Predicting PageRank Updates

You know predicting the next PageRank update is a bit of fun , you’ve got to do it, as a search marketer it’s the expected thing.

Here’s my prediction – it’s going to take place between March 31st and April 30th – that’s a bit of a cop out really as we all know it’s going to update in that time frame. I suppose if I’m going to get pinned down on when the update is going to take place I will probably go for the end of this month – so updating on or around 30th March.

Google has been updating its PageRank algorithm pretty regularly for the last couple of years, so I suppose it’s fair to say they’ll do the same this time round.

Plus it’s not long since Google did a fairly major update in the shape of getting Google Caffeine out to the masses, so I expect they are going to want to do it sooner rather than later to make sure everything is working as it should do.

I’d be interested to hear if you think the PageRank update will take place in April and what makes you think that?

Pros and cons of changing domains

Every now and then there comes a point in the progression of a business’ online presence that the business outgrows its existing domain.

maybe it’s time for a change of brand, maybe the domain doesn’t reflect the scope the company now faces or maybe the domain needs to be localised to give it better search engine reach.

It’s not so bad it the website doesn’t really work, but imagine how hard that decision is when a domain does work, when a domain is at the top of the search results for search terms that deliver real, converting traffic. Hard decision, but if a new domain will give youeven greater visibility then it’s a decision that needs to be taken.

I strongly believe that only by acting boldly and taking the bull by the horn can you make those great leap forwards – admittedly sometimes it goes wrong and you have to track back and undo as much as possible what you did.

There is likely to be an element of pain to changing a domain. Even if the website is the same and all the correct procedures are followed, such as 301 redirects from all the slugs off the old domain, you’ve got an xml sitemap, you’ve submitted it to Google Webmaster tools, informed Google of the change of domains you’re still likely to have some disruption to the search results in the short term, you may see a drop before the new domain rebounds to the positions previously occupied by the old one.

Although you may get more coverage in the search engines with a new domain, especially if it is keyword rich, you may not see any great increase in organic results.

Can you business afford the downturn on the chance that the organic clicks may increase? Personally, I think it’s always going to be a risk worth taking, however recently I saw a drop of around 8% which lasted for 3 weeks, which was having serious knock on effects to the number of conversions being provided by the website.

Fortunately for that business and site the business was able to take the hit with the knowledge that there business would benefit.

Google Caffeine and The Implications for SEO

Google gets ready to launch Google Caffeine. Caffeine is now active in its first datacentre so it won’t be long until it’s rolled out full time.

It’s exciting times – we’re going to have to figure out all the new set of rules. To be fair it’s about time, it’s been a while since the last main update which (in my opinion) was Google’s Universal Search, which saw more maps, more videos, more product in the search etc.

So what makes the launch of Google Caffeine so important? In short it reflect a shift in the way the internet is being used. It signals the end of the page as being the unit of value that has been the standard since search engines started trawling the net.

With the advent of the datastream we see a new way to cartegorise a form of information.

What’s a stream? Think Facebook and Twitter, those quick successions of posts and responces. There is also a greater focus on localisation as well as a plethora of other fun stuff for us to get our teeth into.

What does this mean for search engine results as we know them? Well probably not a lot to start off with, but over time we’ll begin to see them becomming more and more important and we will probably see the bobbing effect of a system trying to restore the balance as everyone gets in on the act.

I leave you with one last thought. Streams are real time. Imagine if the changes you make to you website have a direct effect on the search results? Wouldn’t that make SEO even more exciting.

Making sure people value seo

SEO is an essential element to the marketing role of most marketing departments in most business. The main problem with SEO is that it’s difficult to measure.

It’s therefore important for anyone carrying out SEO for a client or internally to make sure they scream and shout about what they are doing.

Remember often the changes that you make in seoing a website will take weeks to have any real impact, so it’s important to log every single change that you make to the website – you’ve got to be really anal about it, being able to go back is essential, and sometimes you know what? Even this won’t help because your seo efforts are effected by other factors such as the seo efforts of a rival website, or changes to algorithms.

he other thing is you can be adding 20 relevant pages a day with great content however they’ll probably only get what appears to be a small number of visits, maybe a few a day in some cases – so you’ve got to focus on the overall picture and strategy when talking to the decision makers, after all if you can add 20 really good pages a day to a website and you get a few visits to each the seo team are going to be generating some serious traffic overall in a week.

It’s when the accountants get involved that you have a problem – seoing a weebsite is about the future of that website and the busines, it’s not like ppc were the returns are instant, with seo the returns take months and they are incremental and you’ve got to speculate about the success of a page.

If you focus on the individual aspects of seo too much your decision makers will lose sight of the overall bigger picture and start to devalue the seo your are carrying out for them.

As ever in business, and especially marketing, if it’s going to be done you better make sure you can back it up with data and it’s especially true when managing an seo campaign.

Google’s Conflicting Push to Move Beyond Search

As Google has looked to increase revenues and move beyond being “just a search engine” they have put themselves at the top of the food chain in multiple categories. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, etc. 😉

If you search for books their book search is the result in natural search and when you search for movies they push their iGoogle application in paid search. Every holiday season Google tries to make further inroads in ecommerce by doing things like offering free Checkout services (at launch of Google Checkout), integrating Google Checkout with AdWords ads (and claiming this increases ad CTR by ~ 10%), and promoting Google Base / Google Product Search more aggressively in their navigation and organic search results. Some early Google Checkout users also got free links.

As Google dives into music services a new one-box with links to selected partners will appear at the top of the search results. And as Google makes tie-ins with more software providers you can look for Google to promote Google pack and other such offerings across the spectrum of search results.

Google has tested creating a mortgage marketplace in the UK and LendingTree is suing a business partner because they heard that the company might sell data to Google.

Everything is a beta and everything is a test. And then one day a new competitor appears from nowhere.

At times Google seems unbelievably savvy, but at times they seem unbelievably conflicted. Google claims that searchers are expecting more for advertisers and that advertisers need to start acting more like magazine publishers who publish (and advertise) great featured content. Sounds good, maybe. But then Google launches an AdWords ad translation kit. It is pretty safe to say that if a machine translates your ads in a competitive marketplace you are wasting an awful lot of profit margin.

Google claims to like brands, that brands are how you sort out the cesspool, and to show brands for generic keywords to increase user satisfaction.

But lets look at a recent search result for the eBay brand. Google knows that eBay.com gets a 90%+++ CTR, that the keyword is a trademark, that the keyword is navigational, etc etc etc. And in spite of eBay even bidding on their own brand, this is perhaps the first time Google takes a valuable partner hostage.

If Google claims that they need to show brands on generic search queries to increase user satisfaction then why do they pollute the associated brand search results with irrelevant nonsense? Navigational searches are the easiest ones in the world to get right, and if a site has historically got a 90%+++ click-through rate for a keyword, why would it ever make sense to risk putting a universal search result or a marginally relevant ad above the obvious #1 result?

If people are looking specifically for news when entering a branded 1 word trademarked keyword then surely they would skip past the #1 result for the official site. Sure there is money in promoting apps for eBay, but it seems so counter to Google’s messaging when justifying their algorithmic editorial philosophy elsewhere.

Sourced from SEO Book

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est. 2009

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