Archive for Search Engine Stats

Google, Who? Siri, What? Watch Amazon for Search Innovations

As a tenured (19-year veteran) digital search marketer, I think we spend way (way) too much time focusing all of our attention on Google. The future of search innovation lies elsewhere. I believe, as do many others, that Google is at the apex of its search market share. There is no room to move up — only downward or outward into other spaces.

This week, Apple officially confirmed it has a web crawler, which will likely be used to power Siri, Spotlight and Apple Watch search functionality some day soon. While this news is indeed exciting, I wanted to spend some time looking at other major players in search. Consider Amazon as a change engine, driving search innovations from a completely different perspective than Google. Please read my entire article at Search Engine WatchThe Amazon Change Engine

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Handy Tool for Google TNP Tracking

Google started hoarding data back in 2011 under the guise of “privacy” issues for users What was originally forecast to represent about 8% of keyword data is now encroaching on 75 percent, with B2B sites skewing higher than B2C.

Google Term Not Provided Counter

Handy tool for tracking Google's historic "term not provided" data hoarding.

More recently,Google changed its keyword research tool set to Keyword Planner under its pay-per-click empire, further obfuscating views into mobile keyword research.

Why does Google keep hording data?

Because it can.

Google’s “do no evil” mantra is a matter of perspective. Apparently only Google gets to make money off from other people’s data, like it already makes money off from other peoples content.

I guess only Google gets to help make data driven marketing decisions?

Come on Bing & Yahoo!  It’s time for a market shift.

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Going Inside Google Search Updates

It’s important to remember that some of the biggest changes in Google search results were not named all named after animals. As a matter of fact, some major changes in Google search algorithms this year have been named after nothing at all. When analyzing Google’s pervasive search quality highlight posts on its official Inside Search blog, algorithmic tweaks for Panda and Penguin represent less than 3 percent of the changes Google has made to its core search functionality since the first of the year.

In order to be able to make these kinds of statements, I had to analyze all of Google’s Inside Search blog posts made since the first of the year, which includes updates actually made in December 2011, and try to classify the Google product, service, or function that was attuned. You can read my analysis of Google Search Updates over at Search Engine Watch, but I do plan on updating additional details here in a future post.

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The Real 2010 ‘Search Events’

I’m not a fan of real housewives, real New Jerseyites, or made-for-tv real life dramas. So it’s a bit odd that I would title this post The Real 2010 ‘Search Events’ and actually mean it, or for that matter, expect anyone else to read it.

Each year I’ve meant to do a compendium of sorts that looks back with fond recollections on the year, but I can’t seem to force myself to do it. Instead, most gentle readers (I know there are two of you based on GA), I offer you a simple synopsis of those events that I thought were interesting for the organic search engine optimization (SEO) industry in 2010.

January:

  • Google: WMT warning posted on malware. (We’re not playin’ around anymore. Google is serious this time. )
  • Google: Announces adoption of new Rich Snippets microformats for Events. (SEO is dead.)
  • Google: Can’t index video well; continues begging for video sitemap adoption and mRSS feeds via GWMT all through the year. (I thought the YouTube deal would solve Google’s edacious need for fresh content?)
  • Yahoo: Weather report; major updates to crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms. (I wonder how many of these we have left?)

February:

  • Google: Launches Buzz in a Facebook-like fashion, automatically opting Gmail users in and causing a hu·mon·gous privacy kerfuffle in the process. Google eventually apologized, but Buzz failed to make significant inroads in competing with Facebook and/or Twitter. (First big Google #fail on the year.)
  • Yahoo/Bing Merger: Received clearance from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission. Binghoo, Yabing, Bingyah flack abounds. (SEO is dead.)

March:

  • Google: Supports more Rich Snippets microformats for Reviews and People profiles. (SEO is still dead.)
  • Yahoo: Weather report; major updates to crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms. (Seriously? Yahoo! is updating their index more oftent now than when it was actually a search engine and not a portal.)
  • Yahoo: Introduces near real-time search (SEO is dead yet again and still.)

April:

  • Google: Rich Snippets go international beyond Google-US search results.
  • Google: Announces adoption of new Rich Snippets for Recipes.
  • Google: Page Speed becomes a ranking signal. (SEO lives again, only to be proved dead inside.)
  • Yahoo: Weather report; major updates to crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms. (Again? C’mon now. What have you been doing all these years in search with few and far between index updates?)
  • Yahoo: UI update for Yahoo Sports and News Search (No one cares.)

May:

  • Google: Call for web spam reports in Thai, Indonesian, Romanian, Czech and Farsi (Only Thai spammers care.)
  • Google: Big UI Change! So-called “Jazz Interface” introduced. (Essentially, Google looks more like Bing and Ask by adding a third column to their traditional two column layout.)
  • Google: So-called “May Day” algorithym update. Yes, this is a big rankings change, not a crawling or indexing change. According to Google, the change impacts “long tail” traffic, generally the results of longer search queries that, few people search for individually, but in aggregate form can provide a large percentage of traffic. (SEO is like the Monty Python ‘Parrot” sketch. It is dead, I tell you. Dead. Dead. Dead.)

