Natural Search Blog


Travel Searches, Local & More Searches Turning Case-Sensitive in Google SERPs

Some of us at Netconcepts have been noticing that keyword rankings in Google search engine results pages (“SERPs”) have been turning case-sensitive for some queries lately. Search Engine Roundtable highlighted that the case sensitivity issue had been reported for queries seen in the UK, but we’ve been seeing it for queries committed from the US as well.

For instance, search for something like “fossil watches” and compare with “Fossil Watches”, and you’ll see that a few of the listings in the SERPs trade ranking positions:

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - Fossil Watches
(click to enlarge)
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Mahalo Traffic Growth Vulnerable To Google Penalty

A couple of weeks ago, Heather Hopkins at Hitwise noted that the human-powered Mahalo search engine has been showing a very strong curve of increasing traffic:

Mahalo Search Referral Traffic
(click to enlarge)

They also noted that 76% of this traffic comes in as referrals from other search engines.

This is slightly ironic, since Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo, has historically been very critical of the worth of search engine optimization. I’m not the only one who sees the irony in this, since Allen Stern also noted it, saying “Mahalo is an SEO Play“. As Allen notes, if Mahalo didn’t want this traffic it would be easy for them to block the spiders thru their robots.txt file. (more…)

Google Testing New Local OneBox Layout & Addresses in PPC Ads

Greg Sterling this morning mentioned that Google is apparently experimenting with allowing full street addresses to appear below the URLs in PPC ads.

Even more interesting, this thread at Webmasterworld now reports seeing a new layout of local listings within Google SERPs — their screengrab shows the Google Maps onebox results on the right side of the page, apparently above the Sponsored Links ads.

Is this just usual UI/Usability testing, or could this segue into more unrest for the local SERPs?

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Upcoming Appearances

SMX West Speaker Badge 2008I’ll be speaking on the “Local Search, and Blended Results” and “Online Retail and Blended Results” panels at the SMX West conference in Santa Clara, California, February 26 – 28, 2008.

Quite a few sessions at this conference are focusing on “blended results” — the new paradigm that has been affecting search results pages layouts and listing rankings. Each of the search engines have been looking into folding their various specialized, vertical search contents into the main keyword search results pages in order to better expose that content and facilitate usage of those features.

Google’s introduction of Universal Search during 2007 was probably the most attention-getting paradigm shift in terms of bringing search marketers to realize that they frequently need to achieve good placement in each of the specialized vertical searches like Images, Local/Maps, Video, News, and etc. to help guarantee rankings and ongoing market-share.

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