Friday, August 29, 2014

How Google Might Identify Fake Business Spam by Varying Spam Scores And Preventing Reverse Engineering of Spam Detection Algorithm

Google has find a way to stop spammers who reverse engineer the algorithm in order to manipulate their local search listing. Under Google My Business, which is the main dashboard for local businesses, any business owner can register their company and after successful verification, the business is displayed in the local search results. However, some business owners employ black hat seo methods (considered spam by the search engines) and try to manipulate their local search rankings. Hence, the search engines need to constantly try and make moderation in their search algorithm to include more ranking factors that are hard to catch for the spammers. However, some spammers are way too smart to reverse engineer the main search algorithm and detect some of the changes done. The spammers then employ the same techniques to boost the associated ranking factor and are able to increase the search rankings of their business. To stop this practice, Google has come with a new patent that assigns a spam score to each business participating in such activities. 

Spam scores are values from zero to one where zero indicates that the listing is legitimate and one indicates that the listing is fraudulent. Whenever a spam will be detected, a first threshold spam score would be applied on the business. When the spam score is greater than a first threshold, the listing will get identified as fraudulent and chances are that it might get removed from or not included in the group of searchable business listings. When the spam score is greater than a second threshold that is less than the first threshold, the listing may be demoted to such extent that it won't get displayed in response to a search as frequently or as highly rated as listings having spam scores that are less than the second threshold. Constant inclusions under spam scores rated as 1 might render the business as fraudulent and the listing may be flagged for inspection. If the spam score is less than the first and second thresholds, the corresponding listing is identified as legitimate and included in the group of searchable listings.

This move guarantees that webmasters, black hat seo's and webmasters would be discouraged to reverse engineer the algorithmic changes which Google does from time to time. It will be no surprise if we see such type of spam score for every website along with the local listing score. 

Spammers should remain beware because even a small move to manipulate Google algorithm can put any business in trouble.

Recommended Reading:

Reverse Engineering Circumvention of Spam Detection Algorithms
Google Patent Attacks Reverse Engineering of Local Search Listings

Also See:

Ranking Documents is Set to Penalize Spammers
New Google Patent to Identify Spam in Information Collected From a Source
Domain authority and Google results
How does Google applies Semantic Search
Emanuel Update
Google Sandbox effect
Google Penguin update
Knowledge Graph
How Google Uses Contextual Search Terms
Taxonomic Classification to Find Real Context of Words
Google Tag Manager
Multi Channel Funnel in Google Analytics
Regular Expressions on Google Analytics
Search Queries in Webmasters Tools

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Knowledge Vault - World's Largest Database of Facts and Entities Being Built by Google

Google is building the world's largest database of facts and objects in it without any form of human editing or intervention and this database is named the "Knowledge Vault". This massive database will expand and enhance itself automatically pulling in information from all over the web. It will provide Google all the information required to process queries based upon entities and their relationships. This will take Google a step ahead in becoming an answer engine. Conversational queries like:

"When was Shakespeare born?"
"How far is London from New York?"
"Who is the author of Harry Potter" etc. 

would be answered perfectly by the information contained in the Knowledge Vault.

The current database that Google uses to answer queries is the Knowledge Graph. It is based upon human edited databases like Wikipedia,Freebase and many such sources.

Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date and is built on text, tabular data, page structure, and human annotations. It is composed of 3 major components:

Extractors - Helps to extracts triplets from the web and assigns a confidence score to it.

Priors - These help to learn the prior probability of possible triples.

Knowledge Fusion - It determines if the probability extracted by the extractor and the priors are true.

It also uses the path ranking algorithm approach and LCWA (Local Closed World Assumption) labels.

Sources and citations:

Also See:

How Does Google Applies Semantic Search?
Latent Semantic Indexing
Facebook Graph Search Optimization
Getting Listed on Search Engines
Universal Analytics
New Google Search Quality Updates: Page Quality, Location, Proximity most important
Understanding Google's Page Layout Algorithm

Check Out The New Twitter Analytics Dashboard

The Google Analytics for tweets has finally launched! This new dashboard is free for everyone who has an active Twitter account. It is called as the Twitter Analytics Dashboard and it allows you to measure and boost the impact of your Twitter account. 

What Does Twitter Analytics Offer?

The all new Twitter Analytics lets you:

1- Measure the engagement received on your tweets. You can see the impressions your tweet received along with the engagement rate. The replies and promoted tweets statistics are also included in this column. This dashboard is called the "Tweet Activity Dashboard".

2- Explore the interests, locations, and demographics of your followers. You can chek out the top interests of your followers, the top cities your followers are from and also some profile links of other users your followers follow. This dashboard is called the "Followers Dashboard".

