July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
It doesn’t quite offer all of the functionality of the late, lamented Yahoo Site Explorer, but Bing Links Explorer gives fans of the free tool lots of reasons to rejoice. If you have a Bing Webmaster Tools account, you can access the features of this new service right now.
If you don’t have such an account, you can sign up for one at http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster; you’ll need a Windows Live ID, which is free to set up. Now if you’ve never used Yahoo Site Explorer, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Before it was closed, YSE was perhaps the only free tool you could use to examine the backlinks accumulated by websites other than your own…including your competitors. It provided other functions as well, that in many cases you’d have to pay for elsewhere.
Sujan Patel offers a list of Bing Links Explorer’s features, and explains how to use them for research and competitive intelligence. If you like to discover these things for yourself, fire up Bing Webmaster Tools, and then go to the “Diagnostic Tools” menu located on the left-hand sidebar to find and access the “Links Explorer” feature.
You can start playing with Bing Links Explorer by entering the URL you want to investigate in the first search field. You can enter a root domain or a sub-page – and best of all, it doesn’t even need to be on your site! The tool will return a condensed list of external links going to that URL, one per linking website. But if you want more information, you can apply various filters to this search.
Say you own examplesite.com and bloggerinyourfield.com has reviewed a few of your products. Want to see all of the backlinks he’s given you? Enter his URL into the “Filter by site” option.
Worried that your anchor text isn’t varied enough to look natural? You can use the search field for anchor text. Just put specific versions of the anchor text you use in this field and click to re-run the search.
Do you want to check the internal link network of a site? Use the “Source” filter to change your options. By default, Bing Links Explorer returns external links when you enter a URL, but you can tell it to deliver external links, or both kinds of links.
I haven’t covered all of the features here; I figure I might as well leave you a few to discover on your own. But I think you can already see the potential. The simplest, most obvious thing you can do is put in your competitor’s website and track down all of his external links. As an example, Patel suggested that Amazon might want to find out which websites link to Rackspace – like Amazon, a big name in the cloud storage space. In this example, sites that link to Rackspace might be link building candidates for Amazon. “After all, you link to our competitor,” Amazon might say; “why not link to us?” (You can tell why I’m not in sales!).
The best part, of course, is that you can get all of this competitive intelligence for free. Have you started using Bing Links Explorer? What do you plan to do with it? Please share in the comments below!
July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
I want to keep this post as short and actionable as possible; do you have any tools that do just one thing really well? You know the kind I mean, those plugins and hack projects that you may only use once a year but when you do use them, you really appreciate them.
I’ve gathered a bunch of these (some I use everyday) and I want to share them with the community. Could I ask a favour though? If you have similar tricks, hacks, plugins or bookmarklets, could you leave a comment and share it with everyone? This could then turn this average list into an epic list that’s been built by the SEOmoz community and we can all come back to and reference in the future. Do we have a deal? Ok great, first things first though, a bit of a disclaimer; a lot of the tips below you may have heard of before, but if everyone who reads this post gets just one or two actionable tips I think it’s been worthwhile.
Let me know your favourites and don’t forget to share your tools in the comments.
Knowing how to use things like import XML can be a massive time saver but there’s a learning curve to get really good at it. This plugin for Chrome is a great tool to quickly scrape any elements you want and automatically put them into a Google doc. I use this a lot for scraping lists of websites or headings on a page. It’s super simple to use, just right click on what you want to scrape and off you go. Get it here
Use Text to Columns for extracting Root Domains
Ever have a list of backlink URLs that you just want to extract the root domain from? The Excel text to columns feature makes this easy.
Select the column that has the URLs, go to “Data” in the menu and click on the text to columns button as shown below.
Instead of the default tab option select the custom option and add a “/”. Click finish and you’ll have a list of the root domains. I highly recommend going through the Distilled Excel for SEO guide if you haven’t already which shows you how to do this and more.
If you have a kindle you’ll love this plugin that lets you send any webpage you are reading to your Kindle. I use this to help keep up to date on all the latest SEO news. Before leaving the office I’ll visit a few of my favourite SEO blogs and send a bunch of posts to my Kindle for reading on the tube.
Want test rich snippet markup? This bookmarklet form AJ Kohn lets you quickly use the Google rich snippets testing tool.
I can’t tell how many times this tool has saved me. If you use gmail go into the labs section and enable the undo send feature. See here for more details
The following formula will allow you to search for a letter word or number within a string:
Combined with filters, this can be really useful for categorising keyword groups, type of links or site structures. Just replace the “filtertext” with whatever you want to look for.
I love this tool; Install this plugin and if you are on a page that has a canonical tag on it, a little blue icon will show up in the address bar as shown below:
Jing is the tool I used to take and annotate all of the screenshots for this blog post. It’s a free desk tool that allows you to instantly take a screenshot or short video and share it with colleagues. When you click copy, it uploads then automatically copies the sharable url to your clipboard meaning you just need to paste the link to wherever or whoever you want to share it with. Get it now.
I use this all the time when checking guest post or press coverage. Rather than going to each website one by one, I copy all the URLs, dump them into this tool and press go. Each site will then be opened in a new tab.
Add the following code as a bookmarklet to quickly check the Google cache of the page you are on:
The maximum number of keywords (or anything else) you can view or export in Google Analytics is 500 but you can change this by editing the URL in the address bar. When you select 500, the URL will end in:
It’s no surprise that the 500 is the number of keywords, just change that to whatever number you want and hit export.
The more I use this tool the more I love it. This does exactly as you would think, it adds a send and archive button next to the regular send button making clearing out your inbox that little bit faster. This is another labs feature which you can read about here.
This is the fastest way I know to get some quick and dirty long-tail keyword research. If you’ve never used it before, Ubersuggest basically makes use of the Google suggest feature. You input a word and it will enter a letter in front of it to give you a list of hundreds of new combinations, you can then export these, dump them into the Google keyword tool to get search volume. There are normally one or two gems in there.
That’s it for now, thanks for reading and I look forward to reading the comments, give me a shout on twitter if you have any questions: @CraigBradford
July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
After much excitement and 150 entries for community speakers at MozCon, I’m happy to announce that we’ve chosen four amazing people to speak at MozCon 2012!
Darren Shaw from White Spark speaking about local optimization
Fabio Ricotta from Mestre SEO speaking about SEO for e-commerce
Jeff McRitchie from MyBinding speaking about creating professional video on a budget
Dana Lookadoo from Yo! Yo! SEO speaking about structure social sharing
Thank you so much to everyone who submitted pitches. There were many super fabulous ones, and it was a very hard choice. I highly suggest writing a YouMoz post if you’re still interested in sharing with the SEOmoz community.
Congratulations again to our speakers. See you all at MozCon!
July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Aleyda Solis: Links still matter a lot despite of other signals, such as social-related factors which importance is still too low in comparison to links. Google has relied in links up to now to identify popularity and cannot simply forget about them from one day to another.
Nonetheless, Google also knows links can be easily manipulated and is having a hard time effectively assessing them lately so it’s increasingly important that Google builds alternative mechanisms to identify the “real” popularity of information, that shouldn’t be absolute, but relative to each user.
This is the idea with the Knowledge Graph, Schema, Author Rank, and Google+, and we’ve just started to see the real shift.
AJ Kohn: Links are (and will be) a huge part of how Google understands trust and authority. The link graph had gotten rickety, in large part because the motivation to link was for SEO benefit. By measuring the link graph, Google ultimately changed it.
