Not Surprising that Yahoo Share of Search Market Continues to Drop

A month after falling behind Bing to become the number three search engine in the U.S. market, Yahoo’s market share has dropped once again, and in my opinion this was so predictable. The only thing that surprises me is that it did not happen sooner.

According to Comscore, the market share for the top five search engines in January 2012 were as follows:

Google – 66.2% (65.9% in December 2011)
Bing – 15.2%(15.1 percent )
Yahoo 14.1% (14.5% in December 2011)
Ask 3% (2.9% in December 2011)
AOL –  1.6% (same as last month)

The reason I suggest Yahoo’s loss of market share does not surprise me is that back in mid 2010 Yahoo stopped providing its own organic search results and switched to using Bing’s results. Let me point out that Yahoo did not technically use their “own” results to begin with. They actually used a company called Inktomi, but the difference was the Inktomi did not provide direct search results and was not a direct competitor. Bing is as direct of a competitor as you will ever see.

While the average person may not have been aware of this at the time (it was more relevent to search engine optimization experts), it is something that over time has proven to have an effect on the way people perceive the two sites. “If Yahoo is using Bing, then Bing must be better.” After all, why would you go to a third party source for something that you can get first hand. Apparently the geniuses at Yahoo did not see it that way, and as a result they have gone from once being possibly the biggest name on the Internet to slowly becoming insignificant.

Unless Yahoo does something drastic, I would expect to see their share continue to go down in the coming months and at some point I expect to see them down there with Ask and AOL (also at one time an important component in search).

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Google Algorithm Changes January 2012

The following are Google’s list of algorithm changes for the month of January and my thoughts on each:

Fresher results – In my opinion, fresher results are good for SEO and good for Internet marketers and users. In the old days, Google would not update there algo for 4-8 weeks at a time, and when an update happened it stayed for the remainder of that time. If the results were bad for a site it was screwed, and that was also bad for users. The fresher the results, the better for everyone. I am all for this.

Faster autocomplete – This is not overly relevant to SEO. It is more related to usability of Google.

Autocomplete spelling corrections – This will not have a major impact on SEO.

Better spelling full-page replacement – Same as above.

Better spelling corrections for rare queries – Rare queries will not have significant impact on SEO and therefore this is not big news.

Improve detection of recurrent event pages – This will affect how Google determines the date of a document. This could affect news search, or searches related to time based queries. It may also impact attempts to fake freshness.

High-quality sites algorithm improvements – This appears to be related to the Panda update that devastated a number of sites back in April 2011. There is room for improvement here on an ongoing basis. While the original update did wipe some low quality sites from the top of the rankings, there were some good sites that got hit as well. Continued improvement is a good thing for white hat site marketers and users.

Cross-language refinements – This will mostly affect those searching in a Google site that is not default in their language. Google will detect that and make suggestions in the language of the users queries.

English on Google Saudi Arabia – I do not currently do any work in Saudi Arabia, but this could be helpful for English speaking users of google.com.sa.

Improved scrolling for Image Search – I don’t see this having an impact on SEO.

Improved image search quality – This update is supposedly going to give an emphasis to images with high quality landing pages in image results. This could be good if Google is able to detect redirects or image spam better as a result.

More relevant related searches – This is related to the “Related Searches” that pop up at the bottom of the page after you do a search. Many people aren’t even aware that these are there and I don’t believe they drive a ton of traffic, still it is important for SEOs to monitor and see what queries they are showing up for and what sites are showing up for queries related to their business name. Studying these results is a good way to broaden your target keywords.

Blending of news results – Universal search continues to blend results from different areas of search. It is important that your campaigns are broad and encompass multiple areas of search, and not just organic. It is important to be in Local, Shopping, New, Images, Video, Social, etc…

Automatically disable Google Instant based on computer speed – While I am not so concerned personally about this based on speed of Internet or computer, I say thank goodness that they are making it easier to opt out of instant search. I find it incredibly annoying and find no benefit to it. To opt out you can go to search preferences.

