re doing it all day! Of course you might be thinking, “What do these guys know about my company? They don’t work in this industry!” You might have a point, but we work with such a diverse group of clientele that we actually do know something about your company. We’ve seen all sides of the proverbial spectrum and we’re pretty confident when “we say we’ve seen it all.” We live and breathe SEO. I actually dream in keywords…And isn’t that what you want when choosing an online marketing company?

Introducing The Google Social Network

Google is launching it’s very own Social Network, called The Google+ Project. Dubbed by many as “Google’s Facebook,” the Google+ Project is the newest social network, and like any social network its main goal is helping people connect online.

One of the highlights of this new Google Social Network is something called “circles,” which allows you to share specific things with specific people. This appears to be a response to the Facebook Wall, which allows you to share specific links, music, images, articles, etc. with a “friend,”… just so long as you’re okay with all of yours and their other friends seeing it as well.

With the Google+ Circles, you’ll be able to place specific contacts in specific groups, making it easier to limit and control what information your sharing and with whom. For example, you want everyone and anyone to be able to watch the video of your youngest niece’s first steps you recorded on your iPhone… but you may only want your closest of buds to hear the new musical recording you made in your basement. Google+ Circles make this control over the flow of your information easier than ever before.

Interested? Well you’re gonna have to hold off a sec. Google has only launched their new social network to a limited amount of people, as some of the “rough edges” of their new software has convinced them that, for now, the Google Social Network is by invitation only… not that we expect that to last for very long. Of course, patience is a virtue.

However, if you’re just dying to get on the “GoogleBook” as quickly as possible, you can request an invitation. For all the newest updates and announcements on The Google+ Project, check out the GooglePlus Twitter page.

 

 

Facebook vs. Google: Who Are You Betting On?

In what might be the nerdiest scandal ever, Facebook admitted to hiring PR firm Burson-Marsteller to try to tarnish Google’s name (and by admitted I mean was caught red-handed with nowhere to go).

facebook vs google

According to Dan Lyons from Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, who broke the news, Facebook is claiming pure motives: it apparently believed Google is practicing shady social networking policies that “raise privacy concerns,” and Facebook “resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.” (The social-networking service in question is the Social Circle, which is basically Google’s way of telling you what people you’re connected to via Google. The horror!)

It’s ironic that Facebook thinks — or is pretending to think — Google is being shady about privacy, since that’s what Facebook is virtually always in the news for. Oh, and rolling out smear campaigns now. It’s a shame they didn’t wait a week — Gawker released an article the other day about how Google uses Gmail contacts databases “to figure out which competing social networks you belong to. When it discovers one, it ‘suggests’ that you vacuum the outside account into your Google account so that Google can exploit the data within its own services.” Bam! Job done, and no skeevy PR firm needed

A Google Boost for Your Business

We all know how important it is to claim your free local listing on Google places.

In case you didn’t know, here are some staggering statistics: Over 88% of the world’s population lives north of the Equator! Oh wait, wrong statistic…here‘s the one I was talking about: 97% of people do online research before shopping at a local store.

Google Boost

In other words, a strong online presence is a must-have if you want to improve traffic in store, online, or both. I’m assuming you’ll want both. Guess what? You can get it! So if you were wondering how you can make your local business to be the competitor that keeps Amazon up at night, keep reading…

First things first, claim your local listing! It is free, easy and virtually painless. For a small monthly fee you can make your local listing even more eye-catching with Google Tags. Google Tags will let you add all sorts of stuff to make your listing way cooler.
Want your local listing to be even greater?

Try Google Boost – the legal steroid for online “business building”. Google Boost is similar to the search engine advertising program Adwords, but with one key difference. For an Adwords account, you or your online marketing agency take care of the ppc management. With Google Boost, Google runs it for you. That’s right. All you have to do is simply write one ad, choose a budget and let Google software handle the rest. No constant management is needed, which gives you extra time to do whatever it is you would do if you ever had extra time (happy hour, here I come!).

And when I say Google runs it for you, I mean they do everything:

  • Google chooses the keywords, selects your bid price and sends you customers.
  • Google choose the optimal bid based on your budget
  • Google will only charge you when someone clicks on your ad.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Google Boost and all, but when it comes to a long term strategy, it has nothing on hands-on ppc management. Having an Adwords account allows you, over time, to fine-tune your search engine marketing campaigns. This will give you a much better ROI than a Boost account and much more control.