What I think we’re seeing now is a way for Google to understand whether that link is ‘organic’ or ‘inorganic.’ They’re really only interested in the organic link graph. Better identification methods, the addition of social signals, and, down the road, authorship can all help to mend and improve the link graph, not get rid of it.
Rhea Drysdale: Links are still incredibly important, we just have more precautions to take and patterns to avoid. It’s further proof that we need to diversify link building efforts, focus on building brands (not rankings), and become less reliant on Google for traffic.
When it comes to the evolution of Google, I think we should be less worried about the traditional SERPs and more concerned with personalization. That’s where we’re seeing Author Rank and the Social Graph have the strongest effect.
When every search returns personalized results, we have to stop clinging to old metrics and reporting methods and develop a new standard for success.
Cyrus Shepard: Instead of links, social metrics, and author rank, we might instead look at the situation in terms of popularity, relevance, and authority – 3 metrics which the search engines will continue to use, no matter what form they take.
Popularity used to mean links solely; now it means a mixture of other signals which may be more natural. Google’s evolution beyond links is forcing SEOs to work more like true marketers across all online channels. It’s harder now to fake popularity, relevance, and authority – and that’s a good thing.
Mike King: Well, first I see Author Rank and the Social Graph as the same thing. Author Rank is basically a way to apply authority to the Social Graph much like PageRank is a way to apply authority to the Link Graph. In any event, links will never be obsolete simply because no one is going to tweet about “diarrhea medicine” or any other number of topics that pages will continue to need to be ranked for. Social signals may not be so powerful right now, but as Google gets better at connecting people to their content, you will definitely see a sliding scale of link value being passed based on how authoritative their data model appears for a given topic across Google’s ecosystem.
What seems sure is that now, on the one hand, user experience and, on the other, user involvement have become a key to the success of a site from an SEO point of view too, even more than just few years ago. This cannot but remind me how Marketing has been the forgotten facet of the SEO disciplines.
Do you think is it still – and maybe unconsciously – undervalued by the SEO community? How much an SEO should be a “real” marketer?
Annie Cushing: I think that’s probably one of the greatest outcomes of some of the changes in the past couple years. Having come from an editorial background, content was always king and the bedrock of marketing. It was disheartening at times to see some of the slimy practices that caused websites to rank. I’m glad to see that scale tip in a positive direction.
Ian Lurie: The SEO community as a whole, and the folks who hire them, focus on stuff that doesn’t require site changes. That’s because getting site changes done is so damned hard. So link building and social media become the more expedient avenues. I don’t think the SEO community deliberately ignores site quality and/or on-site SEO. I think they’re forced to because it’s so hard to do anything else.
Wil Reynolds: Oooh, you are hitting on another one of my themes: its more important than ever to be a real marketer. I started hiring SEOs in 2004, after years of doing it in an agency and an in-house environment. Even back in 2004, I hired marketers not developer/programmer types for SEO. I made the bet back in 2004 that marketers would win. This is not to say that devs don’t have a place in SEO; I am not saying that at all. But every dev I interviewed looked at SEO as a scale problem, oh I need links, how can I scale. It’s the way you are trained to think. So we hired our first dev in 2008, but it was to build tools to make the marketers more efficient so they could spend more time solving content problems, building links of real value, etc.
Marketers, since before search engines existed, thought about things like this:
If you met our developer Chris Le, you can watch him geek out on tech, but he’s great at bringing it back to marketing, adding value, connecting with the SEO team at SEER (his audience).
Just because some trick worked and scaled to create wins on Google 3-4 years ago, we knew that eventually marketing would trump scale. I’m just glad to see that time coming!
Rand Fishkin: Absolutely. SEOs, because of the technical and often very tactical focus our practice involves, have often ignored the principles of truly great marketing. Creativity, user experience, branding, and many more have fallen to the almighty practices of keyword optimization and link acquisition. I’ve been plenty guilty of this myself, and it’s been a frustrating, but eventually gratifying and educational experience to see what it takes to build a real brand and a successful company on the web.
Richard Baxter: SEOs should be (are) real marketers. Multi-channel, multi-discipline, technology savvy marketers who know where their audience is and how to reach them. I’d say the key point is that as a marketer, an SEO’s goals extend beyond classic marketing, i.e “I need to grow my links to compete for this term”, but that the SEO is using classic marketing techniques to achieve those goals.
Jonathon Colman: Absolutely. SEOs should challenge themselves with the notion that they are not just traffic drivers, but also information architects and user experience professionals. But then we must also rise to the challenge of building breakthrough experiences for our users.
This is easier said than done; most SEOs – self included! – only scratch at the surface of these complex disciplines. So just as we challenge ourselves to learn web development and design, we should also challenge ourselves with structuring information and metadata, building taxonomies for content and products, conducting user research and testing (both online and in-person), developing user profiles and detailed personas, and so on. Folks like Vanessa Fox and Michael King already know this and have been doing it for a while.
Unfortunately, mixing SEO with user experience is sometimes a controversial idea, especially in organizations where domain experts are territorial about their disciplines rather than incentivized to work together for the benefit of the customer. IA/UX professionals can see the intrusion of SEOs/inbound marketers to their areas of practice as being a threat. And nothing riles an SEO so much as being accused of being a spammer who focuses on robots over people. So our goal will be to dispel these myths in order win them over with our understanding of users’ intent, our strong business cases, and our fluency in analyzing data.
Peter Meyers:Look at the progression from on-page to links to social – it’s a progression that naturally favors brands and offline marketing. When SEO was strictly an on-page endeavor, anyone could create the right formula and succeed. Now, a powerful company offline could screw just about everything up on-page and still attract links and social mentions. I know it frustrates people, but there’s a certain logic to it; the online world is naturally going to reflect the offline world. Arguably, it should. Search is a representation of the world, with all of the faults and influences of that world.
Aleyda Solis: SEO is online marketing. An SEO is an online marketer. If you haven’t been aligning your SEO strategy along your online marketing one, then you’ve been underusing SEO.
If you haven’t been taking into consideration your site’s consumers or users and their experience in your SEO process then you haven’t been implementing a real SEO process but just doing independent optimization activities.
I think that you cannot understand SEO without taking users into consideration, since your main goal as an SEO is to attract those users through search engines’ organic results to generate conversions by providing what they’re looking with your site.
AJ Kohn: I was a marketer before I began in SEO and think that experience and perspective helps me. Then again, I don’t view SEO as a narrow industry. My brand of SEO includes user experience, conversion rate optimization, product refinement, market and audience definition, information architecture, business intelligence, and more.
Sometimes SEO isn’t the best way to allocate your resources or accomplish your goals. A good SEO should tell a client just that.
Rhea Drysdale: It depends on the SEO. I’m big proponent of not just building links, but understanding the business strategy behind everything we do for a client. Without the ability to inform enterprise-level marketing and even basic business decisions, I think we make our jobs more difficult as SEOs.
Cyrus Shepard: There’s value in being a pure technical-minded SEO, but at a certain level you have to find your inner Don Draper. Ideas can be more powerful than spreadsheets.