3- Track how your Twitter Cards drive clicks, app installs, and Retweets. This dashboard is called the "Twitter Cards Dashboard".

You can see all these dashboards after you log into Twitter Analytics using this link -

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Create "User Intent" Based Content Which Hummingbird Will Cherish?

User intent is everything Google cares for! If you still think adding keyword laden text in your content body can enhance the ranking position of your website then you need to think again. With the launch of the Hummingbird update, Google has entirely shifted its focus on understanding the user intent behind the search queries. Ultimately what Google wants is to present the user with the closest matching answer based on what he/she wants to know and not on what he/she types into Google. There is a big difference between these two and most of the marketers still feel Google only counts those keywords present in the query which it does but with the least importance. 

I know, it's hard to convince people when you tend to move in the opposite direction and also force people to believe your direction is the correct one. At first people won't believe but when you will deliver the results they will surely start believing you. So, let's take an example as to how user intent is playing a greater role in fetching documents as compared to the presence of keywords in the query.

Query - what places can i explore in london

In the normal scenario, main keywords for this query would have been "places, explore and London" (after eliminating the stop words) and a document having an exact match keyphrase would have easily ranked on the top position in Google. But, this is not what happens.

The first result returned does not have the words "places" and "explore" in the title tag or in the URL but still it's ranking high. Why? Clearly the answer lies in the user intent. As part of processing the query, Google first tries to gain insight into the entities mentioned in the query. Here "London" is an entity. Now, Google tries to find out meaning of "places" and "explore". 

As a smart engine, powered by Hummingbird, it is able to process the query and finds out that the user is looking for places to visit in London (UK). With the help of the synonym engine, it is able to derive that the words "attractions" and "sites" convey the same meaning as the word "places". Hence, it treats the web documents in the same manner while ranking them. 

Obviously, main ranking factors like Domain Authority, Page Rank, Social popularity and backlinks all play a major role in ranking any webpage on the top. But, the biggest On page ranking factor that Google relies upon is the user intent. If you create a page based on what the user is looking for and not on what he types then you are working towards gaining top positions on Google for all the variations of those query that matches the same user intent.

Taking the above example, ranks on the below queries because it matches the user intent and not keywords:

what places can i visit in london
major attractions in london
what to see in london
best places to see in london
top places to see in london
major tourist attractions in london
london attractions
what to visit in london etc. the list goes on and on.

If you note the other results on the page then they keep on fluctuating based on the user query but the top result stays the same because of the fact that it accurately predicts the user intent behind the query and presents the exact information which the user is looking for. 

Great! but how come Google is able to determine that? Simply because the Google ranking algorithm predicts the user intent and does not matches the keyword present in the query. Does this means, you should stop using keywords in your webpages? No, not at all, you should use them as long as it matches the intent of the user but you should't overuse them simply to gain an advantage on Google or to manipulate the Google's ranking algorithm.

How to Create Hummingbird Friendly Content?

Now the main topic comes as to how one can make a little twist on their current SEO strategy and do something extra to win the heart of the Hummingbird. Here are some of the guidelines that you should follow:

1- Choose topics that exactly matches the user intent.
2- Include references to entities wherever possible.
3- Include rich snippets to make your content stand apart from your competitors
4- Make use of semantics while framing content.
5- Use synonyms in your content.
6- Make use of Tf-Idf score.
7- Add images, video and make the content look extraordinary.
8- Improve time on page.
9- Get comments and user likes.
10- Have quality and fresh content with no grammar errors.

If you go on and start following this strategy then I am sure you will be seeing some positive results very soon.

Also See:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Adwords Call Extensions - How to Get Started?

Adwords call extensions helps your business receive instant calls with the help of Adwords ads displaying click to call buttons on the users high end mobile device. This is great as instead of clicking on your site to know the mobile number and then manually call your business, the customers are provided with an easier option to call with a click displayed on the Google search result page itself.

Advantages of Call Extensions

1- Your business phone number gets displayed with your ad.
2- A clickable call button is displayed but only on supported mobile devices.
3- Same cost as a standard CPC.
4- Easy to create and you can share them across your entire campaign or ad groups.
5- Calls can be counted as conversions.

How to Set Up a Call Extension?

1- Click on Campaigns.

2- Go to the Ad Extensions tab and choose Call Extensions from the View menu.

3- Enter your phone number.
4- Choose country code.

5- Under optional settings, check the box for "Mobile" next to "Device preference." (Recommended)


Please note: Call extensions can't be added for “Display Network only - Remarketing” or “Display Network only - Product Listing Ads” campaign types.

