Google Gets Personal With “Search, Plus Your World”

This week Google announced major changes to their search results with the launch of ‘Search, plus Your World‘. When I read the blog post I instantly knew this will have a big impact on search engine marketing, particularly organic SEO.

The idea is to make results more personal by including three new elements:

  • Personal Results, which show results unique to the user by including photos and other content from their Google+ circles.
  • Profiles in Search, which enable users to immediately find people they’re close to or might be interested in following.
  • People and Pages, which will help searchers to find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic, and make it easy to follow them with just a few clicks.

As an SEO expert, I have a feeling this could make my job a lot harder as valuable page-one SERP real estate is taken over by users’ personal search results. It will, of course, depend on user take-up and whether people are willing to change their search habits.

If you’re actively doing SEO for your website, these changes will inevitably have an impact on what you should be doing. For a start, it seems obvious that the number of ‘pluses’ your content receives will make it more likely it’s returned in other people’s search results.

The emphasis in Google’s search algorithms is definitely shifting towards social signals, but backlinks will still be important for the foreseeable future. So, from an SEO point of view, my advice is to continue to create top quality unique content, that will both encourage people to ‘plus’ your pages and at the same time improve your back link profile. It’s going to be an interesting few months seeing how ‘Search plus Your World’ will really affect the way people search.

New Year’s Resolution: Learn To Code

It’s that time of year again, so have you made any new year’s resolutions yet? If not, what about learning how to code JavaScript? If you’ve never coded before, JavaScript is a great place to start and having at least some knowledge of code is a big advantage for anyone interested in online marketing.

Learn to code with Codecademy

Whether it’s a new year’s resoultion or not, there’s a great website that helps you to learn JavaScript for free. Codecademy offers interactive training for aspiring JavaScript coders and will be adding Python and Ruby courses in the near future.

If you sign up for the free courses at Codecademy, you’ll be in good company. Mayor Bloomberg recently tweeted that he is enrolling in their courses. So what are waiting for? Make 2012 they year you learn how to code – sign up for free at Codecademy.

A Google a Day

Fans of trivia quizzes and Steve Wright-style factoids will enjoy playing A Google a Day. Each day Google runs a trivia puzzle challenge. The aim is to improve your Googling skills. For example, the question for Sunday December 4th was: “Today you turned 35 on earth. How old would you be on Earth’s twin planet? (Disregard the extra days from leap years.)”

You can dive straight in and start searching for the answer yourself or ask for a hint. Here’s Google’s solution: “Search [Earth’s twin] to find that Venus is often called this. An Earth year is 365 days. Search [Venus year] and learn that its year is 224.7 days. Use Google to multiply [35 * 365] to learn that you’ve lived 12,775 Earth days. Divide 12,775 by 224.7 to discover your age on Venus: 56.86 years. But you’d look great for your age!”

Google has even created Deja Google, “a wormhole inspired time machine that searches the Internet as it existed before the game began”. This prevents your searches from turning up any recent blog posts that already have the answer and spoiling your fun.

 

Official Google Twitter Accounts

Anyone interested in search engine marketing is always looking for information “straight from the horse’s mouth” – the ‘horse’, of course, being Google. It’s easy to get regular updates from numerous product teams at Google thanks to their extensive list of Twitter feeds. I’ve been following a couple of their feeds for a while (e.g. @google and @adwords), but I had no idea there were so many official Google feeds until I stumbled across their Twitter Directory. I recommend anyone interested in search, or any Google product for that matter, to have a browse through the directory and see what’s worth following.

Google Twitter Directory

New Site Explorer From Majestic SEO

I’ve been taking a look at Majestic SEO’s new Site Explorer tool. First impressions are good, and it seems like a worthy rival to Open Site Explorer from SEOMoz.

The summary page is nicely laid out giving a quick overview of backlinks to the domain you’re analysing. You can also drill down to view Top Backlinks, Referring Domains and Top Pages. There’s probably not quite as much information available as there is in the SEOMoz offering, but Majestic also offer free backlink reports for domains that you control. Both companies offer paid-for options that give you access to more link data than you can see in the free versions. Majestic’s subscriptions start at £29.95 (GBP) compared to $99 (USD) at SEOMoz.

These tools are extremely useful for in-depth backlink analysis. Since Yahoo! Site Explorer closed its API service in December 2010, many SEO pros who have grown to love the Yahoo! tool, are fearful its days are numbered. So it’s good to see other developers stepping up to fill this potential whole in the market.

You can read more about Majestic’s Site Explorer on their blog.

A New Home Page For Twitter

In a recent blog post, Twitter has announced a new home page, which aims to make the value of Twitter more obvious to new users visiting the site for the first time.

The new home page features more dynamic content, showing a sample of “who’s here”, what people are tweeting about and the major trending topics. The home page features algorithmically selected top tweets, which are refreshed every few seconds. The trending topics are displayed scrolling horizontally, which allows more topics to be displayed in less screen real estate.

The motivation for the changes is summed up in this quote:

“All of our recent changes embrace the notion that Twitter is not just for status updates anymore. It’s a network where information is exchanged and consumed at a rapid clip every second of the day.”

The blog post states that Twitter will keep trying out new ideas on the home page, which will help users more easily discover who and what they can find on Twitter, and how they can filter and personalise the information.

The new homepage builds on a series of changes started last year, which brought search and trending topics to the fore.

I just read a great post by WPBizGuru.

News of Michael Jackson’s Death Crashes Twitter

Michael JacksonThe importance of Twitter as a medium for breaking news is confirmed tonight following the sad reports of the death of Michael Jackson. As I write this, AP has just confirmed that Jackson has died due to cardiac arrest. But I was first aware of the story about two hours ago when ‘Michael Jackson’ was the #1 trending topic on Twitter. This was at least an hour before the story appeared on any ‘traditional’ news outlets on the web.

Right now Twitter is completely down – I can’t even get the Fail Whale. This sad news story, demontsrates the importance of Twitter as a medium for breaking news. It appears millions of people are turning to Twitter for the latest news – and, more importantly, to share their thoughts. The problem is, that Twitter’s temperamental infrastructure seems to be creaking under the pressure.

My del.icio.us Bookmarks For 20 June 2009

My del.icio.us Bookmarks For 18 June 2009

  • Daily trivia quiz on Twitter. Answer the questions and score points. See your Twitter profile in the Leaderboard!

My del.icio.us Bookmarks For 20 April 2008