Google Offers Virtual Tours of Its Data Centers

Google has recently opened the doors (virtually of course) to it’s infamous data centers. Now you can see where your bits, bytes and gigabytes are traveling when you search for something on Google.com, watch a YouTube Video or send an email through Gmail.
From the virtual tour:

When you’re on a Google website (like right now), you’re accessing one of the most powerful server networks in the known Universe. But what does that actually look like? Here’s your chance to see inside what we’re calling the physical Internet.

The virtual tours were unveiled on Wednesday and feature images from Google’s data centers in the United States, Finland, and Belgium. Later Google’s Street View will share virtual tours through their data center in North Carolina.

This is a great chance to see what’s behind Google’s  curtain and whoever coined the analogy that the internet is series of pipes.. Well guess what, at Google it is!

Check it out! Google Data Centers

Google Data Center Pipes

89% of Paid Search Traffic is Not Replaced by Organic Search

A Google Study Says: 89% of Traffic Generated by Search Ads is Not Replaced by Organic Search:

Um isn’t that obvious??

I just read a post by Avinash Kaushik over on Google+ (Yep I’m on Google+ as well: Bryan Coe), about the use of PPC versus Organic Search. He was specifically talking about a study by Google where they found Studies Show Search Ads Drive 89% Incremental Traffic. Basically what the study is saying is that if you are running PPC ads and you stop them, you will see an 89% drop in traffic. By “overall” they mean the combination of clicks due to organic search results and PPC ads.

ppc management one piece of the puzzleIn my opinion this is a trivial study? Because if you are already ranking very well for keywords organically (ie #1 or maybe #2), would you target them with PPC? My guess is no. Google and others have done studies to show how quickly the percentage of clicks drops as you go further down the list.

So, by using PPC with keywords for which you are unable to grab the top spots, you can augment your traffic. And let’s face it, for most sites the list of keywords where you rank #1 is much smaller than the list you would like to target.

Therefore, it seems to me quite obvious that your over all clicks would be greatly reduced when ads are paused.

Avinash pointed out that the study was structured to show the empirical data behind my assumption that advertisers are not targeting keywords for which they are ranking well organically.

But really the study does not address this. It only makes an assumption about the “Incremental Ad Clicks” or IAC being low when advertisers use keywords in their PPC list where they are also ranking highly organically.

“A low value for IAC may occur when the paid and organic results are both similar and in close proximity to each other on the search results page. This increases the likelihood of a user clicking on an organic result as opposed to a paid result.”

The study would be more accurate if it looked only at these keywords. Comparing PPC keywords that you pay to be in the top positions to all keywords regardless of where they rank organically skews the data towards a dramatic conclusion. I think the idea that removing your PPC ads is going to give an 89% drop in clicks is a shock factor.

To put it simply, if you are going to use the PPC you need to evaluate the cost of buying a click vs. the profit it gains. If you are pay too high a price for your clicks then it is not a profitable model. Plus, if you are ranking well for certain keywords, you probably don’t want to target them with PPC.

Now, what goes into that evaluation? You can use this study to evaluate keywords that you are ranking highly for organically compared to the same keywords that you are paying to get a high ranking via PPC. For keywords that are not doing as well organically or maybe that are not on the radar at all on the organic side, then you need to look more directly at the cost per click as apposed to the value of the click.

The main point is that using PPC Advertising can do a great job to augment your organic search, but you have to evaluate if it is the best value for your company.

Microsoft’s Bing Caught Copying From Rival Google

The picture says it all, but if you didn’t here the news. Google caught Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, scraping results from their site for their results pages. When they became suspicious they used a series of falsified entries in their entries and sure enough, they showed up on Bing too! Read More to see how they tested it.

bing-powered by google

Microsoft & Facebook Team up to Make Search More Social – 4 Things You Should Know

Recently Microsoft has been creating relationships that will give their search engine Bing more market share. The deal with Yahoo and Bing that was announced earlier this year, went into effect recently and is a major consolidation of the search industry. Next up Facebook.

