In the continued battle for search supremacy and the advertising dollars rewarded to the champion, Bing has added Twitter and Facebook to their team. Microsoft plans to announce a deal with the popular social media duo to integrate Tweets and Facebook status updates and more into their search engines’ results pages (SERPs).
Search engines have been challenged in keeping up with the fast paced Tweets and status updates, due to the fact that it requires frequent crawls by their bots in order to keep their index up to date. This springs’ announcement of Google Caffeine, which warranted our providing a well received complimentary webinar, to discuss its impact on SEO, afforded Google the infrastructure to rapidly update their index and provide fresh data in their SERPs. The social media duo has provided application program interfaces (APIs) for developers to poll and mine their public facing data, and webmasters have been leveraging these tools to provide social media content on their websites in hopes of keeping visitors on their site and generating revenue from sales or leads. For some websites, such as sports, entertainment and popular culture, these streaming social updates are a key component to successfully engaging their audience. The search engines have recognized this and have reacted to the growing popularity of social media.
Bings’ deal goes beyond status updates and leverages Facebooks’ Instant Personalization. The flow of information from Facebook to Bing will be in one direction, so the privacy of one’s searches will be protected and not exposed on Facebook. Soon when one searches Bing, the search engine will not only use its mathematical algorithm to determine relevancy for its SERPs, but will include their personal connections’ opinions as expressed by Facebook “shares” and “likes” of websites. This social-centric search will be helpful to some and a distraction to others. We will be tracking the success of this initiative as measured by market share of searches Bing is able to gain going forward, in order to keep our customers up to date and exposed to opportunities that will increase their return on advertising spend.
I look forward to learning more about this partnership and will be keeping my eye out for data concerning how ad targeting may be affected. Could I begin to see relevant ads in Bing SERPs based on my Facebook data? What if I searched Bing for pet supplies, such as catnip, and I find an ad for former Rat Dog guitarist Mark Karan playing at a local watering hole “Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery”, all based on public data found within my Facebook account concerning my favorite bands and affinity for brew pubs? I sure wouldn’t be upset to be exposed to this additional information while searching for Crosby or Jerry’s, our cats, catnip.
Whoa! The title of this blog post should have hit you like a ton of bricks. You see, I’m combining three different sub-industries together:
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
A/B testing = Well…A/B testing! (Like you can do with Google Website Optimizer)
Google Analytics = Web Analytics
Now, how in the world do we do A/B testing on our SEO efforts while using Google Analytics to evaluate the results?
On June 8th of this year, Google rolled out a new search index called Caffeine. This new search index collects and processes information across the web at a much faster rate of speed and accuracy than the previous search index. This means that you can update your website with new content and it is almost immediately indexed and available to be searched for on Google. Website owners who perform frequent updates to their site benefit the most, as Google will pretty much always have the latest version of your website in their search index.
A new search index that instantly updates itself also means that you can perform A/B testing on your organic search results and use a web analytics platform like Google Analytics to determine the rate of success or failure of your experiment. For example, let’s say that you are the owner of HardwareStore.com, and when a person searches for “hardware shop“, they see this organic listing:
As you know from reading our Search Engine Optimization blog over the years, the listings that you see in organic search results derive from the relevant web page’s “meta” tags (specifically, the title tag and the description tag). Before the launch of Google Caffeine, it would be several weeks, sometimes months, for your organic listings to be updated to reflect changes performed on your meta tags. Now, the changes are practically immediate. You can swap out the title and the description meta tags to deliver a different search engine result to your future website visitors who are searching for you on Google. Essentially, you’re running an A/B experiment to see which organic listing produces the best results.
Then what you can do in about one to two weeks after you’ve updated your meta tags is log-in to your web analytics tool and perform a date-range comparison to see what affect your change had on your site performance and task completion metrics, like in this example from Google Analytics:
As you analyze the above image, you can see that the change in your organic listings resulted in higher revenue and a higher conversion rate, which means that you should most likely keep the new meta tags for a while (but keep an eye on that average order value and crunch the numbers to determine if you really are more profitable in the long-term with a lower average order value and per-visit value).
Presto! You’ve successfully performed an A/B experiment with your SEO efforts, while using web analytics to measure the results!
After a year of testing, Google has released its newest search technology. Google Caffeine is supposed to provide 50 percent fresher results as compared to the last index. Now when you are searching for news, photos videos and websites, you will see links to more relevant content quicker.
Google says that this technology is necessary to keep up with the staggering amount of content that is created and uploaded to the Web each day. People and businesses are posting more content through their own sites, blogs and social media channels than ever before. Google wants to make sure that the most relevant content is posted when a searcher makes a query. The new index is built with the future in mind. It has the ability to re-index content quicker and lays a foundation for the growth of information online. You can read the official post about Caffeine at Google’s own blog.
As this search technology rolls out, we will be keeping an eye to determine how this impacts search results.. Generally speaking, when Google makes a change like this, things will shift around for a little while, but then when all is sorted out, the best results are left standing. With Google’s push to be indexing the most relevant content, this says to me that the sites with blogs attached, or frequent content updates will fare best. Sites that remain stagnant in content will not benefit from this new technology. To stay ahead of the curve, be sure that you are exploring all of the possibilities of frequent content updates. Start a blog, engage in social media, update your website often and post pictures wherever you can.