Here is a video instruction to help you even better:

Also See:

Why Remarketing is Great for Targeted Branding?
Dynamic Sitelinks in Adwords
New Adwords Extension - Test it Out

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

10 Biggest Google Search Milestones by Amit Singhal

Amit Singhal, head of Google search algorithm and a Google fellow, recently shared on Google Plus his experience of working for 10 long years at Google and what he thinks as the 10 biggest Google search milestones that he along with his team implemented on Google. Remember, in these 10 years, there were around 890 improvements made in Google. Yes, Hummingbird, Penguin, Panda
and all the other animals are a part of these 890 improvements.

Young Amit Singhal (Even he has undergone a change, isn't it? :)

Here is what is looks now! 

“Our business environment changes rapidly and needs long term investment. We will not hesitate to place major bets on promising new opportunities.” - Amit Singhal

Here are the top 10 Google Search Milestones:

Early Google Homepage

1. Autocomplete: Before 2004, Google didn't returned those query suggestions as soon as you start typing in Google. It was in 2004 that Google provided search suggestions in real time just as you type. This was earlier named Google Suggest but was later renamed Autocomplete. 

2. Translations: Google Translate was barely a beta product ten years ago. Today people use it in 80 languages to do over a billion translations a day. It all started in 2007 and since then major upgrades have happened to the main product.

3. Directions and traffic: Just type "traffic near NYC" and get traffic information for those areas. Google also offers directions for destinations. See more information about these 2 awesome products here:

4. Universal search: Having news, images, groups, social media and search results on the same page is what Universal Search does. It was launched in 2007. Consider the queries like Steve Jobs, Britney Spears, William Shakespeare etc and get to know the power behind it. 

5. Mobile and new screens: Search has adapted itself to all devices whether tablet, smartphone or a watch.

6. Voice search: Enables you to ask Google anything from anywhere instead of typing keywords to get the answers. Voice search is easy and quicker, and voice search works in 38 languages today.

7. Actions: With the Google Search app you can quickly text, email or call someone without digging and typing. Just say: “Ok Google, send an email to Mike: do you guys want to go to the beach with us for a picnic this Saturday?” You can even set sophisticated reminders like “Remind me to pick up coffee filters next time I’m at Target,” and Google will buzz your phone when you get to any Target.

8. The Knowledge Graph: Things not strings - this is what matters. So we built the Knowledge Graph to show how things are connected—ask “How tall do you have to be to ride the Cyclone?” or “Who’s in the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy?”, and then click to explore across the web.

9. Info just for you: Time specific search results like flight info has just got easier with the Google Search App. You can ask the Google Search app, “What gate does my flight leave from?” and get the answer directly.

10. Answers before you have to ask: If you have the Google Search app on your phone, you'll get automatic help with everyday tasks. Google can automatically show you your plane, bus, and train reservations right when you need them; warnings when traffic is bad to your next appointment; reminders of bills coming due; a best guess at the last spot you parked; and much more.

Such is the power of Google today.

We know Amit is obsessed with Star Treck and wants to make Google the most accurate answer engine. Hence, the changes he talked about reflects this very aim and passion. Some of you might have thought other changes like the Google Earth, updates like Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, Google shopping etc should have been mentioned on that last. But, if the list talks about 10 then it should be 10 and Amit can't include all of those! Can he?

Also See:

Understanding Google's Page Layout Algorithm

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Facebook Testing That Tags “Satire” Sites

How often have you been tempted by an interesting news title in the Facebook News Feed and clicked on it only to find later on that it is a spoof? Either you had a good laugh or felt irritated by the distraction. Considering the confusion the spoofs or satirical posts create, FB is trying a new feature that marks all such news items as satire.

Facebook “Satire” Test For Blogs

Facebook is known to take its users’ feedback seriously and work on them. This time it has decided to act on the plea of several users who wanted to identify satirical news items from real ones and decide whether to read them or not.

It has been found that articles published under the related stories field in the News Feed section are marked with a small tag called “satire.” Facebook is running the test for almost a month now and a lot of satirical sites are being earmarked by it.

How New Tag is Being Perceived

As always, this new move from Facebook has received a lot of attention and contradictory comments. While the users welcome the effort many sites fear to lose their popularity. Have a look at the below image that clearly displays the posts marked as "Satire".

Image credit: Mashable

Also See:

Facebook Graph Search Optimization

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Google Introduces New Shopping Campaign Upgrade Tool

The product listing ads are a thing of the past. Google shopping campaigns allows you to create more robust and user friendly retail ads that are user centric and also allows you to manage several ad groups together in an easier manner. The new shopping campaign upgrade tool will help you to create new shopping campaigns based on the existing product listing campaigns that you have under your Adwords account. 

If your campaign uses labels or grouping then updating your data feed is the best option available for you as this tool is not compatible for all upgrades. 

When using this tool, it is recommended that you set your PLA campaign to enabled and shopping campaign to paused. 

This upgrade will take several hours before your new shopping ads will go live.