The idea is to bring what your friends “like” on Facebook and sites using Facebook’s open graph to search results. So, when you use Bing to search for a topic in news, articles that your friends “like” through Facebook might show up with their names and profile picture. This will also include movies, cafes, restaurants, etc. Microsoft has also added Facebook profiles to their people search. All of this should help Bing gain more ground in the search engine world. Even though Microsoft is providing search technology for Yahoo the two companies are still making their own decisions about how to display the results.

With this partnership the web is becoming more and more connected. Here a four things you should know.

1. Search is evolving. Google become the powerhouse it is today by creating new technology that did a much better job at deciphering what the most relevant results for users. Using their algorithms and spiders they are able to evaluate large amounts of websites and data to do this. Now with the Facebook Microsoft partnership, Bing will be able to show results that your trusted friends believe are good. When it comes to social, Google is playing catch up.

2. Customer experience will be king. Google’s mantra has always been “content is king”. Well, it is still important, but companies will not be able to stop there they will need to make sure that customer have a good experience with their brand. Now you won’t even have to ask your friends their opinions will simply show up in Bing search results.

3. Search and Social will continue to merge. We are seeing this already, but it will become more apparent that you can no longer think of search/SEO and Social Media as two separate things.

4. We will all need to be master of our domain. Facebook has continues to be under scrutiny with their privacy and individuals ability to set their own Facebook privacy settings. Both Microsoft and Facebook have assured that users will still have control over what Facebook shares with Bing, but they have to actually know how to an make the effort to manage these settings.

A Story About the Catalyst Code

I read this book sometime ago, but was reminded of it recently when talking with a client. I was reminded of it again today when the same client told me he had taken my advice and read it! He pointed to his desk and said “can’t you see all my notes?” On his desk were stacks of notes, diagrams, printouts and calculations and he I could see his renewed belief in online advertising and interactive marketing.

My client, we’ll call him Steve (not his real name), is part owner of a staffing firm. They have a relatively simple business model. They have a range of companies as clients and they provide qualified people for these companies to hire. This could be for temporary positions, temp to hire or recruiting for permanent positions. Steve has been one of my clients for some time now, we help them with optimizing their website, some PayPerClick advertising, social media, website as well as other things.

His company has been around for about 20 years and has had the same challenges as many companies in staffing of that age. Speaking of age Steve is in his forties and although very progressive didn’t grow up with the internet like many younger generations. So, even though Steve and I have a pretty good relationship and he respects my opinion and ability, for a long time he didn’t have the buy in to really move forward and make online marketing a priority.

We have been monitoring and evaluating the analytics on Steve’s company website and slowly Steve saw the website producing job orders (Job order = companies requesting candidates they need to staff positions). Even without putting much effort into to the website.

You’re probably now wondering what this has to do with the book the Catalyst Code. Well, there were a few events working together here, but let me start by explaining a bit about the book. The main theme of the book is creating a business model that is two sided. On one side you have a group that has something of value and on the other side you have a group that wants the product, service or thing of value. The idea is to position your company in the middle as the vessel or catalyst that brings the two groups together.

There are some great examples of this in the web companies Amazon, eBay and Google. These examples are maybe some of the easiest to understand the concept and possibly the best example is eBay. Most people understand eBay’s model. On one side you have people who want to sell stuff and make a bit of money and on the other side are people who want to buy stuff at a good price. Put eBay in the middle to make it happen and you have a two sided business with eBay as the catalyst.

“How does this apply to Steve and the staffing firm?” You ask. If your not an internet company creating a software platform how do you create a two sided business? Like I said there were a few things working here. Steve saw a sales person that they were paying X amount of dollars that was being outsold by a web presence that was costing a fraction of the cost of the sales person. Now, enter Catalyst Code.

The book gives some good examples of companies much older than the internet itself: Diners Club, Visa/Mastercard. For example, Diners Club allowed customers to eat out now and pay for it later. Restaurants who accepted Diners Club knew they would attract those with Diners Club cards and have a guaranteed payment. I think this helps none tech companies understand they can use this model too.

