SEO Moneyball: How to Utilize Google Trends

In SEO, doing your keyword research is of utmost importance. You can optimize a page all you want, but if no one searches for your keywords then all that work is useless. The Google Keyword Planner is the most detailed tool to do this research, but the application with the most options may be Google Trends.

The main function of Google Trends is to show a chart of search volume for a particular keyword so you can find how popular it is and when it was most popular. Below, the search volume for “Jackson Martin” since 2004:

Google Trends Jackson Martin

As you can see, my popularity peaked in the summer of 2009, which was just before my senior year in high school. Man, that’s depressing.

This function is parlayed into a bunch of other applications within Google Trends that are useful for a number of different facets of your company.

Search Groups

Google Trends can show you search volume since 2004 for any term or group of terms. You enter this by putting a + in between terms and compare different search groups. For Instance, below is the chart comparing the group “Atlanta Braves+Chipper Jones” to “Nashville Predators+Pekka Rinne” and “Tennessee Titans+Chris Johnson”.

a screenshot of a chart from Google Trends

How to use this data

Because Google Trends doesn’t give you the actual number of searches on a term (Keyword Planner does), it is best used to look at relative data. For instance, we can utilize the charts to see what times of the year certain keywords are most popular. This is a chart showing all searches for “Atlanta Braves” since 2004.

 A screenshot of a chart from Google Trends about the Atlanta Braves

As you can see, searches for “Atlanta Braves” peak each year in April, when the season begins. As the Braves begin their slow, inevitable decline before suffering a crushing defeat in the playoffs, the search volume tails off as well.

This search function allows for a number of options to limit what you want to see. You can look at charts for web searches, product searches, image searches, news searches, and YouTube searches.

This can be particularly valuable to ecommerce fields, especially the product search functionality. Knowing what times of the year people look to buy certain products can be a big boon to your marketing research.

Geotargeting

Another useful application within Google Trends is the ability to see where searches are coming from. We can look at these numbers for “Atlanta Braves” by country (Again, these numbers are for all searches since 2004):

Atlanta Braves worldwide

We can then ENHANCE, and look at the just United States, by state:

Atlanta Braves United States

Clearly, the Southeast is far more interested in the Braves than the rest of the country, but what about within the state of Georgia?

Atlanta Braves Georgia

Woah, that’s almost all coming from the metro Atlanta area.

Now, this exercise served to show us that people in the city of Atlanta are more interested in the Atlanta Braves than anyone else (duh), but if you apply these methods to relevant search terms to your company, a lot of valuable marketing data can be obtained especially for local SEO and geo-targeted PPC.

Hot Searches

Google shows you what the most searched terms are in a handy chart here. There are a couple of uses for this, but the most relevant one is newsjacking. By finding out what is truly trending in the online world, your social media or content teams can jump on a popular topic to drive engagement, pageviews and interactions.

When jumping on a trending topic, be smart. Don’t try and capitalize on a tragedy and please don’t ever do what Urban Outfitters did during Hurricane Sandy:

Urban Outfitters fail

Top Charts

You can use the Top Charts function to find content ideas related to your company. This tool lets you see the top searches in all major categories, like Actors, Animals, Sports, etc.

This is a way to newsjack, but it is more useful for content than social media because these terms are based on a longer-term search volume.

Conclusion

While the Google Keyword planner is incredibly detailed, it doesn’t offer as many options as Google Trends. Use Trends to see when and where to advertise as well as what’s popular so that you can leverage this information to drive better engagement with your audience. Spend a few minutes playing around on the site, and I promise, even if you don’t come away with any groundbreaking insights, you’ll at least have a lot of fun. I know I did.

Jackson on Google+

 

For more SEO Moneyball check out these posts!

SEO Moneyball Series

SEO Moneyball: Google Makes AdWords Extensions Even More Important

SEO Moneyball: Why It Pays to Rank on Google

SEO Moneyball: Do Google +1s Lead to Higher Search Placement?

An article on Moz blew up the SEO community last week when it outlined the high correlation between Google +1s and higher search rankings.

Author Cyrus Shepard claims that, besides Moz’s own Page Authority statistic, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. Searchmetrics, another SEO website, found the exact same thing in a similar study using different methods.

