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/