Google Profiles Getting More Real Estate in Search Results?

Google Profiles in Search Results

I noticed my google profile displaying much more prominently in Google search results today.

Google Profile in SERP's

I checked in incognito mode and it displays there as well. Here is a screenshot of the results side by side.

Google Profile in Search Results for Chrome - Screenshot

As you can see it takes up quite a big part of the area given to search results and includes an image, rich text snippets, and site links to my other websites.

I then tried this in Firefox and my profile didn’t display in the SERP’s but as I’m writing this it has started to display. It does it for others as well, like Rand Fishkin:

I like it but it does look like Google favouring itself… Could they be taking advantage of new markup? They did recently have a redesign of their Google profiles making it look much more social.

UPDATE – 11/03/2011: It appears as if this is an integration of  this Google Profile Search testing into normal search results.

Google Buys UK Comparison Site Beat That Quote

Google Have Bought The UK Comparison Site BeatThatQuote.com

It has just been announced that Google have bought the UK comparison site www.beatthatquote.com for £37.7m. This is quite an interesting move by Google as it is a website that allows you to search and compare for cheaper prices across the financial, insurance, and shopping industries. Your typical price comparison website.

BeatThatQuote.com today was sold to Google for GBP37.7 million. We think this deal is a tremendous opportunity for our company to develop new and innovative options for personal finance in the UK.

Our team is excited about becoming a part of Google. We look forward to working with their engineers to create new tools making it easier for consumers to choose the right financial products. We think we can offer more transparency and better pricing information than existing online offerings.

So why is Google getting involved with actually buying a price comparison website? They are typically getting their hands into everything now but with the power of the biggest and best search engine, all that data, and now also owning a price comparison website – the possibilities are incredible.

Google Dominating New Markets

I remember attending the Distilled Pro Seminar event in 2010 and even though there were some great actionable tips and link building thoughts shared, it was David Naylor’s presentation that seemed to stick out the most.

He warned that Google would start to dominate and it would be a really bad thing. Some people laughed but to be fair he wasn’t the only one that thinks like this. He singled out the price comparison vertical and I don’t know if you have ever typed “credit cards” into Google UK:

Search for credit cards

It will be interesting to see how this plays out… I’m sure some are interested in what Google are up to whilst others are slightly more concerned at what is going on. It may not even officially go through depending on any legal challenges.

Which of the Duplicate Linkedin Profile URLs Do I Use?

What Is My LinkedIn Public Profile URL?

I’ve been on a mission to create a personal brand and social profiles that display in Google when I search for my name, with LinkedIn being very useful for this due to:

[starlist]

  • A worldwide website with lots of links pointing to it
  • A popular social website but aimed at professionals
  • The ability to customise the public profile including a vanity URL

[/starlist]

With the various on-page factors coupled with the number of links pointing to it, it means that it can easily rank for most peoples name depending how famous they or somebody with the same name is. The other benefit was that you could link to websites that you owned but LinkedIn changed this to add 302 redirects on profile links.

UK Sub-Domain or .COM Version

I’ve come across this before when I originally started linking to my public LinkedIn profile. There were a number of URL’s that my profile could be accessed by. I then noticed Google displaying one more than the other in it’s search engine results and I made sure all my links pointed to this exact URL.

LinkedIn Profile in Google Search

Notice it is using the UK sub-domain on the vanity URL. LinkedIn seemed to have settled on this as well, displaying this URL in the link to the public profile when logged in.

LinkedIn Link to Public Profile Screenshot

So Why Change Now?

I visited my public profile the other day and I noticed a change in the URL, it was the http://www.linkedin.com/in/nadeemanjum version.

I tried it again and noticed it was redirecting the previous URL. Knowing that they recently turned all outbound links to websites in profiles to 302 redirects, I checked what type was being used and funnily enough it was a 302 redirect.

Screenshot of LinkedIn using a 302 redirect

So should I change all the links to the .com version? Funnily enough I checked the source code of the page and there it was – the canonical tag:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://uk.linkedin.com/in/nadeemanjum” />

What Is Going On?

Google and external links will be redirected to the .com URL but in theory Google will ignore the temporary 302 redirect and also take into account the canonical URL of the page, assigning this as the original/unique URL.

Why use this 302 redirect then and cause confusion? Are LinkedIn looking to make changes in the future? I’ve noticed a much newer sleeker interface when visiting the settings page since they made this change.

One thing for sure is that the 302 redirect doesn’t pass any link value from all the links I’ve built to my public profile – LinkedIn may end up shooting themselves in the foot if it turns into a 301 redirect and leave the canonical tag in place.

Pre SEO Website Analysis Checklist & Audit Guide

How to Analyse a Website as an SEO

The process of search engine optimisation takes into account a whole range of factors, some technical, some focusing on content. The different factors can influence SEO in different ways, on different websites, and to different levels. Its a bit of a minefield and why no SEO evaluation is exactly the same as the previous.

Here are a number of different areas I look at when conducting an SEO website analysis:

Website Analysis Checklist.jpg

Technical Architecture:

  • Website Language and Technology
  • URL Structure & Permalinks
    • Canonicalisation
    • Redirects
  • Internal Linking
    • NoFollow, Anchor Text, Broken Links
    • Menu Structure
  • Title & Meta Data
  • Sitemaps (HTML and XML)
  • Robots.txt
  • HTaccess (if applicable)
  • Semantic HTML: Valid HTML, Page Speed, code overview, Missing Images
  • Crawl Test (GoogleBot)

Content Review:

  • Content Structure and Layout
  • Duplicated Text and Template Design
  • Hidden Text or Links
  • Heading Tags
  • Image Alt Tags
  • Keyword Usage and Relevance

General:

  • Domain & Hosting
  • Domain Name, Age, and whois details
  • Google Analytics
  • Usability & Accessibility: CSS, Flash, JavaScript, Cookies
  • Search Engine Health Check: Site Command Search, Brand Search, Cached Pages & Dates
  • GEO Location: IP location, Other Domains, Google Local, Address (Local Search Optimisation)
  • External Links: Number of Backlinks, anchor text, branding, deep linking, natural/quality, paid links
  • Social Media and Blogging

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list but does contain many of the key elements when analysing a website that has suddenly appeared infront of you. The above is a little bit of guidance and structure to an SEO audit which can help to make sure things aren’t missed.

Twitter and Social Media Become Ranking Signals

Twitter Signals Help Ranking

There are so many people using Twitter to share content that it has led search engines to include this data into their search results. The latest tweets can be seen in Google and they also allow you to search within your “social signal”.

It was reported yesterday in an interview with Danny Sullivan that the information from social media signals were being used by Google and Bing.

Here are the questions and answers relating to what Google stated:

1) If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-nofollowed links that may naturally result from it?

Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article [NOTE: see the end of this article for more about that].

2) Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?

Yes we do compute and use author quality. We don’t know who anyone is in real life :-)

3) Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?

Yes we do use this as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.

Please see the original article for more thoughts and what exactly Bing replied with (much of it being similar anyway) and thoughts on Facebook.

Key Takeaway Points:

[notice]Google is looking at the twitter account to judge the authority and also the number of tweets a link receives.[/notice]

This underlines a previous post expressing how I thought Twitter was influencing Google Search and many others who also speculated this was the case. I also remember discussing how a page was indexed quicker with the only influence I could point to being Twitter.

Site indexing Twitter Influence

Tweeted by @GarrettFrench which Topsy at least thinks is highly influential – a follower count of 90+ with over 1500+ followers.

Twitter Influence Topsy

In my eyes, having a good content strategy whilst using Twitter to share this content are very positive aspects in an SEO campaign, alongside the natural benefits that a good social media strategy can bring.

Other things to think about are whether this alone will provide these benefits? Google takes into account various factors for any one thing, which is why it is so hard to always find the cause. Its also important to think whether this only contributes to short term factors and “query deserves freshness” or whether long term it it can be relied on as one aspect of a link building activity.

Paid tweets?

Using Twitter to Share Content

New Twitter Benefits Usability and Sharing

During the past few months there have been a number of changes within the social media world, with two major social media platforms rolling out new look websites – creating a contrast in opinions.

On one side you have Digg, a massive social bookmark and sharing website which initially saw its traffic drop due to its new web design and features with a backlash from its user base. On the other hand you have the new Twitter, which announced a complete overhaul of the backend and website interface which so far has been met with positive remarks in general.

New Twitter Benefits

The new design brings an improved usable interface and rich media features such as:

[starlist]

  • Never-ending scrolling tweet time-line
  • Embedded rich media interface in tweets (Youtube, Flickr, TwitPic)
  • Its faster and a much cleaner interface to use
  • Homepage keeps the feed going whilst a user’s profile can be viewed including replies

[/starlist]

Content Sharing through Social Media

There are quite a lot of people who think of twitter just like a Facebook style status update. However, Twitter has risen to be in my mind one of the better ways to share content – not just your own either.

There were a few interesting statistics given about Twitter as they launched their new interface:

[starlist]

  • There are on average 370,000 new sign ups a day overall
  • We’re now seeing 90 million tweets a day – or above on average
  • About 25% of tweets contain links

[/starlist]

That’s a lot of tweets with something that is constantly growing for both people and businesses. The line that stood out for me was a tweet by Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder, saying the following:

Twitter levels the playing field between creators and consumers of content.

Twitter levels the playing field between creators and consumers of content.

