My recent article about how to remove SearchWiki has created some Buzz, so much buzz that it went to the front page of digg. But there were mixed feelings – as many readers commented in the digg article and also in my blog that they “like SearchWiki”. Well I can’t blame them.
To some people SearchWiki seems like a wonderful service (everyone likes the idea that they can play around with the result page…), but there are many (including me) who still feels that SearchWiki is something that should be optional!
But what the heck, if you like SearchWiki I have something cool for you — Google SearchWiki with Sound Effects!
Google SearchWiki with Sound Effects
Google just added a new opt-in experiment for search results: SearchWiki with sound. By now I am sure you already know that you can click the “x” next to a specific result (to delete it), resulting in an animation of an explosion as part of the current SearchWiki feature.
There is a cool service called LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com that lets you enter any search query and the system automatically creates sort of a interactive screencast of how to perform that search in Google and also redirects the page to the result page of Google.T
Once the screen cast is made (takes only few seconds), It will give you a link that you can grab share with others.
So next time someone asks a really dumb question, instead of saying “google it” you can perhaps act cool and demonstrate the google search for that particular query as well!
Google SearchWiki is new feature built inside Google’s Search that lets you customize the search results by moving a site up or down or even adding new pages etc. This feature has created a lot of buzz on the internet as many people has expressed their dissatisfaction for making this feature a default inside Google’s Search. There are many other on-going discussion in twitter about #SearchWiki.
Google doesn’t offer anyway to turn off SearchWiki. So if you are logged in to your Google Account, SearchWiki will be enabled for you by default. Of course you can turn off SearchWiki by logging out from your account, but thats very inconvenient, right? So the biggest concern regarding SearchWiki is, How the heck do I turn this damn thing off? Google Operating System has came to the rescue with a solution to this problem.
How to Turn Off Google SearchWiki
To prevent Google SearchWiki from showing up when you use Google, you can use a Firefox Plugin called Greasemonkey. After you install the extension, Restart your Firefox and then add the No SearchWiki script. This will stop SearchWiki from showing up even while you are logged in and Google’s search results will look clean again!
Update 2: Franz Enzenhofer of facesaerch.com has created another cool script that runs on Greasemonkey that basically gives you an option to turn on/off Google SearchWiki. Screen shoots provided below (via facesaerch blog):
Danny Sullivan has came up with a wonderful Illustrated guide for SearchWiki, so if you are interested to know how it works and how it can benefit you, check out his SearchWiki Guide.
Update 3: Ok I figured that many of you like SearchWiki and find it a useful service and I respect your personal choice & opinion. If you find the service useful, by all means you should use it :) But some people have found it annoying as it tends to clutter up the results page which is why a “how-to” has been made for its removal. But anyway for those who loves SearchWiki, here is something cool for you:
SearchWiki With Sound Effects
Do you know that you can have Sound effects for every action you perform in SearchWiki? The sound is recorded by the Google co-founder Sergey Brin himself, this sound effect is sure to please!
Have you ever wished to play around with the search results? Like move it up or down, include things that are not there or remove sites that you find “BS”? Well now you can by using Google’s brand new service – Google SearchWiki.
The official Google blog just introduced this brand new service – Google SearchWiki which is a way for you you to customize the search results by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on the results directly. With just a click of the mouse you can move the results up/down or you can even add a new site that doesn’t appear in your results. You can now attach small notes to a particular site and also completely remove a site from the results page that you feel don’t belong there. Your modifications will be recorded under your Google Account and will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. As you can imagine, SearchWiki is only available to the Google users (while they are signed in).
The changes that you make via SearchWiki will only affect your own searches and not the whole world. So when you make a certain change, its only you who sees that change. But Google says that SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.
Watch the following video where Google’s lead engineer of SearchWiki, Amay demonstrates a few ways to use SearchWiki:
My Two Cents
I think this is a good example of how search is becoming very dynamic, social and more personalized. Does this mean that SEO is no longer useful? Well certainly not! In fact SEO is no longer just the on-page and link factors. If you really want to optimize your website for the search engines there are certain bit of ‘social’ elements that you need to pay attention to as well. SearchWiki is certainly a good feature for people who wants to do research on a niche topic – say, once you have gone through a particular site in the SERP you can probably put a little note there or if you come across any spam or irrelevant page you can just remove it from the results page thus it will save you some time when you perform the same search a month later.