How to Use the Shopping Campaign Upgrade Tool

1- Click on All online campaigns after signing in to Adwords.

2- The status for campaigns under “Shopping campaign creation status” column will say "Not Submitted". Click the Settings tab and click the campaign you wish to upgrade. 

3- Click the Get started button under “Create a Shopping campaign from this campaign" column. This will open up the shopping campaign upgrade tool.

4- Set the status as "Enabled" for your PLA campaign and "Paused" for your shopping campaign.

5- Click create campaign and proceed accordingly.

Also See:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Google Starts Using HTTPS As a Ranking Signal

In a recent webmaster blog post from Google, it is clearly specified that it will consider HTTPS as a minor ranking signal while ranking webpages on the search results. This came as a good news for sites that already have HTTPS in place. For those who don't, Google has given clear guidelines that sites that have secured socket transfer protocol in place can expect to rank higher in Google (provided the major ranking factors favors the site). 

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. It is a communications protocol associated with secured communication over the web. In simple words, the data passed between the client and the server is encrypted and remains safe from hackers when the communication takes place via HTTPS. Contrary to this, HTTP sites do not encrypt the data and the chances of data misuse remains a possibility. 

Why Google Used it As a Ranking Signal?

Google wants to make web a better and a safer place. It also wants its users to remain safe and displaying HTTPS search results will ensure better security to the end users as compared to non HTTPS search results. Google encourages all webmasters to switch from HTTP to HTTPS in order to get this minor ranking boost and to keep everyone safe on the web.

Here are some basic tips to make a switch over to HTTPS:

Also See:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Has Your Website Conversion Rate from HandHeld Devices Surpassed That of Desktop?

Yes, that's a big question because webmasters still do not feel the need to analyze and compare the conversion rate of mobile vs desktop traffic. I am sure, the way mobile search traffic is booming, most of the site owners will face a shock to see that their conversion rates from mobile devices have already surpassed the desktop ones. 

How to Check Mobile Vs Desktop Conversion Rate?

Following the steps below will help you to unleash the potential of mobile traffic. 

1- Login to Google Analytics and move to dashboards.
2- Click on "New Dashboard"
3- Click on "Add a Widget" 
4- Choose "bar chart", then choose "goal conversion rate" under create a bar chart showing and choose "device category" under grouped by column.
5- Click save.

You will see a chart as shown in the below figure.

This chart will reflect the number of conversions happening on your site through mobile and desktop devices. Clear enough, in most of the cases, the tablet, mobile traffic have already surpassed the desktop traffic. 

What does this means? This clearly indicates that webmasters should start implementing the mobile seo strategies for enhancing the conversion rate. 

Also See:

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Get Your website Listed in Google Answer Box?

Getting your website listed on answer box can increase it's trust and reputation besides sending tons of referral traffic that might help to increase conversions. Google is taking one step at a time to become an answer engine and for many queries that you enter on Google, it directly returns an answer in place of 10 blue references asking the user to find the answer himself. 

This approach of becoming an answer engine similar to Star Trek is a dream of Amit Singhal, the head of Google search ranking algorithm. 

What is an Answer Box?

Answer box is an area that appears right above the organic search results. It displays a direct answer to the user query. Sometimes, this box might display reference to the website whose information is displayed in the SERP. Getting your site displayed under this box directly means that Google trusts the answer to the query provided in that site. This certainly helps to increase the trust and reputation of the site in the eyes of users.

Example of Answer Box

For a query "symptoms of typhoid", we get the following answer box with a link to the site webmd displayed right below the answer. The answer that Google displays comes directly from the Webmd site. 

How to Get Listed?

The following points sheds some light as to how you can enable your site to enter the answer box:

1- Your site should have a high DA/PR
2- The TrustRank associated with your site should be high
3- The content should provide a direct answer to the query
4- The site should be counted as a trusted seed by Google (Example is Wikipedia)
5- Query mapping is based on entity and their attributes so the site content should clearly match the identity with the associated attribute/attributes
6- The question of interest (the search query entered by the user) in the ideal scenario should be the main topic of the webpage
7- Answer written should either be cited from an authority site or the site should itself be an authority.
8- Only answers from unbiased, non profit, news based, high authority, high trusted sites are included in the answer boxes. 

Taking the example of Webmd above, our main searh query was "symptoms of typhoid" and webmd was included due to the following factors:

1- Site has high DA - 95.
2- Site is a trusted source of medical information cited by several reputed websites.
3- Site has several references mentioned in Wikipedia which makes it a part of the trusted seed network.
4- The content accurately describes the symptoms with the heading as "What Are the Symptoms of Typhoid Fever?".

Hope this gives you an idea as to how you should frame your content in order to make it eligible to get listed under Google answer box.

Also See: