Optimising your eCommerce site for SEO

How do the rules for optimising an ecommerce website for SEO differ from the equivalent rules for more basic websites? Well, they differ in one major aspect: the SEO campaign for an ecommerce website typically requires much more work and attention. However, the basic principles of SEO do not differ for ecommerce websites, and the much greater amount of work and attention required in optimising an ecommerce website is certainly worthwhile given the subsequent benefits.

Make plentiful and pleasant content

Crafting content that is plentiful, detailed, informative and pleasant to read is typically the best manner of optimising any website for SEO, and so it remains the case with ecommerce websites. Crafting such content for ecommerce websites usually means writing detailed, accurate but not too lengthy descriptions for the products on sale through the website. This has a multitude of benefits for SEO purposes.

For a start, detailed product descriptions will naturally use more keywords, both head and longtail, than less detailed product descriptions. This will lead more people to click through to your website following a web search. Secondly, pages on your website with pleasant content will be the type that other websites will be keen to link to, which will in turn enhance the link building part of your SEO campaign. And, finally, allowing for user-generated reviews will further enhance your website’s standing with the search engines.

Show a bit of creativity

However, if you really want to give your ecommerce website that additional boost over competing websites, then you will have to draw on other, more creative methods of SEO that account for aspects of your website beyond its content.

You can, for example, take advantage of the popularity of social networking websites through showing social media badges on your website and permitting your website viewers to “share” information about your products on social networking websites. Meanwhile, using Google products like AdWords for your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and YouTube for videos on your website makes it easier for your website to rank highly with the most popular search engine, Google.

Does server speed matter in SEO?

The official word from Google, and the short answer to this question, is that it does… well, kind of. The search giant announced some time ago that page speed was now a ranking factor, which indicates that the company will use usability metrics to determine your site’s rankings.

But how important is server speed, really? Does it, for example, have a dramatic effect on the top 10 search queries, even when such factors as content optimisation and link profile are considered?

Why server speed does have an effect

Of course, Google’s complicated algorithms mean that there are many factors to consider prior to server speed when you are creating, designing or updating a website.

Nonetheless, we don’t need to apply much of the mathematics to realise why the speed at which your web pages load matters to both Google and your visitors – after all, the needs of these two groups are really one and the same.

Anyone who is in charge of site design and search engine optimisation (SEO) will be aware of the importance of accessibility. A site that takes too long to load is not going to win much favour with impatient online browsers, so if this is the situation for your own site, your conversions can be adversely affected.

The Google approach to server speed

Reading the official blog post by Google that announced site speed as a factor, however, one gets a rather more ambiguous impression of its true impact on site ranking. The blog stated that while site speed was a new signal, it didn’t carry as much weight as a page’s relevance, adding that “fewer of 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal.”

What this appears to mean is that server speed will only become a real influence in circumstances where all other ranking signals of competing websites are very close, or when there is a very poor load time. Page speed may become a factor, then, if sites have both high relevancy scores and close link metrics, although this doesn’t seem too likely.

Nonetheless, as a website owner, server speed remains important to the user experience and the revenue that you generate online – whether it does, or doesn’t, also give you a modest SEO boost.

Using Local Directories for Link Building

Many business owners know that building links could have huge benefits for them and their business, as the process helps them to attract attention from search engines as well as the visitors who reach them as a result of the directory position.
What many are also now discovering is that the directories the businesses choose to place themselves in is not only important but could affect their effectiveness.

What Are Regional Directory Submissions?

In short, regional or local directories are those which are chosen because they are in a good geographical location for the business concerned. Therefore, if the business focuses solely on a product which a customer in Hong Kong would want to purchase but which a customer in New South Wales would have no use for, then the company in question would be wise to consider a directory which focused on Hong Kong – i.e. a local directory.
Choosing a regional directory means that the business in question can spend less time concentrating on an area which is never going to give them the results they need or want and instead looking towards a market which is likely to prove fruitful.

What’s more, with customers from that particular area only being able to see the links and knowing that a “local” business placed said link there, gives much more of an opportunity for a relationship to build given that many people now tend to feel an affiliation with local or national businesses and are more likely to want to give them, rather than an international alternative, their patronage.

Finding the Right Directories

Directory submissions are becoming exceptionally popular with online marketing specialists who are able to not only get fast results but obtain long lasting results. This is because many remove the random factor from their clients’ submissions and take the time to assess which directories would suit the business in question. With this in mind, it stands to reason that any business, whether they intend to employ a marketing professional or carry out their directory submissions personally would make the same effort.

Surviving A Penguin Attack

Penguin AttackPenguin is the highly anticipated over optimisation penalty and anti-spam update that has been released by Google. Its aim was to bring down poor quality websites and to thwart those sites that rely on poor quality links. Not only have a great many links been devalued, offering little or no benefit to an SEO campaign, but there are a lot of webmasters receiving penalty warnings from Google. A drop in rankings and, therefore, a drop in traffic levels is possible unless you heed the warnings and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.

Penguin Targets

The Penguin update was primarily aimed at those websites that used linking techniques deemed unfair by Google. Blog network and site network links were heavily penalised while the use of paid links could lead to a site wide index. The Panda update is a site-wide update and this means that if one of your pages suffers a penalty then so, too, do the rest. By the same token, though, if you adjust your SEO campaign and perform well as a result, you will enjoy good results across the site.

Webmaster Tools Warning Emails

Google has been sending warning emails to Webmasters for some time now and you should check your Webmaster Tools account. If you don’t have one, get one, and use the information that is provided to hunt down low quality links that could lead to a penalty. Have them removed or, at the very least, ensure that you have a high ratio of high quality links to poor quality links.

Check Your Content

It isn’t just links that have been targeted by the Penguin update, though, and you should ensure that your content meets Google guidelines. Primarily, this means targeting your content to your readers rather than the search engines although you can still consider the use of one or two keywords in your writing to be good practice. It highlights a topic to readers and does offer Google guidance for choosing relevant topics and searches.

Varied Links

Your link profile needs to appear as natural as possible and this means diversity. Links should point at all pages on a website and they should use a variety of anchor text keywords and phrases. This includes a number of links that use your website address as anchor text and your company name.

Social Influence

Social indicators are being picked up and used with increasing frequency by the likes of Google. Microsoft’s Bing is also known to favour factors such as the number of likes, +1s, and shares that your content receives. This will give you domain authority and it will give you, as an author, authority too.

Facebook IPO Endures Difficult Start

The launch of Facebook shares on the stock exchange has been very heavily publicised with investors from around the world expected to buy shares in the leading social network. However, while the company raised its target price just prior to release, following what they believed to be a very strong roadshow, the actual release itself was not as popular. Even though share prices seemingly rose 23c above float price, this needed to be heavily subsidised by the banks and lenders that led the initial public offering.

The Hotly Anticipate IPO

The Facebook IPO has been on the cards for some time now with analysts and investors giving a largely positive view on the move. The huge majority of analysts point to the fact that the site has nearly 1 billion users and indicate that any kind of move to further monetise these members could lead to massive profits. However, the site has found it reasonably difficult to profit from a membership that equates to around 70% of all Internet users.

The Launch

Facebook launched its shares at $38 last Friday and the stock actually opened at $42.05 reaching a high of $45 at one stage. However, the stock ended at just $38.23 and this only paints a portion of the picture. Closer inspection of company filings shows that Morgan Stanley bought 162m shares worth $6.16bn while JP Morgan hold $3.2bn and Goldman Sachs now have a $2.4bn holding in the company. These purchases were made to ensure that the share price remained above the $38 level and by companies that are acting as Facebook’s advisors on the share float.

Analyst Views

What’s more, one analyst, Brian Wieser, from Pivotal Research Group in New York, has brandished the shares as being priced unreasonably. He cautioned his clients against the purchase of Facebook stock. Few analysts have made predictions or recommendations on the stock, preferring to wait and watch from the wings, but of those that have made mention of the shares, all bar Pivotal have recommended a buy on the grounds of the sheer size of the website’s user base.

Yahoo Targeting Online Advertisers With Genome Analytics Tool


Yahoo has undergone a number of facelifts and brand changes in recent years. They have tried to rebrand from a search engine to a media portal and, more recently, they have seemingly been concentrating their efforts on the more business oriented side of things. The social indicator based Dashboard was certainly primed with businesses and website owners in mind and the world’s third largest search engine has today announced that it is releasing a massive analytics tool for advertisers called Genome.

Yahoo’s Fall From Grace

Yahoo has suffered and been left in the wake of Google since enjoying the heady early days when it was considered the search engine of choice for many. They have been through three CEOs in as many years following the recent departure of Scott Thompson who was effectively found to have falsified information about his qualifications. Ross Levinson is the man that has been charged, albeit on an interim basis, with the overseeing of turning the company’s fortunes around.

Data Analysis

Analysts have been predicting that businesses would need to find ways in which to analyse the massive amounts of data that have become available. The Genome Analytics Tool is in direct response to this demand and it is quite unique is far that it offers users the chance to analyse Yahoo’s own data sets run in conjunction with the business’ own data.

Google’s BigQuery

Google recently launched a tool along a similar vein called BigQuery. However, this tool did not provide any numbers and data to accompany it. It did enable users to input their own data and then analyse and query that data to create usable and useful information that could be actioned in advertising campaigns and in many other circumstances. The two are not likely to compete head to head, though, because of the differences.

Yahoo, The Technology Company

Yahoo does continue to release top quality tools while continuing to produce great quality media for users. Amid the news of departed CEOs, falsified education details, and failed rebranding efforts it can be difficult to remember that at the heart of the company is a leading technology provider.

Bing Introduces greater Facebook Integration To Search Engine

Microsoft is attempting to win over Google users by further integrating Facebook results and features into its search results. The search engine will include a new sidebar on the right of search results and this will suggest to users which of their friends, from various networks including both Facebook and Google+, may be able to give them the answer they are looking for. Social indicators will include liked pages, photo content, and status updates and will help to identify those social experts that could give the answer to a particular question.

Social Search

The move to social search has been quite a protracted one. Google initially tried showing results from the likes of Twitter in their own results but this partnership was short lived. The search giant introduced its own social network in the shape of Google+ which they hope will help them to provide more social results to users.

Microsoft Stake In Facebook

While Microsoft doesn’t have its own social network, it is actually a 1.6% stakeholder in Facebook, having paid $240m for the shares in 2007. With Facebook about to launch their IPO potentially valuing the company at nearly $100bn, this would put Microsoft’s stake at well over $1bn and make it an astute piece of business. However, Bing isn’t putting all of its eggs in the very busy Facebook basket.

Friends In The Know

The social results section will offer a list of users’ friends that look the most likely to be able to provide an answer to their search query. For example, if you were to search for information on the best place to grab a coffee in New York, then friends that like Coffee, are based in New York, and are highlighted as relevant in other ways will be flagged. Searchers can then ask questions of their friends directly from the sidebar.

The New Bing Sidebar

The sidebar will use information from Facebook, from rival Google+, and from Twitter, FourSquare, Quora, and LinkedIn and the search engine has said that they are making the move based on the fact that the majority of people listen to personal recommendations from those that they trust and that are close to them.

Google Set To Introduce Sources To Search Results

In its constant quest to improve upon search results, Google has been testing a Sources area that appears in the right hand column of the search results pages where ads would normally be displayed. The Sources information, which contains information about actors, shows, and other credits for various forms of media, is currently only available to a limited number of people but it looks likely that it will be rolled out to the general public soon.

Search Engine Use

People search for many different things on search engines and while a lot of use the power of Google’s index to find information on products we want to buy or services we wish to use, there are those occasions when we look for information on TV shows, films, and actors and actresses as well as bands and other forms of media and artist. This Sources area will display in-depth information pertaining to these forms of media.

Sources Information

In the right column, if you were to search for a TV show, and you were lucky enough to be one of the testers, you would receive a brief snippet of information usually taken from Wikipedia. You would also see a list of cast members, and even a related search area that shows similar TV programmes. For actors and actresses you would see a list of their credits as well as related actors.

Google Updates

Google has recently launched a number of updates not only to its search results in the hope of further improving results but to various other websites and pieces of online real estate that they own. YouTube is undergoing some changes hand in hand with Google+, the search engine’s foray into the social networking world.

Direct Answers

Another change that you may have already noticed but that slipped under the radar for a lot of people is the expansion of the Direct Answers feature. This means that when you type in a particular query or question, Google will effectively provide you with the answer before it provides you with the usual list of search results. There is also a link to View More from where you can see the sources of this information.

Photo Courtesy of Cyrus Sheppard

Google+ Launches Hangouts On Air

Google+ has announced that it is taking its live broadcast feature, Hangouts on Air out of Beta testing phase and into the wild so that anybody can now broadcast their video clip live as it’s being recorded. This adds to the Hangouts feature, which was seen as being one of the big features that Google+ had when compared to its main rivals and competitors and is a move which Google hopes will help it compete numerically with the likes of Facebook.

Google Services

Google has an ever increasing portfolio of web services with Youtube and Google+ being arguably two of the more popular. While Google+ is still relatively new, at least when compared to their major rival Facebook, it has been garnering some interest. Anything Google related will usually hit the headlines and having the likes of Barrack Obama and the Muppets hosting their own Hangout helped further the site’s interests.

Hangouts On Air

Hangouts On Air has been in Beta testing for a while now as the company attempted to iron out any problems and improve the experience for all users but the shackles have now been removed. Users can tick an “Enable Hangouts On Air” button and this means that their Hangouts will stream live on both Google+ and the YouTube channel belonging to the Hangout host.

The Features

One way in which Hangouts On Air will prove useful, especially to businesses, is that it will essentially offer a free and accessible means of participating in video chat sessions but perhaps the biggest feature will be the addition of live show streaming and the ability to watch entertainers live as they attempt to win over audiences. CBS This Morning is believed to be going live and as well as big names you can also enjoy accessing the Hangouts of some of the lesser known names in the entertainment world.

Security Concerns

Perhaps the biggest possible hurdle to success for Hangouts On Air is the matter of privacy. People are becoming more aware of their online privacy and the issues that are faced when posting information on public websites like Google+ and Facebook. If Google can overcome this hurdle though, they look to have a very beneficial feature to add to their already impressive list.

Google Targets Small Businesses with Video Advertising

Group Product Manager for video monetisation , Baljeet Singh

Up until now, Google AdWords has been all but unaffordable for smaller businesses but the search engine powerhouse have released technology which would now allow smaller businesses to not only access the software but be able to cap their costs as part of a DIY system

The move comes just weeks after the Federal Court found that Google guilty of false and misleading advertising through AdWords.

Incorporating Smaller Advertisers

In the past, AdWords has only been available to smaller advertisers for search and display advertisers and despite the fact that the Australian video ad market was worth some $43 million last year, it seemed that it was only available to major advertisers who could afford to invest large sums into individual campaigns.

The new technology will enable smaller advertisers to enter the field for just $1 and to cap their costs.

Group Product Manager for video monetisation at the company, Baljeet Singh, believes that the move could lead to a huge rise in the use of the technology, “It does introduce video advertising to small business and really is making it self serve,” he said “In the past we had a minimum threshold.”

Give me a Video and a Budget…

In the past, Google had priced their ads on the basis that an advertising company paid in advance per thousand. However, the new technology will give them the ability to pay at a cost-per-view meaning that they only pay for the ads their customers watch.

Mr Singh stated “”All you need now is a video and a budget,” he said, adding that the main hurdle for people moving from text ads into video was understanding how to make ads that their customers would choose to watch and then choose to act on.

For this purpose, they have also introduced the “Playbook”, which will give them ideas and tutorials on the best ways to structure videos. Speaking about the playbook, Mr Singh said “They need to be either entertaining and humorous, tell a story, demonstrate or educate”.

He went on to discuss the effect this would have on advertising, saying “We think this has tremendous potential, we have had this in beta and we have already seen 10 times the number of advertisers.”

May 18th Looks Most Likely Date For Facebook IPO

The most hotly anticipated IPO for years looks as though it will launch within a couple of weeks’ time on May 18th with rumours that founder Mark Zuckerberg will join a number of executives from the company in pitching their value and worth to potential investors. The IPO looks set to be the single biggest silicon valley flotation from a website that was launched less than 10 years ago but now boasts a user base of more than 800 million users.

The Facebook Rise

Facebook’s rise to popularity has been meteoric by any standards. The site was launched by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 as a Harvard university specific website but it soon grew in popularity and took on other Ivy League colleges before progressing to high schools and eventually the general population.

Site Controversy

The site and its co-founder have not been without controversy in its 8 year history. One of the biggest problems for the site has been questions over security as users have worried about how their information has been used. Despite being dogged by security issues, though, Facebook now claims more than 800 million users and its IPO is expected to value the company at around $100bn, or twice the value of Ford.

The Roadshow

Prior to a flotation, company executives will attempt to push the stock at potential investors via what has become known as a roadshow. The executives, in this case led by Zuckerberg himself and chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg, pitch their company and its benefits at the people that have the money to invest. The move may be taken for a number of reasons and in the case of the Facebook flotation it is believed that the company is doing so in order to allay investors’ fears over losing money by investing in the very beginning.

Click here to view the video

May 18th

It has been strongly rumoured that the roadshow is set to start next Monday and this means that prices will be arranged on the 17th with stock going on sale on the 18th. Some are worried that they do not want to get involved in the initial hurry over buying stock and this could end up devaluing the stock price but looking at Facebook’s history, you can’t help but feel that it will be a success.

Google Changes to Help Advertisers

In a move which they hope will be of huge benefit to advertisers, Google have unveiled two major changes to their AdWords interface.

Firstly, they intend to offer three additional components to the quality score and secondly, they have introduced account labels to improve the ease of grouping together keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns.

Speaking about the changes, Jonathan Alferness, the direction of product management at Google said “This is going to give advertisers a deeper look into where they might spend more time focusing and optimizing,”

Quality Score

Quality score is one of the most important tools for marketers, advertisers and the firms which employ them to online-market their websites. They give a clear indication of how relevant and how well seen keywords will be and enable the proposed keywords to be changed if necessary. The changes will allow uses to see their proposed keywords being ranked as “average” “above average” and “below average”.

From this, it is hoped that they will be able to get a much better indication of how the keyword is likely to perform in the “real world” and make any changes they need to before they run with a particular keyword or SEO strategy.

Alferness commented that although it was difficult to “quantify the impact it may have on Quality Score improvements, feedback from marketers had been positive.”

Labels

The theory behind labels is that they will help advertisers group and compare elements of a campaign which could not traditionally be grouped together. For example, ads and keywords might be an integral part of a campaign but might “live” in different parts of an account.

However, adding a label which dragged them all together and allowed them to be seen and compared at the same time could enable the marketer to assess how they worked separately and together. This could also allow different labels to be trialled for a better idea of their effectiveness.

This new technology is likely to be rolled out to advertisers very shortly and all eyes are on Google to see how it performs and the effect it has.

 

Zuckerberg Goes Behind the Boards’ Back

When Facebook announced their $1bn takeover of Instagram, many IT watchers and industry insiders were surprised, as were the board. Accounts reporting how Zuckerberg neglected to discuss the purchase with the Facebook board have now surfaced and suggest that no bankers or lawyers were involved in what has been called a “sofa based deal”

“Three Day Negotiations”

A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests that far from being a board meeting arrangement, the takeover deal which now sees the colour changing photo software in the hands of Zuckerberg and the Facebook brand was thrashed out during three days of negotiations at Zuckerbergs’ home in Palo Alto.

The deal was finally agreed on Sunday 8 April and Zuckerberg announced the news on his own Facebook page saying “”We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.” He went on to say “That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”

“Told, not consulted”

The Wall Street Journal stated that their source was a person familiar with the matter and suggested that the CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom had initially asked for $2bn for the company, which has no cash flow and a staff of 13.

It was only at the end of the negotiations in which Zuckerberg broke the $2bn down to $1bn, that he informed the board and the WSJ confirmed that the board was “was told, not consulted”.

It has also been suggested that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg only became aware that Zuckerberg wanted to do that deal days before the negotiations started. Zuckerberg had expressed interest in the company before but was pushed to action when Instagram announced that they had received $50m of venture funding, pushing their value to $500m.

Google Chief Accuses Monopoly Companies of Threatening the Web

In a move which is sure to create controversy, Google Chief Sergey Brin has launched a blistering attack on rival companies Apple and Facebook and what he calls “repressive Governments”. He claims that “Freedom of information and openness on the internet is being eroded by repressive governments and the rise of Apple and Facebook”.

Discussing with UK daily newspaper The Guardian Mr Brin suggested that he and business partner Larry Page would not have been able to create their search engine in current climate, as the web is dominated by Facebook and Apple. He went on to claim that he was more worried than ever before for the future of the internet saying “it’s scary”

The Vanishing of the Openness of the Web

Mr Brin went on to describe how the openness of the web, which “fuelled the information revolution” is vanishing because of censuring by countries such as China. He discussed his beliefs that five years ago he did not believe that China, or any other country for that matter, would be able to restrict the internet but that sadly he had been proven wrong.

Discussing the restrictions, he said “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle.”

The Monopoly

The majority of his vitriol seemed to be reserved for rivals Facebook and Apple as he maligned the loss of and threat to “the principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago”

His criticisms of the two Media and Technology giants are seen as being particularly controversial and there will almost certainly be ramifications in a war of words which is sure to escalate.

In a further attack on sites who restrict members’ activity, Mr Brin claimed that the entertainment industry was in danger of “shooting itself in the foot” during efforts to lobby for extended and more powerful laws against pirate material, saying that as long as pirated content was easier to acquire and use, it would continue to be used.

AOL sells more than 800 patents to Microsoft for over $1 billion

The once highly prestigious global Internet services provider AOL has announced that it is selling more than 800 pieces of its patent portfolio to Microsoft at a price tag of $1.056 billion. AOL is also set to license its remaining intellectual property to many companies, including Redmond, and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is adamant that the deal with Microsoft will hold his company in good stead.

“The agreement with Microsoft represents the culmination of a robust auction process for our patent portfolio,” Mr Armstrong announced. “We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.”

An attractive deal for both AOL and Microsoft

A recent analysis by Envision IP has revealed that the pieces of AOL’s patent portfolio which Microsoft has bought are likely to be highly valued by the latter company, as much of the portfolio pieces date to as far back as the beginning of the Internet era. AOL’s largest patent pool, for example, is said to cover communications technology, including much relating to instant messaging and email technology.

Indeed, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, has enthused that “This is a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years and analyzing in detail for several months”. He added that “AOL ran a competitive auction and by participating, Microsoft was able to achieve our two primary goals: obtaining a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio.”

What the future could hold

It is probable that Microsoft could yet aim to get their hands on even more of AOL’s attractive patents. These patents include, for example, 81 relating to internet browsing and 77, issued prior to the birth of Google, concerning search technology, including semantic searching and metadata querying. The possession of such patents could assist Microsoft in future legal campaigns.

Google To Sell Android Packing Tablets Via Web Store

Apparently unimpressed by the success of its hardware partners to take a bite out of Apple’s tablet market share, Google has decided to take on the mantle itself and start selling tablets directly via its own web store. It is not believed that the company will manufacture its own Google specific hardware, yet at least, but the tablets sold will carry Google branding alongside the branding of the hardware manufacturer responsible for creating the tablet.

Google Successes

Google has enjoyed success in many areas of technology and the Internet. Not only are they the world’s most popular and successful search engine but they also offer cloud computing, social media, free mapping, email, and web browser services to users. With the Android mobile operating system, the search giant has also taken a firm hold of the smartphone OS market; something which still eludes them in the tablet OS market.

Google And Motorola

One way in which Google is expected to take a more direct hand in the manufacture and sale of tablet computers is through the proposed acquisition of Motorola. The deal, worth a reported $12.5bn, needs to be cleared by Chinese authorities but, assuming this does occur, the search giant will then be able to produce tablets still under the Motorola name but sporting the latest in Android operating systems.

The Tablet Market

Apple opened up the tablet market with the release of their first iPad and with the iPad 2 they launched a greatly improved and even more popular version of the touch screen, handheld device. While a number of manufacturers have attempted to follow suit and win their own share of the market, results have proven disappointing for most companies. Even Samsung, who are the 2nd largest manufacturer of tablets, have described sales as disappointing.

The Google Web Store

Google will open its own web store and sell Android devices this way, although no announcement on dates has yet been provided. The next major release of the Android operating system, which will be called Jelly Bean, is slated for release mid 2012 so Google could be hard at work trying to develop a store in time for this release.

Google Squares Up To Facebook With Commenting Platform Introduction

One is primarily thought of as a search engine and the other a social network, and yet Google and Facebook are almost constantly at loggerheads in the modern Internet age. As Google has released more and more products and services they have crossed into the realms of software programmers and also social network. This means that they have trespassed onto the property of Facebook and neither party is willing to give up without a fight.

Future Social Search

Google+ is widely believed to be Google’s answer to providing social search without having to use other websites and online services. They previously used Facebook and Twitter data but such information sharing relationships have now closed. Instead, Google is attempting to increase its Google+ reach and user engagement so that they can offer live and social feeds and news updates to their users without having to offer anything in return.

The Commenting Platform

One of the latest ways in which Google is looking to expand its social search and social networking features is through the introduction of a commenting platform. It is being reported that this platform will be used on many Google platforms and it will rival Facebook’s own commenting system. It’s a safe bet that such words will be seen as fighting talk and users should expect to see some kind of report or possibly upgrades to the Facebook commenting system.

Where You Will See Comments

It is believed that Google’s comment system will be introduced into search results as well as their network of websites, Google+ itself, and third party applications. Facebook already allows third party websites to display comments from Facebook users and this feature is becoming increasingly popular; popularity that Google is evidently hoping to mirror. The question is, though, have they got in on time or do they offer something more than the Facebook system already in use or being adopted by many websites.

User Engagement And Google+

User engagement is a major factor on social networks. Facebook has around 900 million users and can boast that more than 400 million of these users visit and use the site daily. In contrast, Google+ has around 100 million users and while exact user engagement figures are not known, they are known to be considerably lower. Will the commenting platform help increase user engagement for Google?

Google, Apple, And PayPal Among Most Trusted Brands

Every year, the Brand Asset Valuator is used to report which of Australia’s brands are considered to be the most trusted and respected. Major brands like Qantas, who traditionally perform well, have seen steady decline while technology and Internet companies like Google and Apple as well as PayPal and YouTube have risen to the top. In fact, 6 of the top 10 most trusted brands fall within the technology and Internet sector.

Brand Trust

Brand trust is important to businesses and also to consumers. The more trust a brand has, the more belief a consumer puts in their marketing message and companies invest large sums of money in ensuring that their brands are portraying the most suitable message. When a brand sees its trust decline they may also see its revenues and profits begin to dip and it will, at the very least, prove more costly to win business.

The Brand Asset Valuator

The Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) releases a report every year which shows the most trusted and respected brands in the Australian market and this has typically been littered with well known and aged brands. However, a 22% overall decline in brand trust has seen the likes of Qantas fall from the peak, to be replaced with the likes of Apple and Google, who sit second and first respectively in the table of the top 12.

Positions

The BAV includes both companies and products, as well as subsidiaries. Google takes the top spot in the table while Google owned YouTube comes in at number 5. Similarly, Microsoft is at number 6 while Windows 7 is at number 7. PayPal takes number 4 and Ebay number 8. It seems like the more trusted a brand’s products, the more trust the company can muster with its consumers.

Business Reputation

Reputation is important and when a company hits the headlines for product failures and other bad news stories they lose good reputation. The likes of Qantas have seen a considerable and steady dip in their reputation rating which means that they no longer feature in the top 12 brands of the future.

Australia Falls Behind The Rest Of The G20 In Internet Economy Study

G20 Internet StatsA report by the Boston Consulting Group, proclaimed to be the most comprehensive study of its kind, shows that Australia falls below the G20 average for Internet economy size and says that the situation is only likely to worsen in the coming years. The UK is the leader of the 20 nations that are included in the study and that offshore purchases made in Australia and New Zealand greatly detract from the nation’s own standing.

Online Spending

Such is the stature of online spending that online economy has become a major part of a country’s economy. New laws and legislation are being introduced around the world to try and improve the condition of online economies and help businesses from within that country improve their own efforts. Privacy is still an important factor, and intellectual property rights are also impacting on the size of the online economy while in most countries, and even here, more and more small businesses are going online.

The Study

BCG claims that its study is the largest and most comprehensive study of online economies and how online spend is affecting the global economy. They say that while the impact of the economy has been studied in individual countries and regions, nothing like the G20 study they have completed has ever been done before and it gives us a clearer overall picture of the global importance of the Internet and how we use the Internet.

The Increase In Online Economies

More and more people are turning to online shopping and not just for the purchase of luxury items and Christmas presents either. Grocery shopping and home electrical shopping have boomed in recent years, and we are more likely to search for prices and even buy our insurance over the Internet than ever before. However, it seems that we are less inclined to rely on the Internet than users from other countries around the world.

The Figures

Internet economies in the G20 study are expected to grow to 5.3% of global GDP by the year 2016 and this will take the total value of the Internet economy to a staggering $4.2trillion US dollars. However, Australia’s figures are only representative of 3.3% of GDP and are only expected to rise to 3.6% by 2016.

Matt Cutts Tells Website Owners Not To Over Optimise Their Websites

Matt CuttsAt the recent SXSW conference, Matt Cutts of Google talked about how the search giant was preparing to apparently level the playing field between so called mom and pop sites and big brand websites. The changes seem to concentrate on promoting those pages that provide great content and not so much for those pages that rely on what he dubbed as being over optimisation including the use of too many keywords and the development of too many reciprocal links.

Search Engines Love For Natural Content

Search engines, especially Google, have long touted natural content on good looking websites that are truly beneficial to their readers, as being the type of website that they want to promote in search rankings. Virtually every update and change in recent years has been an attempt to take Google results towards these organic, natural listings, and this point has been reiterated in the latest announcement from Google.

Matt Cutts – More Than Anti-Spam

Matt Cutts is a name that Google followers and optimisers know well. He has been at the head of the Google Spam team for some time and so, it seems, this means that he is the one responsible for fielding questions on search engine optimisation on behalf of the US Internet giant. Google typically play their SEO cards very close to their chest to prevent unethical website owners and marketers from being able to game the results and this means that analysts have to read between the lines.

Levelling The SEO Playing Field

However, in this most recent statement of intent, this isn’t strictly necessary. Cutts sets out the goal of levelling the playing field between mom and pop sites and larger brand based websites. He says that those websites with great quality, natural content will enjoy as much search engine success as bigger pages, more so, even, than those sites that embark on over optimisation.

Testing Meta Description Tags

During the talk, Cutts also said that website owners should experiment with their meta descriptions in a bid to try and improve click through rates. The description tag is often used to create Google’s search engine results and so is one of the very first things that visitors notice when they conduct a search. This gives the field special importance from an SEO standpoint, but one that is often overlooked in preference for some of the more glamorous aspects of a web page.

Government Starts Cyber Defence University Challenge

Cyber DefencesUndergraduates that are especially skilled in cyber crime prevention and fighting techniques are being encouraged to enter a new government backed University Challenge that they hope will help give them the edge when taking on cyber criminals. The Cyber Defence University Challenge is a 24 hour long challenge which tests the skills of entrants in a virtual computer network environment. The competition prize is travel and entry to the Black Hat 2012 conference being held in Las Vegas.

The Cyber Crime Threat

Cyber crime is a major threat throughout the world and it is a threat that is only growing. Global governments have put prevention teams in place but the perpetrators are seemingly one step ahead of the game in many ways. The greater take-up of smartphones and tablet PCs, for example, has opened a whole new market for malware architects especially as people are not as likely to use Internet security software on such devices as they are on their desktop computers.

Internet Users

The younger generation of Internet users and software engineers are those that are typically loaded with the latest techniques and information and, in Australia especially, it is the young that are more likely to go online. It stands to reason, therefore, that the government would look to the younger, skilled groups to try and help what is becoming a major problem for everybody – cyber crime, in its various guises.

The Cyber Defence University Challenge

The Cyber Defence University Challenge starts on April 3rd and is open to under graduates with a keen interest and skills in fighting cyber crime. Headed by the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, the competition is also being backed by the Federal Government as well as a number of universities and Telstra.

Black Hat Conference Prize

The Black Hat 2012 conference, which is being held in Las Vegas, is one of the most prestigious events of its kind and it plays host to a large number of individuals, organisations, and guest speakers that are concerned specifically with the threat of cyber crime. For those undergraduates that are taking part in the University Challenge, it could prove an informative and highly beneficial conference to attend.

More Than ¾ Of Facebook Business Pages Update Less Than Once A Week

 Facebook PagesWhen we read about best social media practices, we tend to read that engagement is everything. Engage your followers, join in conversation, and be active, and you will reap the potential rewards. Even Facebook has been making efforts to get Business Page or Brand Page owners to become more alert to their users’ needs. However, a recent study shows that around 82% of Brand Page owners update their pages less than 5 times a month, so it looks like more effort is needed on the part of the social networking site.

The Study

Recommend.ly conducted a study on 1.7m Facebook pages, making it a fairly substantial study in itself, and the results were surprising in their findings but perhaps not in what they indicate about Facebook usage by businesses. Businesses still seem uncertain of the monetary value of a Facebook fan and they are even more uncertain of what they should be posting and when.

The Facebook Business Platform

Facebook actually offers a decent platform for many businesses. Pages can be personalised and they can be updated quickly and easily. However, the fact that the site is predominantly used to connect with friends is perhaps part of the reason why businesses have largely steered clear of wholesale and mass take up. Many businesses now have a Facebook page but the majority lie largely dormant. Local businesses were the biggest offenders with only 6% getting involved on conversation on their pages.

Facebook Lessons From Facebook

Facebook itself has attempted to educate its business users. They have posted numerous items of content including videos and text based tutorials that not only show the benefits of good quality Brand Pages but also some of the best practice techniques that can be used to get the most out of such a page.

Measuring The Efficacy Of Facebook For Business

The biggest problems that most businesses cite for not using Facebook more proactively, or even actively, is that they do not truly know how to measure the value of a Facebook fan. Any business would find it difficult to dedicate time or resources to developing even a massive list of fans if they do not know whether it will return any kind of revenue or not. More Facebook classes may be on the cards in the near future.

User Administration Added To Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools are a useful and beneficial suite of online tools that are designed specifically for use by website owners, administrators, and marketers. In order to use the service, a webmaster needs to verify their ownership of the site and it has been impossible to give others access to a site’s Webmaster Tools without them going through this verification process. However, following requests from many users, User Administration settings have now been added to the Webmaster Tools suite.

Site Verification

In order to grant access to another user, it is necessary for a site owner to first go through the site verification process. Once this process has been completed, they will then be able to add users and assign them one of three account statuses – Owner, Full, or Restricted access, according to the preferences of the site owner.

New User Statuses

Owner access is for those that have been through the site owner verification process. Owners are able to perform any actions available for a particular site including adding other users. Full Access allows a user to perform virtually all actions regarding the site, but will not enable access to administrative type features like adding other users. Finally, Restricted Access will provide a particular user with the ability to view all data and perform a limited number of functions such as configuring message forwarding.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools provide many pieces of useful information and access to beneficial tools for site owners and administrators. Sitemaps can be submitted, which will lead to a site being indexed or having their index status updated. Broken links can be found and page load speeds can also be checked. With these latest changes it is no longer necessary to have to give out the username and password belonging to a verified site owner which will make access easier and more beneficial.

Google Search

Google remains the king of search engines and, as such, most SEO campaigns tend to concentrate on attracting Google and ensuring that web pages appear high in the rankings of Google results. As such, Webmaster Tools are a popular service and this move will only make them more popular and useful.

Google New Zealand Being Sued For Defamation

In what is being described as the first case of its kind, a Kiwi is suing Google New Zealand for defamation. The case is being heard by the High Court in Auckland and it raises the question of which websites are considered to be publishers and whether the likes of Google are responsible for the content that they display in their search results. The case hinges on a post which initially appeared on the website RipOffReport.com in 2008 and was further disseminated by Google, YahooXtra, and other sites.

Content Ownership

The question of content ownership is one that has long caused dispute between publishers, distributors, individuals, and courts. The likes of Google have long held that they have no ability to control the content which appears in their results on an individual basis and so cannot be held responsible for posts that appear on other sites.

Manual Removal

However, this claim is brought into question in the latest case, as the post had been manually removed by Google New Zealand on several occasions over the course of the past four years. In response to requests made by the individual concerned, Google New Zealand had manually removed the post but it re-emerged on several occasions in prominent positions when searching for the name of the individual. According to his lawyer, this meant that the man had to endure the re-traumatising effect of having to continually submit the post for exclusion.

RipOffReport

RipOffReport.com is a US consumer advocacy site where people are encouraged to share their negative experiences, or defend companies and websites that have had such reviews posted about them. In 2008, a report was made on the medical services section of the website which accused the man of a serious offence; a claim that he vehemently denies. When contacted, RipOffReport.com said that they do not remove content from their site.

The Case

The case continues though Google New Zealand have said that they have taken the wrong company to court. The man’s lawyer claims that Google New Zealand is able to remove the content, has been made aware that the content is defamatory, and therefore they are publishers and they are aware of the offence.

Army Shoots Itself In The Foot On Social Media Sites

It seems that the current biggest enemy of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is themselves. Specifically, it is their ability to shoot themselves in the foot on social networking and social media sites. The ADF has already come under fire for its alpha male culture, which came to light following a previous social media gaffe, but more than 1,000 soldiers have been implicated in racism, sexism, and homophobia after colluding on a closed Facebook hate group.

Facebook Hate Groups

More than 1,000 ADF soldiers have been found to be part of a closed Facebook hate group that regularly takes to insulting and even threatening groups of people including their own soldiers. Many of the comments that have come to light were made about female soldiers and while the original posters may have felt safe because they were posting such comments in a closed group, this wasn’t the case. Many of the messages have, again, made it into the public eye.

Educating Soldiers

Such activity in the past has led to calls for educating soldiers in how best to treat women and how to use popular social media websites like Facebook, where this latest storm has grown. A Skype sex scandal broke out at the Australian Defence
Force
Academy (AFDA) and there have been cases involving a number of other hate groups; the majority of which tend to be found on Facebook.

Other Embarrassing Instances

In one instance, a former member of the ADF was charged by police after he threatened a senior officer as part of a gay hate group that had emerged online. Closed groups are never fully closed. Upsetting a single member of the group can lead to exposure and with 1,000 members, this latest group must have been hard to marshal.

What Next For The ADF And Their Social Media Problem?

Following this latest outbreak there will be renewed calls to educate soldiers and officials on how best to use social media websites, as well as a number of calls for greater education of those that are a part of the ADF and associated groups.