Sometimes you learn more about SEO, other times you learn a little. Today, with the launch of Android KitKat, the Search results (SERP's) for the search term KitKat changed significantly in a short time. Based on some comments online from a former search quality engineer, after I posted the screenshot of the Android/KitKat page ranking #2, we can determine QDF (QDF = Quality Deserves Freshness) can trump page authority for high volume searches with news trending. So how can you dominate search? Own the SERP's!
Here is the old SERP for the search term KitKat. Where the timeframe for the pages ranked was changed using the Search Tools. Data range: 8/1/2000 - 8/31/2013, to make sure we include all the published content on KitKat for the last 13 years prior to today!
Now, based on today's news; the announcement of the partnership between Nestle's KitKat and Google's Android, the search results for KitKat look much different. What is interesting is that the knowledge graph box is showing on the right side of the results in the latest results, while it is not showing in the results set when you change the timeframe.
What have you learned in SEO world today? What have you seen in the SERP's? How can you dominate search? Own the SERP's! Literally
For some time, we SEO's have known Google Webmaster Central query data is not always accurate. Ian Lurie even called it worthless. Still I look at the data once in a while to find good opportunities or small wins. For the last couple of weeks, I've been following a rather curious case in our Webmaster Tools data (Google Webmaster tools from now on abbreviated with GWT). I suspect the phenomenon I'm describing in this post has started to occur with the change in image search on Google, which resulted in a massive decrease in image search referrals for websites explained here by Define Media, (trust me, I know; I lost a lot of image search traffic on this website). The data in GWT has become even more inaccurate. Here goes...The Curious Case of Webmaster Central Search Query Data.
Please share with a Tweet: Tweet
Washington DC Images
When you do a search for the keyword Washington DC, you will spot an image from Airbnb's Washington DC Neighborhood page in the image search universal box:
You would think you could expect a whole lot of traffic from an image like this high up in the Google search results. This might have been the case, where the old image search lay out could be a great source of traffic for any website, however, let me disappoint you right there, that since the new image search lay out, hardly any traffic is clicking through to the website where the image originated. Google,
the scraper site, is keeping all those visits on their own properties...
Here is that same search query on Google image search:
As you can see, the Washington DC image from Airbnb ranks really well, even without proper SEO best practices like file name of the image nor the domain it's being served from (yeah, don't get me started on that one..)
Google Webmaster Tools Query Data
At first glance, looking up the Washington DC Neighborhood page in the Top Pages report in Google Webmaster Central it looks all fine. The Washington Neighborhood is the second page when it comes to impressions in the Google search results, when filtered on the US and Web alone! However, if you're in the travel vertical, you'll know this order of destinations is not right! New York is a much more popular destination, where especially Airbnb is well represented with a large number of great listings in Manhattan or in Brooklyn. Even the San Francisco on Airbnb should show larger number of impressions, just from a gut feeling alone.
It becomes even stranger if you click the page open to see the search terms for that page. Suddenly, the query Washington DC shows a higher number of impressions than the overall page does. The clicks are way off, and not by a little, but by a landslide...
Hypothesis on the Difference in Click Numbers
My hypothesis on the differences between the numbers as reported in GWT is simple. Back to the Image universal search box on the Washington DC query:
What if the number of impressions represent the number of times this image was presented to searchers in the SERP's, both web or images. Where the the lower click number, 700 clicks, represents the actual to the page on all keywords, and the clicks on the keyword Washington DC, 3200 clicks, represents the clicks on the image where those folks stay at Google, but only see the larger image as it was
What do you think..? Please let me know down here in the comments...
Made it this far down, why not share it with a Tweet: Tweet
After last weeks post about the local tree houses in the Google SERP's, I came across the local sitelinks for our brand term (thanks to my neighbor colleague who was asking about the difference between the paid and organic sitelinks). When I do a search for the brand term Airbnb here in San Francisco, I get a number of local pages on Airbnb as sitelinks. You see a link to the SF city page and a link to listings in downtown San Francisco
Taking this same location based search to a smaller city in the US, but a very hospitable one, Tampa (which came out of our study; Airbnb’s Hospitality Index: America’s Most Hospitable Cities), you see again local sitelinks, but the anchor text is focussed on the room type like; house & Apartment.