So how can you get the best of both worlds?

It’s simple, have both accounts. A Google Boost account, run by Google, will help bring in the instant traffic. A Google Adwords account can bring in both instant traffic and will also help you build a long term strategy.  Your Adwords account can be run by you or by a ppc management team (I recommend Ajax Union, nothing personal). When you have both accounts, you can compare the two to see if one is working better and then focus your ppc management budget on that one.
Here’s a little interesting fact: A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can. Oh no, wrong fact again! Here’s the right one: Your Boost ad and Adwords ad can show up on the same page, giving you three possible places (don’t forget organic) on a page of Google. Put that in your browser and click on it!

 

“Gotcha!” Says Google

“Introducing a new way to interact with Gmail — using your body!” This is the tagline for Google’s new approach to their mail platform: Gmail Motion, which promises “improved productivity” and “increased physical activity. How does it work? Watch the vid below:

Of course, it’s all a hoax, the latest in their long line of April Fools’ Day pranks. (Check out their past ones here.) Anyone familiar with Google and their jokes most likely didn’t fall for it — but one that few probably didn’t see is… Well, just start typing “helvetica” into the Google search bar and see for yourself.

Other “changes” include being able to interface in languages like “Elmer Fudd” and “Bork, Bork, Bork!” There’s also a new job opening at Google, and some brand-new AdWords templates.

google elmer fudd

Hiybbprqag! Google “Bing Sting” Hurts both Search Engines

Bing Sting

Remember that old saying, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? Google probably does.

The big G recently published the results of its “Bing Sting” — a covert op where Google manipulated its search engine results for the first time ever to catch Microsoft in the act of copying its handling of unusual misspellings. The sting focused on some crazy misspelled words like “Hiybbprqag,” which at the start returned few, if any, results on G & B.

To trick Bing, Google listed one or more totally unrelated pages as the number one result for “Hiybbprqag” — plus several other out there terms. These honeypot pages started appearing on Bing’s results for the same search terms within weeks. The search engine concluded that Bing had been harvesting its data, perhaps from the Bing toolbar.

Okay, that’s kind of embarrassing. But then Bing fired back, accusing Google of copying its own innovative features, including its travel search, social media integration and infinitely scrolling image search. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

In the end, all of this stone throwing reveals that both search engines are guilty of looking at the other’s test — Bing being the more overt case — and, worse of all, that the two sites might not even be that different. Proponents of newer search engines like the admittedly awesome Blekko have been arguing that for years.

What do you think? Let us know on the Ajax Union Facebook.

Does Google Favor Google?

google favoritism

When you search “maps” on Google, the top result is Google Maps. Coincidence? Ben Edelman thinks not.

Edelman, a Harvard Business School assistant professor and notorious Google opponent (he’s served as a consultant for Microsoft and is participating in a lawsuit against the big G) recently published a study on search engine favoritism. His results showed that Google favors its own services in results 19% of the time — for terms like maps, mail, video and email.

And while Edelman interprets these results to say that Google is favoring itself, our pals over at Search Engine Land beg to differ. SEL has many objections, the primary qualm is this: Maybe Google Maps really is the most popular and useful result for “maps” searchers according to Google’s algorithm. Maybe it’s not favoritism, just business as usual. After all, Google Maps also shows up first on Yahoo! and Bing.

What do you think about search engine favoritism? Let us know at the Ajax Union Facebook.

Is LivingSocial the New Groupon?

Confession: As card carrying members of the blogosphere, we have a soft spot for naming ____ the new ____.

But that being said, LivingSocial — a daily deal site offering bargains in restaurants, salons and the like — is slowly climbing the ranks toward giving Groupon a run for its money. The site made headlines this morning when it launched a 24-hour deal where customers can buy $20 Amazon gift cards for $10. Groupon did a similar promotion with Gap over the summer, reeling in some $7.5 million in sales.

In LivingSocial’s case, though, the partnership may run deeper. Amazon recently invested $175 million in the site, leading some to speculate that this whole gift card business might be subsidized by Amazon itself. But subsidization schmubsidization, having your name in lights next to Amazon.com is a big deal either way.