However I must warn you that, if you Opt-in to this feature, there is currently no way to Opt-out! (As far as I know). So I’d prefer to stick to the sweet old google for now.
After launching the Official Google SEO Guide, many webmasters has really appreciated Google’s effort in trying to help out web community. The blogosphere demanded that Google should often come up with more such guides so that at least the ‘best practices’ of the subject matter is clear to the public.
And now It looks like Google has came up with another Guide for Bloggers, unfortunately its not a PDF this time but instead its a new document inside the Google Webmaster Help archive. So in this small guide, the Google Webmaster Central team has offered some basic but useful tips on how bloggers can improve their blogs. They have divided the document in 3 parts – Creating great content, Making the content Crawler & user friendly & lastly use of Google Webmaster tools for your blog.
I have created a small summary of what the guide talks about. So here goes:
Creating Great Content
Write Good content & Write as Frequently as possible — As you may already know, Content is King but do you know that writing more ‘frequently’ can encourage your readers to come back to your site more often? But obviously you need to take into account that the subject of your writing should be the same as what your readers expect from your blog. A very good quality post once a week is better than many low-quality content published daily.Tip: — Perform a search in Google for a subject of interest on your niche. If you can’t find a good answer, simply create a blog post about that particular subject – chances are that other people are also searching for the same thing.
Organize your content to make your Blog more User-friendly! Use categories, tags & labels appropriately so that your content are easy to find.
Host your blog in your own domain and link it from your Home page so that the users & search crawlers can easily find your content
Always create original content & content that are primarily for users and not the search engines. If you are promoting a affiliate product, DON’T use the content that they provide which has probably been used in tons of other places and are just duplicates. Always write unique & original content that you feel will be useful for the reader (e.g. Product reviews, How-tos etc.)
Always use Descriptive Titles for each your posts – Think of words that people may use to search for that particular post and include them in your title. Write Unique Titles so that it doesn’t get mixed up with another post of yours in your blog.
Engage in your community, participate in discussion and interact with the readers who leaves a comment in your blog
Publish a FULL feed of your content rather than a partial Feed. Full feeds can make users happy because they can view your content with a lot less effort. Even though it might result in a short-term decline in visits to your actual blog, but it has long-term benefits for you
The Official Adwords blog just announced that they have released another tool called Search-based Keyword Tool (beta). With the help of this brand new tool an Advertiser can now make a better sense of what his potential customers are searching for and which keywords he should advertise on.
What it does is, basically it looks at your pages and finds out keyword that people are searching for in the Google Search engine but you are not targeting them in your Adwords Campaign. Baris Gultekin who is the Business Product Manager of Google Search-Based Keyword Tool told SEL that the value in this unique tool is that it gives advertisers a look at keywords that they are currently not targeting, that might bring in a positive ROI to the campaign. For example, a site that sells watches can use this tool to find a popular model or brand that they are currently not advertising for but has a lot of positive amount of searches in the search engine.
….you know that the Google search engine starts with searches conducted by users and helps them find relevant pages. But for keyword targeting, what you want is a tool that goes in the opposite direction by starting with your pages and identifying keywords that potential customers are searching on to find your products or services. The Search-based Keyword Tool does exactly this, leveraging search query data relevant to your website’s content. In other words, this new tool gives you keywords that are highly relevant to your site but are not part of your AdWords campaigns. This helps you take advantage of missed opportunities.
The Search-based Keyword Tool is currently available to advertisers of only US and UK. Google will be expanding to additional languages and more countries in the near future. You are welcome to try this tool out at http://www.google.com/sktool, and give the Adwords team your useful feedback.
My Two Cents
This is an excellent addition to the Google Adwords Tool family. I think this tool can also be used for competitive analysis. So if you have a strong competitor on your niche who spends a lot of money in adwords and sort of kills the whole market, you can easily run this tool on that domain and find out which keywords are they missing out and thus you can bid on those (at a low bid cost) and get all the traffic.
If you have a lot of flash content on your website you might want to know how your visitors are interacting with those fancy flash content —are they actually seeing it or just skipping it? Now you can find out using Google Analytics as they ads Adobe Flash tracking via their open source API.
How Does Google Analytics Track Flash
If you use the given API, Google Analytics should be able to track various uses of Adobe Flash in a website, including the number of viewers, whether the creative attracts new users and the effectiveness of the flash at getting visitors to take action.
