• Posted on August 17, 2010

Why A Search Engine Googopoly Is Bad For The Internet

Google has been the number one search engine for many years with Yahoo! and the rest, not trailing behind, but languishing. Because of Google’s dominance, search engine optimisation has centred around the algorithms that go into Google’s organic search rankings. To a degree, this has made life easier – it has also made life more difficult.

Because Google is so far in front, spammers concentrate on its search rankings. Every now and then, Google makes a change to its algorithm, perhaps decides to penalise certain habits (like paid links several years ago) or to boost other areas (such as social media). Now that’s fine except that often the little players get caught in the cross fire and suddenly find their hard work coming undone.

There is talk that Yahoo! is on its last legs. It seems to me it has been ‘on its last legs’ for many years now. Perhaps Bing can finally kill it off. The end result will not be a better internet – if anything, it will become poorer – not because of Yahoo! disappearing, but because of the lack of competition.

If we had four or five strong search engines, the competition would be much better. More importantly, spammers would have a tougher time. Five strong search engines means five different sets of algorithms. I am not sure that spammers would have such an easy time. An even bigger issue are the search results themselves.

I am not sure if many searchers have noticed the changes creeping into the search results these days. I have mentioned it before; if you actually look at search results, they are becoming compartmentalised. You have image results grouped together, likewise video, news, products and local business (local search). What’s next? Will blogs be removed from organic search and get a little compartment of their own? Commerce, articles; where does it stop? Search results will become a page of compartments each dedicated to a particular segment.

That could be good for the user, it may be good for some sectors of the web, but I am not sure it is going to be good for the web as whole. Competition has proven to be the best innovator and the only way to provide a quality service. Monopolies rarely have the interests of anyone except the self – and Google is becoming a large Googopoly. What are your thoughts – is a single all powerful search engine good for the internet?

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 6:10 am and is filed under Search Engines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

Search Engine Marketing – Playing By The Rules

Search engine marketing is one area that small business owners struggle with. Pay-per-click is the main area of difficulty and is one area where the once bitten twice shy rule comes into play all the time. It can be a mine field. If you don’t put your campaign together effectively, it can be costly, produce little in the way of results, and often lead to a kick in the pants by the pay-per-click provider.

Google Adwords is notorious for suspending campaigns with little if any notice and the reason for this is simple, the campaign hasn’t followed the rules that are in place. The rules themselves are not as complex as they may first look.  Google are interested in one thing – provide the right results to its users. If they can get that right the majority of the time then users will continue to use their services and Google will continue to rake in revenues.

I mention Google is the chief culprit when it comes to suspending campaigns, but they are not the only ones – all search engines have a set of standards that advertisers need to follow. Fail to follow those standards and they too will suspend your advertising campaign. Areas that often cause problems include:

Not accurately representing your product or service – some advertisers use a keyword to promote a product but the landing page is promoting another product.Not supporting advertised prices, discounts and free offers – if you include a price, discount or free offer then it should be clearly available on the landing page.Not allowing a browser’s ‘Back’ button to work – by turning off the back button you are taking control away from the user – this is not permitted.Not displaying the correct URL – this was an old trick. Display one URL but send the user to a different address altogether. The display URL has to be the landing page’s URL

You can read Google’s advertising policies here. If you are really struggling to put together a campaign yourself, find a professional who can do it for you. In many cases, the cost of that professional is easily recouped by lower costs per click and increased sales. If you do intend doing it yourself, then remember that search engine marketing does have rules that need to be followed. It’s not unusual either. Even traditional offline advertising has a set of rules that must be followed.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

PR And Reputation Management Gain Local Search Boost

The bane of many a small business is a bad review, especially if it’s unearned. What often makes matters worse is that often you cannot even respond to the review. I’ll throw into the hat good reviews that you could also respond to. All that has changed now as Google has opened up its reviews on Google Places and now allows local businesses the opportunity to respond to these reviews.

This is a change that many have asked for and, for once, Google have listened. It’s an important change given the emphasis that Google does place on these reviews and Google Places listings in general. As a business owner with a local search listing, I suggest you not waste any reviews you do receive – they are wonderful PR and reputation management opportunities.

When it comes to reputation management, being able to respond to a poor review is important. Customers will often lodge a complaint with a business and leave a poor review at the same time. Even though their complaint is handled to everyone’s satisfaction, they rarely return to update their poor review. You can at least respond to the outcome of the complaint – you may even find the customer adding their response.

PR is an important issue in today’s marketplace and good reviews are gems. You can add value to these positive reviews by responding yourself. I would advise against simply responding with a ‘thanks for a great review’. Use the opportunity to sell your business. By this, I mean you should respond with a positive message. For example, ‘thanks for the positive review. We are proud of our product and customer service history and continue to strive for improvement’. You could also use a good review to up-sell services; for example, ‘thanks for your kind words and don’t forget you can add xyz when you’re ready to expand your xyz’s capabilities’.

Whatever you do, don’t waste a review, either positive or negative. They are unique opportunities online to communicate with your customers in a very public way – and consumers are turning to these reviews in increasing numbers. If you are not sure how to respond to a review, Google offer some suggestions that are worth looking at. You can read their suggestions here and read about the change to Google Places policy on reviews here.

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