Walking to SEO Manchester HQ. This week, we have noticed some unusual things in Manchester City Centre. The traditional shop displays have been replaced with witches, skeletons and other spooky items. Pumpkins have been spotted scattered randomly in several trees. Even the infamous Manchester Town Hall clock and building have been turned into a slimy green colour. All of these signs can only mean one thing – the return of Halloween!
Happy 19th! Google Celebrates Yet Another Landmark Birthday
It has often been said that the concept of time takes on an entirely different meaning when referring to the digital domain. However, this has never been the case in regards to Google. This SEO supergiant has become the mainstay for billions of users and millions of websites from around the world. It is therefore quite amazing to realise that Google is now celebrating 19 years on the Internet. Read more »
Why Google wants you to use voice search instead of your fingers for their search app
Who remembers Trigger Happy TV on Channel Four? A long running joke of Dom Joly’s television comedy series features a giant mobile phone. Shaped like a 1980s cellular phone, we saw the comedian shouting into his handset. He would spout out random bits of nonsense or state the obvious from the top of his voice. If Channel Four were to commission a new series, he could be doing the same with Google’s Voice Search facility. Read more »
Fact Check feature introduced to counter spread of fake news stories
Hands up who used to have a paper round? All these mornings or evenings carrying The Daily Telex or The Daily Moon to the top of the world? Sometimes, disgruntled of 56 Rochdale Road would give you an ear bashing over her missing copy of Yesterday. Ah, those were the days where yesterday’s fake news would become chip paper. On the internet, things are different: tomorrow’s chip paper is still on the internet. Five years on. Or longer.
A good way of keeping in touch or a tool for stalkers? Could location sharing be a useful feature for Google Maps?
Some time this year, Google Maps will come with a new feature. One that can be handy and creepy in equal measure depending upon how you use it. Being rolled out is Google Maps’ new location sharing features.
Net Sixty Six SEO looks at the Google Doodle for St. Patrick’s Day 2017
Yes, it is that time of the year: St. Patrick’s Day. A time of the year associated with wearing green clothes, drinking Guinness, and healthy doses of Irish folk music. In truth, it commemorates the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The story of St. Patrick remains a source of legend. Read more »
Matt Cutts officially resigns from search engine and media behemoth
An end of an era for Google was marked this week by a high profile departure. That of Matt Cutts, one time head of Google’s Webspam team. Today, he is now the Director of Engineering at USDS (US Digital Service). Before taking on his new role, he joined Google in 2000 where he became part of the furniture.
On the 31 December 2016, Matt Cutts handed in his resignation to the search engine and media behemoth in Stanford. A few months before then, he took a leave of absence to work for the US Digital Service. He enjoyed his brief stint and has decided to stay there. On his blog, he said:
“When I joined the US Digital Service, I only planned to stay for three months. That quickly turned into six months after I saw the impact of the USDS. In the last month, I made a big decision. On December 31, 2016, I resigned from Google.”
In 16 years, Google has changed beyond recognition. Back in 2000, its clutter free interface won new friends among internet users. With the average PC user having dial-up internet at the time, this was a Godsend. Today, the company that Matt Cutts has left is in better shape than ever. Not only in the field of search engines but also with its Android operating system and the Google Pixel smartphone.
With Matt Cutts announcing his departure days before the inauguration of Donald Trump’s presidency, the challenge he has will be a departure from his previous employer. Instead of Mountain View, his offices will be the Pentagon Building in Washington D.C. Rather than fighting spam on Google’s terms, his role will affect the USA’s 318.9 million people: from war veterans to IRS payment details.
We at Net Sixty Six SEO wish Matt Cutts well in his latest endeavours. We think he is more than capable for his role as Director of Engineering. If you’re reading this, Mr. Cutts, you are more than welcome to pop into Net Sixty Six HQ for a brew.
Net Sixty Six SEO, 20 January 2017.
Some Google goodies you may have overlooked
Google’s goodies are nothing short of legendary. Many of us use the search engine to a point where Google is also a verb as well as a noun. There is more to the search engine than its image search, Street View, Android operating system, and self driving car experiments. There’s a wealth of other things you can do or learn about. We at Net Sixty Six have taken a look. Read more »
Fighting spam has always been a hard-fought, epic battle which has still yet to be conquered successfully. Google Analytics is one of the leading tools available for gathering and analysing data about your website but unfortunately, its data been compromised in the past through various hackers. This has left many website owners frustrated and confused about how to interpret their reports, since it was not known whether their statistics were not a true reflection of actual website traffic.
Back in 2014, several bots (website crawlers used by Search Engines) were hacked to visit websites and leave fake referral data within the Analytics reporting. Since then, there have been many similar instances from various sources including fake organic search terms or fake events being reported. Whilst Google’s spam defences are always improving, the fight is a tough one for them. By not discussing their tactics and strategies to overcome this problem, they are keeping their security systems private, away from the hackers prying ears.
The Next Web Ghost Spam Referrals
There have been many reports recently of a Russian hacker by the name of Vitaly Popov who managed to find a way to use a fake Google domain to send referral spam into Google Analytics. The hacker registered a domain name almost identical to Google but with replacing the first letter “g” with a Unicode character set of the letter instead. This resulted in fake referral mentions being contaminated within the Google Analytics data.
The intention behind this hacking incident was in this case not to expose any vulnerabilities or hotlinking to images. Instead, he successfully managed to leave a political message within the domains’ referral links.
The original message appeared as: “Secret.ɢoogle.com You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!””
Visitors who would be intrigued by the new URL would be tempted to trace it back to its original source. As a result, this would then boost the popularity of the hacker’s own website further. The hits appeared as though they were coming from thenextweb.com but in fact, they were not.
How To Remove Google Analytics Referral Spam
Most Google Analytics ‘ghost referrals’ spam can be blocked by using a single filter for a valid hostname. These are websites that you have configured to use within the Google Analytics account, such as ecommerce shopping carts or associated call tracking services. Since the ghost or fake referral traffic never actually goes to your website, it isn’t actually possible to block the visits, either through the .htaccess file or through any plugins.Therefore, setting up a filter which excludes them makes good sense.
The main problem with spam referrals is that they tend to continuously change and reappear, meaning new filters are always required. Our recommendation is to continually check the data showing from your website’s referrals and test to ensure the information is legitimate, to the best of your knowledge. Hopefully there will be a time in the future when your Google Analytics data can be entirely spam-free but until then, take care!
There has been a sharp increase in voice search queries being carried out instead of the traditional typed search queries. Voice search is now the fastest growing search technique for users, since it has many benefits for people. It is quicker, easier and more natural to speak to your mobile rather than having to manually type in the keyword(s) you require.
According to a recent post featured on Google’s Official Blog, more than half of teens aged 13-18 use voice search on a daily basis and 41% of adults are doing so too. The most common types of search queries being made by voice include:
- Asking for directions.
- Dictation of texts.
- Calling a person.
- Help with homework or research.
- Finding out film showing times.
- Playing a song.
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As the rise of mobile users sees more and more people owning Smartphones, there are many different voice programs installed which make the job of performing searches much more efficient to carry out – and effective too. Apple uses SIRI, whereas Microsoft features Cortana and Amazon uses Alexa. Google recently launched their very first Smartphone called the Pixel, the first phone to use their voice-based Assistant built in.
When typing in a phrase for a search, people tend to shorten the number of keywords, for example “SEO Manchester.” However, this is not mirrored by how we actually speak in a conversation, when we would be more likely to use a more sentence-like query, such as “Find an SEO agency based in Manchester.”
Search engines have been refining their algorithms over the years and Google’s Hummingbird update was aimed at improving “conversational search”, where people are using long-tail search queries (where many keywords are used together, as opposed to just one or two). Traditional search engines would look to find matches of the keywords in text on other websites whereas nowadays, they understand a user’s intent, with the whole query being taken into account.
What does voice search mean in terms of SEO?
When voice search was starting to evolve, there were widespread rumours that SEO was dead, since the short tail keywords could no longer be targeted in the same way, by incorporating them into existing content effectively. However, the focus has also been on the longer tail keywords, which are performed by users who are already at the advanced stages of their decision-making.
SEO specialists need to focus on both searchers who are researching and also wanting to obtain fast responses to their query, with instant results. Pages which are designed to meet the user’s needs have been favoured by Google so a page which includes in-depth answers to questions that start with “What is”, “Where is”, “Who is” and “How” will feature more prominently.
It is still relatively early days for voice search and we simply do not have enough data gathered to properly understand the role it plays on the web marketing world. The rise will continue further for instant answers being shown without search results. Search Engines’ algorithms will continue to improve their understanding of query data and user intent.
Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, said in a Whiteboard Friday on this topic: “in the future I think we’re actually going to be looking for keyword research tools that can perform a voice query and then can tell us what the results either look like or sound like from the engine.” He goes on to sound a word of caution on purely focusing on voice search over traditional search data, since both sets of data have continued to rise – it’s just that voice search has risen faster.
Essentially, there is still a need for both to be included in any digital Marketing strategy until we can all try and figure out the impact together, as an industry.
Net Sixty Six SEO, 08 November 2016