Compiled by Chris Powell


5 Tips to quickly self optimize for your website for search engines

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via 5 Tips to quickly self optimize for your website for search engines.


5 Tips to quickly self optimize for your website for search engines

To many people, search engine optimization seems like a complex or magical formula that only mathematicians or programmers can decipher. The truth is the basics of organic SEO are actually pretty simple and can be done by just about anyone that can do some basic work on a site. The following are a few tips to help you get started if you would like to SEO your own website:

Tip 1 – Know what your target keywords are and choose intelligently:

It is important that you know what you are actually targeting with your SEO keyword strategy. A couple of the best ways to do this are to use a third party tool, such as the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool, or Wordtracker. If you are a local business that can only do business in your neighborhood for example, it would be inefficient to try to target and rank for national keywords. For starters, it would be very difficult, and more importantly, it probably won’t bring you much in the way of business.

Tip 2 – Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for every important page of your site:

One of the simplest, yet most important things that professional search engine optimization companies do for websites is to go through the site, in many cases one page at a time, and write specific detailed title tags that target the primary keywords that each specific page is about.

Tip 3 – Make sure that you use your target keywords in the body text of your site, especially on your home page:

This is simple once you think about it, but search engines are machines that rank web pages based on what they see on your site (They rank based on factors that are not on your site as well, but that will be discussed in tip 5). Therefore, it is essential that you include any keywords or phrases that you hope to show up for in the body text of your site. If you don’t think a keyword is important enough to include in your site, then there is no reason the search engines should think that your site should be important enough to rank for that given keyword.

Tip 4 – Text, not image, HTML not flash:

A lot of designers like to use graphic or image based sites. This can be done with simple images like large jpegs or gifs that include text in the image. This text will not be read or indexed by search engines. This also generally goes for flash websites. Make sure that if you are getting a site built, that it uses html text that can be read by search engines. If it cannot, you likely will not rank.

Tip 5 – Get some links:

Think of search engines as an online popularity contest, with the judges being other websites. The more of these website that like your site by linking to it, the cooler your site is, and the higher it will rank assuming you following the tips above. There are a number of strategies for getting links from other websites, but some of the simplest are to either buy ads with links from relevant sites or directories, or to build listings at social media websites like Yelp, Google Places, Facebook, etc… The more of these you get the more of a ranking boost you will see on your site. As with any popularity contest, the more popular the sites are that you link from, the more popular your site will become.

SEO is not brain surgery, but it does take time. If you are seeking professional assistance for your optimization efforts, we would be happy to help out. You can contact the author of that piece at http://www.chrispowell.net/site-evaluation.php. Good luck with your optimization efforts.


A Closer Look at Google Adwords Spending in the Online Travel Industry and its Effect on SEO

A recent analysis by search engine marketing firm WordStream shows the travel sector as the third largest spender on Google AdWords over the last year at $2.4 billion behind only the Finance & Insurance industry at $4 billion; and Retailers & General Merchandise at $2.8 billion. $2.4 billion is truly an astonishing number when you think about it on a daily basis. That comes out to $6.5 million per day in revenue for Google via Adwords.

According to the report, the biggest spenders from the travel industry were the following:

Booking.com, $40.4 million ($110,000 per day)
Expedia, $28.9 million ($79,000 per day)
Kayak, $28.7 million ($78,000 per day)
Marriott, $20.9 million ($57,000 per day)
Priceline (which owns Booking.com), $19.6 million. ($53,000 per day)

The amount of money that is being spent on Google Adwords really increases the value of organic search engine optimization for the travel industry. Although most of the big travel companies have extensive SEO departments, many small to medium sized companies are either overlooking organic SEO or just touching the tip of its potential.

One mid-sized travel company I worked with back in the early 2000s was at the time spending nearly $250,000 per month on Overture and other pay per click ads, and yet until I arrived had virtually no SEO presence. It was so bad that their technology actually did not allow spiders to index any of their pages. We were able to work with the technology team to get the entire site functional and optimized for search engines and traffic quadrupled. Shortly after we completed the organic SEO, they were able to sell the company for a rather substantial price.

While travel search engine optimization is far more complicated than it was back in the earlier days of SEO, the basics remain the same. These factors include; search engine friendly technology, well implemented SEO elements throughout the site, large amounts of indexable content, and intelligent link popularity. The biggest difference between then and now is the focus on truly unique content throughout the site. While this has always been important, it is even more significant today.

If you are interested in SEO for your travel related website contact us today for more information and a free site review.


Branding Versus Keyword Targeting in SEO

Most internet marketing experts agree that you need to use a combination of online marketing tactics to run a successful Internet marketing campaign. If you focus too much on one strategy, you leave yourself vulnerable to how changes in that specific area might impact your overall performance. It is wise to mix up a nice combination of strategies such as SEO, pay per click marketing, email marketing, general online advertising, affiliate marketing, social media and more depending on your industry.

The same goes within the search engine optimization focus. While it is generally accepted that a successful search engine optimization campaign is one that ranks high for a business’s target keywords, or one that converts organic traffic to sales, another benefit of SEO is in helping to create a brand for the client’s business.

This creates a bit of a predicament in terms of where the focus should be in areas like title tags and meta descriptions. You will often find that many search engine optimizers prefer to place the highest priority keywords at the beginning of the title tag. While this can be good for ranking it can be bad for branding or creating name recognition in particular for smaller businesses that are looking to make a long term impact online.

More often than not, I find the best solution is to mix the focus between the high priority keywords and the branding. Depending on what is most important to the client, you can do one of the following:

-Start with the company name followed by the highest priority keywords
-Start with the highest priority keywords followed by the company name
-Go with keywords only

The first two options offer some mix for clients that are concerned about creating a brand along with their SEO, or want to take advantage of the brand that they already have. The third option is best for websites that don’t care at all about branding or creating a brand and only want to focus on ranking as high as possible for their keywords. The first two options may bring in a small percentage less traffic in the short run than the third, but the long term returning traffic may outweigh that in the long run.

As with many areas of internet marketing and search engine optimization, branding versus keyword targeting is something that needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. As with Internet marketing in general, there is no one size fits all approach.

This article was written by Chris Powell, San Diego search engine optimization specialist.


Interesting Article on PPC and Search Engine Optimization in the Travel Industry

Just read an interesting article/interview on Eye for Travel. It is focused on travel search engine optimization, PPC and social media, but a lot of what they discuss is pretty relevant across business segments.

A few things that stuck out to me where the following:

Adam Crawford, Senior SEO Manager of Europe for Cheapflights Media believes 2012 will see a continued increase is personalization of web results. He also believes that Google+ is a very obvious signal that Google will be moving in this direction. However, overall he states that the core “best practices” that really impact a site’s search engine rankings and overall SEO have not changed much in the last 10 years.

I tend to agree with him on all of the above. It is clear to me that personalization or personalized results are one of the biggest changes we have seen in the search engine optimization world in years, and it is the social media connection combined with your physical location at this point that are leading to most of the personalization. With Google+ coming into play we can definitely expect that to start to play more of a role, and for results to become even more personalize.

I also agree however that the core best practices have not changed. All the things we have always had to do are still important. This list includes building links from reputable sites, building quality content that search engines can easily index, focusing your title tags and content on high impact keywords and key phrases while still building user friendly content.

The tricky part for a lot of people is implementing the “newer” core best practice techniques. This includes making sure that your sites have a positive reputation online and that there is a “busy” social presence. I envision this becoming a little bit like link building in the early days of SEO when it was a free for all with link farms, FFA pages, etc. Google and Bing will catch shady tactics and those sites will take a hit. The tricky part as with everything in the past will be how to do it right.

I still think the answer as it has always been is to build high quality useful sites that users love. Of course that is not as easy as it sounds. If you want to check out the interview, you can read it here.