Yahoo to Start Encrypting Searches, All Traffic

Yahoo will start encrypting all traffic that goes from users to the Yahoo servers starting in early 2014. This will inevitably include search data and keywords, and users will be able to opt out of the encryption.

In a recent blog post, Marissa Mayer revealed the news.

This is all due to the recent issues with the NSA, and the fact that the organization recently got access to Yahoo user data.

If you take a look at the following screen capture below, you will see a sample from my web analytics of someone who has searched from Google using Google’s ecrypted search and then right below you’ll see what Yahoo is showing as an encrypted search. Frankly, today is the first time I have seen Yahoo start encrypting their searches. I have not seen any visits from Yahoo where they keyword search was encrypted.

yahoo vs google encrypted search

AuthorLinks Rebrands as AuthPost, Continues Selling Posts Based on Google Authorship, Klout Score

AuthorLinks, the first-ever marketplace to buy and sell Google Authorship, has rebranded as AuthPost. As you might recall, I wrote about AuthorLinks and how the site was the first to buy and sell Google Authorship.

buy and sell posts based on Google Authorship

Since then, there has been a lot of mixed emotions from the SEO community about buying and selling Google Authorship, along with the fact that AuthorLinks appeared to merely be selling links in posts whose authors had verified their Google Authorship. With this new branding, the site is focusing on posts first, and not links.

authpost home page

As you are most likely aware, the buying and selling links based on Google’s PageRank has long been a controversial topic, as well as a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google has not officially come out with a statement on whether or not buying or selling Google Authorship (or posts that are based on verified Google Authorship writers) is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

AuthPost states in their Terms of Use that “Authors and Buyers understand that the author and ultimately, the website owner, is responsible for being in compliance with any and all search engine guidelines and that the content includes any required FTC disclosures if the author’s website is based in the United States.”.

Currently, there are no other websites or places where someone can buy posts or articles based on the author’s Klout score or Google Authorship status. AuhorLinks.net, now AuthPost.com, is the first, and only marketplace today that offers this service.

Do Google +1s and Shares Help Search Engine Rankings?

My friend Eric Enge from Stone Temple Consulting took the time recently to put together a great study that focused on the Google+ social network. The whole idea of this study was to figure out whether or not Google +1s actually help search engine rankings. Without even knowing the results of this test, I can honestly say that I predicted the results of that test. Let me explain.

social shares

Eric has been working hard, for a long time, on a study “to attempt to directly measure the impact of Google+ Shares on Google’s search rankings”. The results of this study, according to Eric, are this:

And here is the shocking result in a nutshell. In our study, and in my opinion, Google Plus Shares did not drive any material rankings changes (of non-personalized results) that we could detect.

Why exactly did I predict, without even knowing the results of the study? While you can isolate new URLs in such a way that shows whether or not Google+ Shares help rankings or not, we already know, from public statements by Google (Matt Cutts) that Google does NOT fully trust social shares such as Google+ shares and +1s.

Since Google does not fully trust social shares (yet), there is no way that Google would trust a social share, even if it’s a Google+ social share or +1, without combining that “factor” with other search engine rankings factors. So, in other words, Google+ social shares and +1s on a URL alone are not trusted. But, when combined with other factors, they CAN trust it.

So, what’s my conclusion?
Google+ social shares and +1s *DO* count. But they only count when they’re combined with other search engine ranking factors. For example, if a new URL is added to a site that Google already trusts (has authority) and that new URL has internal links pointing to it, and that new URL has social shares from Twitter, Google+, and other social networks, that’s when the value of a Google+ social share and +1s “kick in” so to speak.

There has to be other search engine ranking factors involved in order for Google+ social shares and Google +1s to “count”. So Eric’s study, while it was in depth, was really “doomed from the start” so to speak.

It Takes 10 Years for Google to Trust a Ranking Factor
You might have missed it, but one year ago, at the Search Engine Strategies Conference that I attended in San Francisco, California, Matt Cutts did a keynote address. In that keynote address, he specifically said the following:

Google has a 10 year plan for relying on social factors as a part of the algorithm.

So, let’s take a look at this statement. In order for a social factor (such as a social share or Google +1, or even a Tweet) to “count” as a search engine ranking factor, it takes 10 years before Google will fully trust it. My interpretation of this is that after 10 years they will fully trust it, 100 percent. So after one year, they would trust it 10 percent. After 5 years, they trust it 50 percent.

So, let’s take it one step further. How would Google possibly start integrating the “trust” of a social ranking factor into the algorithm? Keep in mind, they don’t trust that social ranking factor right now–they only trust it “20 percent”, for example? If Google were to make it mandatory that other factors must be present that they “trust” in order for them to partially trust a social share, then they could start to “trust” that social share.

If Google only trusts a social share a little (or, as Matt Cutts called them “social factors”), then there is no way that Eric Enge’s study, which isolated Google+ social shares, would even work or show that social shares, by themselves, count.