Going to try one more; a popular summer destination for Vacation rentals in Myrtle Beach; the sitelinks for keyword Airbnb change again into more local site links with specific anchor text; North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach MYR. Just one of these does not have a localized anchor text; Apartment.
I tried to see if the local sitelinks are a travel vertical phenomenon. None of the travel sites I tried, I was able to replicate city level sitelinks based on the searcher location. The only website I was able to replicate this for, was for YELP:
Localized Sitelinks, Is this Good for Users?
A standard answer for any change made by Google is: It's good for users. It's questionable how useful these localized sitelinks really are for users. As I live in San Francisco, it's actually not really good for my experience to showcase San Francisco Airbnb pages, unless you would like to become a host on Airbnb.
My hypothesis is: Google is trying to become a mobile first company, where location of the user is becoming pre-dominantly important. Only if this is true, the localized San Francisco sitelinks make sense, as I might be looking for a place to stay in the city where I do a search on my smartphone!
For a long time, I've been thinking in what a company like Google could morph into. Just think about what you could do with the assets they have, large data centers for data storage/processing. The most visited websites in the world, the most popular smart phone operating system, Google analytics being used by a large number of webmasters and self driving cars; all of these products can collect data of our daily habits, which websites we visit and where we travel. What triggered me to write this blog post was a thread on Threadwatch by Joe Hall;
If you haven't heard of Google Now yet, you really should take a look at it....a serious look at it....This mobile app/platform tracks your movements and activities to act as a personal assistant of sorts through out the day. So for example if every day you take the same route to work, Google Now can give you a weather report for that route automatically. Sounds neat right? Yes, if you are willing to hand over your location data, personal habits, and daily routine to the worlds largest advertising platform.....yes that's real neat! And now as Barry Schwartz points out, Google Now can now show your boss your exact location.
The most interesting to me is that it integrates with Google+ Locations and let's you see when your employees or co-workers get to work, leave work, get home and so forth. It can also notify you when your kids leave school or get to school.
If you ask me, this is all just way to much. I mean seriously when are we going to draw the line on our personal privacy just so we can have a fun gadget????
Now let me paint a scenario what I've been thinking about.
- You're driving in your self driving car for your commute to work every day, while you work or read on your Chrome book.
- Suddenly, your car gives you a warning the car needs gas
- You give the car the approval to find the nearest/best gas station
Sounds about right, the car would plan the best route to a gas station you can fill up your car, and continue the drive home. But here comes the conflict of interest in play, while Google self driving car would like to take you from A to B, in either the fastest route or the most economical route, based on the premise of shareholder maximization, the car could decide on a different plan without even informing you.
Google is a profit maximization company, where the revenue is driven by advertising budgets. What if a gas station which is not on a convenient route for commuters to get to is willing to pay x$ for every lead Google brings to their pump. The car could make a decision that it's in Google's shareholders best interest to skip the cheaper gas from the station right next to the road, in favor of the gas station willing to pay a kick back on the gas it sells through the Google advertising program.
Now suddenly Google will have a giant new revenue stream from all kind of offline stores, services and gas stations just based on the automatic optimization for revenue maximization. How's that for a business model. And with your Android or Chrome book, and Google wallet, you did not even notice you were ripped off, as you never saw the money leaving your wallet!
Suddenly, the self driving cars, the Android push and the acquisition of Waze all make sense, right?
As our Airbnb office is in the same block as the Pinterest office, and a former colleague of mine started working there just recently, it's fairly easy to pop-in and check out their office. Happy to report the Pinterest office is like their product, fun and full with interesting design or DIY projects. Like this giant Lego Pinterest board with a Pinterest logo in Lego.