Mike King: I wholeheartedly agree that SEOs need to know more about marketing. SEOs are Marketing Technologists; we exist very much at that intersection of marketing and technology so if you don’t know at least the basics of both sides, you’re definitely operating at a loss. For example, I talk about personas a lot which seems to have brought valuable insights, but for people that have studied marketing that’s Market Segmentation 101. The very fact that these basics are not a prerequisite is part of why we don’t get the traction we deserve amongst C-level marketing executives. A lot of SEOs just don’t know how to speak their language.:
The previous question pushes me asking you about the evolution toward very specialized SEO professional figures: Local Search, Video Image Search, SEOcial, Technical SEO, Link Building… Do you agree with me that this same specialization is making the old classic figure of SEO Consultant/Head of SEO even more important in any businesses and or agency?
Annie Cushing: The fact that marketers are becoming more and more specialized is a sign the industry is maturing. I place greater value on people in the industry I can trust to rock their specialty. I always want to stay relevant and informed in all things SEO, analytics, and social media, but specializing in a particular area of the industry adds shelf life to a consultant or agency’s portfolio, in my opinion.
Ian Lurie: Definitely, as is an SEO’s cross-training as a marketer. Link building now means marketing. Panda-related SEO means marketing + tech. You have to be ready to wear a lot of hats if you’re going to lead an effective SEO team.
Wil Reynolds: Once again, you are asking all the right questions here. So SEER used to be very SEO consultant centric, with each consultant having a specialty. Now we are still that way but for certain areas, like content and tech, we are starting to move away from that model. It doesn’t build expertise. I’m strong at link building and content generation, but average at technical SEO and editing copy. So for instance, wouldn’t it make sense for me to focus on my strengths and find others who love technical SEO and copywriting to help round out the BEST solution?
Now I will say this, we needed to get our SEO team to about 25-30 SEOs for me to realize this. Early on its impossible to try to get specialists in everything because you are just resource constrained, but now that we are big enough, its our goal to take certain parts of SEO and start to compartmentalize them. It also helps the people on those teams to have better consistency across the company. If you have two people doing all tech audits or all outreach management, then you end up with a consistency that a checklist can’t always provide as you get larger. A job I see on the horizon is SEO project manager, which I can see more and more clients needing an in house person who gets the big picture and plays traffic cop between the social, seo, affiliate, email channels, etc. As the specialists are doing the deep dives, but very often they go so deep that they don’t respect the other channels like they should meaning opportunities for synergies are missed. How often do SEO’s launch infographics or contests and NOT include those things in the email list? Or even worse tell their own internal teams about the content piece they may want to share.
Rand Fishkin: Definitely. The specialized knowledge and constant changes/updates in these categories require a professional who can store, retrieve, and apply a massive amount of unique information about how these channels operate. Google’s ongoing complexity and the broadening of the SEO field to involve other mediums and tactics (content, social, UX, etc) are big contributors to the job security of SEOs.
Richard Baxter: You need a head of SEO, an all-rounder who understands all facets of an SEO campaign and the channels that campaign should be delivered via. Most senior SEOs I know are extremely well-versed in this way. More and more though, we need specialists in our teams. I have someone to turn to with a video SEO question, a Facebook question, a Google Shopping question, etc. This just makes sense.
Jonathon Colman: I’m a “Big Tent” practitioner, meaning that I’m happy to welcome and work with anyone who’s willing to support findability and discoverability, no matter who ends up getting the credit for it. I figure that when one of us makes an optimization that succeeds in helping users while growing the business, then we all win.
After all, the “killer app” for most SEOs isn’t their title in the organization; it’s their ability to keep learning and pivoting to where their users are – and where the search engines are going to be.
Aleyda Solis: Indeed. Thanks to the multidisciplinary nature of SEO (content development, technical optimization, link building, etc.) and the verticalization of search (local, video, image, news, etc.), the SEO role is becoming more and more specialized.
This specialization also makes more fundamental the role of an SEO Manager / Head / Leader who has an integral vision of all of these activities and that can lead specialized SEOs from a strategy perspective and coordinate their work.
AJ Khon: If it’s a large enterprise then yes, I think having an SEO generalist who knows how to assess the quality of all the various SEO specialists is critical. More so to ensure that the left hand knows what the right is doing.
Rhea Drysdale: It depends on the organization. In a company where search drives a substantial percent of the businesses’ traffic and conversions, yes, there should be a dedicated SEO. In organizations with less dependence on SEO, this can be managed fairly well by a more traditional Director of Marketing or Digital Manager who works with an outside SEO consultant to manage this channel, as they probably do with other channels like paid advertising, email marketing, etc.
Cyrus Shepard: I realized a couple years ago I could no longer be good at every aspect of SEO. I rely on the help of specialist at every turn. Doing so hasn’t hurt my career one bit.
Mike King: I personally think overspecialization is a weakness just like being a jack of all trades. For example, at one of my former agencies, we had a team that specialized in optimizing Yahoo’s feeds and then Yahoo killed the feeds; some of those guys had to go to paid search or do something else presumably because feeds was all they did in organic.
Granted things like local search are becoming incredibly nuanced, and I wouldn’t want to come up against a David Mihm or a Darren Shaw in the SERPs; but I still feel as though every SEO should know enough to be able to adapt to that if need be. At the end of the day, nothing we do is that hard; you just have to have the patience to do your research and test things out.
Ian Lurie: I actually don’t like the move towards specialization. SEO is a marketing specialty. Further sub-dividing it doesn’t serve anyone well – you end up with folks who are so hyper-specialized, they can’t do any good. For example: Say I want to improve local rankings for a client. Yes, knowing local SEO is important. But I also need to understand link building, usability/marketing (to get reviews), and technology (to add markup). There are exceptions, of course. But I see a lot of folks specializing because it’s easier, not because it makes them more effective marketers. That’s bad.
The specialization of SEO is obviously a consequence of the “verticals” explosion and the vitality Google has shown also in fields other than SEOs (Social, PPC…). Many professionals complain the fact that old organic searches are somehow a species under menace of extinction.
What is your take about this topic? And what is your take about other polemic decisions done by Google, as the “not provided”, or the paid inclusions in Products or, last but not least, Google hiding the social connection pages?
Rand Fishkin: I see no reason to complain about Google or Bing changing the SERPs to include more verticals, and I’d think, as SEOs, we should be thankful they continue to make the practice challenging (job security!). However, on the decisions around “not provided,” paid inclusion in product search, and hiding social connections, I’m, quite frankly, infuriated. Those moves suggest Google is abandoning its core values. Microsoft must be cheering, and I hope and assume many Googlers are thinking about new jobs. Going against values the company regularly espouses – transparency, serving the web, doing no evil – will bring about terrible things for Google, the web, and its users.
Richard Baxter: That’s two questions!
Yeah – if you’re an SEO, then your main aim is to drive traffic from any or all channels provided to you, not just organic.
As for (not provided) here’s how that feels…. [leaves blank answer]
Jonathon Colman: I’m saddened by Google’s draconian and hypocritical decisions to both hide referring organic keywords as well as reduce the real estate that organic results use in the SERPs versus paid/sponsored ads. Their expressed rationale of acting in the interest of user privacy doesn’t hold up to even the slightest amount of scrutiny and – especially for an information-driven company – they should be embarrassed and chastened by their increasingly pitiful attempts at explanation. A misbehaving child would be more honest and direct, which is all I can really ask for from Google.
Which is why I’m actually pleased by their emerging tact of stating that they’re a business and that they need to compete with other businesses that are encroaching on their space. I think this makes all of their actions far more understandable and predictable, from moving Google Product Search from a free model to PLAs to cleaning up SERPs with Panda/Penguin so that publishers have incentive to either create higher-quality user experiences… or to open up their wallets for paid advertising.
