I have a little spare time at the moment so I decided to participate in the Power Searching with Google Course which went live on 10th of July. Split into six classes the course is due to last till July 23rd.

I didn’t expect to learn anything from the course (I didn’t as it was pretty basic) but was more interested if it would be a good tool to point people towards who are just starting out in SEO or are in-house contacts who want to learn a little more about search. I often point people to the beginner’s guide to SEO on SEOMoz or the SEO guide on Google Webmasters Central, so could the Power Searching with Google Course be a useful teaching aid? Class 1 started today here’s a little review.

Pre Assessment

The class started with 10 questions on general Google searching to gauge the knowledge of you as a Google user. Some questions included.

Sample question form the Pre Assessment
Sample question form the Pre Assessment
Another sample question form the Pre Assessment
Another sample question form the Pre Assessment

At the end you hit submit, but you don’t get a score.

Class 1

The class is split up into 6 lessons.

Lesson 1 – Introduction

Googler Dan Russel a Senior Research Scientist runs the course, he gives you introduction about the course. The videos are short with an activity after the video, so you best be listening to the videos! It also explained that there are two tests in the course, one mid-term and one final test. Both count to an overall score.

The teacher Dan Russel
The teacher Dan Russell

Dan explained the objective of the course is to make you a better searcher, a maybe help you understand why you don’t always get the answer you are looking for.

Lesson 2 – Filter image results by color. 

Explains how to filter by colour when using the image search, pretty simple. It’s then followed by some questions, similar to the questions in the pre-assessment

Lesson 3 – How Search Works

A section from the Matt Cutts video of how search works. With some questions afterwards, I liked this one!

How Search Works Questions
PAY THEM PAY THEM!!

Lesson 4 – The art of keyword Choices

Explaining the best way to word your queries. After the questions if suggested that if the questions where too easy then to head over to the forums for some harder tasks.

Lesson 5 – Word Order matters

Explains how small changes to the search query can make a difference the results you see.

Lesson 6 – Finding text on the web

Last one, finding text on the page you have found, e.g. ctrl + f.

Conclusion

There’s nothing groundbreaking for an SEO here, I’m guessing that the difficulty will increase in coming lessons. Some bits are really simple such as the ctrl + f and therefore be a tag patronising if you sent it over to someone to complete. However, if you are just starting out in SEO or PPC then there might be a few tips and tricks to pick up, especially if your going to be link building.

I must have been placed into test bucket this morning and saw a tabbed effect on sitelinks for the monster site. The first tab featured “top links”. The other tabs linked to other sections in the site (most likely the top navigation items). Sometimes it displays one sitelink with a description and then more links on their own on the right.  Other times it listed multiple site links in the tabbed box.

The tabbed site links also appeared for other sites such as apple.

Marks and Spencers

Anyone else getting these?

Since I’ve been away there’s been a few tools built using Google Docs using the importXML function, I’ve linked to some useful blog posts at the bottom of this post if your interested.

Anyway here’s a tool that I put together quickly that takes 25 key phrases, checks for serps that include review / ratings displayed. It’s useful if you needed to decide if implemented rating and review rich snippets would be a useful exercise, e.g. none of the serps have them = a good opportunity to be the only one.   Or if certain key phrases had a low CTR you could see if the serps are saturated by rich snippets.

The rich snippets it looks for are the ones with star ratings such as the ones below.

It’s pretty simple to use.

Add up to 25 key phrases on the first sheet, rows B2 to B26. 

That’s all you need to do, it grabs the top 10 results for each serp, and then looks for the div in the search results that contains the star ratings. The function in Google spreadsheet is,

=importxml(C2,”//div[@class='f']“)

You can change the search engine version and  language etc by changing the query URL’s in column C in the first sheet.

Another sheet tots up the numbers with percentages. It looks for all reviews, reviews that contain ratings and reviews that contain price information (used for restaurants). I’ve stuck a couple of graphs in the last sheet to show totals.

 

Something I learnt when using importxml –  when importxml runs it pulls back the code from the URL you supplied, in this case it’s a Google search result. When it pulls back this page it does so without running JavaScript. For example, author pictures in search results are added by JavaScript as the page renders, so you can’t see them when using importxml, also some names of divs are changed by JavaScript. When using importxml you need to look at the source code of the page you are importing to decide what element you need to grab, be sure to open that page in your browser with JavaScript turned off thus to simulate the way importxml works.

This is in no way a completed tool, it most likely will break. Please feel free to use, copy, and improve. If you make any improvements leave a comment with a link to the file URL and I’ll repost with updated versions.

Just open the link below and make a copy to use.

–> Bulk Review / Rating SERP Checker Tool in Google Docs

 

Note : It’s limited to 25 key phrases as you have a maximum of 50 importxml calls, I used two for each key phrase.

 

Have a read of the posts below to find out more information about importxml, the links open in new tabs.

http://www.distilled.net/blog/distilled/guide-to-google-docs-importxml

https://seogadget.co.uk/playing-around-with-importxml-in-google-spreadsheets/

http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/importxml-cookbook

http://zoomspring.com/learn-importxml-tutorial/

12 months is a long time away from SEO. I’ve been out of the UK for a year backpacking around the world with no phone, no laptop and no SEO. It’s something that I would recommend to anybody, I pretty much at the time of my life (blogs are being posted a year on via www.achinesenomad.co.uk and all the pictures are in sets on flickr).

I’ve spent the last few weeks catching up on everything SEO related thats happened in the last 12 months. A lot has changed, new tools, new google features, updates to the algorithm etc, however some things remain the same. I’ve read about 1,200 blogs that have aggregated in my Google Reader account, below are the pick of the bunch, if you think there are any missing leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list if its worthy.

But for now in a summary of points of whats changed in the past year.

  • If your buying lots of non-brand anchor text links your going to get caught.
  • Content Marketing is the “in” way to build links now.
  • Google Webmasters team is getting closer to SEO’s/Webmaster via the updates on the Inside search blog, Webmasters tools and hangouts on Google+
  • Google+ was launched, doesn’t seem that popular so Google are integrating existing products into it, Google Places and Authorship markup validation.
  • Social linking is important to Google but they don’t have access to some data, so they created Authorship markup to get their hands on such data.
  • Google still has poor results in some sections, the Venice update is serving some really poor results for local when it gets your location wrong (e.g. users not signed in) and exact match domains can still outrank authoritative sites.
  • Many people creating new SEO tools thanks to APIs leading to more ways to analyse data.

He’s the list of the blogs, videos etc.This is about 10% of all I’ve read.

2011

June

Authorship markup and web search - Google Webmaster Central

Supporting relcanonical http headers - Google Webmaster Central

The importXML Guide for Google Docs – Distilled

New Google Analytics: Improvements in Mobile Reporting – Google Analytics Blog

July

The responsibilities of SEO have been upgraded – SEOMoz

August

Introducing new and improved sitelinks – Google Webmaster Central

Authorship Markup – Google Webmasters Help YouTube

Introducing Multi Channel Funnels - Google Analytics Blog

Another look under the hood of search – Inside Search

September

Pagination with rel=”next” and rel”prev” - Google Webmaster Central

Favourite Keyword Research Tools from MozCon – SEO Gadget

What’s Happening on your site right now? – Google Analytics Blog

October

Making search more secure: Accessing search query data in Google Analytics – Google Analytics Blog

Improving the look of authorship in your search results - Google Analytics Blog

Introducing Flow Visualisation : Visualising visitor flow – Google Analytics Blog

November

The integration of social media into search results and rankings internet summit 2011 - SEO by the Sea

Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes - Inside Search

Some thoughts on personalization – Inside Search

Ten Recent algorithm changes - Inside Search

Giving you fresher more recent search - Inside Search

Introducing SERP Turkey: A Free Tool to Split-Test and Gather CTR Analytics of SERP Entries - SEOMoz

Duplicate content in a post Panda world – SEOMoz

December

How Intention May influence Search Result CTR – SEOGadget

New markup for multilingual content - Google Webmaster Central

30 search quality highlights with - Inside Search

2012

January

Search, plus Your World – Inside Search

17 search quality highlights January - Inside Search

Page layout algorithm Improvement – Google Webmaster Central

February

How Google Evaluates Links – Dave N

Types wordpress plugin - Yoast

Search quality highlights 40 changes - Inside Search

Combine AWR and Screaming Frog to Spot quick Wins – SEO Gadget

Be careful using adwords for key phrase research – SEOMoz

March

The Biggest Change In SEO To Date? – Dave N

Search quality highlights 50 changes – Inside Search

Content Strategy Generator Tool – V2 Update – SEO Gadget

Creating an Editorial Calendar for content marketing – Distilled

Awesome Examples of How to Use SeoTools for Excel - Distilled

An open letter to new SEO’s – SEOMoz

Link Building Tools we use at Distilled – Distilled

April

Another step to reward high-quality Sites – Google Webmaster Central

Update to rich snippets – Google Webmaster Central

Search quality highlights 53 changes – Inside Search

Venice – More than just local extensions - Holistic Search

A Dramatic Surprise on a quiet square – You Tube

Link Building: Anchor Text Optimisation Best Practices in 2012 - SEO Gadget

Nichola Stott – Mobile Serendipity: How Google Plans to Send Search Results to Users, Before You’ve Even Thought to Look - Brighton SEO

Lexi Mills – How you can get BIG links from BIG media sites - Brighton SEO

May

Multilingual and Multinational site annotations in Sitemaps – Google Wembaster Central

Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings – Inside Search

Review Snippet Over-saturation in Google Search Results – SEO Gadget

Penguin, Panda & Links – The SEO Winners and Losers for 2012 – Branded 3

Building a better shopping experience – Google Commerce Blog

The penguin update – whiteboard friday  - SEOMoz

June

Search quality highlights 39 changes - Inside Search

Link building means earning hard links not easy links - Search Engine Land

Smarter Facebook pages for social success – Distilled

A look at the changes from Google Places to Google+ Local – SEO Gadget

Conduct Browser-size analysis within Google Analytics – Google Analytics Blog

You might have read this morning Google ran another test with Google Instant Preview running on PPC ads, see http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/110420-173720. Also it seems that Google have upgraded the bot taking the preview snapshots to execute flash.

In a post a while ago I took a screen shot of Fiat’s home page instant preview.

Today we see the preview shows the home page of the site loaded.

The Samsung page also loads up which is rich in flash.

However, some pages with flash will not execute and still have the grey jigsaw peice e.g. Anyone know the difference, how it’s encoded? the version??

Even with flash being executed you still face the problem of when the screen shot is being taken, for example a page on the official pokemon (strange example to use) website the screenshot was taken straightway before the counter loaded up to 100%.

So points to take away.

  1. Flash is being executed by the preview bot
  2. Not all types of flash is being executed — more to come on that.
  3. Make the opening frame the flash include your product, not just number or bar saying loading.

From around 10:00am GMT yesterday the Google Keyword Tool seems to be no longer outputting monthly data. Great for looking at seasonality of search data you would download a csv with a monthly search figure. E.g.

From that data you can graph easily to see when search volumes are to peak, allowing you to link build ready for the key months. You can see this data in Google insights but you won’t be able to download into a csv from Google insights.

Over at the adwords forum there’s a few posts discussing the issues http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=4c7cb60cb3650b7d&hl=en&fid=4c7cb60cb3650b7d00049f4afdbb923a and http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=5c267a93386d6d6a&hl=en and http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdWords/thread?tid=764de08bfc286a17&hl=en

Anyone else not getting any monthly data? Anyone else use this data often for search campaigns?

Whiles searching along tonight I’ve noticed that google profiles are now showing up in the SERP’s with an image, a snippet of where you live, where you work and three links to external sites. Meanwhile and twitter profiles apear with a picture and one last tweet. This is testing on chrome with incognito mode.

For example for Me

John Kell – Twitter

 

John Mueller - Google Profile

 

Matt Cutts – Twitter

 

Pete Cashmore – Google Profile

 

Anyone see this before? Or seeing it now, Monday night 22:57…

Edit some more example from people I follow on twitter.

 

 

 

 

Edit : Nadeem also noticed this a little back but with Google profiles on http://www.searchnest.co.uk/blog/google-profiles-getting-more-real-estate-in-search-results-738

Use JavaScript to generate SEO Friendly Title Tags – errr that doesn’t work. Well it looks like it does.

As we know Google doesn’t generally execute all JavaScript, one that Google will is when you amend the title tag using JavaScript .

Working on many projects I’ve been limited by a CMS’s ability to change title tags, either the title tag is generated by the name of the page in the CMS or there is no control on a page by page basis.

When working on large sites that maybe have have 5, 6, 7 month waiting list for development work this JavaScript work around could be used as often you will have access to edit the content on the page or place a tag in the footer / header of a page. You can then get on with your link building campaign.

The code is simple:

So the standard title tag can be used and appended onto the new title title tag, or a brand new title tag could be used.

When you look at the title tag in the HTML source code you’ll see the one hard coded in the head and not the amended JavaScript.

However in your browser title bar you’ll see the JavaScript amended title tag.

Now the important check, if the title tag is picked up when Google indexes the page? Yes

And now for search for the text that the JavaScript adds to the title tag.

Above is a test but I’ve found one or two side who have title tags generated by JavaScript ranking for competitive key phrases.

A few points to note :

  • Doesn’t work with Bing or Yahoo
  • Google may start to not execute this JavaScript
  • This should be last resort, always try to get title tags as a critical change for developers before resorting to this method.

Anyone else testing this? Anyone thinks this is a bad or good idea?