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Google Panda Updates: Version 24

Despite strongly denying significant reports of an imminent update, Google has ploughed ahead with another Panda update. Version 24 was uploaded yesterday, 22nd January, and was confirmed by Google when they tweeted,

“New Panda data refresh rolling out today: 1.2% of English queries affected. Background goo.gl/8Zqy1

Version 23 saw 1.3% of English queries affected 21st December 2012, and the previous update before this was in November 2012. It seems as though Google are pushing out Panda updates every four weeks or so now. Google’s response? Continue to develop high-quality sites and content rather than trying to crack the code of algorithm. Some sites are still trying to keep up with the algorithm, but if the updates are as often as every month, you will only suffer in the long term. Whilst Google Panda is one of the most well-known and high-spec uploads affecting search engine rankings, it is on average just 1 in 500 improvements rolled out each year.

So it seems to be in with standing a chance against the constant improvements of Panda, the main adjustments will need to come from your site. The need to create and maintain high-quality sites and content will help boost your site in the search engine rankings and push low and poor quality listings, further down the pages. Google has previously said that it thinks more sites should concentrate more on developing the best possible user and customer experience, rather than just having a site for having a site’s purpose.

Whilst Google claim that the Panda updates are to help sites in SEO terms, it has affected a large amount of sites across the globe. More and more people are being hit hard by the updates and are now having to fill in more and more DMCA reports. This is when other sites in the same / similar field simply copying the information you have spent the time and energy and in a lot of cases, money, into writing and SEO proofing your pages, and pasting it onto their own.

It seems a shame that these sites are being pulled for plagiarism, as this certainly wouldn’t stand at university or even school level. So what makes the internet any different? Once thing is for sure, we will never get to the bottom of that question, but for the meantime it looks as though we will have to continue to pour resources into the highest quality web design, copywriters and data analysts to keep an eye on the future affects of Google Panda.

Google Penguin

Last month Google released a new webspam algorithm called Penguin that has the World Wide Web in a bit of a tizzy. Designed to help stop websites that violate its quality guidelines, Penguin has made many previously high-ranking websites disappear from search engine results. If your site has been affected by the Penguin update there are some steps you can take to get your site back up and running.

Penguin is an automated algorithm, there are no humans involved in its decision making once it was turned on, and because of this Google are apparently not planning on making any manual exceptions. If your site has been hit with Penguin the best thing you can do is review your content to ensure it meets Google’s guidelines. Check your messages at Google Webmaster Central, if they’ve contacted you about spam before then their emails will flag the issues you need to correct. You can also leave feedback through Google’s Webmaster forum if you feel you’ve been incorrectly affected. Remember, Google introduced this algorithm to help searchers find the best websites for their criteria, their priority is the searchers, so if you leave additional comments be sure to explain how your site provides unique and relevant content for searchers (and then make sure it actually does) rather than talk about how much business you’ve lost.

If you’re not sure if Penguin has affected your site, take a look at your traffic logs. Penguin went live on April 24th, so if you saw a drop in traffic after that then it’s likely you’ve been hit. If you’ve seen a rise, congratulations, you’ve benefitted. And if there was no change then Penguin had no real impact on you.

The algorithm is looking for websites that have a disproportionately large number of links in its content, in other words, link over-optimised sites. Make sure the links you use are from websites or domains in the same niche, not all of them need to be but there do need to be links relevant to your subject matter included in the mix. In essence, Google is looking for websites that offer relevant and useful information to its users, and is devaluing anchor text links while replacing it with niche relevant links as a means to guarantee quality. Ensuring your website meets those criteria will help keep it’s rank in their search results and minimise any affect Penguin may have on your business.

Googling Yourself

I have recently been playing around with google trends and also google preferences, you may have read how Google thought I was a Man in another post. It’s quite odd to google yourself, and some may say egotistical… I’m just nosey! Having a surname of Swift, with the ever popular singer Taylor Swift means I get some strange twitter followers and search queries coming to the sites. I was quite shocked to see this though… Start typing your name into Google and see what comes up…
Hannah Swift

It also appears my popularity in the Philippines is dwindling :(
Hannah Swift

I best go and practice my pole vaulting!

Google+ Hits The Mainstream With A TV Ad And A Redesign

Google unveiled a new bright, clean interface for its social network site, Google+, earlier this month, bringing it more in line with other Google platforms and products. With plenty of white space, crisp graphics and a simplified look, it’s a much more user friendly experience. Taking cues from rival social network platforms, Facebook and Twitter, there are now trending topics, large photograph displays and a cover picture for your profile encompassing almost the entire width of the page. But where Google+ really comes in to its own is the other applications under the Google umbrella that can be incorporated in to their social network experience. With so many other applications and platforms available to supplement and enhance their social media endeavours, users are given far more resources to play with, all seamlessly integrated.

In fact, with so many updated features and the reveal of the new layout, Google have invested in television advertisements to raise the general public’s awareness of the usefulness and availability of options available on Google+ in comparison to other social media networks. In an effort to explain the relevance of Google+’s many unique features, such as free video conferencing via the hangout section, Google released a sentimental advert chronicling the life of one man through Google+ in what is an effective demonstration of the platform’s current capabilities.

With the rising popularity of social networking, Google+ is reputed to be around 750 million users behind Facebook, and some areas feel that Google+ has already failed in its attempt to create a successful platform for social media. With social network being a relatively young medium, combined with Google+’s drive forward with innovative options within their platform, this new push using television advertising can also simply be seen as an attempt to explain the platform to non-users or people used to the old functions and layout.

With multiple new updates released since June last year, Google are keen to rekindle the interest of original users they’ve lost prior to those updates being initiated, feeling that the failure to supply what the users was looking for at the time has now been addressed. And with the incorporation of elements of other social networks, Google have streamlined their own design to produce a well-rounded platform that should more than meet the needs of its users and make it attractive to new users.

Where Google+ excels is in the use of its integrated photo editing application available for free whenever users upload a picture. Now, you can edit, crop and tweak your photos before you post your pictures to Google+ through the integration of Picasa, Google’s web based photo editing programme. You can also create or join free video conferencing, called hangouts, which allow you to talk with any Google+ user, share content and, should you feel the need, dress like a pirate using the Google Effects app.

You can also set the level of information included in your news feed from each of your circles, allowing you to adjust the level of interaction you want on your feed’s front page. With a customisable navigation bar along the left of the page, you are able to choose your favourite Google service and at it to the ‘Ribbon’ to tailor your Google+ experience to your needs.

All in all, Google’s focus on real-time interactions through Google+ make this a unique social networking site that offers users opportunities for face-to-face communication with, not only people in their own circles, but the wider world through Hangouts On-Air run by companies or celebrities or public hangouts created by everyday other users. Now you can connect, in real time and via video, to almost any user whether they’re in your circle of friends or not. The world truly is a smaller place than it was yesterday.

Google Thinks I Am A Man?!?

I’m not quite sure what to make of this!
Check out what Google makes of you here

UPDATE

I did this again and came out with the following;
Your categories
Below you can review a summary of the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit your categories at any time.
Arts & Entertainment – TV & Video – TV Shows & Programs
Business & Industrial
Games – Puzzles & Brainteasers
Hobbies & Leisure – Contests, Awards & Prizes
Home & Garden – Home Furnishings – Lamps & Lighting
Shopping – Apparel – Clothing Accessories – Gems & Jewelry
Shopping – Consumer Resources – Coupons & Discount Offers
World Localities – Europe – Western Europe – United Kingdom – England

Your demographics
We infer your age and gender based on the websites you’ve visited. You can remove or edit these at any time.
Age: 35-44
Gender: Female

STILL WRONG!

Bye Bye Google Wave!

Yesterday Google sent an email to its subscribers reminding them that Google Wave was to be switched off on April 30, 2012. For those not in the know, Google Wave was a real-time communications platform that allowed groups of people to have conversations, drag and drop to distribute files, edit information shared by others in the group (or Wave) and it could even let you see replies being typed, live, character by character. Unlike other communications platforms, new individuals invited to the Wave could review previous messages, files and information using the playback tool so they could see how and what was added, and when, for ease of following the conversation. It could even auto-translate as you typed, for multi-national communication made easy.

Developed back in 2009 and launched in 2010, Google Wave unfortunately failed to hit the user numbers it required to sustain development and Google announced they would no longer be devoting time to it as a separate product. In an effort to help other’s further the technology parts of the code were made available as open source, with the service remaining accessible until January 31, 2012 when it became read only. Google are now requesting that anyone with Waves still hosted on Google Wave should export them before the service is switched off. But what if you still want to continue using the technology?

Alternatives to Google Wave have been created through a number of open source projects such as Apache Wave where their Wave program is being reviewed and developed as they work on increasing functionality and ensuring it works across multiple platforms and operating systems. Walkaround, based on the Apache Wave program code, can import Waves from Google, allowing you to continue working with your information even after Google Wave shuts down. It doesn’t have full functionality yet, but progress is being made and offers some flexibility to other applications as well. It should be noted that Walkaround’s import feature is still in the experimental stages.

Another method of sharing files while engaging in conversation with multiple people across the world is through Skype, who offer a free download allowing you to use your computer as a phone or messaging program, sending files and engaging in real time communication, by video if you wish it.

Ultimately, Google Wave has been shut down because users failed to find practical uses for it in large numbers. Google created Wave as an alternative and more streamed option than using email, reducing break-off communications when someone forgets to hit reply all, bringing new people entering the conversation at a later date up to speed quickly and easily, and allowing you to do so in real time. With many Google users being unaware of Google Wave until the announcement of its closure, Google failed to get the general public excited in this new way of communicating, despite the press enthusiasm at its launch. For those in mourning at its loss, perhaps the new alternatives mentioned above will be of use. For the rest, we suggest sticking with your email for now.

