Posts Tagged ‘seo’

Will Google Use Spelling & Grammar As Ranking Factors?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Google’s Webmaster Help video by @MattCutts about spelling and grammar is quite interesting:

In it, Matt answers the question of whether spelling/grammer matter to them when they evaluate a site’s quality for ranking purposes.

I wrote about this exact thing in “Google Penalty For Low-Quality Writing?” over a year ago, and some commenters thought the concept of Google analyzing text to detect bad grammar and misspelling was too farfetched to believe possible. However, I’ve read some of the books on corpus linguistics, and it has seemed to me that it’s well within the realm of possibility.

Fast-forward to now, and Matt has essentially stated that some within Google have done some work on (more…)

Trust Seals May Be Super Local Ranking Factors

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Over on SEM Clubhouse this morning I posted an article about how online trust seals could increase conversions for local businesses. That proposition is not all that controversial, when you connect the dots. Lots of research finds support for the idea that trust seals increase consumer confidence for online retailers — and online retailers need this, since there’s often mistrust of the safety of making online purchases.

However, confidence is also needed in order to translate online traffic into offline customers. For local businesses, this is key. It is hard in some industries to tell if the online presence represents a real, actual business. As I touched upon in an article earlier this month, there are quite a few false business addresses cropping up in Google Places and elsewhere, and these undermine consumer confidence.

So, the logic seems fairly solid to believe that if you can increase consumer confidence in a website, by extension they may have a higher initial trust in the business itself. For businesses relying upon people visiting their premise, this could be key to improving referral rates from online sources.

Of course, the value proposition just may not be there. Many website certifications and trust seals may be costlier than their worth to offline businesses. This is why I suggested some lesser alternatives, such as making local chambers-of-commerce badges.

SuperGuarantee badgeThe issue of trust is very key to getting a consumer to choose your business. This is why some local business marketing companies have created trust badges and guarantee programs. For instance, the SuperGuarantee program is one such, and for a while was considered to be a primary strategy for that internet yellow pages company, which has otherwise struggled with survival as consumers turn from print media to online resources such as Google Maps.

The SuperGuarantee program was a fairly good idea. The concept of leveraging a trust mark and guarantee program is an overall good idea for internet yellow pages (even if the program was obviously very derivative and immitative of similar services offered by other companies, such as the ServiceMagic Guarantee, and even if it never quite lived up to being the “savior of yellow pages” it was virtually touted to being).

From a business’s perspective, it might be a good proposition, if you count it as mainly an advertising/promotional cost. Statistics indicate that very few consumers actually avail themselves of money-back guarantees in most cases. The question of whether the SuperGuarantee ever actually has achieved sufficient consumer recognition to be valuable to businesses is still up in the air. I’m not sure they have done enough promotion of the badge and service to reach critical mass with consumers.

However, I’d say that even with services that have lower overall consumer familiarity, merely having an independent service providing you with an endorsement could give you a leg up above similar competition which does not have any endorsement.

There are quite a number of industry-specific and product-specific rating services which might be valuable to display on your website. For instance, among attorneys the Super Lawyers rating might well be worth gold. Super Lawyers magazine names attorneys across the United States who receive highest point totals, as selected by their attorney peers and through independent research they conduct. The Rising Stars names each state’s top up-and-coming attorneys.

Super Lawyers - trust seal badge

While the Super Lawyers guidelines won’t allow recipients to directly call themselves “Super Lawyers”, having the association with the Super Lawyers designation likely makes an immediate impression upon consumers. If you’re protecting your business or getting representation for an upcoming divorce, don’t you want to avail yourself of the cream-of-the-crop? Having such a badge would provide an immediate differentiator.

I first became aware of Super Lawyers a number of years ago, when I saw a special section for them in my Texas Monthly magazine.

The more controversial idea I floated in my article on trust seals is whether Google may be using or planning to use the presence of trust seals on websites as a ranking factor. I don’t have any stats as of yet which indicate for certain whether Google or other search engines could be using the trust badges for ranking.

However, I think they could easily factor in, because I think that Google is increasingly using some indicators such as the click-paths of users in determining whether webpages are relevant to search queries. Some metrics such as “Bounce Rate” may be factoring-in, and badges which are linked to related information pages on the certification service sites might well provide Google with indication that consumers are finding the presence of that info quite valuable on your website.

Speaking at MIMA Summit 2010

Monday, September 13th, 2010

MIMA SummitI’m looking forward to speaking at the MIMA Summit later this month.

I’ll be speaking on Local & Blended Search Optimization.

“Blended Search” describes how search engines have evolved search results pages to include content from other “vertical search” results such as including images from image search, videos from video search, and news from news search.

Blended Search results can include images, video, news, blog links, maps and map content, shopping products and more.

Google’s product name for Blended Search is “Universal Search”.

Of particular interest to locally-based businesses and companies with brick-and-mortar locations are the subjects of Local Search, including info on how to rank well for searches in Google Maps and Bing Maps.

I’ll be covering key ranking criteria and ranking factors for achieving rankings for your content under Blended/Universal Search, as well as in Local Search.

While achieving rankings for content in Blended Search may sound somewhat esoteric or specialized, contemporary SEO typically requires increased attention to ranking within the various search verticals in order to augment the more pedestrian keyword search results.

Local SEO 101: Domain Naming

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Domain naming is closely related to branding. If you have some flexibility — that is, if you don’t have a website or your website hasn’t been operating for very long — you might want to engineer your domain name to give you maximum Local SEO value. Choosing Domain Names for Local Businesses & Local SEO(If you’ve already been operating on a brandname for quite some time, you might still consider these tips for a separate domain name for your blog.)

The right domain name can give you a marginal edge above the competition when people are searching for your products and services.

Back when I wrote “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics“, I suggested renaming a business to include local search keywords so that your company could more closely match with the queries that most consumers would type into search engines when seeking your type of business. While those “extreme” tips were intended to be so over-the-top as to be a joke, the concept of having an optimal name is not.

For instance, a business named “Acme” isn’t going to match searches for “auto repair” as closely as a business named “Acme Auto Repair”. Descriptively-named businesses have the added benefit of always advertising/informing consumers as to exactly what they provide, each time their names are displayed, so there’s likely some significant overall advantage to descriptive names beyond search optimization.

Renaming businesses has been done for local search optimization, although Google has become sensitive to it being done non-officially, and formally/legally changing a business name or getting a DBA may be more trouble/expense than it is worth. (more…)