June:

  • Google: Unleashes Caffeine update. Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than Google’s previous index. (Caffeine is good for SEO which appears to not be dead, after all.)
  • Bing: Rolling out bingbot (beta)

July:

  • Google: Lays groundwork for alliance with Twitter. (SEO marketers’ quivers are now fully loaded.)
  • Yahoo: Started testing organic (also referred to as algorithmic) and paid search listings from Microsoft for up to 25 percent of Yahoo! Search traffic in the U.S. (Yahoo! search is nearly dead.)
  • Yahoo: Yahoo! Search Assist to provide near real-time suggestions as you type your query. (Not sure why Yahoo! bothered.)

August:

  • Google: Now indexes SVGc ontent whether it is in a standalone file or embedded directly in HTML. (SVG is an open, XML-based format for vector graphics with support for interactive elements. Only coders care.)
  • Google: Another UI Change: Now showing more results from a single site for queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain. Prior to the change, only two results from any one domain would have appeared for a specific query. (SEO lives!)
  • Google: Google Wave #fail
  • Yahoo/Bing Merger: Organic search transition completed. (Sad day in search.)

September:

  • Google: Rich Snippets now supports Local Search via hCard structured formats. Note: Google now has three locally targeted products: Maps, Places and HotPot. (Google’s commitment to local is clear.)
  • Google: Implements Google Instant. The new search implementation allowed for faster results and predictive queries using the Google Suggest feature. (Dammit! SEO is dead for real this time.)
  • Bing: Bingbot out of beta
  • Bing/Yahoo Merger: Yahoo Search Marketing clients transitioned to Microsoft adCenter.
  • Yahoo: Yahoo! Search Assist now providing suggestions geographically closer to search users as they type. (Good way to differentiate Bing results, perhaps?)

October:

  • Google: Introduces Google TV (SEO for Google TV lives!)
  • Google: GWMT performs major backlink update (think algo reset), in tandem with Search Queries, Parameter handling and Messages updates.
  • Bing: Warns on speed and use of bingbot crawl delay. (SEO lives for speed!)
  • Blekko: The “Slashtag: no-spam search engine goes live. (Hmmm. Crowdsourced ranking search engine. This could be interesting.)

November:

  • Google: Expands its SWF indexing capabilities (Flash first indexed 2-years ago.)
  • Google: Adds Instant Previews to UI. (SEO dies and goes straight to purgatory.)
  • Google: Goes after Web Spam again; Chrome Extension for reporting (Market pressure from Blekko?)
  • Google: Introduces Rich Snippets for Products via hProduct microformats.
  • Yahoo: Beta testing a richer Yahoo! Search Assist UI.

December:

  • Bing: WMT Now featuring New Inbound Links  information
  • Bing: Microsoft and Twitter may form Alliance

At the close of 2010 SEO is oficially transmogrified into Social, Local, TV, Video, etc. tactics and lives on to this day.

Please let me know if I missed something major that you think should be included in the list. Sorry, I did not post all the links to all the articles that detail each SEO event in 2010. Had I done so, I fear my blog would have been labeled a”link farm” early in 2011. More on that next year!

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Less is the New More, More or Less?

It’s always interesting to watch some of the broader trends in search engine referrals. One of the more recent, and certainly more interesting developments in search engine usage, has to be that less is the new more. At least that’s what Coremetrics is reporting when comparing early 2009 search data with later results.

2009 U.S. Clicks by Number of Keywords

2009 U.S. Clicks by Number of Keywords

Use of one-word phrases has increased nearly 16% from Jan. 2009 to Oct. 2009. At first glance, this development would certainly lend credibility to those that contend the long tail of search is in full wain. But it really could be more a reflection in the change is searcher behavior moreover a paradigm shift away from the longtail of search.

For example, think about how we search for brands. Do we Google it to go to the site or do we type the full URL in our browsers? Since Google has focused on producing more relevant branded results in 2009, perhaps the data is a reflection of browser laziness rather than a shift away from using three+ words in a search query. Perhaps the
Coremetrics data has been influenced by iPhone usage for search. After all, who wants to type in all those phrases on a mobile search engine. Of course, it could just be that we’re using the search engines rather than bookmarks to return to the same site time and time again.

2009 Clicks by Number of Keywords Data

2009 Clicks by Number of Keywords Data

It’s important to note that the Coremetrics data is specific to clicks on search results as it relates to the number of words used in successful search queries. Also, I don’t know how suggested search results may have impacted the data. Does a one word query supplemented by search engine suggestion affect the data in any way? Either way, this remains and interesting data set to watch as it evolves over time.

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