How are you sharing great content online with people on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter? Automatic sharing through social media can be annoying for your followers IF you don't curate what goes on your feed. First off, I hate the rapid fire sharing some people do, why share 12 posts in just 20 seconds? I hate if you share every post of a certain blog, without even reading it, even the ones that don't make any sense whatsoever! Over the last couple of months, the I've been trying out new ways to streamline my work, my life and the workflow that comes at me on a daily basis. After turning myself into a San Francisco Hipster, starting a new job at Airbnb with the new ways of being productive and GSD, I was looking for ways to continue to share great content. Sharing the content in a way which would not turn off those following me, while being able to curate the stuff that is being shared.
Automated Sharing of Curated Content
The system below here was thought out and created over the course of the last couple of months, where I've been using the content discovery, reading and automated tweeting through Flipboard/Zeit, Pocket and Buffer since last year September. IFTTT is the heart of the system. If This Than That recipes can help you manage the different connection you need to set up between the different tools outlined below here. A number of the IFTTT Recipes I use in this setup are embedded in throughout this post for you convenience.
The different steps to build this automated sharing system for curated content are:
- Use Flipboard to push content into your Pocket app with the easy sharing functionality. More on this below.
- Similarly use Zeit to discover new content on specific topics you are interested in, and push these to your Pocket app for easy reading when you have the time
- Set up simple or advanced RSS feeds, and have the content automatically delivered into your Pocket with an IFTTT recipe
- Set up an IFTTT recipe to grab all your archived articles in Pocket
- All archived articles are pushed into your BufferApp to be automatically shared
- Buffer schedules the tweets according to the schedule you have set up
- Another IFTTT recipe grabs all the buffered tweets, and pushes these into a running log in a Google-doc on GDrive
- If you really would like to push all the content also on your GooglePlus page, you could hook up the IFTTT recipe in 4 to your Hootsuite, which is able to update your GooglePlus page
3 Internet Tools to Stitch the Web Together
1) IFTTT; IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: If This Than That. The IFTTT App could be the future how the Internet of Things will get stitched together, which might be why the the VC firm Andreessen-Horowitz invested in the company. Other than that I love their service, I really like their socks. I've started to connect the different apps I use online, and now I've even started to use IFTTT for the connections between my iPhone and the apps or devices offline. This way I can switch the lights next to my bed on-or-off through the IFTTT App using the WeMo light switch.
2) GetPocket; Pocket is the way I read stuff which I find online. It's my vault to anything that I come across. Which means pretty much I don't read anything in a browser anymore, as Pocket has dedicated apps for the iPad, the iPhone and the laptop OS. I can easily put content in my Pocket, and read pull up the app when I'm standing in line somewhere. The apps are syncing the content across the different devices, which makes it easy to always keep the list current. With the simple browser bookmarklet, you can even easier put webpages in your pocket to read later. Furthermore the browser bookmarklet adds a easy to add to your pocket link on sites like HackerNews. So when you scan an articles headline, it just takes one click to add to your reading list.
3) BufferApp; Getting tired of the rapid fire tweeting from your friends. Why do people think it's a good idea to send 10 tweets within 1 minute with the content they find interesting to read? Why not spread it over the course of the day? If you agree, then Buffer is your friend. It allows you to spread the scheduled tweets according to a pre-determined schedule. You can hook up your Bit.ly URL shortner, so that the clicks on the tweets are all recorded in one place. Buffer also has its own analytics for Mentions, Retweets and favorites. Here you can see who of your followers has interacted with your tweets. One thing I would like to see from Buffer, is to make these analytics downloadable. These three allow me to optimize the stuff that I read, organize the way I share the most interesting articles with the people I connect with online through Twitter and archive the content I've read over time for future input in posts or analysis.
Where I Find Good Content
1) Zite; the interactive magazine for your iPad and iPhone has slowly become the number one choice for me to discover new content on a topic. Just recently I picked up an interest for 3D printing, where I can easily set up a new interest within Zite to provide me with content. The App becomes smarter based on the way you interact with it's content. And with an easy click of one of the sharing links, you can put a new article you like into your Pocket App. Back in 2011 CNN bought the Zite app, and made it its way to capture data how people interact with the news. Smart move IMHO.
