Submit Express Newsletter #80 (December 2011)
elcome! It's time for the end-of-year Submit Express Newsletter. We've packed it full with tips, helpful advice, and relevant news so that you can stay in top form in all matters related to search engine optimization, social media, and internet marketing.
At Submit Express, we are proud providers of comprehensive services for strategized Web marketing campaigns and much, much more. To further empower clients and readers, we've compiled some of the biggest tech industry news so that you can form a big picture of 2011. As always, we continue our commitment to supplying do-it-yourself tips and information. Subscription to our newsletter is free, and we invite you to sign up by visiting www.submitexpress.com/newsletters.
In this issue read about:
Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Year in Review
by Pierre Zarokian
Let's summon a rearview image of 2011 in preparation for the electrifying hustle and bustle that the New Year augurs for search engine optimization, internet marketing, and social media. Industry giants across the intensely interconnected realms each upped the ante in their bids to deliver ever-more bold and "awesome," to borrow an adjective from a famous Facebook wunderkind, applications and capabilities through proliferating social and internet products. Much enthusiasm and disputation was heralded by the following tech highlights of 2011:
Panda Updates (Also Referred to as the Farmer Updates)
Google's Panda updates had sporadic spurts of activity throughout 2011. The last ones to provoke headlines came in the early fall when many sites, like those of e-commerce businesses, saw drops in Google search rankings. The Panda updates -- sometimes called Farmer updates -- were Google's attempt to boost the search rankings of websites rich in original content of high quality. The company went after this aim by integrating new elements to its search algorithm. The new elements' introduction made sites with duplicate content throughout their pages especially susceptible to lowered rankings. From now on, having original and engaging content on your site will be more crucial than ever for maintaining good rankings. Read more
The Launch of Google+
In June, Google rolled out its social network, Google+, and made it available to all legal adults -- those 18 and over -- in September. This network's most attractive features include Hangouts, which permits live video-chatting for large groups of people, and Circles, which gives users greater options for deciding what to share with whom. Google+ Pages is the network's special section for businesses, brands, and other multi-person entities like rock bands, for instance. The new social network, despite the prestige and power behind it, still has a lot of ground to cover before reaching the mainstream and runaway success of Facebook. Read more.
Other Google Changes
The biggest change at Google has been the reintroduction of Larry Page as the company's CEO. Page reorganized the company and has made huge commitments to making products that are more social. Under Page, Google has launched its own social network and introduced features like +1 to make search more interactive for users. Gmail, YouTube, which is owned by Google, and the iconic search engine itself all received an imagine revamp in 2011. Finally, 2011 was the year that Google, just like Facebook, settled with the Federal Trade Commission on matters concerning users' privacy. In a related vein, Google will also now shelter referrer tags from logged-in visitors through encryption. Read more.
Closure of Yahoo Site Explorer
In November, Yahoo pulled the plug on its highly regarded Site Explorer utility. The service has since merged with Bing Webmaster Tools, which is where webmasters are now encouraged to source the artillery needed to energize their sites' high-quality, and organic, search traffic. However, a big consequence of Site Explorer's fold into Bing Webmaster Tools is that free competitor analysis is no longer available. Read more.
Google Wave Closes: Inaccessible After April 30, 2011
News of Google Wave's closure came in August 2010. At that time, Google stopped actively developing the platform which permitted character-by-character live typing and the sharing of images and media in real time. Since then, its complete shutdown has been scheduled for April 30, 2012. The reason given for its termination: not enough people were using it. After the April deadline, waves created on the application will become completely inaccessible. If you want to export your waves, do so through the service's PDF export tool, but you must do it before the end of April or you'll lose all of your waves. From January 31, 2012 until April 30, 2012, Wave will exist in read-only mode, meaning wave creation or editing will not be possible. Read more.
LinkedIn Goes Public
May 19th marked LinkedIn's debut as a publicly traded company. The initial public offering of the professionals' social network was the biggest stock market splash made by an American company since Google went the IPO route in 2004. Since that big spring day, LinkedIn's shares have gone through some depreciation, but the company is making considerable investments in product research and development. In all, LinkedIn continues to struggle with the integration of revenue-creating advertising mechanisms that are palatable to its user base. Read more.
Major Facebook News
Facebook experienced a watershed year in 2011. Halfway through it, the site reached an astounding milestone: it garnered 750 million active users. That number has continued to climb, and Facebook will soon attain one billion users; currently, the count exceeds 800 million users. On its own, that achievement is beyond staggering, but Facebook also made news for many other important reasons. Most prominent among these are its imminent public offering -- set for next year -- and the wide release of its revolutionary new layout: Timeline. Its IPO will be of gargantuan proportions, and the site's new and more appealing way of presenting information promises to generate deeper user engagement, in addition to further securing their loyalty to the site. Even with all the legal battles and public relations faux pas it endured, 2011 will stand out as the year that Facebook proved its strength, and the real challenge it poses to Google's web dominance. Read more.
Yahoo/Bing Partnership Update
Everywhere, except in Korea, the Yahoo! and Bing integration is complete. The two search powerbrokers partnered in 2009, and the successful amalgamation of Microsoft's Bing's back-end with Yahoo's front-end is expected to garner enhanced profits for the two companies. Regionally targeted results were given special attention during the transition, and hardware was updated. Read more.
Steve Jobs' Legacy Pervades the Future of Internet Tech and Social Media
Steve Jobs said his biggest and last goodbye on October 5th, and since then, Americans have been celebrating the life and legacy of the Silicon Valley idol by leaving flowers and bitten apples at neighborhood Apple Stores, poring over Walter Isaacson's new biography, or simply by buying a song on iTunes to listen to on an iPhone, Macbook Air, or vintage iPod as they give Big Steve an earnest salute.
Jobs revolutionized the way content of any type is consumed, distributed, and even transported. The sea changes he touched off reached deeply into the internet, social media, music, film, and computing hardware industries. Although unlikely, Steve Jobs was even something of a sartorial icon of the Bay Area. Have you tried counting the heads of startups that like to sport plain, dark grey t-shirts to compliment their sneakers and vaqueros? A lot!
Certainly, Jobs will mostly be remembered as an example of personal and professional fortitude. His most famous acolytes are easily Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey -- the captains of the brave new world of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. But leaders for a long time to come will continue asking themselves, What would Steve do? Read More.
Get a Copy of "Blogger Relations for PR and SEO," the E-Book Written by Murray Newlands and Pierre Zarokian
In February, Google launched a major change in its algorithm that significantly impacted countless websites across the board. Known as the Panda or Farmer update, the new algorithm update aims to decrease rankings for low-quality sites that offer regenerated content or duplicate content and give better rankings for sites with high-quality, original content and information.
Pierre Zarokian and Murray Newlands, two eminent businessmen, joined forces to pen Blogger Relations for PR and SEO, an e-book with invaluable pointers and recommendations for conducting outreach through blogging, public relations, and search engine optimization. The two authors share the know-how they've acquired throughout years of industry experience. Get a copy by Liking us on Facebook. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Blogger-Relations/174189052675446 for your newest electronic tome.
Social Media Urges On a New Statistics
The world's twitter and Facebook output - along with its googling and cell phone geo data - is about to be stirred, strewn out on a researcher's desk, and examined like a sacrificed animal's entrails during the heyday of ancient Greece.
It seems that social media has done wonders for the acceptance of an old ritual of the occult - divination. Online output, as part of "big data," is about to be put through a major statistical grinder by scientists claiming a humanistic bent in an attempt to derive "sociological laws of human behavior" as John Markoff, of the New York Times, so eloquently put it, "to predict political crises, revolutions and other forms of social and economic instability," much the same way that natural scientists foretell the weather and try to do likewise with earthquakes.
Next year, a division of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), is funding a three-year study on "big data" involving 21 countries in Latin America. The tools employed by these scientists will likely resemble those being developed by Revolution Analytics, Norman Nie's company of new-wave analytical tools for "data sets with trillions of entries." Perhaps the time for a new Delphic oracle has arrived. Read more.
Two Nobel Laureates Hangout on Google+
It could only be expected that a figure who all around the world is greeted with hundreds of people camping out for days to hear him speak, would be no slowpoke when it came to embracing social media. That's certainly the case with the Dalai Lama. He's set a date for a Google+ hangout with Archbishop Desmond Tutu - both men count a Nobel among their ribboned hard metals.
There's a reason for the hangout: Archbishop Tutu's home country, South Africa, denied the visa request filed by the Dalai Lama to attend his friend's 80th birthday celebration. It's believed that South Africa was pressured by China, whose economic investment in the country is significant, to deny the request. The Dalai Lama is considered "subversive" by the Chinese government.
Regardless of their geographical separation, the two spiritual leaders will be coming together for some screen time this Saturday, October 8th at 1:30 am PT. Archbishop Tutu's birthday was on Thursday, October 6th.
The Archbishop had some harsh words for his president: "Hey Mr. Zuma, you and your government don't represent me," and went on with: "You represent your own interests."
Tony Ehrenreich, a leader of the important coalition of South African trade unions, Cosatu, preempted him earlier in the week with the following comments: "Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan." Read more.
On Facebook, Israel Writes in Arabic to Engage a Contentious Public
The men and women in charge of branding and marketing for Israel's military are known for their active engagement in social media, but something they had not been particularly known for, at least not until very recently, was the generation of content written and produced in Arabic. Incredibly, this week didn't just see Palestine voted into full membership at UNESCO, it also saw the public unveiling of the Israeli army's first bona fide Arabic Facebook page. It's set to join the ranks of the army's official Arabic Twitter, YouTube channel, and the Israel Defense Forces' official Arabic website.
The army's updates on the world's largest social network are intended to supply "approved public information" about its "activities in the Palestinian territories" and spark off interactive engagement with its readership - something the Israelis don't expect to have much trouble with.
That Israel is providing military dispatches in the language of its famously disputatious brethren is being viewed by many as the country reaching out to the domestic and international Arabic-speaking community - most especially the great numbers that find themselves under new, if unresolved, leadership on account of this year's phenomenal Arab Spring uprisings.
Maj. Avichay Adraee, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, is credited with championing Arabic social engagement. He has referred to the need for Israel's military to build a relationship of trust with the Arabic-speaking public - one that is "maintained on a daily basis" and that extends beyond times of crisis. Read more.
Google Unveils Ten Changes to Its Search Algorithm
Google has announced ten changes to its search algorithm, ranging from more relevant snippets to dropping a ranking signal in Image search. Although the tech giant makes nearly 500 changes to its algorithm every year, yesterday's announcement was part of an effort to unveil the "methodology and process" behind such improvements.
One of the latest changes involves snippets. Now when users search Google, they will see snippets with text from the actual page content, instead of text that is part of a header or menu. Another change related to snippets includes rich snippets for people who are searching for software applications. Google will now feature extended snippets with more details about the applications, like cost and user reviews.
Several of the recent changes have to do with the way search results are ranked in Google. For example, the tech giant has refined the way it determines official web pages. The new change will rank official websites even higher. Also related to search rankings, Google has retired one of its signals to help rank its search results, a signal in Image search related to images with information from several documents on the Internet. According to Google, this signal no longer appears to have a significant impact.
Other changes include offering more relevant titles that are specific to the page's content, length-based auto complete predictions in Russian, and fresher date-restricted queries.
In a blog post on the announcement, Google Distinguished Engineer, Matt Cutts, reminds site owners that the ten changes are just a sample of the hundreds of tweaks Google makes each year, and that "even these changes may not work precisely as you'd imagine." He added, "We've decided to publish these descriptions in part because these specific changes are less susceptible to gaming." Read more.
Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries Data is Now Live in Google Analytics
After a four-month testing phase, Google's latest Search Engine Optimization reports in Google Analytics are now available to the public. Valuable information for webmasters and SEOs alike, the reports are based on search queries data from Webmaster Tools and make Google Analytics all the more useful. The reports can be found in the Traffic Sources section of Google Analytics and include:
- Queries: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily queries
- Landing Pages: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily landing pages
- Geographical Summary: impressions, clicks, and CTR by country
According to Google, the new reports feature "advanced filtering and visualization capabilities for deeper data analysis." Most importantly, through these reports, users can view and analyze their site's data in ways not currently possible through Webmaster Tools.
Although the new reports are public, users will have to meet a few requirements before they can access the new data. Users must be both a Webmasters Tools verified site owner and a Google Analytics administrator of that Property. Read more.
PageRank is Alive and Well
Despite speculations that Google has discontinued the Toolbar PageRank scores, PageRank is alive and well.
So why have various toolbars and websites, such as SEOQuake and SEOBook, stopped reporting the score and showing up as either N/A or 0? According to Search Engine Land, and several other sites, Google has not disabled the display of PageRank on these sites but has instead changed the URL which is used to query it. This change has made it impossible for third party tools to look up a page's PageRank.
If you're unable to look up the Toolbar PageRank score, you will need to update your lookup scripts from the previous URL, http://toolbarqueries.google.com/search?client=navclient-auto&features=Rank&ch=8f3b58e04&q=info, to the new URL, http://toolbarqueries.google.com/tbr?client=navclientauto&features=Rank&ch=8f3b58e04&q=info. Read more.
Twitter: Turning a Penny With Self-Service Advertising
Twitter is making its way to big-time advertising, and the company is already demonstrating that it's capable of turning a pretty penny. Jack Dorsey's jaunty whale of a baby recently launched self-service advertising on a small scale, but it's prepping the groundwork for a larger, well-executed, and calibrated lineup. Read more.
Google Announces Major Update in Search Algorithm
In an effort to produce fresher and more relevant search results, Google announced today a major change in its ranking algorithm, one that affects nearly 35 percent of searches. The new algorithm update comes after the completion of its Caffeine web indexing system just last year, a change in its infrastructure that made it possible for Google to crawl and index the web for fresh content at lightning speeds. Read more.
Salman Rushdie Overturns Facebook's Decision to Call Him "Ahmed Rushdie"
Like many people, Salman Rushdie goes by his middle name, even on Facebook, which prefers, apparently, that folks go by their first. This Monday saw the two sides come to a head-to-head battle in public. After unceremoniously deactivating Salman Rushdie's account until he complied with a passport copy request to verify his identity, Facebook reinstated his status but changed the name on his profile: "Salman Rushdie," as it appears on the cover of the gazillions of books he's sold, to "Ahmed Rushdie," as an airport customs official might greet him. Yikes! would be an understatement. Read more.
Facebook to Settle with the Federal Trade Commission Regarding Broken Privacy Promises
In a press release, today, the Federal Trade Commission gave news that it had reached a settlement with Facebook regarding charges of consumer deception and broken privacy promises. Although the document noted that the charges fell under the umbrella category of "administrative complaint," and did not constitute a ruling with respect to the violation of the law, the commission believes that Facebook transgressed federal law when it told users that their information would remain private and unavailable to third parties like advertisers or the general public, which was not the case. The FTC called Facebook's claims "unfair and deceptive." Read more.
UCLA Grads' Janus-Like Social Platform Gains Traction
Jono Lee and Eric Sue - both recent UCLA grads - have set their newly created social platform, TwoSides, loose on the Internet to help conceptualize duality. In its current setup, users publicly ponder the duality and merits of political, philosophical, and other more mundane stances with the help of well-thought-out displays and argument compartmentalization. Read more.
The Original 7ven's Twitter-Inspired Funk Track Is Out
The beloved funk band The Time has a new name and a new single, and both are making headlines. The Original 7ven, as the band is now known, recently debuted "#Trendin," which may or may not constitute the first hashtag as song title. The track is also further proof of Twitter's unfaltering progress in lodging itself in the American cultural imagination. But the best news is that the song's actually good! You'll have a good-natured chuckle after taking in an earful and hanker after a lyrical belt-out, if not a jam session. Read more.
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