Apply the idea of two business to staffing companies. They have companies that need quality people and they don’t have the time or resources to sift through all resumes they received from posting on a job board like Monster (another catalyst by the way) on one side. Then on the other side quality applicants getting lost in the piles of resumes going to these companies. Suddenly clicks. A staffing agency is a two way business! Is your business two-sided?

What’s the fastest and most efficient way to get to and interact with people. The internet! And in Steve’s case this was shown when comparing the sales person to the web presence. So, how do you take advantage of this? SEO, PayPerClick, Social Media Marketing

Want to read the book? Buy it from Amazon:

Developing a Search Friendly Site (video)

Yesterday I posted about Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. If you learn better by reading check out the guide. If you learn better with videos check out this video to learn the basics of search friendly development beginning to end, including:

  • Using Flash and JavaScript
  • Headings and adding content
  • Using Robot.txt files and sitemaps
  • Engaging the community
  • Plus more!

Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization from Maile Ohye. The video is from last year but still very relevant.

Just Added a Comment to: Healthline Raises $14 Million to Grow Medical Search Engine

There’s an interesting article over on the Search Engine Watch Blog about a new search engine for the medical industry called Healthline. Here’s bit from the post:

“A few weeks ago, I got a chance to speak to Dean Stephens, President & COO of Healthline, about their semantic search engine. Today, Healthline announced that it has raised another $14 million in a third round of financing led by Investor Growth Capital (IGC) and including strategic financing from a joint venture between GE Capital’s Media, Communications & Entertainment business and NBC Universal and Reed Elsevier Ventures.

In collaboration with doctors, Healthline have built a semantic search engine that uses professional medical terminology and taxonomies to organize all the data into a consumer friendly package. Their vision is to connect consumers to anything in the health information space that is publicly available.

The idea for a semantic search index came from physicians’ observations that despite a noble trend towards consumers trying to educate themselves in healthcare via the internet, many found that ‘contextual correctness’ was missing. This led consumers to jump to wrong, and often unnecessarily sinister, conclusions. In turn, this led consumers to demand inappropriate medical treatment. Put another way, despite an information revolution, hypochondria and PageRank still don’t play nice together.
“It would be very difficult to get Yahoo, Bing and Google to work together to create a new type of search engine. If any of them are going to specifically get into the medical field, my guess is they would do it on their own. Actually there is a place for niche search engines, since they can often do a better job than the broader companies, but the trick is to get people to use them. I could also foresee a scenario where one of the big guys buys out Healthline after they mature their technology.”

And my response:

It would be very difficult to get Yahoo, Bing and Google to work together to create a new type of search engine. If any of them are going to specifically get into the medical field, my guess is they would do it on their own. Actually there is a place for niche search engines, since they can often do a better job than the broader companies, but the trick is to get people to use them. I could also foresee a scenario where one of the big guys buys out Healthline after they mature their technology.

Read the full article: Healthline Raises $14 Million to Grow Medical Search Engine

Five Tips for Searching with Google

google logo
Google has a lot of features that you may never have heard about. Here are 5 lesser know ways to Google:

1. Google as a dictionary. If you use the ‘define’ before any English term, Google will quickly give you a definition at the top of the results page.

2. Don’t wait for the six o’clock news Google is your new weatherman. Just type ‘weather’ followed by the zip code or name of a city and you’ll get up to the minute conditions as well as a four day forecast at the top of the result page.

3. Tilde for broader search results. Using the ‘~’ before your search term will deliver pages with the search term a its synonyms.

4. Get more bang for your buck. By using the ‘Preferences’ link, found to the right of the search box on the Google homepage, you can personalize your Google experience. Among other things you can change the standard setting for the number of results shown on each page to 10, 20, 30, or more.

5. Google on the go. From most US mobile phones you can text GOOGL or 46645 with a query and the search giant will message you back with instant answers.

Blackbird e-Solutions Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing