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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Mapping the SEO Agencies and Client Landscape in 2014 by @krnshrm

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By Karan Sharma

A few weeks ago, I published the results of a study about the State of SEO Agencies, which was conducted by my company linkbird during the months of August and September. Based on the same study, I hope to shed some light on the type of agencies and the type of clients prevalent in the online marketing services industry. I looked at the data about online marketing budgets, proportion of budgets spent on SEO, and the proportion reserved for outsourcing activities. From this analysis three things became clear to me. 1. Agency’s Focus on SEO The participating agencies were asked […]

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Google Search Will Now Let You Roll The Dice

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By Barry Schwartz

Ever want to roll a dice but not have one handy? Now you can just go to Google and search for [roll a dice] and Google will roll one for you.

You can do this via voice search in the Google Search App, by typing it into the Google search box and likely on Google Glass as well.

Here is an animated GIF of this in action:

google-roll-dice

Google posted about this on Twitter saying “Come on lucky number 7! #OkGoogle.”

Come on lucky number 7! #OkGoogle http://t.co/ghtHoNncoW

— Google (@google) November 17, 2014

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User Behavior, SEO Audits, Social Media: #StateofSearch 2014 Day One Recap by @wonderwall7

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By Kelsey Jones

Day one at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Search Engine Marketing Association‘s State of Search conference was a full day: ten sessions plus a morning keynote by Marty Weintraub, Founder of AimClear. Tracks included SEO, PPC, Social Media, and Local SEO. Below is a brief round-up of some of the sessions I had the opportunity to attend today. Morning Keynote: Marty Weintraub Marty revved up the crowd by going through classic social myths that many of us (and our clients or employees) believe when it comes to not implementing social media. Some of these included: If you build it, they will come […]

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Ranking First Is Good, But First With Prerender Is Better

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By Gene McKenna

So you thought ranking #1 for a search was as good as you could get, right? How about ranking #1 with a strong indicator that your position there is pretty solid? A new browser optimization in search results might be giving us that clue.

Starting around August 26th, our in-house analytics system at Groupon started reporting a big increase in homepage views.

It’s rare for a search marketing team to complain about too much traffic, but all this new traffic was coming only from the Chrome browser, arriving only at our homepage, and much of it was bouncing, it was killing our revenue-per-session metrics, and all of it was from SEO (Organic Search).

And this “Chrome Home” traffic, as we called it, kept growing and growing — until, by September 25th, we had tens of thousands of additional Chrome requests per day, at a time when other browsers were showing relatively no growth at all. And we saw this in every country around the world that we checked all starting about the same time.

What we learned is that Chrome prerender kicked into high gear for us in September as Google search results pages added prerender tags on searches for Groupon.

Let’s Define Prerender

So, what is prerender, and how does it work? Allow me to illustrate by using an example.

If you search for Groupon, Google knows there is a very high likelihood you will click on the Groupon homepage in the search results. This also applies to lots of other highly predictive searches: [cnn], [nytimes], etc.

In these cases, Chrome will fetch the homepage even before you click on anything in the results. If you do and then click on this prerendered result, Chrome will request the page again — presumably with many static items already cached, providing a faster render time for users.

By now, half of readers will have already gone to check their site metrics to look at their Chrome homepage traffic.

Those that use Google Analytics won’t see anything out of the ordinary. Google Analytics doesn’t record a visit due to prerender, which is generally a good thing because it’s not really a visit. (I don’t have data on other analytics packages, but please leave comments if you’ve seen this in your analytics package.)

Google Head Performance Engineer Steve Souder explains what he calls “prebrowsing” in the October 2013 video below. It is also referred to as prerender.In the video, you’ll learn about various tags that tell a browser to pre-fetch DNS, pre-fetch resources, etc. It’s a great resource for understanding how you can make your website faster.

Souder explains the best time to prefetch things is when there is a strong ability to predict what the user will do next.

Certainly, Google can predict when you might be very likely to click on the first search result. And now, if you go to Google and search [groupon], you will see in the source code of the search results page this prerender tag:

<link href=”http://www.groupon.com/rel=”prerender“>

It doesn’t mean Google does this for the #1 result on every search. Pity the Wham-O corporation which ranks #1 for searches on “frisbee” but does not have the click-through rate necessary to elicit a prerender tag for its homepage on that search – if, indeed, that is how Google is conditioning this.

The Chrome browser has been executing prerender instructions since version 22, and IE since version 11. (There are a number of pre-rendering instructions worth checking out to make your site faster.) But it wasn’t until Google started issuing prerender commands in the search results that we really noticed this in our logs.

When Did This Start?

When this started may vary from search to search. Wham-O may have to wait a long time to get this for frisbee (quick experiment: everyone reading this article, search frisbee and click wham-o and then see if they start getting prerender).

We started seeing it for the search [groupon] in late August and ramping up through about September 25th.

Although we have only seen this in our data from Google SERPs, the video above from Souder states that this could also happen as users start typing into the omnibar (aka address bar) in Chrome if there is a strong prediction about what site you will go to. So, if you go to nytimes.com a lot, by the time you type “ny” in your omnibar, it may already be fetching the New York Times homepage.

And now, SEOs have a new challenge. Ranking #1 is good, but ranking #1 with prerender is even better. Not only will users have a faster experience, but it might be a signal that your hold on the #1 position is strong.

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Google News Displaying “Suggested For You” Stories Customized To Match Your Interests

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By Amy Gesenhues

Google News founder Krishna Bharat used his Google+ account to announce a new “Suggested for you” feature in Google News.

According to his post, Google News will now include a “Suggested for you” section of news stories to match your interests.

The goal is to surface narrow and local topics specific to you.

Google News Founder

Bharat says suggestions will change along with the news, “…to keep things fresh and serendipitous.”

The feature includes a “Not interested” button so that you can modify what Google News serves up in its suggested content.

The feature doesn’t appear to have had a full roll-out as I could not get the any suggestions to display, but our news editor Barry Schwartz had the following results.

Notice the “You said you were interested in…” line, along with the “Not interested” option, under each article summary:

google-news-suggested-for-you

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