More info;

http://incubator.apache.org/wave/
http://code.google.com/p/walkaround/

Google+ And The SERPS

As has been suspected for some time, the new addition of Google+ is indeed beginning to make it’s presence known within the SERP’s. SEO stars around the world are in a frenzy about how they can get ahead of the game and use Google+ for their advantage.

The main point of interest for the search results is the +1 feature which adds a kind of approval from users/customers for links and products or the whole site. This +1 is also said to feed into the main Google Algorithm and could possibly have positive effects on your rankings.

Not only that but with the various opportunities Google+ Pages offer including circles to share content and contact details, the potential implications of Google+ on your SERPS are phenominal.

I think this recent search says alot…

To find out more about how your business can use Google+ get in touch today and see how Bright Digital Minds can help you.

Google+ For Business

As Google is one of the largest and some may say most important companies in the world, it only makes sense that it would want to make a move into social networking and the business networking world. As a result, it has created new pages to help businesses boost their revenue and gain greater visibility across Google’s many channels.

In the past, Google+ has restricted businesses from creating pages, however they now welcome businesses to the world of social media giving them the opportunity to share vital information with other G+ users and use features such as circles and hangouts to maintain a connection with their customer base’s. With over 40 million people already using G+, it’s important for small businesses and corporations to have a place where they can interact and advertise services without really “advertising” at all. Now companies can build relationships with people, as well as benefit from putting G+ pages into search results. Businesses can also link their Google plus page with the ad words campaign, making visibility extremely easy for businesses.

Here are some interesting facts and figures about G+ and its popularity with the social media world –
*The dominant age bracket is 25 to 34
*G+ is made up of mostly males, with around 72% currently using the social networking service.
*The 10 most common occupations for Google+ users include engineers, developers, software developers, and designers.
*Girls currently make up only 28% of the social networking site.
*G+ cost over $500 million to build completely

If a business is wanting to increase sales, using G+ to do so may be very wise in building customer retention and ROI. Since it is still fairly new to the social media world (it was open to the public in June 2011), people have an easier time navigating the site and following your posts rather then if they used Facebook to do the same thing. If you have a website, you can also add the ‘+1′ button so that people can like your post and interact with it. In the Internet marketing world, visibility is very important for small businesses who want to establish an online presence. No matter what your business is involved in, using G+ to interact with your customers and fans is a great idea in giving people a chance to communicate with each other and getting others to voice concerns on how they think your company could run better. It might take years before Google plus is as popular as Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t regard G+ as competition; as a $1 billion company, it has still been able to gain lots of followers based on it’s ad revenue model and search query domination.

The Facebook Revolution Is Coming!

Whether you like it or not, Facebook is changing – and this time… in a big way! Forget the news ticker, the friend lists, top stories and subscribe… Timeline is here!
There are loads of great changes that have really made facebook a much more fun place to be, I have listed the main ones I like below – but the best way to find your favourites is to try and get Timeline early, or a small wait!
facebook f8

click the image for a bigger picture

Not fully ready to be rolled out for another week or so, the new facebook profile is full of fantastic new features. Facebook describes it as “All your stories, all your Apps, a new way to express who you are.”
Large Cover Picture
Choose something that shows who you are as your big banner picture, I chose some lovely chocolate brownies!
Timeline
Go back through time quickly for a trip down memory lane. Find out what you did on certain dates without hours of scrolling. My first wall posting was August 19th 2006. I know what I was doing in June of 2008 and I can add in important dates from the past!
Hide/Feature a Story
If there is something I don’t want the parents to see, I hide it. Something I want the world to know, I feature it! It’s a great way of making sure your post is seen by all rather than being lost in a mass of cafeworld updates!
Apps
Along with the new profile design and improved functionality comes the integration of a number of well known apps such as spotify. Now everyone can see what I am listening too – and I can can hints and tips from others on what’s cool these days!

To find out more about the new facebook – check out the official log post here.

So why the changes?
Well let’s face it, sometimes you just have to take a leap and change. I’d guess that in part some of the changes are down to the new Google+ trying to take over social media – but – huge developments like this don’t just happen! Facebook have probably been working on these changes for a number of months if not years! Launching now, they are keeping everyone interested in their product. When it finally launches to the rest of the World – the media coverage will be massive, and the best bit…

I don’t think this will be the last of the changes.

If facebook are responding to the latest in their long line of threats from rival companies, chances are they got the basis finished and ready as soon as possible. Putting future developments back on the ‘to do’ list. Watch this space!

I look forward to seeing the opinion of the masses once the changes are fully rolled out!