Although social media sites have been around for less than a decade, they have played an active role in shaping the future and culture of the Internet, and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Search engine marketers have been long studying the web-browsing habits of various demographics — including their choice of browser and search engine. They have seen how these choices impact a user’s likelihood to interact with an ad or of their lifestyle preferences, but how do these choices influence which sites a user visits on the Internet?

When studying this effect, Chitika Insights investigated the relationship between a user’s search engine preference and their social media outlet of choice. Interestingly enough, the seven major social media sites saw large differences in their favorite search engine. Newer, more tech friendly outlets, such as Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Google+ have an overwhelming preference for Google — with 95%, 94% and 85% searching respectively with Google. Conversely, older social media platforms with more established user bases like Myspace search a larger percentage of the time using other engines, like Bing and Yahoo.

Maybe, it’s a question of technical aptitude. When Myspace was first founded, its initial user base was probably extremely tech-forward, similar to the group participating in Google+’s recent beta test period. However, as new options came along, these users adapted and moved on to follow the novel tech trends. Those still using an older option like Myspace likely joined the site later or came in with the masses and were left behind. Their search engine choices probably followed suit, perhaps explaining why users of arguably passe social media products have different search engine preferences.

Whatever the reason for these differences, as a marketer on a social media website, understanding user preferences like search engine choice can improve the targeting and effectiveness of an advertising campaign. Moreover, as social media begins to play a larger role in SEO, future success for social networks will depend on their ability to adapt to these constantly changing trends.

How do you share online? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Embed this on your site

Since the early caveman days of web directories and search, webmasters have been figuring out how to outrank competitors while the search engines continually refined and fiddled with ranking criteria. It’s the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario: Did SEOs make search more sophisticated? Or did the search engines just make SEOs smarter?

Take a look below at where both began (factoid: 1997 was the first documented use of the term “search engine optimization”). The factors that help win the page 1 crown have certainly changed over the years in the ongoing battle to improve quality and relevance in organic search.
(click to enlarge)

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Evolution of Making Page 1 [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Recipe-finder.com announced on Friday that it publicly entered the recipe portal niche this month.

The recipe portal niche has been fairly competitive over the past few months, with other sites such as Foodily and Supercook. Recipe Finder, however, has features that allow social sharing and menu planning simple and easy.

There’s over 1 million recipes and over 700,000 delicious images to look through. I’m serious- just take a look at the Bacon images and you’ll never leave… or you’ll go crazy and surround yourself with 3 course meals featuring bacon cooked 80 different ways.

Brewed-Coffee mentioned Recipe Finder early this morning discussing the ability to even find recipes infused with coffee- something that’s an acquired taste and traditionally harder to find when searching for recipes.

Individual Recipes

The individual recipe pages on Recipe Finder are very simplistic and easy to use. You’ll see on the top right, there’s how many servings that recipe makes, the amount of time, and the calories. Then you can add it to a menu (talked about below) or to your calendar. You can also print, email and socially share any recipe you find on here.

Recipe Videos

Recipe videos are also available throughout the site for those who learn better visually with audio instead of reading and absorbing things that way- they just made mention today on their Facebook that they’re starting to integrate them into the site.

It’s a little hard to keep tabs on your cooking when you have to keep finding your spot in the recipe that you’re using. I think it’ll be really interesting, as time goes on, to see whether user submitted videos will be pulled in so that smaller foodie sites can have their recipes shared and picked up via video.

Menu Feature

The menu feature on Recipe-finder.com is probably one of my favorite ones- mainly because you have the ability to not only search and browse recipes by calorie counts, serving sizes, and including/excluding ingredients; but you can take that and actually put together your meal for whatever day of the week you’re planning for.

This is going to come in handy through the holiday season. You can even put together multiple holiday menus for variety and voting to see what actually passes through and gets made.

Tying Search into our Generation

Our generation relies heavily on search for everything. Have a question? The solution is usually just to Google it. So it’s prime time for sites like Recipe Finder to thrive- our younger generation isn’t the generation of old cook books and hand me down recipes.

Our generation is looking for new tailored ways to search, cook and share; and Recipe Finder is providing avenue for newbie foodies and seasoned chefs alike.

If you’re a food lover, what sites are you accustomed to using for searching for recipes? Any features that you’re hoping to see roll out in the future in the portal niche to help tailor searches and get the recipes you need?

