Wednesday, April 20, 2011
As we continue to look at the fallout of the Google Panda update (more so since its international roll-out), we have yet more data to sink our teeth into.
Have you noticed an increase in local results since the Panda roll-out? Let us know.
CNET has now released some data, as it compiled about 100,000 Google results, testing Google.com in March, and then last week, just after the new update. The data reflects earlier reported data from SearchMetrics in terms of news sites benefiting and Demand Media’s eHow sliding.
One interesting element CNET’s data brings to the table, however, is that of Google’s localization and its relationship to the update.
“We also tested what happens if you connect to Google.com from an overseas Internet address. We picked one in London. We performed the same searches on the same day–the only variable that should have changed, in other words, was our location,” explains CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh. “The results? Google engages in significant localization efforts, as you might imagine, with Yelp.com being the largest beneficiary by far.”
“In searches originating from the U.K., Yelp appeared only twice,” he adds. “In U.S. searches, by contrast, it was the ninth-most popular Web site, with both its topic and individual business pages weaved seamlessly into the main search results.”
SearchMetrics’ data did show yelp.co.uk as having a 29.59% boost in visibility.
Yelp picked up 45 first-page appearances for generic searches like “chocolate,” “cleaning,” “food,” “lights,” “laundry,” “tv,” and “weddings,” from a Califronia address, according to McCullagh, while Davidsbridal.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Walgreens.com also benefited in the U.S. from localization.
It’s not all just big brands though.
Local-based results won big too, based on CNET’s testing. Not just local locations for big brands or local businesses, but locally-themed results.
“For our U.S. tests, we used an Internet address near Palo Alto, Calif., which prompted Google to rank nearby businesses and municipal Web sites near the top of search results,” McCullagh explains. “The City of Palo Alto’s Web site appears in the first page of search results for terms including ‘adventures,’ ‘art,’ ‘business,’ ‘gas,’ and ‘jobs.’ PaloAltoOnline.com makes repeat appearances (‘budget cuts,’ ‘restaurants’), as do Stanford, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Mike’s Bikes.”
It’s no secret that Google has put a great deal more emphasis on local in recent times, but it’s interesting to see how this is playing out in light of the Panda update, which was seemingly unrelated (based more on content farms).
We saw how news sites and video sites appeared to come out as big winners, but this research does seem to indicate even more wins for local.
The benefits to Yelp are interesting, considering the tension there has been between Yelp and Google, regarding Google Place Pages and their use of Yelp reviews. Google’s own reviews system – Hotpot – has now found its way into Places, and right into organic search results themselves.
Google is also finding more ways to improve its local listings themselves. See the “open now” and local product listings, for example. Oh, and by the way, Google just launched Map Maker for the US, so users can add their “local knowledge” to the map.
Interestingly enough, as Google focuses more on local, the competition for local eyeballs is already heavily increasing. This is not just about search in the traditional sense. You have to factor in entities like Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook, Foursquare, and others in these companies’ respective spaces (the lines between which are getting blurrier).
The more ways people obtain the information related to local businesses from sources outside of Google, the less they’ll need to search for that information with Google.
Are Google’s results better now? Tell us what you think
Friday, April 1, 2011
Meet the Plus One Google's VersionGoogle is trying hard to move in on Facebook's social sharing territory. Yesterday, it unveiled the "Plus One" button. It's pretty much the same as the Facebook "Like" button, except it's for Google searches. When you click the "Plus One" button next to your Google search results, your friends will see that you've endorsed it on their own results.
If you want to start "plus oneing" things—yes Google is already using "plus one" as a verb, see video below—you have to opt in to the "experiment" here. If you're a regular Google user, you've probably noticed that some search results already have an extra line at the bottom telling you a Twitter or Facebook friend has mentioned that link. This new feature lets you annotate searches you want to share right there on the Google page, without actually cutting and pasting into Facebook or Twitter.
All of this social search information is enticing ambient information on your friends' lives, but the actual benefit of this feature is that "Plus Ones" are data that can help guide your clicking in a cluttered web world. Well, that's the theory anyway.
Google writes on its blog:
Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.
One useful way the "Plus One" is different from the "Like" button is that, over time, your "Plus Ones" will be archived as a kind of bookmarks file of endorsed searches. So you can check back on all the links you've endorsed this way.
And so can everyone else, unless you set your privacy setting right. So, like everything else in social media, "Plus One" (as a verb) with care.
Right now, you'll only see "Plus Ones" from people connected to you through Google contacts, like gchat or gmail, but the company may soon expand that to Twitter or other sites, they say. To find out just how public your Google search result endorsements will be, go to the Google Dashboard and check your connections and your settings.
Your network is probably much bigger than you think. That's fine if you want to become a web-lebrity brand. But not so great for job hunters with a few private hobbies best left off the C.V.
If you have any insight into more things Google may be looking at (specific to this update), discuss these in the comments as well.
A new way to communicate
The mouse and keyboard were invented before the Internet even existed. Since then, countless technological advancements have allowed for much more efficient human computer interaction. Why then do we continue to use outdated technology? Introducing Gmail Motion -- now you can control Gmail with your body.