Archive for January, 2011

Is Your Website Optimized for Google Instant Previews?

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Search Engine Optimization, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

How many times have you clicked on a link in your Google search results only to find that webpage didn’t have the information or the item you wanted?

These things happen.

No matter how good the search engine, it’s not a mind reader. Only you know exactly what’s most relevant for your particular purposes.

Goggle Instant Previews helps boost the relevance of click-throughs

It would be nice to only click-through to webpages that meet your needs, and apparently Google thinks so, too. That’s why it rolled out Instant Previews, which gives you a sneak peek of your search results.

You’ve likely seen the preview tool; it’s a magnifying glass that appears next to title links in Google search results. Click on the magnifying glass, and presto, you get a graphical representation of that webpage while you’re still viewing search results. With some webpages the preview may also highlight text items relating to your search terms. Between the visual sneak peek and those text highlights, you can quickly compare all your search results to help determine which ones are best for you.

Here’s an example of results for the search query “best restaurants in Philadelphia” where I’ve highlighted the Instant Previews icon:

If you click on the magnifying glass next to the link for Le Bec Fin, you see the homepage to its website, with an announcement about the menu, plus a quote from a food critic.

FYI, Google decides if text appears in a preview. In this case, it’s a kudo from a food writer, which makes for a nice plug that can influence your decision on whether or not to visit this fancy French eatery. Right away, you have a positive impression.

Now, suppose you want to preview the other sites. Well, then your results vary. Take a look at what comes up when you preview Morimoto:

Not much to go by there. That’s because the site is built with Flash, which Instant Previews does not currently support. It doesn’t read Java applets or Silverlight, either.

Any areas Instant Previews can’t read on a website appear blank. If it can’t read any of your site, it looks like Morimoto’s. Then you’ll miss out on any potential benefit that comes from Instant Previews. And you may even forfeit business to an enterprise with a website that renders properly in preview.

Think about it: If you have several choices, and you’re deciding which to pick based solely on what you can glean from the web, and one choice instantly offers a better presentation, don’t you think you might favor the place that gives you the most confidence from the start?

Give your website an Instant Previews check-up

Google claims Instant Previews will “match your query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customized to your search—usually in under one-tenth of a second.”

That’s darn fast. Any website takes longer than one-tenth of a second to load. Once you get into the habit of previewing, you’re likely to keep at it. I use previews a lot, and I am surely not alone in this regard.

Which means, if you have a website, you need to pay attention to how it renders in Google Instant Previews. And not just the homepage, but all of the pages, because people can enter your site in any number of ways when coming through a search engine.

In fact, check it right now. See if there are any problems. If so, you should consider making changes to your site’s code so that it can play well with previews. Anything that diminishes your search result can hurt your click-through rate.

Can Instant Previews affect your site’s search rank?

I first found out about the potential for problems with Google Instant Previews from an article by my Twitter pal, internet marketing and SEO consultant, Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe). In his post, Google Instant Previews — Great Functionality or a Signal Back to the Mothership, Glenn suggests that Google might even use previews for its own purposes. He writes:

“It’s hard to ignore the fact that instant previews can send a powerful signal back to Google about the relevancy of the search results. For example, if a page is ranking near the top of the search results, but really shouldn’t (because it’s spammy, the page owner gamed Google’s algorithm to get there, etc.), then Google could start to identify these pages via monitoring low click-through rate via instant previews. For example, imagine a page with 175K impressions in organic search, with 3500 instant preview triggers, but no click-through. That very well could raise a red flag to Google.”

If Google does wind up utilizing Instant Previews as yet another way to determine relevance for certain keywords, that’s just one more reason to be sure your site is up to preview snuff.

More information on Google Instant Previews

For website owners:

Google has a FAQ about instant previews that can help you understand how it works and how you can adjust your website so that it renders properly in preview mode.

For the general web user:

Google provides a good explanation of instant previews, including a short video, on its official blog.

Have you used Google Instant Previews? Has it changed the way you search the web? Please share your thoughts and  comments.

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Visual Guide For Setting Your Social Media Direction

Posted on January 17, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sir Walter Scott’s famous line “Oh what a tangled web we weave,” doesn’t refer to the World Wide Web, but you know, it could.

The online web is intricate. That goes double when you factor in social networks, which by design expand as they interconnect.

When you consider how social networks are just a subset of a much larger Web 2.0 system, things get really complicated.

