Matt Cutts from the Web Spam team at Google showcases the good and the bad of WordPress as seen through the eyes of Google, including basics on how Google search works and how you can boost your blog’s results in Google searches.
Google - Web Design, SEO
NOTE: This post is somewhat old. You might want to check out this premium WordPress Calendar Plugin for setting up a calendar on your site. If not, check out the info below.
You can easily add a Google calendar to your wordpress blog using this handy plugin. All you have to do is download the plugin, add it to your wordpress plugins folder like usual and activate it. You’ll then have to grab a Google data api key here, then create a public calendar in Google Calendars where you’ll need to grab the public XML feed for your calendar.
Below you can click on the first screenshot to figure out how to find your calendar XML feed URL to use in the plugin settings.
Having a public calendar is very useful for those who need to display events on their site. Photographers, musicians, event cordinators, etc. can make use of Google calendars right inside their sites running wordpress or even on static html pages. If you don’t use wordpress you can embed a Calendar using the iframe embed feature inside of Google calendars.
Hope the screenshots were helpful if you had a hard time finding the XML feed URL to use.
Note: that you need to include the XML feed URL to the full feed, not the basic one for this to work. So you need to replace the word basic to full in the feed URL. There is no link to the full feed that I know of in Google Calendars. So this http://firstname.lastname@example.org/public/basic becomes http://email@example.com/public/full. Note that I just changed the last directory from basic to full.
Interested in seeing the Google Calendar in action on a wordpress blog? Visit this page: Charleston Live Music Events -Link is no longer working.
Update: There is a new wordpress calendar plugin you might like.
This article is taken from Wired and the link to the full article is at the end. I wanted to post this here because it goes to show that Google “not being evil” and all is tracking basically everything you do so that it can better feed you ads, because without ads Google wouldn’t be what it is today. So here’s the article…
Google has announced a new feature for its AdSense Advertising network — Interest-Based Advertising. Interest-Based Advertising, often known by its more Orwellian moniker, “behavior targeting,” gives advertisers a way to deliver ads to users who have shown interest in related items.
In short, Google plans to track your online moves and build a collection of “interests” based on which websites you visit. For example, if you start your day on the Major League Baseball homepage everyday, Google will know that you’re more likely to respond to ads for baseball paraphernalia.
Along similar lines are the “previous interaction” ads that will allow Google to show ads based on demonstrated behaviors. For example, if you put a shiny new Nikon D700 in your shopping cart, but never actually purchase it, Google will offer advertisers a way to place ads for the D700. Think of it as a way of constantly reminding you of the things you’re lusting after.
Creeped out yet? Well, on the plus side Google is handling the rather sensitive issues surrounding behavior tracking with a reasonable set of privacy controls. The first is that Google is allowing users to control their interest profiles, something many other similar ad systems don’t allow.
In a perfect world Google’s new ad system would be opt-in. Unfortunately in our world it’s opt-out, perhaps not ideal, but at least you can turn it off.
Don’t expect it to be easy to opt out though. Google is using a cookie to turn off the tracking, which means you’ll need to opt out on each and every PC you use and every browser you use on those PCs. Worse, should you ever delete Google’s opt-out cookie, you’ll need to opt out again (a plug-in exists that enables you to permanently opt out, but it only supports Firefox and IE).
Read the entire article over at wired.
Dominate Google for competitive keywords using internet marketing tactics such as SEO, affiliate marketing and social networking.Posted by Jeff Hendrickson | Affiliate Marketing, Flickr, Myspace, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Networking | 2 Comments
It’s been a slow year so far on this blog and I appologize. I’ve been busy, been sick and have had a hard time getting out of the holiday/winter lulls. I know it’s February now but January seemed to just drag on and on. Anyway, since it’s been slow I thought I’d recycle some content that I wrote recently. It is basically a proposal, or part of it anyway for a company who came to me wanting to enter the US market for their back pain product. I ended up writing up this great 10+ page proposal all for nothing because well they didn’t choose me. Since there is some useful info in it I thought I’d share it with you instead of letting it go to waste. It is by no means a comprehensive how-to guide.
It explains keyword research a bit and what is needed to dominate Google for competitive keywords. So here it is…
Google finally introduces video chat functionality within Gmail! This is an awesome new feature that will surely excite people who use gmail and also skype. Now you don’t have to use a separate client to chat with people in your gmail contacts list.
Read more about the features below.
That’s why today we’re launching voice and video chat — right inside Gmail. We’ve tried to make this an easy-to-use, seamless experience, with high-quality audio and video — all for free. All you have to do is download and install the voice and video plugin and we take care of the rest. And in the spirit of open communications, we designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat.