2) Flipboard; for a long time, I was using Flipboard to keep up to date with the news. Now that I have Zite, I primarily use Flipboard to keep current of what my Twitter gang is sharing. Just like with Zite, the articles being shared by the people I follow are presented in a beautiful magazine format, with easy sharing functionality to my Pocket app, to keep my reading list topped off. Check out how easy it is for me to add this post originally shared by Eventup Twitter account, to my Pocket:
3) RSS Feeds; With RSS feeds you can track some great stuff, if you know how to create the right RSS. Obviously, I just can get the latest new blog posts from some of my favorite blogs delivered into any reader, but what better to actually use the system here to get content delivered from any RSS feed into my Pocket reader. Right, you can do that with an IFTTT recipe. Like I have every new blogpost from Copyblogger send directly to my Pocket for later consumption. With some advanced search operators, you can get the latest of your favorite NYTimes newsgraphics delivered straight into your Pocket for sharing. I posted the recipe below here for your convenience. This way, your pocket is turning into a true substitute for the late Google Reader.
Where do I Publish these Content Gems
1) Twitter; My number one social tool is still Twitter. I can't keep myself from not using it, and interact in 140 characters max with the people I follow and who follow me. A quick jump in and out of the stream can give you some great insights, share some good content or keep up with a relationship of one of your industry peers. The way I share the content on Twitter has changed, where I now let Buffer tweet for me the list of blog posts I really liked.
2) Google Plus; There is a big misunderstanding of what Google+ really is, and if people us it. If your friends are not there, and you don't interact yourself with people on Google +, I can understand it seems like a ghost town. Hearing how many active users there are on Google + makes for a lot of eye rolls. However, there are some lively communities on Google Plus, especially the photography vertical is pretty active. No wonder if you know how much marketing Google+ is doing to keep these photographers on the platform. BTW, did you know all the pictures you upload on Google plus have a big chance to be used by Google in their products like Hotel Finder..! Yeah, you should really read the Terms & Conditions before you start uploading your whole portfolio.
3) GDrive; to keep track of what I've shared, I've hooked up the Buffer stream to Google Drive with a recipe of IFTTT. This way, I keep a running log of all the tweets Buffer has placed on my stream, with the timestamp when the tweet was scheduled and when it actually was tweeted, the text and the bit.ly url. Having the running log in a Google Doc, will allow you to analyze the tweets over time, and easily create list posts based on keywords. Just export the Google doc in excel, put some filters on it, and search for tweets containing your target keyword.
The IFTTT recipes you would need:
As an extra added bonus to the system, you could even start pushing those articles you really liked to your Evernote. Just use this IFTTT recipe which allows the system to pull the article from Pocket when you favorited it, into your Evernote.
Is it just me, or do we see more and more blog posts being published questioning the good, the bad and the evil of Google? Where the Mountain View search company has been a long time darling for so many, where they couldn't do any evil, I see more critical posts about Google these days than any other company in our space. It's like Google has become the Microsoft of the decade!
Today, Martin MacDonald published a long article around the
account management sales teams at Google which make critical mistakes, and even break Google's own terms and conditions. Followed up by Barry Adams at StateofSearch, with even more explanation what is wrong at Google for such a long time already. Read both of these here: #GoogleGate, Can you trust Google? and Google Account Manager Caught Breaking Terms of Service on Voicemail. Although these two describe the paid pat of the house at Google, more posts are describing the way Google is handling the organic results. Here described by Michael Gray; How Google Continues to Kill Organic Results. Or here, where it is described Google Tells Court You Cannot Expect Privacy When Sending Messages to Gmail by Consumer Watchdog. And when it comes to a trial, because Google was spying on UK users in Safari, Google Lawyers just request the trial will be moved to the US... Guess why they would request this..? Argument; Google cannot be held accountable under UK privacy laws.
Google believes that U.K. privacy laws do not apply to the company, and so British consumers that want to take the tech giant to court are facing a losing battle, or should book their tickets to the United States.
The last couple of weeks, the tweets I shared which got the most clicks and retweets were tweets critical about the Google practices described in posts like these mentioned above.
Let's just look at another example of Google hypocrisy. Link schemes and paid links... The war on links which is changing the true nature of how the Internet works.
- Guest posts, No PageRank for You
- Widgets, No PageRank for You
- PR messages, No PageRank for You
- Blogger Reviews, No PageRank for You
Google is beginning to resemble a character of one of my favorite shows; Seinfeld's The Soup Nazi.
Where we cannot manipulate search rankings with any link we get for our websites as stated in the Webmaster guidelines;
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
Google is pushing the work downstream to the webmaster to police their backlink profile, which results in a flood of link removal requests. Isn't it Google's job to optimize their algorithm for relevance? Why are the webmasters put to work to put a no-follow on all those links. Majority of mom-n-pop webmasters don't even know what a no-follow link is!
So if all those links are so evil for Google's search algorithm, where we as webmasters are supposed to no-follow all the links, why is Google still taking ads on search queries like these below here? Soon we will be begging for one more Soup, but there is No Soup for You..!
Is it just me, or do we see more and more blog posts being published questioning the good, the bad and the evil of Google? What do you think?
With my new found love for tree houses, I just found myself a new favorite query to check out changes in the search results. Where I used to try stuff like Canon Digital Camera or Diaper Bag to stay aware of the latest changes in e-commerce SERP's, I now want to know what's happening in the latest adventure and vacation rental space. And what better to close off the week with some great rich snippets on Airbnb tree houses at the top of the Google Search results;
Given that Google has automatic IP targeting, I know I see the most relevant results for my area. No wonder the list with San Francisco tree houses is ranking so high, with the other two tree houses around it, one just outside of San Francisco, and one tree house right here in San Francisco, in The Mission. So as curious as I would be, I was wondering if I would see the same results as somebody with the location set to New York. See screenshot below; Yep, as the location is included in the query, we see the same listings from Airbnb at the top of the search results.
Now let's see how my posse in Amsterdam sees this specific search in their version of Google.com. Let's see if we can change the location to Amsterdam... Nope, on Google.com, you can only set your location to places within the US zip code system..
So what would happen if you would exclude the keyword "San Francisco" from the query? We don't see any Airbnb tree houses anymore for the people in New York. WTF, why can't the folks in the Big Apple enjoy an adventurous night in a tree house? Time to get some tree houses build in Central Park...
Doing that exact same search with the location set to San Francisco, the Treehouse above San Francisco, which is the one I stayed at in January, pop-ups again on #2 for me, with the rich video snippet. I can live with that! Just would love to see more tree houses on Airbnb in general, as I made a promise to the kids to go to a different tree house every year...! Time to work on a better ranking for our wishlist of tree houses.
I always wondered when people are inclined to share my posts here with their followers on Twitter. Is that right after the first paragraph or is it after reading the whole piece. Now, I don't believe my writing is that inspiring that a lot of people would share it instantly, but a little test is easy to set up. So, with the post I published last Friday, Will you Work for Free, I conducted a little test. In the post there are two twitter buttons placed within the content. One right after the first paragraph, the second after the whole post. As you can configure the Twitter button manually here, you can get creative. Both of these have different text which would be tweeted out. Check this out, here you see the screenshots of the first and the second twitter button in the post:
Now, off to the results. What works better, a Twitter button right up there after the 1st paragraph, or one after the full post?
Apparently, for my style of writing, my audience and the length of the post, I'm better off by relying on people to share the post with their Twitter followers right after the first paragraph than the whole post. 8 people shared the post using the first Twitter button, while only 5 people used the twitter button at the bottom of the page to share it. (see screenshots below)
So these results are far from what you could expect on any blog post, however, it might give you an idea on how to test how likely your audience is willing to share your content with their followers. If you don't test your way into a viral factor sharing, why you keep trying to publish content..?