It is interesting how different industries are using social media, in SEO everybody seems to be tweeting the latest blog post they have been reading. Many bloggers use this to their advantage as they build up online connections and receive traffic. Whenever there are industry events, there are a flood of tweets about it, together with the event hashtag – yes micro-blogging via Twitter is so popular there are even official event #hashtags used. Ironically, Facebook recently went down for everyone and released status updates on their twitter account.

Why Create a Twitter Account & Share Content?

[starlist]

  • Help network with others in the industry or potential new leads
  • Connect with any followers and provide direct feedback to any questions – quickly
  • Provide and receive leading industry news and resources – others will share your content
  • Build the brand name in the social media world and a community around it
  • Content is king which may also attract links – helping your SEO efforts

[/starlist]

[notice] The biggest thing I have found with Twitter and sharing content is the ability to keep learning the latest trends and information from everybody else in your industry, and as you learn you can also give, helping to become an authority.[/notice]

Hopefully I will be doing the same on Twitter so please follow my personal account @NadeemAnjum or this blog’s twitter feed @SearchNest

Twitter Influencing Google Search Rankings & Indexing of Content?

Twitter effecting Google Search Results?

As I’ve recently started to blog about SEO on my own websites I wanted to look at some particularly interesting points surrounding starting a blog in such a competitive area.

I don’t really have the time or resources to do much research let alone the type which takes into account everything and leaves no holes. However, I did come across an interesting use of Twitter – which is used more and more to share content.

Twitter Influencing Indexation of Content

I recently started another blog, about a specific niche I’m very interested in – link building. I never planned for a big launch but I saw a little opportunity arise, the chance to participate in a link building interview for Ontolo’s @GarrettFrench knowing it would be tweeted by him. I had answered a few questions and published the post, the second post of the blog. The first was published some time earlier that day, with the blog being launched at the same time as the first introductory post.

That was all I did in terms of a launch, it was a soft one. At the end of the day I checked what was in the index:

Site indexing Twitter Influence

Tweeted by @GarrettFrench which Topsy at least thinks is highly influential – a follower count of 90+ with over 1500+ followers.

Twitter Influence Topsy

[notice] Google had only bothered to display one page, not even the homepage, which coincidently was the post tweeted by a few people. It was the only post indexed. No doubt others had been crawled but this was the only one indexed and showing. Got to be Twitter? [/notice]

Twitter Swaying Google Search Rankings

A brand new domain with a freshly installed blog was created for a client (have to keep this anonymous). I started blogging within the industry on hot-topics and useful information. I wasn’t interested in link building for the particular blog at this point but I did identify that Twitter would be of great use, as many of the competitor were actively getting on to Twitter.

I started to write good content, helpful to the public, and interesting developments within the industry to make competitors notice. After tweeting this content, I started to get retweets from some of the competitors. Its ended up getting established amongst them with over a hundred followers in the first few months and some good communication between each other – including publishing of press releases, guest posts, and natural link building from those who have noticed.

The domain, coming up to about 6 months old, is ranking for some really good long tail terms – above certain competitors with good authoritative websites and blogs. However, its one particular page that stood out – I targeted it with a massive 1500 word guide yet it isn’t ranking very well. Half expected as it was a competitive long tail term.

A few weeks later, I wrote another post in conjunction with somebody else, which also said positive things about a product from a worldwide company in the same industry. That page wasn’t written for SEO but funnily enough was targeting the same long-tail term as the guide.

[notice] The company tweeted it, the person helping me tweeted it, it got around 20 mentions on Twitter that day. Its ranking in the top 5 for the phrase, pages above the other guide! There aren’t any backlinks in play here, the only influence I can think of is Twitter! [/notice]

Its interesting that this is happening. I’m sceptical that it doesnt see much effect from the odd tweet or lots of spammy accounts. Some of the tweets for the two posts I’ve talked about were from accounts you could say are “highly influential” at least topsy says so. After the data buy out, it may well be that these type of signals are being used – hopefully somebody has done some major research on this?

I think it would be a good step and can help show naturalness but it may also be easily gamed.

Instant Previews of Web Page Images Within Google Search Results

Google Instant Previews Webpage Images in Search

A little while ago the news broke of some more testing in search engine results by Google. I think I remember reading it first on Blogstorm which showed web page previews of the websites in Google’s search results. I remember trying out Google Chrome (incognito mode) and hoping it would happen to me. It did, a few days later.

Google Image Page Previews

Once everything had died down about the page previews nobody seem to fussed about it. I suppose everybody was too busy watching Google offer multiple results for branding, giving preference to deeper pages, and localised listings based around Google Places in their search result pages.

Until today, when they announced the page previews are officially going live and rolling out to each country over the next few days. You can test out what the instant previews will look like but they will be coming to the UK pretty soon and within an hour of writing its now live.