So let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with Google earning money for providing great experiences (which they absolutely do, IMHO), and I certainly don’t expect them to be impartial or unchanging; no one can be held to that unattainable standard. But I do appreciate it when they’re straight with us and clearly let us know what works, what doesn’t, and what their expectations are. The awesome updates and iterations I’ve seen over the past few years in Webmaster Tools signals to me that Google’s trying really hard to do exactly that.
Aleyda Solis: I understand vertical explosion as a consequence coming from the user need of more specialized results in specific formats with some particular characteristics and from the ability of search engines (not only Google) to identify and assess this information in order to provide a relevant result that fulfills this need.
Another thing is what Google does with its vertical results, social presence with Google+, and any of its products, giving them more visibility in its results and try to keep users in its properties in order to increase monetization.
The same happens with PPC ads, that have been gaining more visibility in Google’s results pages. Google also only provides keyword referral data for AdWords traffic but eliminates it from organic visits arguing privacy concerns.
How far can Google go with these controversial decisions? It will depend on:
If users are not satisfied with Google’s search results and a real competitor that provides a substantial enhancement to what Google is already giving appears, then Google won’t have the flexibility to make these controversial decisions as it has now.
AJ Kohn: I like search because it is always changing. I might question what Google is doing or react emotionally when a client site suffers at something like Panda, but cooler heads prevail and then it’s a puzzle to solve. I like puzzles.
Specifically, I thought ‘not provided’ was a non-issue for the most part and may have actually helped raise the bar on keyword research and analysis. Mind you, if we get to 60% ‘not provided,’ I may think different.
Paid inclusion in Google Shopping is another non-issue for me. Maybe it’s my marketing background, but I never really understood why they didn’t charge in the first place. Google still doesn’t understand retail nearly as well as it should, but I think they’re finally starting to figure some things out.
And the social connection page is another example of what I see as SEO entitlement. It was never a service that Google promoted to any great extent, and I don’t think there was any expectation that it was a permanent repository that you could use.
They exposed the social public web to you. That was cool even though it showed that Google was doing many of the same things that got Rapleaf in trouble. Now it’s gone. So be it. Move on.
Cyrus Shepard: In the old days, you wanted to rank #1 for “shoes.” Today, these shifts have caused us to focus more on quality traffic from a variety of sources than individual rankings, no matter the source. Multi-touch attribution reporting in GA is a perfect example of this. SEO is becoming much more holistic.
Mike King: I think vertical specialization is very important especially in lieu of content marketing. How can you truly be awesome at creating content in a space that you don’t understand? I think market research is key. I believe in that so much that at iAcquire I grabbed a guy that spent 7 years doing market research for Nielsen. As far as what Google is doing… ‘Not provided’ is maddening. Paid inclusion is hypocrisy. Hiding social connections is corny, but that is public data anyway; if you really want that, you can scrape the web yourself for it. Hint hint.
On the contrary, Bing seems strongly decided in becoming the SEO-friendly search engine, apart from potentially being the real social search engine thanks to its contracts with Facebook and Twitter. Do you believe Bing will really be able to have a stronger appeal on the public, professional and not, and become a real serious competitor for Google?
Annie Cushing: People are creatures of habit. To break their habit of Google, there will have to be a cataclysm of some sort that sends the masses running. I think people have made one thing really clear to Google: we want to still search with you, but we don’t want to rely on you for social.
Ian Lurie: Bing is saddled with a huge, non-search-dedicated company behind it. They have brilliant people over there, but I don’t see how they ever get out from under Microsoft’s cultural influence. And if they don’t do that, they can’t compete.
Wil Reynolds: In a word. No. But if Google continues to launch new businesses (glasses, tablets, home music devices) they just might take their eye off the ball long enough for an upstart to come along.
Rand Fishkin: I generally agree with Danny Sullivan, who noted that until and unless Google makes major missteps that cost it public trust and belief, they will continue to be the monopoly in the field. Bing has got some great features, and I’ve actually switched to make them my default engine recently (after being so disappointed in Google’s abandonment of their own core values), but slightly better isn’t enough to make people switch.
Jonathon Colman: I sure as hell want them to be a strong competitor to Google so that both search engines continually challenge each other and get better and better at meetings users’ needs. And I know the folks at Bing are working hard at innovating and testing so that they can poke at Google’s weak points. I love a lot of the things they’ve been first to market with that provide incremental value for their users while acting as a wake-up call for Google.
That said, while I love that Bing’s actively reaching out to the SEO community, that’s not likely to help them build market share, which is what SEOs really need them to do. Bing’s challenge is to make use of all of Microsoft’s expertise and resources so that they can skate to where the puck is going to be in 2-3 years from now, not to where the puck is today. That’s what’s ultimately going to build sustainable awareness and traffic.
Peter Meyers: I admire what the Bing team is trying to do, and I think they’re sincere, but they also have a vested interest in becoming SEO-friendly to demonstrate how different they are from Google. While I see good things from the Bing team and like Duane and his team, I’m not that optimistic about the larger Microsoft culture. Look at what Google spends on search vs. what Microsoft spends – it’s clear which company treats the industry as a top priority. Google has to compete in the social space to survive. Microsoft could give up search completely and still make a fortune.
Aleyda Solis: It’s great that Bing provides SEOs with the information and features that Google doesn’t. Unfortunately, most of users don’t search with Bing, and we need to work with the search engine that is used by our target audience and not the one that is more SEO-friendly.
If Bing wants to become a real competitor for Google, then it will need to stop playing with the rules that have been set by Google since it started and develop something unique that can provide a different search experience and qualitative better results to users that will make them realize they need to shift their search behaviour and start using Bing instead.
Since searching the Web with Google is now a rooted activity for users, I believe the search paradigm will need to shift so people are opened to start using something else. For me, it’s not only a matter to start showing social related results, for example, but to change the way search is conducted.
Honestly, despite of Bing’s computational power, it hasn’t shown a real innovation capacity up to now, and since Microsoft is not very well known by this neither, I think that a startup with a new way to assess and provide information to users can have a better chance to become a real competitor for Google.
AJ Kohn: No. I don’t think Bing has a chance to make a dent in the search landscape. The strategy to woo SEOs who will, supposedly, invest more time and effort in optimizing sites for Bing is interesting. Does the SEO industry really have that much clout? I don’t think so. And the social efforts are just too little too late. In addition, they don’t own that data, which makes it incredibly hard to build on reliably.
Rhea Drysdale: Bing is doing a fantastic job of connecting with Webmasters. The new webmaster toolset is great. Their transparency is great. Their public ambassadors are great. Their social connections are great. Unfortunately…
I still haven’t made the switch to Bing, which may be anecdotal, but I also haven’t seen Bing make up a significant percent of organic traffic for our client’s traffic. I would love it if Bing sent our sites more traffic, because it converts so well, but for the last decade, that hasn’t happened even with Bing’s big budget product placement.
Cyrus Shepard: I’ve always thought the future of Bing rested on a good partnership with Facebook and hoping Google screws up.
Mike King: No. Google has too much mindshare. People don’t “search the web for you”; they “Google you.” Don’t get me wrong, Bing has some awesome features, but I don’t think that’s realistic at least in the short term.
Google+ (and Plus One button). What do you think about it one year after its launch. Still thinking, as many did at last MozCon, it is a “third sock,” or do you see it as something which will be able to really influence the SEO discipline?
Annie Cushing: Unless it finds an itch no other social network has been able to scratch, I just don’t see it taking off. It succeeded in making me more discontent with Facebook, so I’ll give it that. But it didn’t make me discontent enough to leave and go hang out with marketers.
Ian Lurie: Google Plus has some nifty features, but it’s not attracting consumers. Until it does, it remains largely irrelevant to everyone except Google.
Paddy Moogan: Like it or not, I think it is here to stay. Google have put far too much resource into Google+ to let it fail. They are still way behind Twitter and Facebook, and the general public do not seem to be embracing Google+ in the way that Google would like us to believe. There is a big difference between having an account and being active like you are on Twitter or Facebook.
Either way, SEOs should at least be preparing for Google+ to become more integrated with search and a bedrock of many Google products.
Wil Reynolds: Ignore it at your own peril. I am running tests now on doing a search, adding a company to my circles, and then doing the search again, and am seeing major rankings movements. Getting people to add you to circles (assuming you are really engaging in your social channels) is having an impact right now, and I am seeing it. Hope to have time to launch the research soon.
Rand Fishkin: I’ve continued to find Google+ an interesting place for deeper discussions and a good hybrid between Twitter and Facebook. The +1 button still feels underutilized and underwhelming, but if it reaches critical mass, could get more usage in places that matter.
As far as influencing SEO, Google+ already does that in spades. I think a lot of marketers are being unwise to ignore what is already a hugely powerful channel, particularly when combined with AuthorRank and the practice of building a social community.
Richard Baxter: I think Google+ is a clear influencer on SEO. Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect. Google+ just feels like it’s a lonelier place, with fewer users (at least, fewer ordinary users) – and while +1’s have a clear benefit to the end goal, being a success on G+ is often an arduous task.
Jonathon Colman: It’s already influencing our work in a big way. For example, look at all of the focus on consolidating authority on people (authors) instead of keywords. Frankly, I think that’s excellent and long overdue. Real humans aren’t experts on keywords; they’re experts on conceptual areas, and they often express this expertise in writing. So incentivizing these experts to create valuable content experiences while structuring their authorship/ownership is helpful to Google and users. It’s a win for users because they have a means by which to trust content authors/publishers, and it’s a win for Google because they have all of these experts and rich content in Google Plus.
Peter Meyers: I think Kristy’s “third sock” metaphor is still incredibly apt. Google+ has some interesting features, and I want to like it. But even being in the industry, I barely remember to check in once a week. My friends and family are on Facebook, and my industry associates are on Twitter. I’m not saying that will never change, but even with G+ on my toolbar all day in Gmail (which I use religiously), I still don’t care most days. There’s nothing compelling yet, IMO.
Aleyda Solis: Google+ and the Plus One button have already a visible effect in Google’s results with “Search Plus Your World,” and this is only the beginning.
Although is true that Google+ hasn’t reached yet the massiveness of users, it’s something that in one way or another I expect to happen due to the way Google is pushing its use, since it’s clear that it plays an important role in the system Google is building in order to gain additional control and ranking mechanisms.
I’ve also seen the Plus One button to be included in far more sites than I had expected at the beginning, which is another challenge in this case.
So after what we have seen up to now, I would not consider Google+ as a third sock or an attempt to create a social network, but the identification platform Google needs to enhance its search results.
AJ Kohn: I guess I’m a power user on Google+. Even if I wasn’t I think Danny Sullivan said it best. “If you care about search, you have to care about Google+.”
When you look at the Google+ Activity API, look at the Activity Streams framework, and think about the acquisitions Google has made in terms of understanding engagement, it seems clear that this is part of a long-term strategy to deal with the explosion of digital content.
Google+ is about gathering additional data than they can trust to make search better. And if during that process, they break Facebook’s stranglehold on attention, well, all the better.
So, yes, Google+ works if you work it. Like a lot of things, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it.
Rhea Drysdale: Google+ is difficult. It’s not a network I put enough love into, but I will preach the importance of it to anyone listening. When Google puts that much effort into something, it’s worth taking advantage of. We see Google+ affecting personalized SERPs a ton, and for reputation management, it’s a huge resource.
Cyrus Shepard: Google is smartly forcing us to use G+ whether we want to or not. Local business are now integrated with Google+ and links to authorship and business profiles dominate the SERPs.
We mistakenly keep judging G+ as a social tool, but it is much more finely integrated as a search information supplement.
Mike King: Google+ will definitely influence SEO, and Google is going to continue to force it down our throat; so if they keep forcing us to use it vis a vis Google+ Local, it will definitely have a large impact.
Author Rank. I consider it is surely going to be one of the fundamental elements of Google in the future, but I still doubt about its real influence as a factor in the ranking pot. What are your reflections about Author Rank, and have you seen a real attention in businesses about its implementation?
Annie Cushing: I’ve only really seen marketers and publishers rock it. I seriously doubt most business owners have any idea what it is, nor do they care.
Ian Lurie: I’d have to see more application of it, and more clarity from Google around its use, before I said anything about its SEO influence. Right now it’s one more partially-implemented mystery factor. What is “Better quality content”? I asked a Google Rep at SMX Toronto about a tag issue – my rel=author tagged content wasn’t being attributed to me – and he had no answer. That doesn’t inspire confidence.
Rand Fishkin: Businesses and sites that embrace it and properly apply the strategy of content marketing are going to be in a good place with Google and with broader inbound marketing efforts for some time to come. But, Author Rank alone isn’t particularly useful unless you’re making serious content and social investments in addition to classic SEO.
Richard Baxter: Every client we pitch and existing site we work on revolves around core authorship strategy. We insist our clients have, at the very least, a meaningful content strategy. More brands need to think of themselves as publishers – establishing them as experts in their field, giving and adding value in support of their core propostion. This, in my world is critical to establishing trust and a serious brand.
Peter Meyers: I think AuthorRank is in that dangerous phase where only SEOs really know how to set up attribution properly, and we’re exploiting it before regular businesses even know it exists. If that goes too far, Google will have to dial it down. I think the idea of the social graph and personal authority is critically important going forward. I suspect, though, that Google went out to strong on some social factors and will dial it back in the short-term.
Aleyda Solis: Author Rank in theory can be a fantastic way to provide the additional mechanism Google needs to assess targeted or relative popularity / authority to use along the link graph.
The real challenge for the Author Rank is the inclusion of the authorship markup and its verification process:
Nonetheless, besides the most popular sites I haven’t seen at the moment a huge number of businesses to implement this already, mainly due I think because of its complexity, lack of interest in Google+ profiles, and even some privacy issues. So I think we will need to wait a bit more for this to gain strength and reach the critical mass it needs.
AJ Kohn: On launch, Authorship was framed as a two-stage process. The first was to highlight authors in search results, and the second was to use it to help rank search results. Google has certainly done the former, and I’ve had clients implement authorship with great results.
Google hasn’t yet implemented a true Author Rank signal. But I think they’re working on it and want it to work. You can wait for it to show up and get blindsided, or you can future proof your efforts and start doing what’s necessary and be prepared.
Rhea Drysdale: Search marketers are doing our best to prioritize authorship markup and claimed accounts across all of our and client’s properties. We see the value. Unfortunately, it is difficult to quantify which makes it difficult for businesses to work into their dev schedule.
Regardless, more and more implementations are happening, and I think it’s changing CTR in the SERPs for the better. I’m sure that with Google recognizing the value of Author Rank; it will simply grow in importance over time.
Cyrus Shepard: I’ve seen no evidence that author rank influences rankings at this time, but it seems like it might play a small role in the future.