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Recipe Finder’s Search Engine Entering the Portal Niche


Google and Firefox have been playing buddy-buddy nearly since Mozzila brought their browser to the stage. The collaboration could come to an end this November, however, when the Google-Mozilla search contract is slated to lapse. This contract has Google set as the default browser in Firefox. In turn, Firefox gets a share of revenue generated with a searcher uses the Firefox toolbar to conduct a Google search. It’s possible that Firefox may turn to Bing after the contract lapses. The result would be a big change in the search battle.

Whoever Holds Firefox …

It’s unfair to say that Firefox is a trump card, but it also shouldn’t be discounted. Chilton Tippin at Signal News says that Firefox is “Google’s single largest driver of search traffic,” and puts Firefox’s user-base at 450 million surfers. Considering Bing’s history of spending – a lot – for increased visibility, a deal with Firefox could be a great opportunity. It’s entirely possible that Microsoft is already discussing possible partnerships with Mozilla.

Should Mozilla and Microsoft team up, there would be some hurdles. Users are accustomed to the search bar on Mozilla belonging to Google, and many frustrated users would likely change the default search right back to Google after noticing the change. Some users may complain. However, a strong cut of the Firefox population may wind up using Bing search if it conquers the default position.

We won’t know for sure until November, when Mozilla will either re-sign with Google or move on to different pastures. SEOs should already be optimizing for Bing, of course, but should Microsoft get the deal, focusing on improving your Bing rank will become substantially more important.

[Sources include: Signal News]

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

How a Bing-Firefox Deal Could Change the Search Landscape


The more successful you become, the bigger your legal team needs to be. Or so it seems. Competitors, ex-employees and nut jobs all want a piece of the action. And if it’s not them, it’s the government trying to to curb your reach.

Then again, with a battalion of top-tier lawyers at your disposal ready to bury plaintiffs in paperwork and motions, who would dare to take you on? Let’s have a look.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Dark Side of Success: Google in the Courtroom


With the current tragedies such as the Norwegian massacre and the death of Amy Winehouse, news has been buzzing about the two incidents. Google has been swamped with searches for these stories and thus one would wonder, how does Google rank news stories, and what makes your news better than someone else’s?

Google News is one of the premier news portals on the web, and is driven by aggregated news sources. Of course, Google news sees a large amount of traffic and being visible on it is a great opportunity for sites to get their content seen by millions of viewers. Surely anyone, whether they are involved in Internet marketing or not, would want to rank in Google News for the boom in traffic?

So what do we know about Google News and how they rank? We have all no doubt seen what they said a few years ago as far as the truths and myths about ranking news:

  • Having an image next to your article improves your ranking: MYTH
  • Updating an article after posting it will create problems with Google News: TRUE
  • Timing the publication of your article improves your article ranking: MYTH
  • Articles that are just images or video won’t be included: TRUE
  • There’s no way to see why my articles weren’t included in Google News: MYTH
  • Publishing a sitemap helps my rankings: MYTH
  • Redesigning my site may affect my coverage in Google News: TRUE
  • If I put AdSense on my site, my article rankings will improve: MYTH

The sitemap won’t help rankings, but it will help Google find those pages, which is useful because if it can’t find them they can’t rank. Google especially recommends using a News Sitemap if your site is new, has dynamic content, or requires users to follow several links to reach your news articles. If you are like myself and have any SEO knowledge, those statements are either common knowledge or pretty vague.

So what else do we know?

Submitting a site to Google News for consideration to be added to their aggregator is relatively easy, simply visit http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/request.py?contact_type=suggest_content and fill out the form.

However, there are certain criteria that need to be met, some similar to the normal ranking scenarios and some unique to Google News…

Be unique

Now this is something we should all know – that to have unique news articles that have not been seen by anyone will make Google’s spiders crawl with joy.

Be permanent

For Google to respect you as a news source, you’ll need to keep all of your content archived. That means, once that URL has been taken, there should be no recycling – archive all your files so that Google knows you have a wide collection of news that’s a resource for them to use.

Display a three‐digit number

This is probably the most vital factor. The URL for each article must contain a unique number consisting of at least three digits. As long as you have at least three digits in your URL (and the digits don’t resemble years), they can be anywhere – not necessarily at the very end.

In true Google fashion, we have to take what they say and try and decipher the riddle that they have laid before us. Often Google will deviate from what they’ve said – in the case of the three digits, a news representative once said that you do not need them in your URL if you submit content to Google News in the sitemaps format.