Once you install the plugin, to start a video chat, just click on the “Video & more” menu at the bottom of your Gmail chat window, and choose “Start video chat.” You’ll have a few seconds to make sure you look presentable while it’s ringing, and then you’ll see and hear your friend live, right from within Gmail. You can click the “pop-out” iconto make the video larger, or click the fullscreen iconin the upper left-hand corner for a fully immersive experience.
Visit the Gmail’s official blog.
So Google Local and Google Maps have been around for awhile but there are still business owners who aren’t taking advantage of the power these tools bring. Basically Google Local allows businesses to receive a free business listing under keywords people would use to search for local businesses. So if you have a business and you’re not taking advantage of Google Local to list your business for free and receive a top ranking on Google then you’re plain missing the boat.
Here’s an example below of Google Local in action. A simple search for Durham Pet Sitter returns a bunch of local businesses that offer this service. I’m not sure how the businesses are ranked here… if its first come first serve or if there is some other algorithm that Google is using, but I’d say get on board before it’s too late and you’re listed under the “more results near…” link
What Google Local is offering for Free to business owners.
Reach new customers on Google Maps and Google.com
Local customers are already searching for the products and services you offer. Why not make it easy for them to find you on Google search and on Google Maps? The Local Business Center is the place to start.
Works great for businesses of any size
Whether you run a single dentist’s office or dozens of coffee shops, manage all your listings from a single account.
Update your listing at any time
Use the Local Business Center to edit your listing whenever and however you like. Your Google Maps results will be updated in a few weeks, not next year.
Catch their eye with printable coupons
Google printable coupons are a free and easy way to bring in more business. You decide what your coupons should say, then customers print them out and bring them to your store.
Google Local gives businesses the ability to receive top rankings in Google without the cost of using Adwords or implementing an SEO campaign.
Sign up for Google Local Free.
Did you know you can update your sitelinks that Google displays when someone searches for your brand or domain name? Sitelinks are the extra links that appear under a main listing in search results to help searchers navigate a site without having to first go to the homepage. They look like this:
You can edit these by using Google’s Webmaster Tools under > Links > Sitelinks
There you can either block or update the current sitelinks Google has listed for your site. There might be links listed there that you have never seen under your listing in search results. That’s most likely because your website isn’t popular enough to need it. And Sitelinks really only show up if someone is searching directly for your brand or domain name (that I’ve seen). If you don’t own a popular website then this doesn’t really apply to you. In anycase you can get a sense of what Google sees as your most important pages.
There’s more clarification about Sitelinks here, but I’ve posted the gist of it below written by a Google employee named Maile.
Sitelinks are created algorithmically to help users quickly navigate
to the information they need on your site. To display sitelinks,
Google must basically determine: 1) a relevant structure for your site
conducive to sitelinks, and 2) that sitelinks will be helpful for the
For your verified site in Webmaster Tools, you can view your available
sitelinks. If you choose to block a sitelink, it will then appear in
Webmaster Tools as blocked. Once the change becomes effective, the
blocked sitelink will not appear in search results. You will not
immediately see a new sitelink listed in Webmaster Tools to replace
your blocked sitelink.
For example, let’s say you have 8 sitelinks in Webmaster Tools. If you
choose to block a sitelink, it will be removed from your “Current
sitelinks” section and added to the “Blocked sitelinks” section. The
blocked sitelink will not appear in search results for 90 days, and it
can be unblocked at any time. (It does, however, take a bit of time
for the blocked/unblocked change to take effect.) Every time you visit
the Sitelinks page in Webmaster Tools, whether or not you modify your
Sitelinks settings, the blocked sitelinks will renew their blocked
time for an additional 90 days.
In search results, the sitelinks displayed are determined
algorithmically based on the user’s query. So, while Webmaster Tools
may show 8 sitelinks for your verified site, it’s possible that search
results show only a subset (e.g. search results display 4 sitelinks).
Furthermore, the sitelinks displayed in search results can vary
according to the query (e.g. different combinations of sitelinks for
Can I trigger new sitelinks to appear in Webmaster Tools?
New sitelinks appear in Webmaster Tools when a general sitelink update
occurs. Updates (i.e. new sitelinks in search results and/or Webmaster
Tools) are not affected by your blocking or unblocking sitelinks. New
sitelinks cannot be triggered manually.
How can I get sitelinks to appear for my site in search results?
Your site must have at least 3 unblocked sitelinks in order for your
sitelinks to appear in search results. Therefore:
1. If you block sitelinks in Webmaster Tools and leave fewer than 3
remaining, no sitelinks will appear for your site in search results.
2. If you have fewer than 3 sitelinks algorithmically generated for
your site, you will not see a sitelink options in Webmaster Tools.
