Archive for the ‘Google’ Category
Business is all about coming up with an idea, making sure there’s a market for it, and gaining as much interest in it as possible. When Dallas-based applications developer Locai Inc. released their checkin-based app of the same name, ‘Locai’, to the iPhone consumer base; it was generally received quite well. So well in fact that their initial success led them to the obvious conclusion that they should expand their user base further by opening up their App to the Google Android market as well. A simple plan, they thought (beyond the obvious hard word needed to port the coding to a new platform that is). And simple might it have been were it not for yet another Google ‘quirk’.
Everyone knows that there’s more to Google than meets the eye. There’s all sorts that goes on behind the scenes and unless you’re in a particular group of Google employees, you can really only guess at what makes the cogs go round. Unfortunately, a lot of what we are able to discern about Google search algorithms is done through trial and error testing on existing sites and products. Which is why it might have come as a bit of a surprise to Locai to learn that due to a behind-the-scenes, not-going-to-bother-telling-the-user auto-correct routine, any time an Android user searches the Android App market for Locai, it fails to show up. Little did Locai know that Google deems their company name to be a mis-spelling of the word “local”, and so any search for the term Locai (without quotation marks/other search engine ‘keys’) gets modified behind the scenes to the term Google thinks the user is searching for.
“Since everyone downloads apps by searching for them first this is a huge blow to us,” Taylor Cavanah (Locai’s founder) has said. “We have brands and businesses lined up for a whole series of partnerships, events and promotions over the next several months. Now we’re facing losing a ton of users and investment as people are converted to download the App, but can’t find it.”
There’s been a lot of discussion about whether Locai were right to name their App so ambiguously, but surely that’s not the point? Surely people shouldn’t have to stick to a list of Google pre-approved words when trying to decide on branding? But the thing with Google’s auto-correct, it’s not just companies that are finding themselves with problems.
Google’s auto-correct technology also creates problems for anyone who speaks more than one language. Whilst Google Translate has come on in leaps and bounds and the auto-detect language feature has proven useful for many, a search engine query in a language not native to the host (i.e. looking for an English search term whilst on Google.nl) is also subject to the same assumption technology that has plagued Locai of late. Google will just assume that a word it doesn’t recognise is spelled incorrectly and often readjust the search behind the scenes to the closest match of words it thinks you might be trying to look for.
One has to wonder how much more invasive Google searches are going to get, and how many more companies will be affected by this?
Ongoing subject discussions:
It’s hard for companies to approach Google in the best times, it’s even harder if you want something sensitive removed. If you have fallen victim to “your Company Name + Scam” in Google suggestions then what can you do about it? Well there are 3 options, all of which are not great:
- Control the first page of Google for your search term “Company Name + Scam” this is not great and re enforces Googles suggestions
- Try and influence Google suggestions, again very hard and expensive, services like Mechanical Turk have put a stop to allowing members to ask workers to type into Google a specific search effect suggestions.
- Contact Google via their open forum, who in their right mind wants to this and attract even more attention
What Google should do is allow companies to contact them directly privately about suggestions that are incorrect. I love the fact that Google has a form to report anyone using their Trademark, but at the sametime you cannot contact them to say stop calling my company a scam.
When google replaced scam for reviews, I thought great Google has seen sense, but not long after they reverted to suggesting
Would it be possible to get Google to add such a service like they have for reporting spam? Do businesses what such a feature? Love to hear your thoughts.
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The dust has begun to settle on the uproar that ‘new’ Google Instant has managed to stir up. What was clearly a hot topic at the point of launch, the auto-complete function was innovative in design and was set to improve functionality for users worldwide (starting in the US, naturally). And while Google say users will benefit from the ‘improvements’ to their service, the impact it will have on the SEO industry is still very much up for debate.
It’s true; while the new feature might well save valuable seconds per search (giving office workers more time to spend on the important things, like facebook) – it has forced a strategy rethink for SEO companies worldwide. Some analysts have even gone so far as to suggest these new changes might well be the death of SEO.
The premise of SEO was simple enough, once you knew a bit about web design and development. Not quite as simple as “put as many keywords into a bit of text as you can” (would have been nice) but was still very much focused on optimisation and making sure each aspect of a modern web page (links/pics/text/headers/tags) were related to the topic at hand. Then it was all about the ‘strength’ of your page, and the ‘strength’ of the pages linking to yours.
The trouble is that with Google Instant suggesting to users what they might be ‘searching’ for, it’s having a direct impact on the actual search requests that are being submitted. There have been discussions upon discussions as to the extent of the impact this will have, as it has been repeatedly argued that a vast proportion of internet users don’t actually look at the screen as they type anyway. In which case, users would be oblivious to any ‘suggestions’ that may pop up. But then, with the standard 2-keyword search, a 3rd (and sometimes 4th) search term is now being suggested, and search results being returned based on this and not what the user had typed in.
The obstacle that the SEO industry now faces is that users are no longer guaranteed to be ‘searching’ for the things you expect them to. In a recent court case in France, Google have been found liable for a suggested search term that came up next to somebody’s name that was considered defamatory in nature. It also didn’t help that the guy in question was involved in another ongoing court case and the association of terms was considered interfering in the natural course of justice – so they got in to trouble for that too. One interesting thing to come out of this was that Google’s defence seemed to hinge on claims that the ‘suggested’ search terms are actually an aggregate of user-based search queries. Well, that’s certainly useful information.
When it comes to deciding how the SEO industry can respond to these recent changes – it isn’t actually at all that complex. There’s a far greater significance placed on the top 3 or 4 search terms, as there are now less search results appearing above ‘the fold’ due to the drop-down list of suggestions. Let’s face it, this is what any good SEO engineer would have been trying to achieve already anyway. But now because the average two-word entered searches are going to throw up suggested third terms too, there is going to be far more to optimize for. Optimizing for search strings such as “one two” is standard practise, but if you’re optimizing for “one two” and Google suggests “one two three”, “one two buckle my shoe” and “one two three four” – you might have an issue. The search results that are then presented wont be for the original user-entered search “one two”, but instead – the top suggested search term “one two three”. The user is then given the options for the suggested term, and the user is now statistically more likely to click one of the suggested terms than stick by what they entered initially.
So far from the suggestion that Google Instant has put a proverbial nail in the SEO and Online Reputation Management coffin, in reality it has the potential to be a breath of fresh air for the people who know what they’re doing. While there’s no arguing that it has certainly made SEO harder, it has also made good SEO and ORM far more important. As an SEO company, you’re now looking at ensuring you do a better job of optimizing pages by traditional means, but also finding a way of optimizing for suggested search terms too.
With all the hours that have gone into optimizing pages on the web previously, and Google Suggest diffusing the concentration of hits an efficiently optimized website was already getting, SEO companies will now have a busier time than ever to achieve the results they were previously enjoying. By that same token, good SEO companies are also going to be in much higher demand.
Just think how much better you’ll fare against the competition if you find somebody who knows how to work the new system?
Google’s recent defence of the Google Suggest feature that it is merely an aggregate of recent searchs is disingenuous to say the least and certainly understates the impact of Google Suggest on user search choices. In a sense they are proposing that Google Suggest has no impact upon searches patterns which implies a misunderstanding of human psychology. Read the rest of this entry »
The French clearly have strict laws and even Google knows this by now – Google has been fined by a French court for its Google suggest yet again (the second time this year) and this time the court has ruled in favour of a convicted sex offender. What is interesting is that Google got fined for suggesting ‘rapist’ with the plaintiff’s name who was then awaiting conviction! Read the rest of this entry »