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August 16, 2010

SEO Update for July 2010

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1. SEO News

Key news items for July:

a) Google revamps Video Sitemaps website

Matt Cutts stated a few weeks ago that Google “wants to be able to crawl and find all the video across the entire web”. This has been reiterated on many of Google’s search blogs where they have been discussing the importance of creating a video sitemap to help Google discover the URLs.

With that in mind, Google has helped the kick-start the indexing process by announcing they have revamped their online guide to Video Sitemaps – www.google.com/videositemaps. The guide shows webmasters why Video Sitemaps are important and how to create one.

One aspect to remember when creating a Video Sitemap is ensuring the URLs can be verified as containing a video. To verify the page contains a video, Google will look for either the embed tag from an outside source, the video file itself or a JavaScript element that references the player or video file. It is only the pages verified as having a video (with one of these three elements) that will be added to the Video index.

Implication: Bruce Clay stated last year he believed videos and engagement objects will become increasingly important for websites wanting to rank. This revamping of the Video Sitemaps guide may only be the beginning of what Google has planned for videos. By taking action now (and creating and indexing videos), webmasters may gain an early advantage over their competitors and rise to the top of Universal and Video search.

b) Google Images updates search interface

Google has announced the launch of a new interface for Google Images. The new layout was firstly rolled out on Google.com and has since been updated in Google.com.au. Essentially, the new layout has removed much of the white space and text information from between the images, and replaced it with more images.

The most noticeable change is the layout’s tiled feel. Images are now closer together and include many more images – Google says the maximum is 1000. In addition, the images now have a ‘scroll over’ affect, whereby holding the mouse over the images, it will enlarge and show image text information – image name, size and domain. The one feature not in the new version is the ‘Find similar images’, where Google would load what it thought were visually similar images.

Implication: This change could make the search vertical more appealing to users and may drive more traffic from images. Ensure that your images are properly tagged, are surrounded by keyword rich text, are above the fold, are of high quality and are included on good quality and fast loading pages. These will ensure these images rank highly. For more information on using image attributes, see SEO Tips-ALT tags.

c) New Google Mobile Search nears 100% market share

Google has dominated the search market on desktop platforms for many years now and now a recent study by Royal Pingdom has reported that they have a near monopoly on the mobile search market as well. The report states Google has 98.29% of the mobile search market share – although the actual market (US market or global market) is not mentioned.  The closest competitors are Yahoo! with 0.81% and Bing with 0.46%, and the remaining 0.46% is made up of other unnamed players.

Although the size of the lead Google has is surprising, the fact that they are leading wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. They have made no secret about their plans for the mobile phone market and the way their market share continues to rise is evidence they are heading in the right direction.

Implication: A Mobile SEO strategy does vary from a desktop search engine optimisation strategy, as the search results may take into account your current location and it is important to remember the intent of the mobile searcher will differ from a desktop user. This is an area we’ve been following for quite a while now, and my colleague Raffealla has posted a number of blogs about Google Mobile search and Mobile SEO tips, most notably the Mobile Search and SEO post outlining information she gathered from the Cebit conference on Web and Mobile Applications.

d) Additions to Google Webmaster Tools

A key to gaining high rankings is ensuring Google can spider your site. Any problems the spider encounters while crawling pages are documented in the Crawl Errors section of Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Central has announced the release of SiteNotice messages. A SiteNotice will inform webmasters of a ‘significant’ increase in crawl errors they’ve detected, helping them make a start on an immediate response before too much harm has been done to rankings or traffic.

The Google Webmaster Tools Search queries report has expanded to offer more helpful information to webmasters about their website. Users can now select the dates they wish to analyse and retrieve the impressions, clicks and click through rates from Google. It almost feels like a slimmed down version of Google Analytics

Implication: Google Webmaster Tools is Google’s place for communicating to webmasters information they have gathered on their website. It’s always important to regularly log into your account to see what Google is telling you. The SiteNotice messages are an important service in managing indexing errors and by expanding the data available, the Search queries report will offer a great resource for working out where your search engine strengths and weaknesses lie.

2. Blog

Key blog posts in July:

3. Newsletter

Key newsletter articles in July:

To receive copies of this monthly newsletter, please subscribe at http://www.bruceclay.com.au/web_newsletter.htm.

4. Webmaster Radio – SEM Synergy

Key podcasts in July:

5. Bruce Clay Training Courses

The next training dates are as follows:

The date for the next three day SEO Training course has yet to be finalised, but will be in the first quarter of 2011. For more information on training, visit our SEO training page.

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