A Smattering of SEO News: 4/19/13

Hello, and welcome to the new weekly feature here on Wpromote that we’re calling a Smattering of SEO News. Each week we’ll present a rundown of the most important SEO news pieces from the previous week, and we’re starting with a doozy. This week you’ll find quite a bit of news from Google, as well as news from Yandex, Facebook and Twitter. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Have a great weekend!

Google News:google-logo-seo

  • Google Reaches Deal with EU, Will Label Own Results – Google has reached a deal with EU regulators who accused it of anticompetitive practices in regards to ranking Google’s own services higher than its competitors. According to the deal, Google will clearly label all search results that are theirs, making them easier to spot and distinguish from competitors.
  • Google Faces Two New Anticompetitive Lawsuits – British mapping service Streetmap has filed a lawsuit against Google, complaining that it gives its own results preferential treatment. Also, FairSearch Europe – which includes Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle – are filing suit accusing the Android operating system of being a “Trojan Horse” and complaining on how it promotes its own apps.
  • Google Fined $3,100 in Japan for Incorrect Autocomplete Suggestion – A court in Tokyo has fined Google $3,100 for associating an anonymous Japanese man with a crime he claims he didn’t commit in Google’s autocomplete feature. The fine is much less than the $144,000 originally asked for in the complaint.
  • Referrers See 63% Drop in Traffic from Google Images, According to Study – The results from a new study by Define Media Group show that, in testing eighty seven websites with results on Google Image, these sites saw an average decline of 63% in traffic. Some industries saw an even greater decline. Google blames this on “phantom visits” where publishers counted impressions from the old Google design even if their images weren’t clicked.
  • Google Shuts Down Affiliate Network – Publishers have begun to receive emails informing them that Google will be winding down their Affiliate Network over the next few months and will disable ad partnerships on July 31st, 2013. This comes as a surprise to no one as the affiliate game continues to dwindle into obscurity.
  • Google Site Speed Study Says Web Getting Faster – Google has released a follow-up study to last year’s Site Speed study, and the results are very encouraging. On the whole, sites on the desktop went from six to seven seconds down to three seconds, and on mobile, sites dropped from eight to ten seconds to three to five seconds, an enormous difference.

In other SEO news…

  • Yandex Takes Issue to Search Engine Malware Study – In an email to Search Engine Land, the people at Russian search engine, Yandex questions the results of a recent test by AV-TEST in which they state it serves ten-times the amount of malware in its results as Google and twice as much as Bing. They claim the study lacks in-depth information, and claims they test 23 million pages a day for malware.
  • Brands Can Now Target Facebook Users On and Off the Social Network – Thanks to the help of data brokers such as Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon, Facebook is now offering brands the ability to target users based on what they know about them both on and off the social network. This allows brands even more granular targeting, while Facebook maintains no private information is shared with advertisers.
  • Bing and Yahoo Market Share Grow in March – Google’s market share of search engine search traffic in March dropped to 67.1% from 67.5% in February, while Bing rose from 16.7% to 16.9% in March, and Yahoo rose to 11.8% from 11.6%. In the “powered by” results which pit Google vs. Bing, 69.2% of searches were powered by Google (down from 69.7%) while Bing powered 26.1% (up from 25.9%).
  • Twitter Enables Timeline Keyword Targeting for Promoted Tweets – Twitter has enabled a feature in which promoted Tweets will show up in a user’s timeline based on recently used keywords. This apparently won’t increase the amount of promoted tweets, only their accuracy, according to Twitter.

How To Get More Traffic By Optimizing Your Images for Organic Search

Let me start this post with a disclaimer: Organic image search can work well for many web sites, but isn’t necessarily perfect for every business. It might be great for online retailers, hotels, and travel agencies, but not so much for the local plumber.

Why Pay Attention Now?

On July 20th, Google announced their revamped and oh-so-nicer version of Google Images. The new layout now includes a more slick grid format, thumbnail previews when you hover over an image and up to 1,000 images per page. Let me repeat that last one, up to 1,000 images on each page. As you scroll down on an image search results page, the page continues to populate itself with new image content. For the average user, after two minutes of browsing, they may feel like they are still on page 1 when in fact they are much deeper in Google’s image index (which now comes in at over 10 billion images). If anything this is a big win for the little guys as newer web sites that did not rank on the first or second page of image search now have many more chances to wow and impress potential visitors even when ranking 30-100 images down. Think of a mall that just expanded from 20 shops to 40, an art gallery that now features 10 artists instead of 5. Location and placement isn’t so much of an issue now, but quality of content really comes into play.

old-google-image-search

This is Google’s image results pages back in the day. Notice the larger white space between images, text descriptions, image dimensions, file sizes and website info. When arriving at the end of a results page, to browse to the next page users would have to click on Google’s infamous Goooooooooogle link at the bottom.
new-google-image-search-results

And this is the Google image results page of today. They’ve removed all of that information and closed up the white space between images. You’ll also notice that depending on your browser size and resolution, the image results automatically realign themselves to add or remove images per row. If users don’t find what they are looking for, continuous browsing is much easier and one-click less now.

bing-image-search-results

This is Bing’s image search results page, also very similar and fairly user friendly.

So how do you get your images to rank here?

Let’s run a test, below is an image of the Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula, CA.

Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula
Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Accurately use keywords in your image name. What keyword would you want this image to rank for? What value does this add to the user? Chances are this image will never rank for “winery” or “american flag,” but it has a much better chance of ranking for “Monte De Oro” or “Temecula Winery.” For this specific image, I chose to name it “monte-de-oro-winery-temecula.JPG” (the file extension doesn’t really matter, but you generally want to stay with .jpg, .gif or .png files).
  2. Alt Tags – The benefit of WordPress is that when you add an image to a post, it asks you if you’d like to add alternate text. For this image I chose “Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula.” If you are not using WordPress, adding an alt tag is fairly simple to any image. You will be appending alt=”YOURTEXTHERE” to a portion of the existing image code.
  3. Title Tags – Title tags are not as important nowadays, but if you do add it, this can be the same as the alt tag. You will want to avoid over-optimization and risk raising red flags.
  4. Content around your image – What else is on the page where your image is included? Is your image of a cat, but the rest of the page about the iPhone? Relevant content helps with rankings. If the entire web page is not about the image, consider adding a caption to your image or a description about the photo when possible.
  5. Host your images – Unless you’re expecting a significant amount of traffic and potential bandwidth issues, host your images on your own domain! Why host it on a CDN, Flickr or a sub-domain? Pull these images onto your domain and make your web site that much more relevant.
  6. Age & Lifetime – An image that has been online longer, has received more clicks from Google image search and is useful to users is likely to rank higher than a brand new image. Consider the longevity of your images as well. Ranking #1 for “Black Friday Coupons” might seem good, but when you image is of Black Friday deals from 2001, it likely won’t be as useful to users as it could. Ranking #1 for “Election statistics” might be huge traffic driver in 2008, but this information is irrelevant for visitor’s searching for this year’s primary election results. You need to ask yourself the questions of will your image still be useful to users 6 months from now, 12 months from now? If not, make sure to optimize your image pages to provide users with options on how they can get to more updated images & information such as this year’s election results, this year’s deals, etc.

And lastly, forget everything written above and simply think of the user. Regardless of if you do everything above correctly, put the users’ needs in front of the search engine and put visual content out there that appeals to them. You now have more screen real estate to rank in, but ultimately it comes down to impressing users and enticing them to click on your image.

Best of luck! (We’ll be following the image tagging on this post to see how long it takes for Google to start ranking the image.)

If you really do like the older layout of the Google images results, here’s how you can get it back.

Google Images, New and Improved!

We have all done it. Searched the pages of Google Images to find that perfect picture for… your blog. Well it seems like it may get even easier to find that instant gratification… for your blog. Google has done it again. They have come up with a new way to give you the results you want called VisualRank. The scientists over at Google have designed an algorithm that combines image-recognition software with classic Google ranking.

Image search results are currently determined through basic image tagging. This definitely hinders the results as it relies on webmaster’s content and alt-image tags, and we all know people aren’t perfect. So when you search one thing, you may end up with something completely different, especially when you turn filtering off. But you already knew that didn’t you?

As it stands now Google uses employees to rank the images that they store. There is a team of 150 employees who are using the most popular searches to find images and rank them accordingly. The Google staff estimates that 83% of the results are less relevant images.

With the release of this technology, Image search may become as highly prized as the organic results. So not only will Google require better content for higher ranking websites, but better image relevance and quality too. Better upgrade that 2 megapixel cam to a 12 Mp SLR!

Lamens Visual Rank

A Google Prototype for a Precision Image Search