The entire AS3 code base has been made open source under the Apache 2 License. So If you are a developer and wish to improve the current code and add new features, you can contribute to the code base. Or, if you are working for a company that is running a content platform, such as Sprout, you can very easily merge the Flash tracking codebase into your existing platform.
Google has justreleasedan Official Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide for the webmasters. In a recent blog post at Webmaster Central blog, Brandon Falls of the Google Search Quality Team writes that many webmasters often have some basic SEO questions that goes unanswered or they just get confused due to the fact that SEO is an emerging thing and there are lots of different resources on web. So Google has decided to make their own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide public, which covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. So from now on If anybody has any SEO related doubts they can easily refer to this easy to read 22 page(PDF) – Google SEO Starter Guide.
This guide was already being used internally within Google to optimize their own sites such as Youtube, Orkut and so on. I have personally gone through the guide and I must say that it’s a very basic 101 type of guide that any SEO newbie should read. Its very well written had contains a lot of illustrated examples & screen shots.
Always create unique & accurate Page Titles – Page title should accurately describe the page’s content. Webmasters should make sure that their titles are unique for each page. The Title should be descriptive but not extremely lengthy. Don’t stuff your title with only Keywords – write a title that will benefit both the user and the search engines.
Make use of the “description” meta tag – Google clearly states that Meta tags such as (Meta Description) is not dead! Meta description should accurately summarize the page’s content. Webmasters should write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw the description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. Don’t fill up your meta description tag with only keywords and avoid writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page. Try writing unique descriptions for each page, if your site is really big try to generate description meta tags based on each page’s content automatically.
Improve the structure of your URLs – Try to use words in your URL. – URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them. Don’t use lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs. Avoid choosing generic page names and using excessive keywords. Provide only one version of your document, if you accidently happen to have multiple version of the same page, do a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL
Make your site easier to navigate – Create a naturally flowing hierarchy – Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Try to use text for navigation and its a good practice to put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file. Have a 404 page that is user friendly.
Offer quality content and services – Practice writing easy-to-read text as users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow. Break your content into logical parts so that the users find the content they want faster. Use relevant keywords in your content and take help of the Google Keyword Tool where necessary. Write fresh, unique content and avoid re-writing or copying existing content from the web. Always create content primarily for your users, not search engines
Write better anchor text – Always write descriptive anchor text, The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Use keywords in your anchor text and use anchor text for your internal links too.
Use heading tags appropriately – Take advantage of the HTML Header tags H1, H2, H3 to break down your content for easy scanning by your readers. Give some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use those heading tags appropriately.
Optimize your use of images – Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text for all images. Avoid using generic filenames and stuffing in excessive keywords in the alt tag.
Make effective use of robots.txt – Robots.txt is not enough to block your sensitive or confidential material. So take appropriate security measures for your confidential information.
Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links – Setting the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” will tell Google that certain links on your site shouldn’t be followed or pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to. Avoid using no follow for links in blog comments or other sites that you don’t trust. You can nofollow all of the links on a page by using “nofollow” in your
robots meta tag, which is placed inside the tag of that page’s HTML.
Promote your website in the right ways – Blog about your new content or services to get your users excited. Use appropriate offline promotion, social media to promote your content. Add your business to Google’s Local Business Center.
Make use of free webmaster tools – Google provides a lot of free tools for webmasters inside Google Webmaster Tools to help webmasters better control how Google interacts with their websites and get useful information from Google about their site.
Take advantage of web analytics services – Use Web analytics programs like Google Analytics that can be a valuable source for identifying your users, the content that they are reading, the source of traffic etc.
Today it was reported by cnet that Google is rolling out Video Chat feature in Google’s web mail service – Gmail. Rafe Needleman of cnet called it a “bare-bones voice and video-conferencing service” which is extremely simple to install and use but has very limited functionality.
Gmail Video and Voice, as it’s called, can’t connect to the plain phone network, as Skype’s paid service can. And there are plenty of other optional features missing, like a voice call recorder.
Rafe had the privilege to test it out first and he have found the voice and video quality on the service excellent. Gmail’s Video quality is supposed to be more consistent than Skype because it doesn’t run on a point-to-point architecture like Skype, instead all the Gmail Video traffic all runs through Google’s private servers.
Unlike many current video chat products, Gmail Video and Voice uses their own proprietary plug-in and not Adobe’s Flash Player. The small (2MB) download supports Firefox, IE, and Chrome on the PC, and Firefox on the Mac. Linux & mobile browser support will be included later, source said.
How to Start Video Chat in Gmail
Gmail Video and Voice will be publicly available to all Gmail users starting Tuesday at noon PST. Global rollout should be complete by the end of the day. If you would like to check whether you have this functionality, simply open up a chat window with someone and if your account is video-enabled, at the lower left of the chat window, there will be an interface element labeled “Video & more.” Clicking on that will directly walk you through the installation of the plug-in that is required. If you want to make a video call to someone who hasn’t yet installed the plug-in, you’ll be able to invite them to do so.
Sadly even though the existing Desktop chat client – Google Talk has voice support it may only get the video capability later.
Watch the following video that introduces Google Video & Chat Program:
My Two Cents
I’m really excited to try out this new video feature of Gmail. But I’d much prefer to have that feature in my Google Talk instead of Gmail. What do you say? Share in comments!
Google has recently started to publish a series of videos for AdSense tips at their official Inside AdSense blog. This is definitely a wise effort to help Google Adsense Publishers to better monetize their websites. After all, the better the Adsense publishers can make out from adsense, the more money Google makes, right?
Basically the first video talks about ad sizes, and Google recommends them to be big. They think that “bigger is often better”. They suggest using the following sizes:
300×250 medium rectangle
Mel Ann Chan of the AdSense Australia Optimisation Team makes it very clear that the suggested ad units have delivered proven in the past and proved to be profitable for both publishers and advertisers. Advertisers usually favour these formats, and if you’ve receiving all ad types, you’ll find that advertisers will specifically target your sites more often.
Chan says that, If a publisher can position his ad units well, the users will be more likely to see these ad formats and find an ad that they are truely interested in.
She suggests that if a publisher displays at least one of these ad formats on their page it can increase the AdSense earnings of that publisher substantially.
I completely agree with Chan as I myself have seen many websites that has really poor design and ad placement. I think Ad placement is purely an art rather than a science. You really need to test different kinds of ads and see what works and converts best for you.
And I think the primary reason why Google recommends large sized ad blocks, because those ads are more likely to catch the eye, but if they are placed poorly and blended within the site’s design, It may result in a lot of ‘accidental clicks’ which doesn’t convert well for the advertisers.
Some other tips for Optimizing your Google Adsense ads:
In the Inside Adsense blog, Google Adsense team has also shared some other tips that can benefit Adsense publishers.
Competitive Ad Filter
Adsense Publishers can restrict contextually-targeted and placement-targeted ads from appearing on your pages by adding the URL of each ad to your Competitive Ad Filter. To access this filter simply login in to your Adsense account, click the AdSense Setup tab and visit the ‘Competitive Ad Filter’ page. You can also find full instructions and tips for entering in specific URLs in Google Adsense Help Center. Why is this filter useful? Well, if your site is about dogs and you are selling a particular type of dog food on your site, you wouldn’t want your visitors to see an ad of your close competitor who is selling a different brand, right? So with this competitive ad filter, you can easily filter out your competitors so that their ads don’t show up in your website. This tool is also proven useful, if you want to filter out ads that’s pays really is low and doesn’t convert well for you.
Ad Review Center
The Ad Review Center is a very useful addition in Google Adsense that gives publishers additional control over the placement-targeted ads that may appear on their pages. Using the Ad Review Center, a publisher can review specific ad groups and advertisers before they start appearing on their pages. This will also allow publisher to block certain types of ads from showing up. You’ll need to opt in to the Ad Review Center at the top of your Competitive Ad Filter page, and then you can begin reviewing ads instantly. This is particularly useful for those publishers who has a lot of traffic and gets a lot of advertisers who site target their ads.
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Google recently released a Google Profile Search option under your own Google Public Profile. So use the link to go to your profile and once your public profile loads, simply look for the search box named “Search profiles”.
This Profile search option simply lets you view the Public Profile of Any Google User. To test the feature, I searched for some names and majority of them returned no results (due to the fact that not everyone has their profile set to “public”). But Anyway check out some of the profiles that I could see:
It is really interesting to see that Google is bringing in a lot of “Social Features” within their existing services. Just few days back we saw a Social Voting Feature being implemented in Google Search, and now they are also doing something with the Google user profiles. So I believe Google is planning on something big here … What Do you Think? Share in Comments!
Yes Finally Google has started to experiment with Social Voting. I heard this story long ago in Techcrunch but didn’t really get a chance to see it. Thanks to Lee Odden‘s Tweet, where he posted a link to a Metacafe video which shows this feature live in action.