Now we’re making a leap to image-based snapshots—a new kind of visual search result we call “Instant Previews” which makes it even faster to choose the right result.

Interesting Points of Note

Well firstly, if you have a full flash website then it doesn’t appear and shows a broken image. This probably isn’t great from a user point of view and may affect click throughs rather than your standard SEO techniques. The other thing I noticed is that it seems to highlight a certain section of the page where it must believe their is important/relevant information.

It doesn’t do it for my LinkedIn profile anymore but it does for one of the other results:

This is the HTML code for the particular section:

<strong>Publications </strong>
 
Journals
<ul>
	<li><!-- paperType="article" -->N. Anjum and A. Cavallaro, "Multi-feature object trajectory clustering for video analysis," <em>IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology</em>, 2008.</li>
</ul>

It would be interesting to know how Google works this out, to me it just appears it picks out relevant information about the search. For instance, when in testing it highlighted my name and title, along with the summary section. Typing other searches bring up wiki pages showing the brief snippets at the top.

How to Improve the Google Instant Preview

[checklist]

  • Create a nice web design using good web standards as you don’t want your CSS not aligning properly
  • It is important to ensure that branding is prominent
  • Make your content/articles nice to read e.g. pictures
  • Make good use of “white space” in web page designs

[/checklist]

Google Instant Previews are another interesting development in a fast changing modern world. There have been so many little roll-outs recently, I wonder what’s next…

Blogging & Long Tail Search Traffic

Another day, another blog, a few more visits

Create a new blogI’m starting a new blog here at Search Nest. As I’m a Digital Marketing Consultant which specialises in SEO, I’m planning to focus this blog around just that, whilst having a specific link building blog at SEO Link Love. Links is such a big thing yet so niche I just think it deserves its own blog there, I want to keep the quality up rather than make a big mix and blend everything into one blog - despite the extra hard work involved.

Long-Tail Search Traffic

I wanted to get straight into the information and I thought a good way of tying it into this post was to talk about long-tail search traffic. I’m keen on blog development, I see content as a crucial strategy to good organic SEO. The benefits are plenty to a website, especially when it is hosted on the end of a domain.

The one thing about a number of blog posts is the traffic it can collectively bring. Often SEO campaigns are started with keyword research and this involves picking out industry terms to rank for. All well and good but an additional content strategy can supplement this. The crux of it is, the shorter phrases have more competition and are harder to rank for whilst the longer phrases aren’t as competitive and as a whole provide a large number of visitors.

[notice] The long tail of search refers to keywords which individually have few queries and therefore are less competitive than the most popular industry keywords, yet the cumulative searches for long tail terms can provide a high amount of traffic. [/notice]

I recently analysed the long tail search of website to understand just how much it was benefiting from long tail search queries. From this analysis, I was able to construct a few graphs highlighting the distribution of visits per keyword and the long tail queries alongside the number of visits.

Its quite obvious from the above, with around 70% of traffic coming from long tail search terms, that the website isn’t ranking very highly for its main keywords is benefiting from lots of long tail search. :-)

Industry Trophy Keyword Terms

Conveniently, I have recently read a few posts outlining how they were ranking for high industry terms yet gaining a lot of their traffic through their content strategy.

I’ve swiped the below graphs (hoping he wont mind) from the newly crowned most influential UK SEO, Shaun from Hobo-Web, who wrote about the concept of “sisyphean” and targeting the long tail of search by adding more content with evidence from his Google Analytics showing traffic statistics.

The highest I ranked for SEO in Google (UK) was no3 (the spike below indicates the time) and the quality of leads I got wasn’t that great.

You can see how the keyword “seo” has brought in a 1000+ visits to his website but the below shows the long tail of search and a content strategy in full flow as shows instead of just one keyword, he has 40,000+ keywords bringing in thousands of visits (excluding website/brand terms?).

This isn’t to say don’t bother with your main keywords! Just remember there is another aspect of SEO to think of so do both – depending on your resources. Whilst the top terms are good to rank for people seem to be of the opinion that they are trophy terms. Who doesn’t want to appear top of the pile? Especially for a term like SEO – I was at Just Search whilst they were top of the pile for it, definitely good for the sales lads to point out to clients. Remember, these type of terms are competitive and you can slide up & down – I noticed before it was the first time I’ve ever seen Just Search not on page 1 of the SERP’s for SEO, even though they have climbed back up.

This type of post is pretty popular and has been explained many times before but its good to cover it in a growing industry, there are plenty of people (especially clients) that may not have come across this aspect of SEO and its rather apt for this post – I’m hoping this blog can head in a similar direction.

Oh, I know, I’ve linked out from my SEO blog…. I don’t mind handing out a bit of link love to good resources and blogs, its a good thing and people should link out a little more rather than hoard any link juice. Just saying.