Can LivingSocial ever catch up to Groupon? The latter recently turned down a $6 billion buyout from Google and has been legitimately on fire as of late, especially in the wake of the super-successful Grouponicus holiday sale-a-thon. An overtake may be impossible, but it could be good news for LivingSocial to simply gain recognition as “the other Groupon” — standing out from the smorgasbord of daily deals sites competing for attention.

And no matter what happens, a Groupon-LivingSocial showdown would be good news for consumers. Heightened competition means better deals, after all.

Vintage Google for Old-School SEOs

Change Is Bad!

Do you long for the search engine days of yore? The tranquil era before Pay-Per-Click advertising, Google Instant, or the even more instant Google Instant Previews?

At Ajax Union, we’re all about looking forward, but sometimes we enjoy looking back, in the fetal position, and recalling the days before the Wild Wild World Wide Web was won.

And you can too! To search the interwebs using a vintage-style Google, throw on your 1999 jean jacket and head to encrypted.google.com, a familiar-looking, bare-bones version of the Google of 2011.

Not into typing “encrypted”? We don’t blame you. You can also download extensions for Chrome and Firefox to subdue that nagging nostalgia.

But nostalgia aside, modern Google is pretty rad, don’t you think? Innovations like Google Instant Previews have given legitimate businesses new ways to out-edge their spammy counterparts (through design) — and as for Pay-Per-Click, we can’t imagine a world without Quality Scores and CTRs.

How do you feel about the evolution of Google? Let us know at the Ajax Union Facebook!

Why We Love Matt Cutts

seoMatt Cutts, Google’s Webspam team leader and all-around SEO advocate, has been a major resource for the online marketing community for a number of years. The video above is only one example of Cutts’ awesome advice, giving hope to the poor, huddled SEO masses and their long-tail keywords.

In this video, Cutts discusses a handful of white-hat link-building techniques to enhance search engine rankings. Don’t have time to press play? Here’s a rundown:

  1. Content! Earn those links by giving webmasters a site worth linking to with compelling articles, blog posts, on-page contests, photos, videos, etc. And if you don’t have a blog, make one.
  2. Original research, products, and services. Offer your visitors something nobody else has. Whether it’s a study on the effectiveness of Bing Social Search or a WordPress plugin for better Twitter integration — if you post it, the links will come.
  3. Participation and social media. Reach out to potential links on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, in addition to advice forums such as Yahoo! and LinkedIn answers. Both of these techniques will allow you to connect to people that might not have otherwise stumbled upon your site.
  4. Create link bait. In moderation. Top 10 Web Design Tips. 5 Reasons Lady Gaga is a Man. Certain headlines are just screaming for links — especially lists and controversial pieces. Of course, you don’t want your entire site to go down this road, or you won’t really be offering quality content.

Got other ideas? Let us know on the Ajax Union Facebook.

We Knew It! Facebook and Twitter Affect Search Engine Marketing

search engine marketing

In search engine marketing, there are things you know and things you know. We know that Google calculates something called a PageRank for every site, which it uses to order search engine results pages (SERPs). We know that PageRank is influenced by inbound links, the age of a site, and many other factors — two of which, we knew (in our hearts) to be Facebook and Twitter.

But cardiovascular organs aside, we now also know the aforementioned — in an unitalicized, verified-by-SearchEngineLand.com kind of way. The SEO blog recently interviewed reps from both Google and Bing, confirming that the twin social media giants do play a role in how search results are ranked.

Some highlights:

  • Google and Bing evaluate the quality of links from Facebook and Twitter users by looking at the authorities of author profiles.
  • Facebook and Twitter endorsements play a role in both Google and Bing organic SERPs, as well as Bing Social Search and Google News.

We can only speculate as to the exact logic Google and Bing use to weight individual tweets and wall posts, as well as the users who post them, but potential factors include:

  • When the link was posted (endorsing an old link could suggested enduring valuable content)
  • How many followers/friends/fans the poster has
  • What kind of links the user typically posts
  • How many users click on, “like”, or retweet the link

At Ajax Union, our AnewB SEO Plan features regular participation on Facebook and Twitter. Does yours?