That’s all well and good, but the real question is whether the higher search results are driven by +1s or are merely coincidentally mirroring them.

Shepard acknowledges this question, but says that his study shows that it is not merely correlation, but in fact causation between Google+ posts and search rankings.

He notes three big reasons why he sees this correlation:

  1. Posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately
  2. Google+ posts pass link equity
  3. Google+ is optimized for semantic relevance

In looking at his claims, let’s start off by saying that Google has already flatly denied the thesis of Shepard’s work. Google engineer Matt Cutts said this week on a Hacker news forum post about the article:

“Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let’s start with correlation != causation: http://xkcd.com/552/

But it would probably be better to point to this 2011 post (also from SEOMoz/Moz) from two years ago in which a similar claim was made about Facebook shares: http://moz.com/blog/does-google-use-facebook-shares-to-influ… . From that blog post from two years ago: “One of the most interesting findings from our 2011 Ranking Factors analysis was the high correlation between Facebook shares and Google US search position.”

This all came to a head at the SMX Advanced search conference in 2011 where Rand Fishkin presented his claims. I did a polite debunk of the idea that Google used Facebook shares in our web ranking at the conference, leading to this section in the 2011 blog post: “Rand pointed out that Google does have some access to Facebook data overall and set up a small-scale test to determine if Google would index content that was solely shared on Facebook. To date, that page has not been indexed, despite having quite a few shares (64 according to the OpenGraph).”

If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking.

Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.”

So, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at each of Shepard’s points.

1. Posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately

While I haven’t been able to find any hard evidence to confirm this claim, but it certainly falls within reason. Having a strong Google+ profile is absolutely a good way to be indexed by Google’s algorithm. Maintaining and updating your G+ page is extremely important for social media and seo, especially if this claim that posts are indexed immediately is true

2. Google+ posts pass link equity

Shepard claims that because all links from Google+ are followed, they pass on link equity. Dave Davies at Search Engine Watch, who called this claim unlikely, says,

“[Shepard] claims that shared links pass link weight simply because they’re not nofollowed (whereas other links are). Now, this brings up an interesting question: Does the fact that Google nofollows some links necessarily indicate that they pass weight to the others?

One could ask, ‘Why nofollow some if you aren’t going to pass weight to any?’ More likely than passing link weight from the easily abused environment that would breed goes back to point one – they will crawl the content that is shared (i.e., followed) and not crawl additional links, thus seriously restricting the benefits of comment spamming on stronger profiles.

I can’t say the conclusion that the links are nofollowed just to pass crawlers and not link juice is heavily tested or based on more than an understanding of what Google’s trying to accomplish and the pitfalls if they started passing link weight through Google+, but I will assert that it’s far more likely than Google setting themselves up to be a link spam property.”

Google is unlikely to let its own social networks be abused for search rankings, which makes Shepard’s claim dubious. The most likely scenario is that Google is following these links to index posts on its own site, not to pass link juice onto anyone posting on G+.

3. Google+ is optimized for semantic relevance

Google does rank its own site for relevance. That much is undoubtedly true. What we don’t know, and the crux of this point, is whether Google assigns that relevance to the post itself or the destination URL. Matt Cutts hasn’t answered that question, and without his input I doubt the author can make this claim with any certainty.

Conclusion

Google+ plays a role in SEO. What that role is exactly is unclear to everyone outside (and probably most people within) the Google offices. Without hard evidence, we need to treat the claims of Moz as merely correlation, without proven causation.

As Cutts said himself, you’re wasting your time if all you try to do is get +1s. Great content will be shared, and that should be your focus.

Jackson on Google+

 

For more SEO Moneyball check out these posts!

SEO Moneyball Series

SEO Moneyball: How to Utilize Google Trends

SEO Moneyball: Takings Advantage of Geo-Targeting in Google AdWords

SEO Moneyball: Don’t Ignore Bing

Nashville SEO associate Jackson Martin's Moneyball image is shown, featuring a man on a baseball diamond.

The goal of Moneyball is to get the best results out of the least money spent. In other words, Billy Beane viewed his baseball team as a business, looking to get the best value or ROI. Beane’s Oakland teams made the playoffs four straight years in the early 2000s despite being in the bottom five teams in salary.

As a sports fan and a sportswriter, reading Moneyball changed the way I look at baseball like few other things have. Each week, I’ll try to do the same thing with SEO for you in this series, SEO MoneyBall, using some deeper statistics to give you a better look at how to improve your web presence. This week, I look at why Google isn’t the only search engine you should focus on.

Oftentimes in the Search Engine Optimization business we only truly focus on one search engine. In fact, we should really call what we do “Google Optimization” because almost all the tricks and effort we put into optimizing websites is solely to optimize for Google.

This isn’t necessarily wrong: Google holds nearly 70% of the market share in search engines and has the widest variety of tools and extensions that companies can use to promote themselves, so it makes sense to focus the majority of time and effort on this search engine.

However, there is a sleeping giant and it has been gaining steam for quite some time now. Bing, backed by the corporate giant that is Microsoft, has worked its way up to a 17.9% market share and big things on the horizon.

George Fischer of Search Engine Watch also says of Bing, “Aggressive marketing and business decisions leading to increased market share are one reason to focus on Bing. Another is their unique demographics. According to Alexa, users age 45-65+ are over representing on Bing as compared with Google. This same age demographic is also the fastest growing on Facebook.”

Bing has also gone all-in on image search, showing tons of images on regular results pages. This gives companies an opportunity to easily rank and get conversions from Bing by being smart about optimizing images (i.e.,with the proper keywords in the alt. text).

The biggest reason to divert some of your focus to Bing, however, lies in this press release by Apple:

“Starting this fall with iOS 7, Bing will power Siri’s new integrated web search. When users ask Siri a question either the specific answer or web search links will now be delivered automatically so users can find information even faster.

Bing was designed from the outset to be a great place for web search, helping customers quickly find what they are looking for and get more out of search. We are thrilled that all the great results people have come to know and love on Bing.com will now be available to Siri users on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Making sure customers can have access to the power of Bing where and when they need it has been a big focus of the work we have done over the past few years, and we are excited to work with Apple to deliver it to Siri users this fall.”

That’s right, everyone on Apple iOS 7 will by default use Bing as their primary search engine. This means that Bing is set to skyrocket its market share starting this fall.

In particular, businesses that rely on location-based searches will benefit immensely from Apple using Bing, as many of these iOS 7 searches will be looking for a restaurant, gas station, or other nearby place.

Where you can take advantage of Bing in places Google doesn’t go is social media. Bing search integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Klout on its results page. Having a large following and good Yelp reviews can send your business to the top, and help you take advantage of the incoming volume of iOS 7 searches.

A Screen Shot of a Bing search results page about Local Search Masters in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

To rank higher on Bing, especially in location-based searches, pay attention to your social media. Update all channels regularly, and manage your Yelp reviews. Having an active social media presence can mean the difference between getting thousands of hits from iOS 7 Siri searches in the fall and missing out completely.

Jackson on Google+

Gotta have more SEO Moneyball? Check out these posts for more!

SEO Moneyball Series

SEO Moneyball: Bing has Integrated Image Search with Pinterest. How Can You Take Advantage?

SEO Moneyball: Mobile Browsing is Up. How Do You Take Advantage?

SEO Moneyball: Why It Pays to Rank on Google

SEO Moneyball

The goal of Moneyball is to get the best results out of the least money spent. In other words, Billy Beane viewed his baseball team as a business, looking to get the best value or ROI. Beane’s Oakland teams made the playoffs four straight years in the early 2000s despite being in the bottom five teams in salary.

As a sports fan and a sportswriter, reading Moneyball changed the way I look at baseball like few other things have. Each week, I’ll try to do the same thing with SEO for you in this series, SEO MoneyBall, using some deeper statistics to give you a better look at how to improve your web presence. This week, I explain some Google Heat Maps and why it’s so important to be at the top of the search results.

One of the best ways to Moneyball your marketing efforts is to invest some time, effort, and money into SEO. There are two simple reasons why. First, SEO is extremely cost-efficient and becomes more so over time, so the bang for your buck- assuming you’re doing things right- increases over time. The other reason is that quite simply, if you’re not ranking well on Google, chances are not many people are finding your website.

This study by Chitika shows that nearly 33% of organic Google searches resulted in a click on the top listing of page 1. As you can see from the graph below, the numbers start decreasing quickly the lower your ranking is.

chitika

While it is important to be number one or two on Google’s results, it is most essential to a company to at least rank on the first page. The same study by Chitika found that 92% of search traffic goes to page one results. Just under 5% of traffic goes to page two results, and the percentages just get smaller from there.

percentage-of-google-traffic-by-results-page-chitika

To further illustrate this point, I’m going to borrow one of my favorite things from baseball statistics to use for Google search results.

jonah hill

In baseball, we like to use heat maps to show the frequency a pitcher throws a certain pitch in certain locations. This tells us a lot about a pitching performance and just how accurate a pitcher was over a game or season, etc. For instance, the heat map below (courtesy of baseballanalytics.com is a representation of Homer Bailey’s no-hitter the other night. As you can see, Bailey worked the outside corners of the plate, and didn’t give the Giants much to hit.

strike-zone 29

We can use these heat maps for Google, too. This one shows the results of an SEO Customer study on where people click on the Google search results page.

HeatMap

Results above the fold (those that you don’t have to scroll down to see) garner almost all of the clicks on this page.

This next heat map used the same methods, but this time on a page with two paid search results above organic results, a Google maps result, and the new Google carousel feature.

carousel heat map

This map shows us how important it is as a business to have a Google Places page with a good picture. It also tells us that even when paid searches are above organic results, the paid content is largely ignored.

I could show you a thousand of these heat maps, and they would all tell you the same thing: if you want organic traffic to your website, your page has to rank. Whether you accomplish that by paying a group of attractive SEO professionals to do it or by practicing sound SEO fundamentals on your own is up to you, but regardless, it is a necessity for any business that wants to make the most of their marketing opportunities.

jonah hill celebration

Jackson on Google+

 

Can’t get enough SEO Moneyball? Check these posts out for more!

SEO Moneyball Series

SEO Moneyball: How to Utilize Google Trends

SEO Moneyball: Do Google +1s Lead to Higher Search Placement

14 Reasons Why Your Business Should Invest in SEO

We can all agree that proper SEO can be beneficial for your business, but you might not understand just how beneficial such practices can be for the growth and sustained success of your company. To keep you both informed and entertained, we’ve compiled a list of the best arguments below.

1. SEO has become a necessity, not a luxury.

In the modern business climate, utilizing the Internet correctly is not an added bonus; rather, it’s necessary for the long-term wellbeing of any company.  If you don’t take advantage of the online world to capture new business, chances are your competitors will.  Why would you sit back and let others draw in all your potential customers?  Even if you’re not interested in using Google primarily to drive sales, SEO is still vital because it’s a great way to enhance a company’s comprehensive web presence (for more, see #4).

Your web presence pre-SEO: pale, boring, and lazy.
Your web presence when employing SEO: shiny, dynamic, and in much better shape.

2. It builds trust and credibility.

How often do you ever go beyond the first page of Google?  Rarely, if ever? You’re not alone; most people rarely move past the “Go” to muck around in the “ooooooogle.”  It’s not just because they find what they’re looking for on the first page; people sometimes don’t.  Rather, it’s because people inherently trust results on the first page more.  We know that results that rank highly are probably both relevant to what we need and likely trustworthy businesses (such is our faith in the King of Search Engines).  This is why most people try a different search when they can’t find what they need after the first page or two.  They’d rather try their luck changing the search terms than go on a wild goose chase through the backwoods of later results pages where quality links are few and far between.

Seriously, when was the last time you went to Page 3?

3. It helps ensure a consistently strong message.

Not too long ago, it used to be that you only had to worry about your company’s image on one small plot of digital territory: the company website.  In the modern age of business, however, this no longer cuts it.  In addition to your website, there are all sorts of places where your company’s name can pop up, including (but by no means limited to) Google Places, tons of review sites, directories, social networks, and blogs.  While this can certainly be an opportunity for your company, it can also cause problems for your business’s image if its web presence is not managed correctly.  Poorly filled out directory listings, low social media activity, and bad reviews are just a few examples of this.  An SEO specialist can take care of all of these things for you, finding the various places on the Web where your company shows up and ensuring that the message, wherever it’s found, is characterized by both excellence and consistency.

How did there get to be so many of these anyway?

4. It brings in the right traffic.

Most people understand that SEO helps increase the online visibility of a company, which in turn leads to a greater number of people viewing your site.  While volume undeniably matters, the quality of that volume is also important.  SEO improves the quality of your traffic by targeting the right kinds of consumers, namely, those that are looking for goods or services that your company actually provides.  Websites that bring in more quality customers usually see a corresponding increase in the number of views actually converting into sales.

5. SEO is consistent with the intentions of those searching.

We all know that certain types of advertising, especially on the Internet, can be extremely annoying.  Pop-ups and intrusive banner ads are like online mosquitoes that we have to swat away from time to time.  To make matters worse, the material is usually completely irrelevant to the interests of the person browsing the Web.  Advertisements like these are hardly ever popular with consumers and tend to turn people away from the business in question.

One of the great things about SEO is that it’s a process that’s molded around the desires of the consumer. Instead of pushing your way into the minds of unsuspecting people who just want to leisurely surf the Web, SEO allows companies to welcome in people that already want their services in the first place.  You’re not trying to sell ice to an eskimo.  You’re simply making it very easy for the Eskimo (and the other thousands that desperately need an ice salesman) to find you should he or she happen to run out of ice.

No idea what the polar bear is supposed to be doing here…

6. It helps you take advantage of free advertising.

Google is your friend. The King of Search Engines wants to take your business and show it to the whole world (or at least those people that type in certain keywords), but it can’t do this unless you work with it.  If you’re not, at the very least, filling your website and Google+ Places page  with respectable content and doing little things like optimizing titles, meta descriptions, and other media like photos and videos, you are missing out on valuable, free advertising space. Make it easy for search engines to spot you, and you’ll make it easy for your customers as well.

7. ROI can be monitored easily.

Unlike many other marketing initiatives, the return on your investment into SEO is fairly easy to analyze.  You can make use of software like Raventools.com or www.seomoz.org/plans to track all sorts of data, including but not limited to: increases in traffic to your website over any period of time, the sources from which traffic is coming to your site, changes in search results rankings for specific keyword terms, social media activity, and even bounce rate (the percentage of page viewers that leave your site immediately once it loads).   A good SEO specialist can track all of this data for you and update you via weekly reports. This will allow businesses to see definitive results so that they can understand exactly what they’re getting for their investments.

Ah, progress.

8. Even if your business ranks well on results pages, it might not stay there.

In the unlikely case that you’ve managed to luck out and place highly on Google without any significant optimization, you’re still at risk to lose such a prime position in the future.  Google comes up with cutely named (Penguin, Panda, etc.) updates to its algorithm regularly, and sometimes these changes can cause significant ranking decreases for businesses.  SEO companies make it their priority to understand how these differences can affect search results, and they help their clients adapt their websites to the new SEO best practices. No matter if it’s Platypus, Pony, Parakeet, Peacock, or Polliwog, future Google updates can seriously damage your online presence as a whole and, ultimately, (Gasp!) your sales.  Investing in SEO will allow you to adapt to these changes more quickly and easily.

They’re significantly less adorable when they’re destroying the precious rankings that you’ve worked so hard to build up.

9. Offline sales benefit, too.

SEO doesn’t just generate online sales.  These days, many consumers choose to do some research on the Internet before making a purchase at a traditional brick-and-mortar store.  A recent study found that 89% of consumers utilize Internet search engines to make purchasing decisions.  They won’t learn more information about your product if they can’t find it or if they are led astray by your competition.  Even if page views don’t convert directly to sales on the website, they might soon become sales at your physical store.  Ranking highly is just as important for consumer research purposes as it is for sales. The higher up on the results page you are, the more likely viewers will look into the products and services you offer. This leads to increased sales- in cyberspace and in the real world.  It’s that simple.

10. SEO is a champion of small businesses… and large ones.

As mentioned before, SEO is cost-efficient.  You don’t need to have boatloads of cash to make yourself more visible and more relevant online.  By utilizing free services like the Google Keyword Tool and Ubersuggest, businesses that don’t want to invest a lot of money into SEO can see improvements at little to no cost. Thus, even companies that don’t have Apple-like amounts of cash can still have a chance to be seen and compete for searches relevant to their industry.  Still, if you’re interested in competing long term, you’ll probably want to start paying an SEO expert to link-build for you.  If you do decide to pay a firm to do a more comprehensive SEO job for you, the sales generated from their work should more than make up for the investment, provided you did your homework beforehand.

While the cost effectiveness is something that both large and small companies can appreciate, larger companies also stand to benefit in their own way.  Larger companies often have multiple locations in different regions; this can mean multiple listings on review sites as well as more Google Places, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts to manage.  SEO specialists can help you keep these various sites positive, informative, and updated. Further, as mentioned in #4, they can ensure that the message is consistent across all these locations and pages.

11. It is often more relevant than paid advertising.

I could write a fairly convincing paragraph explaining this, but just click here then come back.  I’ll wait.

If you were too lazy to click, here’s a good summary: organic SEO, which you can do, in part, for free, drives over three quarters of all search traffic, whereas paid search advertising, which you have to pay for, receives less than 25%.

Don’t get the wrong idea about paid search advertisements.  Utilizing paid links can be a good investment for a few reasons.  It can be a quick way to get some Page 1 real estate if your organic rankings are abysmal. Paid search can also be the right decision if the company website has a high conversion rate and/or a high margin on each sale to make up for the money spent.  However, keep in mind that consumers can be wary of clicking on these, as advertisements inherently have agendas, while organic search results (in the minds of consumers, anyway) do not.  Furthermore, paid ads garner more clicks when users know of and trust the brand, so a well known company like Zappos.com or Domino’s Pizza is more likely to have success with this sort of campaign than less reputable and/or less recognizable companies.

12. SEO creates a better customer experience.

This is true for a number of reasons.  First, it makes your business easier to find, which customers appreciate, especially when they’re looking for your company specifically.  Second, optimized sites are easier to navigate, as these sites generally tag content, provide clear, explicit links, and include helpful sitemaps.  Further, well-optimized sites integrate more seamlessly with blogs, social media sites, and directory pages. This allows the user to get a more well-rounded snapshot of your company.

The user on the right had a wonderful experience on a site that was properly optimized for search. The user on the left had no such luck and is now blue in the face from frustration.

13. You can capitalize on slow-to-adapt competition.

Even though the Internet has been around for a while now, some companies still don’t invest in the long term well-being of their web presence.  If you’re lucky enough to be competing with companies that don’t, you can take a lot of potential sales that would have gone elsewhere.  Unless your product or service isn’t really ever sought on the Internet (A lemonade stand, maybe?), your business can make respectable gains in market share by being the dominant online presence in the industry.

14. Experts can do it for you.

If you don’t have the time and expertise to dive into the intricacies of SEO yourself, you can place your web presence in the hands of people who will make it their priority.  Depending on the scope of the project, SEO and related operations can be tedious and complicated.  Why not let the people who know what they’re doing and who enjoy the work just do it for you? If everyone focuses their time and energy where they’re excellent, then everybody wins.

If you still aren’t convinced, check out our LSM Video Testimonials and see what the people we have worked with have to say about SEO.

James on Google+

The Coolest Guy in Nashville

The Coolest Guy in Nashville is not a title to be taken lightly. That said, it isn’t hard to claim that title on Google. “The Coolest Guy in Nashville” is what’s called a long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that are more than just a few words, and they often have very little competition because they have less search traffic. When an SEO company says that they can rank you for “the best remodeling contractor in east Nashville,” it’s probably because they can. If they’re any good, they can probably rank you for that term in a matter of weeks. But that’s not where you want to be. “Remodeling contractor” is the term you want to rank for. That’s why ranking for “The Coolest Guy in Nashville” doesn’t mean much.

The coolest guy in Nashville stands next to his buddy.
Right: The Coolest Guy in Nashville. Left: His friend, an African tribal clothing enthusiast.

If there were 20 other companies that were all after the title of “The Coolest guy in Nashville,” then it would be an impressive term to achieve #1 rankings for- but there aren’t.

One way to tell if an SEO company is struggling to perform for you is if they start showing you all of the #1 rankings they have achieved for you rather than showing you the rankings of the keywords that you originally selected to target. They redirect their attention to ranking for keywords that have lower competition and that are less profitable for your business overall. This is a common issue in the SEO industry. Make sure that when you select an SEO company you get one that is focused on ranking for the keywords that are going to make you money. Don’t just pick the coolest guy in Nashville.

Of course, going after long-tail keywords is not always a bad strategy. Sometimes you can identify a long-tail keyword that gets a bit of search traffic, rank for it easily, and capture a small amount of traffic from it over time. This strategy can work, especially if you do this with 20+ long tail keywords, but the real returns are made from ranking for money terms. Ranking for “The Coolest Guy in Nashville” just doesn’t bring in the big leads. Getting first-page rankings for highly-searched keywords is the best way to drive a return on your SEO investment, and you should make sure your SEO company knows that too.

So you decide. Do you want to cash checks from Google? Or do you want to be the coolest guy in Nashville? It’s up to you.

UPDATE #1: Just 2 hours after this page was posted, we’re the 3rd ranked page on Google for “The Coolest Guy in Nashville”. That was even faster than I expected. Just goes to show how easy it is for an SEO company to mislead you with quick results on long-tail keywords!

Jeff on Google+

For more SEO information check out these posts!

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Google moves against illegal downloading

The almighty Google algorithm has struck again.  The victims this time are sites that host copyrighted content that doesn’t belong to them – music, movies, pictures and more.  Hollywood has been pushing for this for a long time, hoping to drive sites that host illegal content down to the bottom of the SERPs, and today Google announced that sites that were judged to have a large amount of copyrighted content can be expecting a serious drop in rankings.  The metric that will be used to identify these sites?  DMCA takedown requests.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 made it illegal to provide access to copyrighted content on your site, and now Google will use requests filed against sites to determine where, if at all, they should rank in search results.  Read more about Google’s announcement.

Google against piracy
Lil’ Wayne loves the DMCA act

Jeff Siebach on Google+

10 Fun Google Features/Oddities

When you’re the number one search engine in the world, life is easy. When life is easy, you tend to have some time on your hands. It therefore should not surprise you to find out that Google has some interesting features that you might not know about. Some of these are very useful, allowing us to find answers more efficiently. Some of them could not be less practical. Either way, you’ll probably impress your friends with at least one or two of them.

1. Weather/Time

Useful: If you put the keywords “weather” or “time” followed by the name of a city into the search bar, you can quickly check either of these for many worldwide locales. Note: you might need to use an area code, state, or country to help narrow it down.

Wait till Saturday to come visit. By then it’ll be a balmy 108!

2. The Meaning of Life

Not useful: If you type “answer to life the universe and everything” into the Google search bar, Google will confidently inform you that the answer is exactly 42. For those of you that are not familiar with the reference, it’s a nod to the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which the number 42 is the answer to Life’s Ultimate Question.

All of this can be summed up by one simple, two-digit integer.

3. Sports

Useful: For all you sports fans out there, you can use Google to check recent scores and the next games on the schedule for specific teams. Just insert the name of the team into the search bar and the info should appear above the search results. For some franchises, other useful facts appear on the side of the page as well, such as roster information, championships won, current head coach, and stadium. No word yet on why they bothered to make a page for any of the teams from Cleveland.

After the loss of Charlie Sheen, Cleveland sports would never quite be the same again. And by “same” we obviously mean “even briefly successful.”

4. Traveling in the Orient

Somewhat irrelevant: A lot of people know about this one, but it’s one of the best. Go to Google Maps and click the Get Directions button. Put China in the A Box and Japan in the B Box. Check out Step #38.

Apparently, Google assumes we can bust out a Sea-Doo on a whim.

5. Unit Conversion

Useful: Google can do unit conversion for all kinds of measurements, including currency. As long as you phrase it correctly, the answer should appear instantly at the top of the page (and even in the search bar itself). Correct phrasing: “how many feet in kilometer,” or “seconds in a day.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for all units. When we tried to test it by asking how many jiffies there were in a leap year, Google failed to provide an immediate answer. Amateurs.

Oh you’re good Google. You’re good…

6. Gravity

Fairly worthless: The next time you’re bored at work, type “Google gravity” into the search bar and click the link with that title (the site is safe). Once everything falls, you can play with the various things on screen by clicking and releasing to throw them around. Moving your browser window also jumbles everything up. By the way, you’re welcome.

This is what happens when you let Google have too much caffeine.

7. Tracking Planes and Packages

Useful: If you’re a big fan of knowing the exact location of things at all times, you can track packages and flights directly from Google. For packages, all you have to do is type in a UPS, Fedex, or USPS tracking number. For flights, all you need to do is insert the name of the airline and the flight number.

Snickelfritz was reluctant to be shipped off to Seattle, but we knew he’d be safe thanks to Google’s sweet package tracking tool.

8. Beatboxing

Completely pointless: Go to the Google Translator tool (which you can find, conveniently enough, by typing “translator” into the search bar) and set it to translate from German to English. Then copy and paste “pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch” into the box and click on the sound button in the bottom right corner. It should sound like a guy beatboxing.

“Pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch” is actually the rough German equivalent to the English term “gangsta.”

9. Quick Search

Useful: You can search for local restaurants, businesses, or other stores by typing in the category of the thing you’re looking for and the zip code of the location. A listing of relevant Google Places will show up for your perusal. Examples: “Italian food 33606” or “barber 22124.” This also works for movie times if you type in “movies” before the zip.

So it is real…

10. Askew

Does not advance humanity in any way: If you type “askew” into Google, the whole page will be at a funny angle. This is particularly entertaining unless you’re actually just trying to find information about the word “askew,” in which case it’s actually fairly annoying. This also works for “tilt.”

As you can clearly see here, some people at Google have way too much time on their hands.

*Special YouTube Bonus*

If you get bored while waiting for your video to load, pause it. Then hold down the left arrow key for approximately three seconds. Now press the down arrow key. At this point you should be playing the classic game Snake, which rose to fame when cell phones were twice as large and still frequently used to make actual phone calls.

In this decade, “mobile” meant “can fit in the bed of a truck.”

 

We’re sure you have some of your own.  Let us know which ones we should have included!

PubCon Las Vegas 2011 – Day 2

Another wonderful day at PubCon. We’re learning some very valuable information and getting some of our search marketing theories confirmed by the panelists – hooray! A couple quick notes for you. A key ingredient to online reputation management is to simply monitor your company’s reviews – read the reviews, get an understanding of your customer and their needs/issues and respond to your customers’ posts (especially if the review is negative). When building links, be sure to diversify the anchor text – some exact match, some brand-focused, some ‘read more’ and ‘click here,’ etc – the more natural your backlinking profile is the better. For some additional keyword tools other than Google’s AdWords tool, check out UberSuggest and Soolve.

Enjoy!

Pubcon Vegas 2011

PubCon – Day 1.

We are listening to the history of marketing and how it relates to Internet marketing. The LSM crew is excited to be here! Lots more updates to come.

Follow our feeds from PubCon on twitter: @LocalSearchMstr

So, what is PubCon?The Google Booth at PubCon Las Vegas

PubCon is the premier search and social media conference and expo. Held yearly, this year’s conference is being held in Las Vegas during the week of November 7 – 10, 2011 at the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada. PubCon Las Vegas 2011 will be the biggest and boldest gathering of search and social media innovators they have ever assembled, offering an unrivaled highly-productive conference experience at cost-effective rates, and with the leading technology and online marketing visionaries who will be in Las Vegas, as the committee is confident in the speakers and specialist that have descended upon Las Vegas, we are confident that every attendee will come away with valuable new ideas and solutions for search marketing. Content c/o PubCon, learn more by visiting www.PubCon.com/pubcon-vegas-2011