To begin the Web 2.0 journey you have to start somewhere

The scope of Web 2.0 is wide and ever-growing. It can be daunting to know where to begin. Yet you have to start somewhere.  It’s like another famous saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

If you want to wind up at a specified end-point, it helps to get oriented before beginning those many steps. For a real-life trip, you’d use a map or a GPS device for guidance. The byways of Web 2.0 are less cut and dry — the optimal route is determined by your particular goals, strategies and resources.

Still, there are some excellent instruments for overall guidance, including the infographic you see below, created by A-list blogger, best selling author and new media business strategy consultant Brian Solis, and JESS3, a creative agency that specializes in data visualization.

Social Media Compass graphic

Big picture view of the social ecosystem

In his recent post, The Social Compass is the GPS for Adaptive Business, Brian notes this infographic “points a brand in a physical and experiential direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers, where they interact and seek guidance online.”

The Social Compass enables you to see how various components relate to one another in a big picture kind of way. If you’re not quite sure what it all means, read Brain’s post, where he explains all the labels and how they entwine.

Take a sentimental journey to social media success

Of course, the bottom line is, even when used for business purposes, social media is about people engaging with one another. The tools and technology are important, but if you are not establishing personal and emotional connections, you’re missing the point.

So pay special attention to the outer ring of the Social Compass. Notice how it’s got words like empathy, empowerment, honesty, sincerity, reciprocation and reward. By living up to these sentiments you build genuine affinity and devotion to your brand. You’re creating meaningful relationships and goodwill that people will want to share with others. When you walk that talk, your social media activities are headed in the right direction.

– Deni Kasrel

What’s YOUR view of the Social Compass? Comments welcome.

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Tips For Making Videos That Are Doggone Good

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s cliché marketing advice to suggest that you “think out of the box” in order to “cut through the clutter.” Maybe so — still, it’s good advice.

Of course the trick is in the doing. How do you come up with a creative idea that sets you apart from the crowd?

I’ll answer by showing, rather than telling. Watch this video, Husky Dog Sings with iPad Better than Bieber!, which has more than 2 million views and serves to illustrate how you can break out of the pack.

Can you really learn marketing tricks from a dog?

How does this video cut through the clutter? Let’s count the ways…

1. The video falls into a favored category. Videos of pets doing a cool tricks are incredibly popular. Right from the get-go, this one plays to the crowd in the space in which it’s offered — in this case, YouTube.

2. It has a catchy keyword rich title. The video is named Husky Dog Sings with iPad Better than Bieber! This title is clever on its own, and if you parse it out, between “dog sings,” “iPad” and “Bieber” you’re picking up on a few popular keywords for web searches.

Including the words iPad and Bieber helps attract viewers who are ultimately searching for something quite different than what this video is about, yet plenty of people may click on the link in their search results just because the video sounds like it could be fun to watch. Random entertainment opportunities are one of the many aspects that make the web experience special.

3. There’s no obvious sales pitch. There’s an embedded hat-tip at the end of the video for LaDiDa, an iPhone app. The app is not by the person who made Husky Dog Sings, so this mention appears to be just a nod to the technology that helps make its concept work in the first place.

Meanwhile, there is a direct sales component here. Under the video screen (when viewed on the YouTube site) there’s a link to Mishka on iTunes. Turns out, this singing dog is named Mishka, and she has her own iTunes single.

Click on the link to video’s creator, Matt Gardea, identified on YouYube as gardea23, and you go to Mishka The Talking Husky’s YouTube channel. Here’s where you see that Mishka is a canine celebrity. Her channel has more than 84,000 subscribers. Mishka the singing husky on Twitter She’s been featured on news media throughout the world and she has a thriving Facebook page, Twitter account and line of clothing.

One channel feeds into the other and if you read the posts to Facebook or Twitter you’ll note there’s plenty of personality behind it all.

4. The tone is homegrown. Husky Dog Sings vibe is warm and welcoming. Mishka’s owners are clearly out to promote their pet, however, they go about it in a friendly down-to-earth way. Most any dog owner can relate to Matt’s friendly encouragement of Mishka as he repeatedly says “good girl” to coach the husky through her duet with the iPad.

5. This is the real deal. Social media presents a particular kind of environment where hard-sell flashy marketing falls out of favor. After all, being pushy isn’t social. You want to be real, and this video is genuine. When Mishka is doing her thing, a child and another dog briefly enter the picture. There’s no attempt to hide this extraneous action, which only adds to our amusement.

More tricks to come?

This is one cool trick. It’s warm and cozy yet also a pretty slick package.  In late December Mishka tweeted that there’s more in store:Tweet from Mishka the singing husky

Hmm, wonder what she’s got up her paws.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think? Your comments welcome.

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