Google search results explained – Organic Search Results

What is what in Google search results?

With this series of blog articles, we are going to explain the Google search results page and the different elements Google shows us on this page.

The search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query – in this case ‘hotel berlin’.

We searched on Google.com in Germany which is why English as well as German websites are among the search results:

Google Search Results explained

Google Search Engine Results Page for Query ‘Hotel Berlin’

1. Organic Search Results

The first element on the search results page we want to explain are organic search results.
Organic search results is what Google started out with. Sometimes organic search results are referred to as natural search results. These are the search results the Google algorithm produces when a user types their search phrase into the Google search field and presses Enter. The results appear because of their relevance to the search terms, although obviously Google determines what this is.

Over the years, organic search results have occupied less and less space on the Google search results page and are being pushed further down to make room for other Google products. Of course, search is free on Google and organic search results are non-commercial. Some other Google products are, though – first and foremost Google AdWords.

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), organic search results is what it refers to. With less room for organic search results on the page, SEO has also become much more difficult, since more websites compete with each other for less places in the search result listing.

Google Testing New Sitelink Design

Google seems to be testing a new sitelink design in their search results.
If you need a reminder what sitelinks currently look like, here an example, highlighted in pink:

I’ve seen the new sitelink design on google.de yesterday while searching for hotels in Berlin. However, it has now disappeared which means Google must be testing. Shame, that I haven’t taken a screen shot of the Grand Hotel Esplanade Berlin search results in time!
To give you an idea, here is another screen shot of a U.S. Theme Park from Moz:

The new design structures the sitelinks much more clearly and the frame around it makes them more obvious. In fact, this natural search result looks pretty much like the Google knowledge graph on the right or the Google+ profile which is displayed in the same place if a verified Google+ profile of the company exists. The tested sitelink design also takes up a lot more space and will so push alternative search results further down the page.
I’ll be watching out for more testing and keep you up-to-date.
Let me know if you come across similar occurrences, please!

 

SEO Tools : Software Review

Everyone looking for a little advice regarding which tools to use for search engine optimization (SEO) in order to to analyze and improve their search engine rankings should read on. There is plenty of tools on the market but only a few deliver what they promise.

Advanced Web Ranking is particularly search engine friendly.
Automated search requests can be penalized by search engines with a drop in rankings. Advanced Web Ranking however simulates manual search queries by pausing in between each search request. For search engines it is therefore indistinguishable from someone using a browser.
The software uses the following method: It queries a certain keyword, then the search engine returns a number of pages. Advanced Web Ranking downloads these pages and analyses them locally. These three steps are being repeated for each search query.

Advanced Web Ranking has been developed by Caphyon and is a comprehensive SEO software tool for web projects to boost website ranking. It has been re-written recently and improved.

The software still comes in 4 different editions: Standard, Professional, Enterprise, Server.
The Standard edition should be sufficient for hobby website publishers. Professionals who need to generate reports, print and email them to their clients, will at least need the Professional edition.

Advanced Web Ranking for Mac

Starting a new project is very easy. When opening the tool for the first time it asks for the domain name which is to be analyzed. In a second step, the keywords and keyword phrases need to be entered but they can also be imported from a website, CSV, WPG or XML file. Preferences with regards to which search engines are to be analyzed need to be set. Google will probably be the preferred search engine. However, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines should not be neglected, especially when working on projects targeting countries outside Europe. The tool offers  1000+ search engines to choose from when checking search results for different countries and languages, e.g. in google.co.uk rather than google.com. Depending on the number of keywords and domains and the internet connection, this step may sometimes take several hours. Once the update is complete, the results can be filtered and displayed in numerous layouts. For easy reading of reports, charts etc., domains and keyword phrases can be color-coded.

Summary of the main features of this SEO tool:

Search Engine Rankings
Easy and effective racking and analyzing of search engine rankings.

Google Analytics Integration
Advanced Web Ranking can now integrate analytics metrics from Google Analytics which helps measuring traffic and conversions for the keywords already in the projects. The advantage of this is that visitors and conversions data can be combined with the search engine rankings and link building information in one report.

Link Building
An important part of any SEO campaign is link building. Advanced Web Rankings has now integrated a link building module in order to have all SEO tasks in one place. With this module, comparing the link profile to that of competitors and discovering new linking opportunities becomes possible using the same tool.

Keyword Research Tool
The most important step when developing a search engine strategy is defining relevant keywords and keyword phrases. Whether keywords are relevant for a project needs to be analyzed and depends on search volume, search trends, niches etc. Therefore, the Keyword Research Tool is essential. This module helps finding additional keywords and keyword combinations, even if there is a pre-defined keyword list. For example, it uses data from Wordtracker, the Google Keyword Tool or Yahoo Search Marketing which is then imported.

Automated Reports, Backups and Updates
Essential for measuring SEO success. Creates reports which can be automatically sent to clients.

Data Privacy, Enhanced Security and Reliability
Stores all the data gathered from search engines on your local computer or server.

There is a 30-day trial version of Advanced Web Ranking which can be downloaded here: http://www.advancedwebranking.com/download.html

Advanced Link Manager

In order to identify backlinks to a website and keywords that have been used in the anchor text, Advanced Link Manager is another package sold be the same company.
With Advanced Link Manager backlinks can be found, tracked over time and visualized in charts. This is particularly useful when monitoring the success or failure of link-building campaigns. Link popularity of the backlinks can be analyzed and the development of a website’s link popularity over time can be controlled. The tool also helps keeping track of paid links so that they aren’t lost while still paying fees.
Link partners can be found and the quality of one or multiple domains of potential link partners can be checked in order to decide which domains are worth getting links from.
As with Advanced Web Ranking, comprehensive reports can be generated and personalized for individual clients. There are numerous templates for reports but bespoke reports may be generated, too.

Some of the data that can be collected using this SEO tool:

  • Domain Page rank
  • URL Page rank
  • Alexa rank
  • Number of links on the page
  • Links with nofollow attribute
  • etc.

Summary of the main features of this SEO tool:

Website Optimization
Website Optimization module for targeted keywords.

Comprehensive Competitive Analysis Tools
Helps keeping track of incoming links and competitors’ websites. Keeps track on competition.

Automated Reports, Backups and Updates
Essential for measuring SEO success. Creates reports which can be automatically sent to clients.

Data Privacy, Enhanced Security and Reliability
Stores all the data gathered from search engines on your local computer or server.

There is a 30-day trial version of Advanced Link Manager which can be downloaded here: http://www.advancedlinkmanager.com/download.html

Google Maps with hotel pricing – changes everything, again.

Have you recently searched Google for a hotel?
If so, you may have noticed the new meta-search functionality on Google Maps.
Google has now launched a service on Google Maps and Google Place on many of their domains in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The new functionality lets users enter their desired arrival and departure dates above the generic search results. It then returns rates and availabilities in real time next to the hotel listing, including drop down boxes displaying rates from various online booking channels along with links.
Ads are usually listed at the top and highlighted as such. Non-paid links to owner sites appear at the bottom.


This new functionality is very likely to change users search behavior.

When looking for a hotel in a particular destination, Google now displays a clickable map on the right-hand side next to the search results taking users straight to Google Maps.

They will then enter their travel dates and decide on a more specific location by zooming into the map. Checking the rates, they will make a selection based on the price they are willing to pay before even clicking on a link and visiting an OTA or hotel website.
In my view, with this new meta-search feature, Google Maps could easily replace OTA websites as well as meta-search travel sites which users have to date used in order to pre-select hotels – also mainly based on location and price.
Hotels and chains can also buy ads that display direct booking links underneath a Google Map search result and so compete with OTA ads within the rate drop down boxes.
It remains to be seen whether Google is just experimenting or whether Google Maps hotel pricing is here to stay.
Some questions should spring to your mind immediately:
1. How can you improve your hotel’s ranking on Google Maps?
2. Should you change your SEO strategy?
3. Could you publish your direct booking rates in Google linking them with your CRS?
4. Should you pay for Google Map ads?

New: Google Sidewiki – Chance or Curse for Hotel Online Marketers?

Google has just launched it’s new product Sidewiki as part of the Google toolbar. With Sidewiki people can leave their comments on any website, page or part of the site’s content.
It has to be seen how popular the product will be, since one has to be using the Google toolbar and logged into their account in order to comment. However, it is certainly going to have an impact on hotel and tourism online marketing strategies.

Negative comments won’t be tucked away on community and special interest sites like Tripadvisor anymore but can be found alongside your brand or individual hotel website, exactly in the very spot where you are trying very hard to convert a website visitor into a booker. Sidewiki could also be open to abuse by competitors, of course.
Sounds like Sidewiki could become quite a curse for hotel and tourism marketers. But why not see it as a chance as well? After all, if your product convinces and people leave positive comments, this may just tip an undecided visitor over and make them book.

Like most things in life this innovation has advantages and disadvantages and you can see the glass as being half full or half empty. I think, Google Sidewiki is just another step towards the truly transparent and collaborative web. Use it wisely!

More information and download Google Sidewiki.

What are the most important search engine ranking factors in 2009?

SEOmoz have just published their bi-annual study about the most important search engine ranking factors, i.e. the factors that decide over whether your website comes up on the first or last page of Google results when a user types in a keyword that is relevant to your site. The ranking factors were rated by their panel of 72 SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts. Obviously, Google can change its algorithm at any time. So even if you take all the factors into consideration and are doing an excellent job, you are not operating in a static environment in which that will necessarily be the case tomorrow.

I’m quoting the top five factors from the most relevant areas for SEO below:
(see full Search Engine Ranking Factors 2009 study)

On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors

1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g. keyword.com)
4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page

On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors

1. Existence of Substantive, Unique Content on the Page
2. Recency (freshness) of Page Creation
3. Use of Links on the Page that Point to Other URLs on this Domain
4. Historical Content Changes (how often the page content has been updated)
5. Use of External-Pointing Links on the Page

Page-Specific Link Popularity Ranking Factors

1. Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from External Links
2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)
3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
4. Page-Specific TrustRank (whether the individual page has earned links from trusted sources)
5. Iterative Algorithm-Based, Global Link Popularity (PageRank)

Site-Wide Link-Based Ranking Factors

1. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains (e.g. TrustRank, Domain mozTrust, etc.)
2. Global Link Popularity of the Domain Based on an Iterative Link Algorithm (e.g. PageRank on the domain graph, Domain mozRank, etc.)
3. Link Diversity of the Domain (based on number/variety of unique root domains linking to pages on this domain)
4. Links from Hubs/Authorities in a Given Topic-Specific Neighborhood (as per the “Hilltop” algorithm)
5. Temporal Growth/Shrinkage of Links to the Domain (the quantity/quality of links earned over time and the temporal distribution)

Geo-Targeting Factors

1. Country Code TLD of the Root Domain (e.g. .co.uk, .de, .fr, .com.au, etc.)
2. Language of the Content Used on the Site
3. Links from Other Domains Targeted to the Country/Region
4. Geographic Location of the Host IP Address of the Domain
5. Manual Review/Targeting by Google Engineers and/or Quality Raters

Negative Ranking Factors

1. Cloaking with Malicious/Manipulative Intent
2. Link Acquisition from Known Link Brokers/Sellers
3. Links from the Page to Web Spam Sites/Pages
4. Cloaking by User Agent
5. Frequent Server Downtime & Site Inaccessibility

Factors Negatively Affecting the Value of an External Link

1. Domain Banned from Google’s Index for Web Spam
2. Domain’s Rankings Penalized in Google for Web Spam
3. Link is Determined to be “Paid” Rather than Editorially Given
4. Domain Contains Links to a Significant Amount of Web Spam
5. Domain Has Not Earned Trusted Links