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Getting Results from Google

Recently Scott was interviewed about getting results from Google for a podcast by hospitality consultant, Ken Burgin, of Profitable Hospitality. While Ken Burgin's emphasis is on restaurants and hotels, the discussion is based on small business approaches to online marketing that apply across nearly any hospitality area. Ken has very kindly supplied the embedded version of the recording, which is below. Enjoy!

Google search changes again

Google search changes again. There are Panda changes and Penguin changes, now Hummingbird changes, and Google has removed keywords from our Analytics, and we have to figure out what to do with Google+ and Google Local Business listings aka Google+ Local (or is it Google+ Local Business Pages this week?). What is an innkeeper to do? How can you keep up with all the changes, in order to make sure your business is successful? [caption id="attachment_878" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo by ljmacphee on Flickr[/caption]As one of my teachers (far too long ago, now) used to say, "When you are up to your ears in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp." He meant, of course, that the pesky details that force themselves on your attention will often keep your focus away from your real objective. In this case, the details of each change in the online marketplace can keep you from working toward your ultimate goal. More Google search changes In addition to the changes mentioned in the opening paragraph, there are two very recent major changes from Google that clamor for your attention. The first, and older of the two, is the carousel in local search. Not all searches result in a carousel, but this is changing and growing as Google rolls it out. It places a black-bordered filmstrip-style carousel at the top of the search results, with photos related to the search result to catch your eye. The second is that Google has made all searches "secure" searches (meaning they use a secure https connection), with the result that Google no longer reports keywords from its searches in Google Analytics. Neither of these two changes is minor. Being in the carousel means you show up (with a photo) at the top of…

Changes in Google search results – what should you do?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so it is said. Google itself says it changes its search algorithm over 300 times per year (almost daily!). However, it seems beyond question that some changes require more attention for small business websites than others. When there are changes in Google search results that would penalize your website, for example, or when credit is given for particular formats or content, a change is surely warranted. Various search engine experts have observed that a number of changes have been occurring in the Google search results. These changes have suggested, among other things, that there may be less value on links to your website than in the past, usage of keywords on the page may be declining in importance, and social signals (references in social media) may be less important than had been previously observed. Search experts Moz (formerly known as SEOMoz) released a preliminary view of their analysis of current search ranking factors. The analysis is heavy on statistics and arithmetic, of course, but the summary is quite clear. Things are changing, but the old ways are still the strongest - at least for now. After analyzing the technical data and surveying numerous search experts, Moz found that the data supports the ideas that there may be changes around inbound links, keywords on the page, and social references, but at the moment, these items remain important. In fact, sites which are among the top search results are those which are strong in these areas. That said, The strongest social signal is from Google+. This corresponds with our observations, that Google is placing increasing emphasis on the Google+ Local business pages, and keeping posts current. This is a major departure from several years ago, where it could have been said…

Help Google Understand Your Website with Microdata

Before your eyes glaze over because we used the word "Microdata", hang in there just a bit longer to see how you can easily help Google (and other search engines) better understand your website. Google Wants Relevant Sites (Really!) Let's start with the idea that Google really wants to present a searcher with relevant and useful search results. Yes, they may have ulterior motives, like selling advertising, but for now, that's not the main point. In order to understand your website, and be able to present the results to the searcher when they are relevant, the Googlebot "crawls" your website, and indexes the content (the words) so it will know what your website is about. The other search engines do something very similar. [pullquote]What if you could help Google know what searches your site should show up for?[/pullquote]What if you could help Google be sure it understands your website (or specific pages) better, so it will more accurately catalog your site, and make it more likely your site would show up for the right searches? That would be awesome, right? Well, that's what we're going to look at today. This isn't new. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been working on it for quite some time, and in 2011 created a site called schema.org for just this purpose. You'll want to visit that link after you finish reading the rest of this post. :^) Let's work backwards from the end result. If you look at search results, you'll see something like the image at right (click for larger view). Where does all that stuff come from? If you've done nothing to your page, it comes from a variety of sources around the web - including directories, review sites, your site, etc. BUT, if you use metadata (or similar things), you may…

Your Webmaster Should Take A Look At This

Yesterday (16 July 2012) Google's Webmaster Central Blog published a post explaining "semantics" (more about that in a moment) of web pages, urging sites to use semantic markup (specific types of HTML), and several "Do's and Don'ts". Could this be a signal of an upcoming algorithm change? A Bit of Background This will be the geeky part, but a bit of background will help understand what may turn out to be significant about the Google Webmaster Central post mentioned above. If you prefer, just skip to the last section for the punch line. The code used to create web pages, generally speaking, is HTML. The actual "tags" used to designate elements (headers, paragraphs, blocks, etc.) is called "markup." There are standards for properly creating pages with HTML, and those standards change and are updated as new browser features and other online capabilities become available. Google (and other browser and search firms) are usually represented in the updating and standards for HTML. The latest version of the HTML standards was HTML5, which was not officially released. One group has gone forward with it, while another has renamed HTML5 as HTML and continues it as a work in progress. We'll refer to both interchangeably as HTML5, for purposes of this post. HTML5, not fully supported by all browsers at this time, replaces some generic markup with "semantic" markup. For example, before HTML5 you might have a section of your HTML markup called a "div" - a generic block that could be used for any purpose. One div might be your navigation links, and another might be a feed from your blog. These could be differentiated by an "id" so a div with an id of "nav" might be your navigation links, and a div with an id of "feed" might be your…

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