Mike King: I honestly haven’t been paying too much attention to how businesses have implemented it. I mostly see it used as a novelty by SEOs and then by a lot of blogs such as Mashable. I haven’t seen examples of a brand really getting behind it yet, but I definitely see it having bigger implications as it does get adopted.
Somehow similar to the previous answers, it is this one: Schema.org and Knowledge Graph. Should we say “adios” to Google as a search engine and think of it as an answering engine?
Annie Cushing: I don’t think it’s that simplistic. I see it kind of like explaining sex to your kids: Little questions get little answers; big questions get big answers. There are times I just have a little question, and I’m quite happy when the answer is right there for me. But if I have a bigger question or the little answer I find in the Knowledge Graph spawns more questions, I’ll click through.
Ian Lurie: Not unless consumers do. Which they haven’t yet.
Paddy Moogan: I have no doubt that Google want to become an answers engine and want to keep you on Google properties for as long as possible. However, there is a line that they can’t cross when it comes to users. Users have flocked to Google because of the quality and depth of their organic search results; if Google compromise this by trying to hard to answer everything, I feel they may drive users away. However, there is little alternative out there right now, so Google can afford to push this line and take risks with testing new features because no one is really challenging them.
Wil Reynolds: Depends on the query. If you used to get traffic from band names, actors, queries around what date is XXX Holiday, flight related keywords (with Google’s integration of ITA), I’d be careful, as the answers to the right are going to be there on desktop and inline on mobile for certain queries.
Rand Fishkin: Probably not yet. The growth of Google’s search volume and the ever-growing number of searchers still far outweighs the queries where Google’s put “instant answers” ahead of external results. I also see only a few instances (concerning, but still small) where truly valuable clicks are being lost to Google’s own answers. More often than not, these lost clicks are exclusively informational and won’t cost much in branding or transaction value.
Richard Baxter: No. More of an engine able to get the right result into users without necessarily sending the click to an organic result. Impressive and scary at the same time.
Jonathon Colman: Ha, I still think that Google’s going to continue being both a floor wax and a dessert topping for some time. But it’s clear that having a semantic, meaningful understanding of language (Schema.org) is essential to its growth and future direction – if only because it’s essential for users! – and that linked data (Knowledge Graph) is just a first step down the road to connecting users’ needs with structured responses.
More than ever before, SEOs will need to have an understanding of information systems, data, and metadata (not just meta!) in order to build interoperable experiences that can transcend the traditional SERPs, not to mention the traditional desktop. We’ve seen early adopters like Best Buy and the BBC reap huge gains from being early adopters of the semantic web and even more advances are on the way.
Aleyda Solis: It’s too soon yet to say goodbye to Google as we know it, but I expect that sooner than later we will. Google knows that it needs to move from the easily manipulated link graph system.
Schema has a long way to go to provide consistent information about the meaning of web data to Google — since it cannot be directly validated as the authorship — and unfortunately, its usage has been already manipulated to spam rich snippets and increase visibility in the search results pages.
This needs to be improved and some type of validation system needs to be developed in order to achieve the quality expected from this data.
AJ Kohn: Just like the link graph, I think these type of answers based on entities are just ways to improve the search experience.
Rhea Drysdale: No. Google is flirting with a slippery slope if they try to produce nothing but answers. Besides, they already failed at answers.
Cyrus Shepard: A majority of tough questions are still answered by search. I think we have many years ahead of us still with “search” engines.
Mike King: The Knowledge Graph is actually the coolest thing they’ve rolled out in the past couple years as far as I’m concerned. Stefan Weitz talked about how search engines are trying to move toward Object Oriented Search basically, and it’s cool to see this come to pass.
Google is definitely looking to answer more questions and cut down the time required to get to your answers so you’re going to see a lot more of that in the SERPs. Sites like whatismyipaddress.com are basically a done deal. I’m all for that, if your site doesn’t have a purpose beyond doing something a simple PHP script can do, then step your game up.
Finally… Mobile, Siri, Google Voice Search… Are we all wrong not thinking of Apple as the real competitor of Google? And, should we start adding speech therapy (logopedia) to our SEO skills (irony… but maybe not)?
Annie Cushing: I’m not sure voice search will really change that much about how we do SEO, save to say there may be a great emphasis on holistic search terms because people ask full questions instead of typing in keywords.
Ian Lurie: Siri is a little different; it’s not employing the same crawl/index/search algorithm that Google does. But they’re providing a mobile alternative to Google, so yes, Apple’s a threat. I think they’re a bigger threat to Google than Bing is.
Paddy Moogan: If I were Google, I would see Apple as a threat. The user base they have in iPhone and iPad is incredible, and with more and more people using mobile devices (even at home) to do common tasks online, Apple are in the perfect position to win market share from Google on the mobile front. I don’t think Apple will challenge Google with a desktop based search engine, but I can easily see them wanting to own the mobile search market. They already have a captive audience who use their devices, their biggest challenge right now is not messing that up!
Wil Reynolds: If Apple bought Twitter and Bing, I’d be scared if I was Google. But I doubt that is happening. It’s interesting to think about thought… It would give Apple the following:
Because right now platform wise, Google has the following:
Rand Fishkin: I’m not a big believer in Siri or voice search yet. Unlike the world of Star Trek, humans on Earth are trained to use silent input devices. A room full of workers talking to their computers isn’t just distracting, it’s less productive. People talking to their phones/devices in public or private will continue to be rare, IMO. Better input systems than a mouse and keyboard, I buy. Voice-activation, I don’t.
Richard Baxter: Apple, having a serious market share of all things mobile search, are already enforcing certain search behavior, by way of default settings on their devices. That’s not to say they don’t allow their users to make a choice. Don’t forget, Google has some pretty serious voice recognition technology, and I (having watched IO live) believe that Google are way ahead of the curve when it comes to a direct comparison with Apple. Open source vs Proprietary? Google will win.
Jonathon Colman: This is why information architecture and cross-channel user experience design are so important to the future of SEO: we’re not always going to search from our desktops typing plain text into a box.
As users and their search tools change, so must our strategies and tactics. And an SEO with a strong understanding of information retrieval systems, ontologies, and interoperability will be in a great place to pivot and innovate when these tools (and their successors, like Google’s Project Glass and their self-driving car) go to market.
Aleyda Solis: On mobile, I would also consider Apple a Google’s competitor in search. Apple started with Siri, and now its highly expected new Maps app for iOS 6 that will be launched with local information from Yelp. We will need to see the features, type, and quality of results we get from it when it is launched and how it evolves.
Also, if the voice search functionality gets popular over time, it will be important to identify the percentage of searches that are conducted using this option, how it affects users behaviour when searching, and our own presence in these results.
I think that this is also another step to strengthen and shape what the “Social-Local-Mobile” landscape will be when it becomes fully mature. I see this as an exciting moment to make the most out of a sector that it seems to be finally advancing as it should.
AJ Kohn: The biggest advancements are going to be around human and computer interaction. Apple certainly has been making headlines, but Google hasn’t been a slouch either. In fact, I think Google is in a much better position. They own a dominant portion of the smart phone market and have used machine learning to materially improve voice search.
But think about Google Goggles, Google Glass, and Google Now. The ways in which we search are going to change considerably in the next 10 years, and the SEO community will adapt and help businesses to understand how to meet those changes.
Rhea Drysdale: Should we see Apple as a competitor to Google? Yes. Anything that provides an alternative form of search is a competitor to Google. Did Apple consider Google a competitor when they started making phones? Yes!
I had this debate recently with a friend—is Google really trying to be Facebook in launching Google+? I said no because social media was a natural extension of search. My friend said that’s what an SEO says to justify their job. I still adamantly believe this though. Google is in the business of search. We “search” in many ways. Whether intentionally or not, Google is able to expand into new areas of search and justify new company growth in this way. But, they are still a search engine. Fundamentally, they help people find something.
With that in mind and thinking purely from an accessibility standpoint, voice search won’t replace traditional search. How many of us can/want to search with voice commands? It’s a fun party trick and convenient in a car, but we search through too many means to make this anything more than an extension of the Google search empire.
Cyrus Shepard: Great question. For a decade now, ads in search results have been the driving revenue force for search engines, but this model is completely flipped on its head with mobile and voice search. I’m not sure even Google has an answer for this yet. Perhaps it’s Google Glasses.
Mike King: Well I’m sure Amit Singhal sees Siri as his realest competition since he wants to make a Star Trek computer. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
I am currently receiving more inquiries than ever about what factors into the comparisons and associations apparent in authorship, enabling a given listing to stand out from the crowd in the SERPs. People want to pinpoint a cause and effect scenario. People want answers.
SEO is like life. We cannot always give an explanation or find a scientific solution to questions being asked of us.
For some time, I have been studying the application of algorithms in respect to human behaviour, animals and nature. Seven years ago, my fascination in complex adaptive systems was born, and my particular interest has been in social behavior. I have studied scientists and scientific publications to find “the most connected scientist” considering the citations and links found in the papers. What I hadn’t predicted was the explosion of interest in and application of complex adaptive systems that I am now witnessing, nor that tasks in this area would become part of my daily work as a scholar, increasing my fascination with search engines.
Google and other search engines are trying to explore the relationship between man, his experience, and his contextual thought process in order to understand his reasons for taking certain actions. This tendency towards humanisation, and therefore to the unforeseeable nature of a complex system, generates countless theories, false positive and wrong analysis of the algorithms being studied.
In this post, I want to clearly state that I am not here to criticise nor attack anyone. Using a scenario commonly confronted by SEOs, I want to demonstrate how it is possible to identify problems, to assess content being churned out daily by the international community, to verify a hypothesis, reach a conclusion and then formulate a correct opinion from what has been learned. Please bear in mind, an opinion is all we can strive for in the absence of facts. I believe that we often accept what we read, hear and analyse as solid fact.
All too often, the analysis of specific SEO problems misses the target due to insufficient depth of study and because there are no isolated variables subjected to examination. The recent release of Penguin and Panda has created a great deal of uncertainty and many interesting case studies, but few studies have made a meticulous effort to identify the real motives for which the penalties are imposed.
What I present here is a simplified approach to the analysis of updates such as Penguin and Panda, but it will allow you to identify what are the causes that often lead to conclusions because of the desire to obtain a justification for the same process used to reach those same conclusions. In addition to identifying possible problems during the analysis, I will also look into Authorship markup, Google+ and Rich Snippets. I would appreciate community feedback, particularly if you can point out other cases that contradict my findings.
“Everything You Need To Know About Google Authorship in 8 Minutes” is an interesting, investigative example which, unfortunately, fails to hit the target.
All hypotheses and insights that Chris Countey expressed in the video can be abolished in a matter of minutes by analysing more cases, more SERPs, more data. An analysis of this type leads to superficial conclusions and a message that misleads readers or listeners, potentially causing future SEO disasters.
There is no evidence that doctype and use of rel or of ?rel affect attribution or non-attribution of Authorship. In the example below, you can see how a doctype HTML4 together with rel=author and rel=me all function normally. Judging by past history, Google is not prone to taking doctype into consideration.
Here, too, there are various interpretations which have to be considered. I have made some tests, taking into consideration the following factors:
Let’s examine these details further.
As we can see from the following two files, there is absolutely no evidence that a profile picture or cartoon-style illustration prevents the display of same in the SERPs.
As clearly visible from the following images, there is absolutely no evidence that a profile picture that doesn’t focus on a human face prevents the display of same in the SERPs.
Famous positive case
A less famous positive case
Here is a screenshot of an avatar with two faces.
This could be a plausible hypothesis, but evidence is to the contrary.
If we followed Google’s own advice about image quality, we might hypothesise that poor image quality could prevent display of an avatar in the SERPs. The following image, Keep Calm and Circle Me, renders even this hypothesis doubtful, however.
Sharp image but not quality
Quality image but lacks clarity
Here we can see the same image as above (Image without face or persons – Positive case), which is very clear despite of its very low quality and not being sharp.
A possible factor which excludes the face could be related to the authority of the profile, but again, evidence is against such a hypothesis.
NB: The case of John Mu could be dependent on the fact that more than one profile is open (which is a type of filtering of fake hypothesis?) but I think it’s image related. This authorship is associated with a different profile from that shown above.
The above cases illustrate and validate a rule to detect possible instances of non-display, leading us to an important conclusion; namely, that if you search for your “first and last name Google” or even “site: plus.google.com in url:TUO_ID_GOOGLE_PLUS ” and Google does not display your profile image on Google+ within the snippet in relation to your Google+ page, it will most likely never appear.
Related to this we can say, without any doubt, that the image/photo of the profile is the main factor; something confirmed also by the following example here below (and by other tests I did as well).
When analysing other sites, it is always difficult to draw conclusions. A case that could be misleading is, for instance, the following example that does not use any markup on the page but gets authorship recognition in the SERP. A superficial judgment is to assume that Google is not interested in the rel=”author” implementation, whereas it is very probable that the email confirmation option has been used.
So before jumping to conclusions, let’s carefully evaluate each small possibility while moving forward.
Also in the video shown earlier in this post, it is noted that an author does not show in the SERPs despite everything being correctly associated. Specifically, Chris asked Rand why the link to his Google+ profile contained the rel=nofollow, imputing the missed authorship to this.
To eliminate this theory takes very little effort and you can verify for yourself that using a url as the nofollow does not prevent attribution.
Case of nofollow on link to g+
Possibly in the case described in the video, related to the article “How Authorship (and Google+) Will Change Linkbuilding“, the missed authorship is not to be attribute to the use of the nofollow, as the screenshot shows.
Related to the screenshot above (from the earlier video), among the possible reasons for the absence of Authorship in the SERPs may be:
I am currently investigating the file robots.txt and I am unable to resolve or find anything.
To verify the noindex case, I made a test with the result that the noindex in the author page is a big issue for the attribution even if the rich snippet testing tool returns an ok.
In the image below I present three pages of the same site, where one is using the author page with noindex. Just with a look at the SERPs, we can confirm that a noindex tag on the author page is a real issue.
Forums and posts that I have read provide some advice on making public the tab +1 to ensure authorship works. Unfortunately, this is not actually one of the factors that should be taken into account.
Another element that we can observe is the number of circles in which an author is present. This element seems depending mainly on two factors:
Here we can see some examples where it appears or does not appear snippet ‘in XXX searches’.
Thanks to this research it is possible to understand the value of the number of circles in which a user is present and, therefore, if this data will appear in the Authorship snippets or not.
Experiment with research and behaviours related to snippets
To accomplish this I was able to find an account with 490 searches and one with 515 searches, undertaking a related search to both. To swiftly identify users of around the 500 searches, I utilised this tool.
With 490 circles, the number of circles is not displayed
With 515 circles, the number of circles is displayed
In this case, if the other authors were circled by 500 people probably they would obtain the additional snippet as in my case.
Case which shows the relevancy and the number of circles
In the following case, however, you can see how the additional element may quite probably depend on the relevance of the search. In the case above, in fact, I show up with the circles number snippet, but if I search for a different name where I appear (case below), but I’m not so relevant, then the number circles snippet disappears.
Case to which there is no relevance and therefore without snippets of circles
Making the same search of 28 May on 6 June, I saw a big change that invalidates my first hypothesis. I’ll show you what this was:
It is only a stupid meaningless number, or does it mean something more? Personally I consider that that “little number” may help us understanding the great complexity that lies behind Authorship and Search, because it clearly indicates how Google is able to associate, understand and contextualise people to searches.
Many believe that Authorship in the SERPs consists merely of the visualisation of the face and description snippet, but this is not so. Authorship is expressed more specifically with the snippet “by Firstname Lastname“. This allows us (as shown in the example below) to connect YouTube to Google+ and obtain the Authorship in SERPs merged with the video snippets.
In the image we can see a rich snippet showing the video uploaded by Giorgiotave with the Authorship snippet below along with a smaller image. This allows us to see how the SERPs are becoming more and more expressive.
In regard to the variety of snippets and their display, I consider very interesting reading this paper about social annotations and Web Search, which – on a macro level – describes in detail the study process implied with each small addition to the interface of a Search Engine, while – on a micro level – describes the effects that the social annotations have on the behaviour of the users and how it varies at any smallest change.
In the following examples, I’ve added more links of authorship (using ?Rel=author) comparative to a post with questionable content. I’m looking to understand what would happen in a scenario where pages with several authors including both profiles are unverified by ‘contributor of’ and others instead being verified. In the example shown, two profiles are verified while the remaining four are unverified.
Test multi author with unverified and verified
Google has apparently ruled out the authorship of the post due to the probability that the primary link of authorship does not confirm the association override and does not proceed to search for successive theory [hypothesis].
Let’s evaluate what is effectively so and perform a test on the same post dismissing the authorship, by not confirming prior to firstly using the rich snippet testing tool to confirm and verifying revalidate.
Multi author first verified and then unverified
Apparently, the assumption seems to be founded, but to confirm the hypotheses we must obviously perform a similar test on a new post. This will enable us to see what happens in the SERPs. Here is a test with two authors verified.
I carried out a test introducing an article with two verified authors. Unlike the day before, the rich snippets testing tool encountered an error identifying the rel=publisher as if the author were not verified, although no errors were implemented.
Two authors and one page badge
Contradicting the hypothesis above, but not as expected, the use of two verified authors using rel=author+ page author+ rel=me causes missing visualisation of the authorship in SERP even if the fault seems attributable due to the badge of the pages:
This notification is absurd. This invalidated the test and so we had to perform a new test.
In this case, the rich snippets testing tool catches (and show) the first author that it finds in the html code of the page, but in the SERP there is no attribution, as evident in the image below (in the red part).
More authors and no authorship
At this stage, our examination of new test should be in place:
In this help article, Google suggests that there are alternative cases for which the author may not appear in the SERPs. Surely, one of the elements to observe is that of the relative “on-page markup” as well as “profiles picture” discussed above.
The official support from Google
Regardless of the specific case and the assessments evaluated on rel=author, this case analysis shows us how we should act when we wish to obtain certain answers about the behaviour of the search engine. Therefore, we can define some key principles for the work we do every day:
SEO is a more than words. SEO is a common sense approach to the problems of everyday life.
July 11th, 2012 @ // No Comments
I was doing some research on fitness the other day and got some really shocking search engine result pages (SERPs). After doing a search on “hiit workouts,” I saw the following universal search result.
At first glance, there‘s nothing too interesting about it. So I quickly scanned down to the bottom of the page and nearly clicked on what I thought was the last listing.
Wait a minute! I’ve seen Google put PPC ads at the bottom of the screen when there are other ads at the top and side, but this is the first time I’ve seen the ads only on the bottom of the page. I certainly have banner blindness when I look at the SERPs (that’s probably a product of being in SEO). Others must be experiencing this same banner blindness, or so it seems, as Google has decided to switch things up a bit and test.
After seeing this, I started re-examining other things in the SERPS. I know that some of these things are fairly standard, but I wanted to point them out anyway.
As you can see, Google is now listing site links on one line under the meta description or snippet they pull from the page content. You’ll also notice that there is an option to block all results from the same site. Why does Google even show this option? If they didn’tt trust the site, why would they rank it in the first position with site links?
Over the next few hours I watched for what I will call “the block option” as I did searches. It seemed to appear randomly. Then I turned to my good friend Google and found a support page explaining the blocked sites option. Basically, if you go to a page and leave it immediately, Google will give you the option to block that site and all its pages in future searches. So now the question is whether or not this is a metric that Google looks at in the rankings. What does it say when someone doesn’t just bounce back out but blocks the site, too?
On to the next points of interest further down the SERPs. We have forum links–nothing new here. This feature has been around for a number of years. It started showing up sometime around 2009.
The way the videos are displaying in the universal searches is where things really start to become interesting.
Notice that two of the videos have additional links under them. Cassey Ho has her Google+ profile link – the one that says “by Cassey Ho,” and a link to an advanced Google search for the words “more by Cassey Ho”. Note that these links are missing from the other video. I wanted to see why the links would show up for the one but not the other. There are a few metrics that might have made the difference.
First, let’s look at the Google+ pages. I went looking for Google+ profiles for both users. I was only able to find the one for Cassey Ho. Illsun doesn’t seem to have one. I thought, when I first noticed this, that the link had to be showing up as a result of the rel=author attribute that rolled out recently.
Notice that, in the introduction of the ‘about’ section of Cassey’s Google+ profile, there are links to a number of her other profiles. None of those links, however, have rel=author or the rel=contributer (the reciprocating tag to rel=author on any Google+ page) tags associated with them. These links should have been placed in the other profiles section which currently has one broken link. So at the end of Round 1- Cassey 1 : Illsun 0.
Next, let’s look at the differences between their channels. I’ll start with Illsun’s channel.
Illsun has a respectable number of subscribers and video views. I was actually really impressed with his number of video views for only having 11 videos. I am showing the video tab because it seems to have more relevant content to the discussion at hand.
Cassey’s channel looks much different.
You’ll notice right off the bat that it has a custom header at the top. This indicates that she is part of the YouTube Partnership program. Next, I noticed 46 thousand subscribers and 4 million video views. To be fair, Cassey has 71 videos to help her out along the way. Check out the right side bar. She has links to her main channel, which happens to have 85 thousand subscribers along with 11 million views. She then links to her Twitter, Google+, blog, website, Facebook, Tumblr, Pintrest, and Instagram. End of Round 2- Cassey 2 : Illsun 0.
Finally, I wanted to check rankings from a number of different devices to see how it differs according to devices and different settings. Oddly enough, Illsun’s video shows up more often and always higher than Cassey Ho’s videos for “hiit workout” along with other related workout terms. So Round 3- Cassey 2 : Illsun 1.
The SERPs are changing constantly, but understanding how to use the existing SERPs landscape to help in rankings is powerful. I’ll be monitoring the SERPS to see how these new displays can help us improve click through and see if I can figure out some of the questions this blog post has raised.
If anyone has thoughts on any of the questions listed above, let me know in the comments below.
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/what-is-going-on-in-the-serps/