On the one hand, 76% is a high success rate. On the other hand, getting to Google is a very simple task. It's not even a true task — that is, it's not something users want to accomplish for its own sake or something we'd pose as an assignment in user testing. Getting a Google search box is the first step in searching the Web, which is only the first step in doing something real (such as, in one of our test tasks, to find "a strong vacuum cleaner that is easy to use, can pick up pet hair, and costs under $300").
All too often we, who work in the Internet industry, take it for granted that what for us are very simple tasks, will also be simple for other people.
I am often guilty of assuming that everything is simple myself. I will ask people on my eMarketing Award courses to type in a URL in the “address bar” or the Google box and am occasionally (not too often!) met by blank stares!
Why mention this now? Well, yesterday I had a huge spike in my traffic and it was caused by people searching for "Tiger Woods Putt" - and trying to find the 25-foot birdie putt that he did in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 16th, 2008. If it is this putt that you're looking for, here it is:
Google is always adding more functionality to its Google Search facility and a couple of days back it announced on its Google Blog that it had been:
testing, and today we have fully rolled out, a search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site.
This provides searchers with potentially better results and is a step further than the "Sitelinks" which often appears for more trafficked sites. The examples that I have seen on the web have primarily been for large US, business, military and government sites. The example below shows that even "local sites" already have this search within a site element:
This now means that with many websites you no longer need to use the command
It's St David's Day today - the patron saint of Wales. And it looks like the good people of Google and their Google Doodler have certainly not forgotten the Welsh this year. Hat tip to Google.
Footnote He is the only native born patron saint of Britain and Ireland. What most people don't realise either is that St Patrick was actually Welsh! If you want more information on St David, visit the religious pages on the BBC, the St Davids' page on Wikipedia or the Catholic Encyclopedia.
This is a fascinating podast that Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, did for the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders lecture series of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. It gives real insight into how Google actually comes by its ideas and sheds light on the firm's well-documented principle of giving engineers 1 day a week to spend on projects that interest them.
I was in a meeting yesterday with a client and prospective Web developer and we were discussing how the way that people searched for information had changed. The client was convinced that the Internet was the way forward for their high-value purchase, B2B products. They also said something very interesting and relevant, “first impressions count as much today as they have always done”.
We were sat in a room where the key, "traditional" tools for competitor and/or B2B search/research could be found – Yellow Pages and Kelly’s. Even though these are increasingly being seen as tools of the past, along with local libraries, I still speak to clients who view the Internet with reluctance/cynicism and still use these methods (if I don't have my machine in front of me, I use them as a last resort). Common phrases from these clients include: “that’s not the way that people in my industry find out about companies”, “people haven’t got time to use the Internet” or “our clients tend to speak to others in the industry for recommendations”.
All of these are perfectly good arguments but, let’s not beat about the bush, the Internet has changed everything – and especially so if you’re living in the UK, USA and other countries that have fully embraced the technology. When people are looking for company information they tend to use the Internet, when they receive a business card from you they check out your Web address and when someone recommends your business they will check out your company on-line. So many B2B companies develop websites which so badly reflect their product and service offerings and often leave potential clients bewildered, underwhelmed and convinced they will not work with that organization.
The bottom line is this – your clients are going to check you out on the Internet, Google is the favoured tool for doing background and market research and first impressions do count.
Google have come up with a very simple, yet very effective, way of teaching people about the benefits of RSS - obviously with reference to Google Reader. It just goes to show that with some A4 printouts, a "flat" white board and a digital camera you can create great video.
Over the past month I have been working on a couple of interesting client projects with a subtle mix of Site Design Architecture, SEO and PPC built into most. These projects have meant that I have had to deal with web developers and clearly state to them what elements of SEO should be included in the overall development. Here are some of the elements which should be givens:
Individual Page Titles for each page
Customisable Meta Tags
Up until last week I was asking for URLs to be created in not just a search friendly way but also asking for them to be created with hyphens. Well, recently Google changed this policy and was now treating underscores as word separators - the same applies to MSN and Yahoo! Another given should be Google Analytics - this is a free tool and integrates easily with static and dynamic web pages and offers great reporting results.
The latest web developer I have dealt with, in all fairness to them, has been very much aware of the need to include the key elements of SEO. In fact the web development proposal actually highlights the work they will do with regards SEO - and I don't mean registration with all the major search engines, as some muppets who I come regularly across often talk about!
I must admit that it is quite amazing that a high number of web developers are selling solutions to clients, with no consideration of how people will find the site (e.g. search engines) and what they will do when they are there. It would appear that their business model is built on making a quick buck from a client with no consideration of future relationships. And the staggering thing is that they keep churning clients out using the same business model. On a slightly different tack, and as a good rule of thumb, I would recommend that companies try and identify what type of web developer they are dealing with:
Graphic designer turned web developer
Web developer come web designer
Web designer come web developer
I would always try to make sure that you deal with a web design firm that has a good blend of web design and development skills and which has a dedicated SEO specialist. Always be wary of graphic designers turned developers, invariably they come up with 'pretty' designs which are almost always search and visitor unfriendly.
I would also recommend that you do not believe web design firms when they tell you that client sites have been successful - always telephone the client yourself, explain you're thinking of going with this web design firm and ask how much money they have generated or enquiries received.
It looks like the Google spending spree continues with no signs of slowing up. This time Google has purchased Zenter, a company which provides software for making online presentations. This will obviously strengthen its "Docs and Spreadsheets" arm and help in its objective to become the web's primary deliverer of online office tools. As someone who uses Google Doc's & Spreadsheets, Calendar and Mail for business productivity, I can certainly see the attraction of using a presentation package, too.
On a side issue I would certainly recommend that you try using GooSync and Gmail Mobile to synchronise your mobile devices.