Google+ What’s the potential benefit for your business?

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Google+ ImageWill it be just another social networking site . . . ? Or with the backing of the Google brand and some added features and benefits, could this be the dawn of a new age of Enterprise capable social networking?

Having already exceeded its maximum allocation of users within 2 days of its test launch, there is obviously a demand to see what’s new and where Google is going to go with this. After the failure of its first two attempts at social networking – Wave and Buzz – I’m sure Google is giddy with delight at this kind of initial response from users.

But what’s new . . .

Google have introduced five main features to Google+

Circles – Unlike facebook, Google is providing the ability to group your ‘friends’. As an example you will be able to group your work mates separately from your family, friends or high school buddies; allowing you to choose what and how you share with each group.

Huddle – This allows a group chat functionality, instead of having several one on one chats. A particularly useful function for planning events or discussing a central topic with a number of people.

Hangouts – A video chat function, which allows users to see who’s online and chat face to face. Similar in nature to Skype but integrated with your ‘friends’ lists.

Sparks – Similar to an RSS feed, sparks will look for videos or articles it thinks you might like and if they take your fancy, have them ready for you to view anytime .

Instant Uploads – There is nothing particularly new with the concept of uploading photos and videos to social media sites from your mobile devices. But with smart phones running Google’s Android and Google+, you don’ even have to think about uploading because all the hard work is automatically done for you. All you have to do is log in afterwards and publish for your ‘friends’ to be able to view.

What does Google+ mean for the business world . . .

Looking only at the basic functionalities as described above there are numerous possibilities for integration into the business world. With instant uploads you have your very own ‘live feed’ to your social media site keeping your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ up to date by the minute. With circles you will be able to group users based on preference or practice thus allowing you to send targeted information or marketing materials. Sparks will prove to be useful with up to date media related to your fields of interest, which you may have otherwise missed, sent straight to your account.

Unquestionably Google is targeting the consumer market with this new offering. But many industry commentators believe that there may be more to Google+ than meets the eye. With its collaborative tools and ability to build distinctly separated groups from the aggregate whole, many believe the fundamental building blocks exist for Google + to truly own the Enterprise Web, not just the Social.

Google+ and +1’s. The coming effect on search engine results . . .

What is +1’ing you ask? Google is now providing the users of Google+ with the ability to recommend or refer a website, google ad, video or image. They are calling this action +1’ing. This provides users of Google+ with the ability to make or see virtual recommendations.

The biggest overall affect that this will have is the return of  search and ad results in Google’s search engine which will be annotated with the number of +1’s they have received. This will effectively provided users with the ability to gauge whether something may be of use to them simply by seeing whether their peers have previously rated it as noteworthy.

While still only in a testing phase, the response to Google+ has been strong. But once fully released, will there be this predicted mass influx of users to make this the new Facebook? One thing is for sure, Google+ is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. To visit the Google+ page and read more about its features and stay up to date with its full release, click here.

Google Friendly Websites

Is your website a Google friendly website?
One of the most important things to consider when looking at your website is to determine how “Google friendly” it is.
If you want to rank better on Google, you need to make sure that you are “playing their game” and giving them the information they are looking for, so that they favour your website over your competitors.

Take a look through the simple tips below, and use this blog post as a checklist of tips for creating a Google-friendly site.

Make sure your site is easily accessible:

Build your site with a logical and usable menu structure. Every page should be reachable from every other page, by at least one static text link. This is normally done via the Navigation menu, but can also be achieved by adding internal links into your page content. Make sure to keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number

Also offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages. One great idea is to use a text browser, such as Lynx, to examine your site. This will show you how the search engine spiders see your site. If features such as JavaScript, frames or Flash keep you from seeing your entire site in a text browser, then spiders may have trouble crawling it & indexing it.

Give visitors the information they’re looking for:

This is probably the single most important thing to do. Make sure you provide quality content on your pages, especially your homepage.
If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract visitors and entice others to link them, thus creating a helpful, information-rich site.
You should aim to write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site, but within a natural flow of information.

Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

Make sure that other sites link to yours :

Links help search engine spiders find your site and can increase the ranking in search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Keep in mind that Google can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. (Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.)
Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and link to it.
Unnatural links are those placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links can be found via Link Exchange programs or on pages set-up specifically to attracts search engines (called ‘Doorway Pages’)

Things to avoid
Don’t fill your page with lists of keywords or attempt put up pages just to attract the spiders.

If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don’t intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.
And do not stuff words onto pages in the hopes of attracting search engines, such as has been done under the footer, on this site :  Red Pepper Realty

Don’t feel obligated to use companies that claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful, because if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from Goggle’s index.

Don’t create multiple copies of a page under different web addresses. Many sites offer text-only or printer-friendly versions of pages that contain the same content as the corresponding graphic-rich pages. To ensure that your preferred page is included in our search results, you’ll need to block duplicates from our spiders using a robots.txt file.

How Google’s New Algorithm will affect your real estate website

Very recently, Google made significant changes to its search engine algorithm.
This algorithm is basically the formula that Google uses, when determining which sites should appear at the top of search results, and which ones should not.

Very few people, except for hardcore search and tech literati understand precisely how these changes were set up or exactly how they work, but the changes are pretty evident already.
The long and the short of it, is that you will need to take a good look at your website to determine if it is still “search engine friendly”.

Here are some items that now need to be understood in regards to this new Google algorithm:

  • Faster Indexing
    Google has a new thing called “Google Caffeine”. This means there is no more “sandbox” or long waiting times, before your website can be indexed by Google. The indexing time is now down to around 15 minutes (if you have a dynamic site map submitted to Google Webmaster Tools).
    This means that unique, steady content such as news updates, blogs, etc, will take even more precedence in search engine rankings.
  • Google Analytics Data
    In a fairly controversial move, Google has suggested that they may use the analytics data of sites in their algorithm, since it provides a huge amount of information about user interaction of a web site. This makes a lot of sense, but there will be many that do not like this idea.
    This one is a pretty easy fix though, as Google Analytics is free and does not take much to add into a website.
  • Paid Links
    Buying links to push ranks up in a short period of time is a technique used by some marketers. Many of these are added for short periods of time due to the cost of purchasing them.
    Google now says that the age of links matter, so these short term link arrangements will no longer help you. They prefer stable links that have been there for a while, so work on building naturally occurring links that matter to your business.
  • Page Load Time is now important
    Very simply, the time it takes a web page to appear in your internet browser will directly affect how it ranks in Google.
    Make sure that your images and all page elements are optimized and that your sites load fast. Don’t lose rank due to slow loading images or other web elements.
  • Flash animation and Flash websites
    Flash websites and animations created in Flash, can take forever to load up. Based on the information above, this is bad news for your site ranking.  Avoid full flash websites, large animation files & splash pages. Use HTML5 where you can.
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There are other changes still to come from Google. They like to rearrange things periodically just to keep the SEO experts, tech guys and online marketers on their toes.

Trying to play the game and work out how Algorithms work, can be a real waste of time. These Google Algorithm Changes, don’t really change the core message and approach of a good website though – it still is all about CONTENT.
The best thing to do is ensure the basics are covered and that you have good, solid content on your website.
This means:

  • clear information on your site, that is relevant to what your website visitors are looking for (Such as search-able listings, interactive location maps for listings, locality information, clear contact information & staff profiles for example)
  • the consistent addition of unique content (latest news, etc)
  • site promotion through syndication, aimed at generating quality back links through to your site

Brightfox is aware of these changes, and we regularly advise our clients on the best way to manage their online presence, to be the most search-engine friendly that it can be.

If  you are seeking to improve your website rankings, traffic and sales, then feel free to contact us here at Brightfox.

Bing taking market share from Google

A recent article in The Australian Newspaper commented on the sucess of Bing and Yahoo in taking market share from Google. Now in Australia that isn’t going to be hard initially, as Google has around 90% of all search engine traffic. Making a significant dint will be much harder however.

You can see the full article here.

There is no doubt Bing is a good search engine – far far better than Live and a real potential threat to Google. In a recent interview by Tech Crunch with Steve Ballmer, Ballmer commented that they have over 5000 people working on search. A pretty extraordinary number but it shows how serious Microsoft is about competing with Google.

You can see the full interview with Ballmer here.

How to measure if your website is successful

This is an excerpt from one of our weekly emails sent FREE to subscribers of the 50 Bright Ideas email campaign. To read this article in full, and to get another 49 great tips and action lists on how to improve your property business, visit http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au and sign up – it is free. “Last week we talked about using Google to promote your business. We will talk more in coming weeks about how to optimise your website design to improve search engine results. But we digress this week to answer a question from one of our readers regarding last week’s email. Charlotte asks us:

“Thanks for the information on Google. I understand a little more on how I can use it to increase visitors to my site, but how do I know if it is working or not?”

This is a good question, thanks Charlotte, and the answer to your question is this week’s Bright Idea.

So you’ve built a website and spent money on Google Adwords, how do you know if your website is working? To get the best out of your online marketing you need to understand the basic metrics that are used to measure the performance of your web site.

Most web development firms would point you immediately at a weblog statistics package that will analyse the technical details of how many visitors came to your site, how long they stayed and so on. This is all important, and we discuss it below, but we believe in analysing the success of your site more deeply than this. We recommend that you use three forms of measurement. They are:

(a) Lead Tracking: There is nothing more important to your business than generating actual leads that convert into sellers, purchasers, tenants or landlords. The true and absolute measure of any advertising medium, including your website and online marketing, is the amount of business your website generates.

We would say that a website that brought 10 leads is better than one which brought a million page views but no new potential clients. I think this is pretty obvious to us all however, we have found that many clients fixate on the web traffic analyses and don’t track nor analyse the number and quality of leads generated from the site.

So the number 1 measure of success is simple: the number of leads and the % of those leads that convert. We recommend that you track both and report on them weekly.”

To read the rest of this article and to get a detailed action list of how to measure success on your website, subscribe for FREE to http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au.