Before you watch the following video remember — This feature is still probably on an experimental stage and you might not see it right away. (Even I don’t see it). Google is still testing this on a very limited basis.
Note: For first time users, you may need to add an Alter first with your “Email Address”. (Don’t worry later you will be able to change that and get the Feed URL).
Once you go to Manage your Alerts page, edit the alert that you wish to get via Feed, and you will notice in the “Deliver To” column a new item has been added called “Feed” (Previously there was only the email option).
So select the “feed” option and save and you will notice that Google Alerts will provide you a unique feed URL for your search term.
So now simply add it to your favorite RSS reader (or just add it in your Google Reader) and you are done.
What Can This Feature Do For You?
You may ask, what is the point of having this feature? Well this is pretty important if you want to keep track of certain things (like your brand name, product name) as they get mentioned in the Web, blogs and so on. This is certainly going to make your Online Reputation Management efforts a lot easier. What else can it do for you….Can you think of anything? Share all in comments!
The features of the old Google Analytics was somewhat limited for advanced tracking. Which is why many users (especially big organizations) spends money on other paid web analytics service like Omniture.
Some of the new exciting features of Google Analytics are:
Auto User Interface refresh
Google AdSense can be now be integrated into Google Analytics
Advanced visualizations such as Motion Charts is now available
Make Custom Reports
Advanced Segmentation Options
The Google Analytics API.
Automatic importing of AdWords cost data into Urchin.
The two public beta features that I was given access to are – Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports. The rest of the features are still in private beta and only available upon invitation.
This is something that I was looking for in GA for a long time. Consider all that GA provided you previously were plain “facts” or raw data. E.g. – How many people visited your site, how did they come to your site, Which keyword they searched for etc. What can change these data into rather useful “information” is if you can actually combine some of these together and come up with a more meaningful query that may help you to make some sense of it.
For example, What if you want to know – How many people searched for your brand name and came to your site from United Kingdom and has made a Purchase? Or How many Visitor came to your website from a particular Adgroup that you were running in Google Adwords during a specified period of time, say from 12:00 Midnight until 6 am.
So all these advanced query involves operators (AND, OR) and Conditions which can help you to take few raw data and then combine them according to your specific needs. Many experts were already doing it manually using spreadsheet and combining/comparing all the data using formulas and doing a lot of mathematical calculations. But with google’s advanced segmentation feature, I guess any average Joe can now become a Web Analytics Expert!
Some Default Segmentation Presets
So basically now you can mix and match and play with different variables provided and come up with your own custom Segmentation. This will definitely help you to know your visitors & market better and create a better online marketing plan.
This is something that I’m yet to explore, but it seems like a easy-to-use interface that lets you build customized reports based on your own needs & requirements. This was a highly demanded feature by the webmasters and I’m glad that Google has finally decided to implement it.
If you want to get a more detailed overview of Segmentation & Customized Reports of Google Analytics, I strongly urge you to check Avinash’s post. On his blog, he has provided step by step screen shoots of some of his segmentation ideas like the following:
Idea #1: How to segment out your own Brand Search Keywords. Idea #2: Find out the % Visits with a high “Degree of Engagement”. Idea #3: How to Segment Precious Customers. Idea #4: How to Use Segmentation to do Ad-Hoc Analysis.
My Two Cents
My hat tip to the Google Analytics team for coming up with some of these wonderful features. Especially the advanced segmentation is really going to help me save a lot of time that I spend now combining data from different metrics in Excel and then coming with a custom report for my clients. Hopefully we will be able to see more exciting feature from GA in near future.
Update: Check out this video that shows you to create and use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to isolate and analyze specific parts of your traffic.
Today Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land reported that Google is now showing images in Google’s online advertising platform adwords.
For instance, if you search for bluenile in Google Search, most of the time it returns a search ad for Blue Nile on the top of the SERP.
However This is not a regular search ad that you see every day, Do you notice a small “+” sign just before the Ad that says “Show products from Blue Nile for bluenile.”? If you click on that link, it opens up three product results directly from Blue Nile. Check out the screen shoot below:
Whats most interesting is the amount of space it takes once the user presses the expand button. Barry measured one ad to be 370 pixel tall.
My Two Cents
Well I like Google because they are always trying out new things rather than sticking with a conventional way of advertising. They are the first to come up with “contextual advertising” and now they are just implementing different features to give users a better experience and also to make “more money”.