Sitelinks are calculated algorithmically. Having a crawlable,
intuitive architecture is helpful in generating sitelinks. Also,
creating compelling, unique content or providing a useful service
(thus making your site highly relevant to user queries) can increase
the probability of sitelink generation — and thus your site
displaying sitelinks in search results!
So I found out about this over at SE Roundtable where the headline caught my attention. It seems a little misleading “Major Google SEO Change: Google Prefers You Don’t Use URL Rewrites”
You should still use URL Rewrites if you’re either dealing with a smaller site like say a blog or an ecommerce site where it makes more sense to use a descriptive URL then one that contains a bunch of parameters humans can’t read. I’ve highlighted in red the main point you should keep in mind. I also think having your keywords in the pages URL helps in your rankings.
Here’s what Google had to say…
Which can Googlebot read better, static or dynamic URLs?
We’ve come across many webmasters who, like our friend, believed that static or static-looking URLs were an advantage for indexing and ranking their sites. This is based on the presumption that search engines have issues with crawling and analyzing URLs that include session IDs or source trackers. However, as a matter of fact, we at Google have made some progress in both areas. While static URLs might have a slight advantage in terms of clickthrough rates because users can easily read the urls, the decision to use database-driven websites does not imply a significant disadvantage in terms of indexing and ranking. Providing search engines with dynamic URLs should be favored over hiding parameters to make them look static.
Myth: “Dynamic URLs cannot be crawled.”
Fact: We can crawl dynamic URLs and interpret the different parameters. We might have problems crawling and ranking your dynamic URLs if you try to make your urls look static and in the process hide parameters which offer the Googlebot valuable information. One recommendation is to avoid reformatting a dynamic URL to make it look static. It’s always advisable to use static content with static URLs as much as possible, but in cases where you decide to use dynamic content, you should give us the possibility to analyze your URL structure and not remove information by hiding parameters and making them look static.
Myth: “Dynamic URLs are okay if you use fewer than three parameters.”
Fact: There is no limit on the number of parameters, but a good rule of thumb would be to keep your URLs short (this applies to all URLs, whether static or dynamic). You may be able to remove some parameters which aren’t essential for Googlebot and offer your users a nice looking dynamic URL. If you are not able to figure out which parameters to remove, we’d advise you to serve us all the parameters in your dynamic URL and our system will figure out which ones do not matter. Hiding your parameters keeps us from analyzing your URLs properly and we won’t be able to recognize the parameters as such, which could cause a loss of valuable information.
Following are some questions we thought you might have at this point.
Does that mean I should avoid rewriting dynamic URLs at all?
That’s our recommendation, unless your rewrites are limited to removing unnecessary parameters, or you are very diligent in removing all parameters that could cause problems. If you transform your dynamic URL to make it look static you should be aware that we might not be able to interpret the information correctly in all cases. If you want to serve a static equivalent of your site, you might want to consider transforming the underlying content by serving a replacement which is truly static. One example would be to generate files for all the paths and make them accessible somewhere on your site. However, if you’re using URL rewriting (rather than making a copy of the content) to produce static-looking URLs from a dynamic site, you could be doing harm rather than good. Feel free to serve us your standard dynamic URL and we will automatically find the parameters which are unnecessary.
Should you try to make your dynamic URLs look static?
Following are some key points you should keep in mind while dealing with dynamic URLs:
- It’s quite hard to correctly create and maintain rewrites that change dynamic URLs to static-looking URLs.
- It’s much safer to serve us the original dynamic URL and let us handle the problem of detecting and avoiding problematic parameters.
- If you want to rewrite your URL, please remove unnecessary parameters while maintaining a dynamic-looking URL.
If you want to serve a static URL instead of a dynamic URL you should create a static equivalent of your content.
So what’s the point of all this?
Unless you have a site producing large dynamic URL’s you have nothing to worry about. Don’t go turning off Permalinks in wordpress or stop using Mod-rewrite because Google can now index dynamic URL’s a bit better.
Btw, here’s the link to the full article over at the Google Webmaster blog
Google has improved it’s ability to spider and index Adobe Flash SWF files. It can index textual content as well as external links embedded in a Flash site.
Although I believe they’ve had the ability to spider flash files for awhile they have officially come out and announced it and also described more about what in Flash files they do index.
Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?
All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.
In addition to finding and indexing the textual content in Flash files, we’re also discovering URLs that appear in Flash files, and feeding them into our crawling pipeline—just like we do with URLs that appear in non-Flash webpages. For example, if your Flash application contains links to pages inside your website, Google may now be better able to discover and crawl more of your website.
Q: What about non-textual content, such as images?
At present, we are only discovering and indexing textual content in Flash files. If your Flash files only include images, we will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. Similarly, we do not generate any anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text.
Also note that we do not index FLV files, such as the videos that play on YouTube, because these files contain no text elements.
Q: What do I need to do to get Google to index the text in my Flash files?
Basically, you don’t need to do anything. The improvements that we have made do not require any special action on the part of web designers or webmasters. If you have Flash content on your website, we will automatically begin to index it, up to the limits of our current technical ability (see next question).
That said, you should be aware that Google is now able to see the text that appears to visitors of your website. If you prefer Google to ignore your less informative content, such as a “copyright” or “loading” message, consider replacing the text within an image, which will make it effectively invisible to us.
So if you want to hide any text from Google just replace it with an image and it will be invisible to them?
Anyway, I think Google improving it’s ability to index Flash based sites is good news for people with Flash based sites that don’t know any better or care about their rankings because I still see using Flash in it’s entirety for a website as a bad decision SEO wise – Also see “Case Against Flash“. It’s still better to use standard CSS/XHTML or plain HTML pages if you want to rank high for your industries keywords.
Also does anyone else see black hat SEO’s taking advantage of this? You can embed the entire encyclopedia in a small flash file that Google could essentially index if you wanted to. Or what about embedded links? I can definitely see this being abused. What do you think?
I’m not sure about you but I am really not getting used to seeing Google’s new favicon. It’s definetely harder to find when you have multiple tabs open. And yeah…
According to Google:
“We recognized there was a need for a Google icon that would better work across multiple applications including web, mobile and client applications. We felt the small ‘g’ had many of the characteristics that best represent our brand: it’s simple, playful, and unique. We will be looking to improve and enhance this icon as we move forward.”
Simple, playful and unique? That’s not the impression I have of Google at all. Am I missing something?
What do you think? Big G or little g?
Here are some iterations of the Google Favicon:
Read more about it here.
This is interesting… Google is now investing money in renewable energy companies.
Google said it would spend hundreds of millions of dollars, part of that to hire engineers and energy experts to investigate alternative energies like solar, geothermal and wind power. The effort is aimed at reducing Google’s own mounting energy costs to run its vast data centers, while also fighting climate change and helping to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
“We see technologies we think can mature into very capable industries that can generate electricity cheaper than coal,” said Larry Page, a Google founder and president of products, “and we don’t see people talking about that as much as we would like.”
The initiative, which Google is calling RE
I know it takes a lot of energy to run all their servers and with their new cheap computer soon-to-be on the market, more and more people will be running computers and essentially using more of Google’s resources. Is Google spreading themselves too thin though?
“My first reaction when I read about this was, ‘Is this a joke?’” said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. “I’ve written off Google’s competition as a threat to Google’s long-term market share gains. But I haven’t written off Google’s own ability to stretch too far and try to do too much. Ultimately, that is the biggest risk in the Google story.”
Robert Peck of Bear Stearns agreed that “the headlines were a little scary at first” and said investors were initially worried that this was another example of Google “trying to bite off more than they can chew.”
But Google needs to get bigger, or else they are dieing. In Page’s words:
Mr. Page, in an interview, said that failing to investigate new businesses could hurt Google more than any potential distraction. “If you look at companies that don’t do anything new,” he said, “they are guaranteed never to get bigger. They miss a lot of opportunities and they miss the next big things.”
But Sergey clarified: the effort was motivated in part by the company’s frustrating search for clean, cheap energy alternatives.
I guess they just want to save some bucks on their energy spending.
Read the full article here: Google’s Next Frontier: Renewable Energy
From TechCrunch – Google’s Response to Facebook: “Maka-Maka”
Maka-Maka encompasses Google’s grand plan to build a social layer across all of its applications to compete with Facebook.
Google already has so much data on you, depending on how many Google apps you already use. It just needs to bring everything together. Your contacts are in Gmail. Your feeds are in Google Reader. Your IM buddy list is in Gtalk. Your upcoming events are in Google Calendar. Your widgets are in iGoogle. And don’t forget about your search history. Overtime, Google will connect all of these together in different ways, along with data about you from other social services across the Web, and give developers access to the social layer tying all of these apps together underneath. The real killer app for Google is not to turn Orkut into a Facebook clone. It is to turn every Google app into a social application without you even noticing that you’ve joined yet another social network
Now I don’t know about you but I think there are enough social networks online. Just last week I deleted all my personal info from my myspace account because I don’t want to be a participant in that joke of a site. I’ve recently joined Facebook though just like everyone else because well, since my friends are there I have to be there too. Facebook is a lot more professional and actually works. I’ve only received a few errors on Facebook compared to the multiple errors I receive every time I am on myspace when doing simple things like responding to an email or comment.
There is only so much time in the day to devote to social networks so there has to be only one. Will facebook win out over all others? Only time will tell.