Let’s look at the debatable factors:

This is the interesting bit and where the so called experts are divided on the answers on how to get a site ranked on the top of Google News. Of course recency, as in having up to date articles, will play a part as Google wants the latest news. Google News also pays close attention to what kind of editorial interest a story gets, but that is similar to organic search and how viral your site and content can go.

What interests me most is how experts are torn on the concept of Page Rank. Many claim that unlike normal organic rankings, page rank does not play as big a role in Google News. Quentin Muhlert, a supposed SEO specialist claims this in an article:

This stands to reason as the newest, most relevant articles that would makes sense to rank well would not have the time to accumulate links. The fact that Page Rank should not be a concern is a boon to younger websites, as they can take advantage of this to push public awareness of, and traffic to, their sites.”

Some of you may agree with this however I don’t. Though he makes very good points in his article, I feel this one has some flaws. If you simply look at Google News and type in a current search term you will see the sites that are at the top – ABC News, Fox News, BBC, E News – and these are not new sites yet they certainly have a powerful page rank.

The power and reputation of the site definitely helps when it comes to news rankings. A little different to the normal rankings, once Google identifies a site as a news source it will list it in their rankings. However it is clear that trust is needed in order to be seen as an authority site (Page Rank). What I would recommend here is that, like your organic rankings, work on the authority of your site and grow its rankings and trustworthiness. Google pride themselves on no short cuts, and only hard work will get you to the top. Through this, and once you are trusted, you will see your news stories start to rank and in turn your traffic start to flow.

Other up in the air factors include adding images and videos. As to whether they add value, Google stated a few years ago that they don’t but I feel that nowadays, with the growth and the importance of multimedia, Google will certainly favor them rather than not. Keywords also appear to play a bigger role with Google News as Keyword content in articles determines ranking for specific key phrases. More so, it helps to categorize your news and enables it to show up in the different news search results. As with most articles, the title and tags should be carefully chosen to maximize your chances of getting results.

There are many views to what the Good ranking factors in Google News are, and there are other factors that I am sure have not been touched on. What you need is to submit, organize the URLs, get the sitemap and make sure that you are recognized as a trusted source by Google. If you feel you are not, then get down to some old fashion SEO and start writing quality content that will get you noticed.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

How to Rank Your Content in Google News


Back in June, Bing made some important changes to their Webmaster Tools platform. They finally caught up to Google in terms of providing a comprehensive resource for developers and search marketers to utilize. Given that these changes have been out for over a month now, this is old news. However, Bing is often overlooked or at the bottom of the priority list for many site owners and SEMs.

Time and time again I’ve heard ‘focus on Google and the rest will follow’. This approach can sometimes backfire given that they are still different engines. Unique issues can pop up and if you’re too narrowly focused on tracking Google, they might not ever be identified.

One reason to ensure you are submitting your XML sitemap to Bing is that the engine has a harder time following links than Google. So if Bing isn’t finding your pages by following links from other sites, it’s possible that pages (especially deep pages) within the site might not be getting indexed.

With that said however, I’m not sure Bing really adds value beyond what Google Webmaster Tools already does. These improvements have enabled Bing to simply catch up to Google in terms of the types of resources available to webmasters. It’s a step in the right direction and the interface is very user friendly, maybe even more so than Google, if I dare say. But I would love to see some differentiation surrounding available reports from Bing.

Bing

Have you submitted your sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools yet? Would love to hear your thoughts on how valuable you think this is.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

That Bing You Do


Google Doodle - MindA research team led by psychologist Betsy Sparrow at Colombia University has identified a ‘new’ form of amnesia, and dubbed it the Google effect.

They are claiming – and being echoed by millions of copycat blog posts and news releases desperate for trending content – that internet search has changed the way we think.

It appears that all Betsy’s expensive team has done is tapped into a few current memes, picked a combination of phrases that would do well in the press and online, designed a hypothesis that would deliver exactly that, and then dressed it all up as original scientific research.

Human MindThe Google Effect is as Old as Words

Forget search engines, the so-called ‘Google effect’ started thousands of years ago with the first appearance of writing. Before the development of written languages, people remembered everything of any importance, and passed it on. Stories, facts, history, legends and all manner of common knowledge had to be memorised and communicated verbally to others.

Crucial information like which berries killed you, how to chat up a cave-girl from the next village, how to light a fire, and which mushrooms were best for parties were effectively passed on verbally as part of the collective folk memory.

Humanity’s dependence on memory has declined constantly since those times, in line with the invention and spread of other record-keeping and information retrieval methods such as writing – that old-fashioned pre-requisite of the internet, and the root cause of any human memory changes that are ascribed to technology.

Literacy is the Main Factor in Memory Evolution

As greater concentrations of people become literate, their society naturally loses some of its reliance on memory and verbal transmission. The explosion of literacy in the UK after the industrial revolution, and the widespread introduction of public libraries as part of the socialist & libertarian changes Britain experienced thanks to the worker’s movement all created the same phenomenon as Betsy Sparrow’s so-called ‘Google effect’.

Similar changes are happening today in developing countries around the world, and it is the mobile phone – not the internet – that is impacting communication, education and literacy for the worlds poorest.

Even as recently as the late 20th century, here in England we read more books, wrote more letters and had an amazing public library system to utilise for research. The internet, indexed by search engines, is just a faster library and mail system.

Bookshelves in libraryGoogle Effect? What About the Mobile Effect?

If you are old enough, think back to life without a mobile phone. In those days most people had physical address books in their pockets, in which they also kept a hand-written record of people’s telephone numbers. Even the most expensive telephones didn’t have a useful number memory, so numbers had to be dialled in. As a result most people actually had dozens of numbers in their memory, and reserved their physical phonebook for more remote acquaintances and business contacts.

In contrast, how many telephone numbers can you remember today? The ones I remember are the same ones I knew in the late 1980’s; mum & dad, best and closest friends, and my girlfriend at the time. Mobiles have looked after my numbers ever since.

In fact this test feels quite spooky. I remember numbers for people that have not lived in that area for decades, and I know the numbers for friends that passed away just as long ago. How did you do?

It stands to reason that by relying on the digital memory of mobile phones, a portion of our top-level memory was re-wired and re-purposed as a result. What do you use those newly freed up memory cells for?

Personally, as an internet-based writer, the memory previously used for remembering important numbers is now kept busy keeping track of too many log-in details and commonly visited URL’s.  These in turn connect me to every other bit of information in the world.

Like most people, and as confirmed by the Colombia University study, I do largely remember where on the internet the useful things are; and which sources I trust the most.

Just like I did with the shelves in the library.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The ‘Google Effect’ Debunked: Human Memory Changes Did Not Start with Search Engines


The Google Shopping vertical and me have a distinctly love hate relationship. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it rivals my relationship with Cold Stone creamery. I love what they do to my mouth, but not to my ass. Wait. That sounds bad.

Oh look, broken ice. Seriously, if you didn’t laugh, you’ll want to turn back now. It only gets better.

Google Shopping is one of those verticals that looks as appealing as video search but acts nothing like it and doesn’t always help you make a decision. Sometimes it just makes it harder by providing tons of options and information about every little detail. It’s kind of like that awesome guy from the cars.com commercial who can do surgery with a ballpoint pen but has no idea how to buy car.

But this post isn’t about the user experience. Well that part was. But the rest won’t be.

No this post is about a pattern and correlation study that the Slingshot SEO R&D department is starting.

We’ve been noticing for a while now that there appears to be some inconsistency in the identifiable factors that cause rankings in Google Products. So I’d like to take you all with me (No, we will not be taking a MAGIC school bus) on a magic school bus ride through one example (SHOCK!) and I’d like to present to you some of the key pieces I’m paying attention to. Hopefully some of you can do that voodoo you do so well and help me see the forest from the trees.

First, I’d like to take a look at the ranking of products for the search LG G2x

Gogle shopping

Let’s go down the list of the top ten and look at what should be some of the obvious factors.

Keyword in Title and on Page

6 with, 4 without. Amazon and Buy.com knock this one out of the park. Exact match on both counts. But they both start their title tags with the brand name. That’s an SEO 101 no-no if I remember my Moz Guide correctly.

Pricing

Most consumers will tell you they want the bargain. Google? Not so much. I know I said to look at the top ten, but for this one take a look at all 18. The top listers range from $400 to $649.99. The bottom 8 range from $379.99 to $499.00. Granted $20 may not be much relatively, but some consumers will go out of their way for a dime difference.

Popular Opinion

Most of the time I don’t really care what my friends say (Sorry guys) but when they say the magic words, “I found a store that sells lighter cufflinks.” I usually slap my friend for their egregious awesomeness and then buy the cufflinks. So how does Google feel about my people’s opinion of the products? They likey. So much so they gave it it’s own column. It lacks the usual Roman luster, but the green is a nice touch. But they’re certainly not a definitive ranking factor. In fact, they don’t seem to have that much weight, either in large amounts or in relatively small amounts. Whether you have a dozen more or a few thousand more, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of effect.

Details

One of the things I distinctly remember about Google Shopping ranking factors was that detailed information was important. With the exception of Amazon, this appears to be spot on. Most of the top ten in this list have an exceptional amount of information about phone. It’s hearing phone compatible in case you were interested.

I would love to get your feedback and look forward to delivering more information about the Slingshot R&D study, as it progresses over the next few months, here on Search Engine Journal.

Have fun and feel free to contact anytime with questions or comments at evan at slingshotseo.com

*This is a guest post by Evan*

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google Shopping: God is in the Details


Building a custom search engine in your own expertise area may seem a trivial task. However, most of the data you need to create this special search engines is tacit knowledge. For example, one of the basics of building a custom search engine is assembling a list of websites in your chosen topic. However, assembling a unique list is critical when trying to follow copyright laws. You may recognized quality website when you re-stumble it, still recall all the quality websites you stumble in the last month may be an impossible mission.

In this article I’m going to give you tips for recalling this tacit knowledge based on your “Social Style” as defined by Merrill & Reid.

Driver: The Director

Well…You are the boss, so we don’t worry about you (-;. Still, there is one tip that we think we can give you:

Tip #1: Search your browser history

When you make a research on the Internet, you are focused on one task, so you pass through a lot of webpages that relevant to your expertise but irrelevant for your current task, without asking yourself if you’ll need them in the future. However, simple search in your browser history will reveal this treasure quickly. By the way, if you are using desktop search software like Copernic or Google Desktop Search, you may be tempted to search through these interfaces instead of searching every browser you are using. Even so searching in each of your browsers individually will yield much more results.

Expressive: The Socialiser

You enjoy socializing and meeting new friends on social networks. Well, many of these people are there to promote their online business, so listing your friends’ domains may be a win-win situation.

Tip #2: Use your Twitter lists and use Formulists to create and maintain them.

Twitter’s people search has made some progress, still it’s missing the ability to search in your own network. However,  the power of platforms like twitter and facebook, is that they are open to third party apps, and there are plenty of them. Formulists is a great tool to organize your friends in lists by the keywords in their bio. However one con of this service is that it is limited to maximum 2 lists in the free account (pro-users can create more than two lists).

Amiable: The helper

You like to share new websites with your friends on social websites like Facebook or FriendFeed . In addition your email probably full with thanks from friends who you send useful links for their research assignment or their work. In this case, free search in your email accounts will do the job. However, searching your own posts in Twitter, Facebook or your favorite forums is not straightforward. So here is the tip for you guys:

Tip #3: Use advanced search to find your own posts.

Analytical: The Bookmarker

You bookmark every second link that you find on the Internet. Maybe you are using your browser default bookmarking system, or else you are using more elaborate service like Delicious or Diigo. If you are using your browser bookmarking system, a simple bookmarks search will reveal all the bookmarks that related to your topic.

Tip #4: Use Firefox smart folders to save your bookmarks search, so you would find new websites in the future. (Also you can create smart folders for your browser history) .

Suppose you are using online bookmarking sevice. First you may want to do a free search with your subject keyword or keyphrase (i.e. not tag search) to find all the relevant bookmarks. Next, you may want to look at the results to find out what tags did you use for this bookmarks. Did you use synonyms (e.g. vertical-search and topical-search)? Or maybe you used both the singular and the plural forms? In this case you may merge these tags into one standardized tag. Also you may check if all the relevant bookmarks are labeled with the right tags.

tip #5: If you are using Delicious you may want to bundle all the tags that relevant to your topic under one category, so you’ll get an unified list of all the relevant bookmarks in Delicious.

Finally, here are some more resources for your specialized search engine: your Digg account, your blog posts, and your comments on other blogs. If you have more ideas, you are welcome to share them with me on the comments.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Built Your Own Search Engine: The 4 Personality Types Model