Google’s own Matt Cutts already told us that Google does not fully trust social factors. So, Google doesn’t trust those social factors by themselves.

So, that begs the question here:

Do Google +1s and Shares Help Search Engine Rankings? You bet they do! Yes, yes, yes! Social Shares, Google +1s, and Tweets definitely help search engine rankings, without a doubt. Google said so themselves, in public.

But there is no way that a social share is going to “count” or “help” search engine rankings if that’s the only thing that a new URL has. If a new URL only has social shares, it won’t help rankings. We know that: Google fully doesn’t trust social factors. It takes them 10 years to do so.

MyOpenID to Shut Down February 1, 2014

myopenid

MyOpenID, the site whose goal was to allow us to securely have one ID on the web to use for logins, has decided to shut its doors starting on February 1, 2014. According to its founder, Larry Drebes from Janrain, Janrain made the decision to end of life the myOpenID service.

In an email (below), Mr. Drebes says that rather than using one service to securely log in, users on the web have chosen to use more recognizable services, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, rather than create their own MyOpenID account.

If you have a MyOpenID account, and use it to log into a site, you have until February 1st to change your login method.

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Larry Drebes, Janrain”
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com
Sent: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 9:42 AM
Subject: Important Update about myOpenID

Hello,

I wanted to reach out personally to let you know that we have made the decision to end of life the myOpenID service. myOpenID will be turned off on February 1, 2014.

In 2006 Janrain created myOpenID to fulfill our vision to make registration and login easier on the web for people. Since that time, social networks and email providers such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo! have embraced open identity standards. And now, billions of people who have created accounts with these services can use their identities to easily register and login to sites across the web in the way myOpenID was intended.

By 2009 it had become obvious that the vast majority of consumers would prefer to utilize an existing identity from a recognized provider rather than create their own myOpenID account. As a result, our business focus changed to address this desire, and we introduced social login technology. While the technology is slightly different from where we were in 2006, I’m confident that we are still delivering on our initial promise – that people should take control of their online identity and are empowered to carry those identities with them as they navigate the web.

For those of you who still actively use myOpenID, I can understand your disappointment to hear this news and apologize if this causes you any inconvenience. To reduce this inconvenience, we are delaying the end of life of the service until February 1, 2014 to give you time to begin using other identities on those sites where you use myOpenID today.

Speaking on behalf of Janrain, I truly appreciate your past support of myOpenID.

Sincerely,
Larry


Larry Drebes, CEO, Janrain, Inc.
Janrain, Inc. | 519 SW 3rd Ave, Suite 600, Portland OR 97204 | 888.563.3082 | janrain.com

This email was sent to XXXXXXXXXXXXXX@yahoo.com. You are receiving this email because you have had previous contact with Janrain. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, you may change your email preferences or opt-out from all Janrain communications.

Bing for Schools: No Ads for Students

Microsoft has launched Bing for Schools, a national pilot program that allows schools to choose to avoid the commercialization of their students’ internet searches. Bing for Schools means that students using the service will see no ads in their search results.

Bing for Schools

Microsoft told me that this initiative is about removing paid advertising from their search results in the school context and helping to maintain schools as a commerce-free zone. Advertisers that Microsoft have talked to have generally been supportive: this is net good for them, as they spend less on errant clicks from young students who are not their intended customer, and can concentrate their spend on the people who actually matter to them.

Microsoft, on the Bing for Schools site, describes the initiative further: “As part of Microsoft’s continued focus on promoting digital literacy in education, the Bing for Schools program offers daily lesson plans designed to teach search skills, Bing Rewards enhancements to help earn Microsoft Surface RT tablets for schools, and, for schools admitted to the pilot program, a tailored Bing search experience for K-12 students when on the school network.

Schools participating in the search pilot will receive ad-free Bing search, strict filtering to help block adult content, and augmented privacy protections. School districts can register for these search enhancements now; a limited number will be accepted into the initial pilot, with other schools being notified about future eligibility. But many of the educational features of Bing for Schools are available to non-pilot schools as well, so be sure to explore all the ways you can support digital literacy in your school.”

Several school districts have signed up already:
– Los Angeles Unified School District (California)
– Atlanta Public Schools, Fresno (California)
– Unified School District
– Detroit Country Day School

Bing for Schools includes:

– Ad-free search. Upon activating Bing for Schools, Bing searches from within the school network will have three key enhancements:
— Removal of all advertisements from Bing search results
— Automatic strict filtering to help block adult content
— Augmented privacy protections

– Earn Bing Rewards credits for schools. You can help the school of your choice earn credits toward Bing Rewards just by searching the Web from home or your mobile device. Bing Rewards allows you to choose a school to support and will aggregate the credits for everyone supporting that school. When 30,000 credits are accrued through Bing Rewards, Bing will send a Microsoft Surface RT tablet with Touch Cover directly to the school. The more people search, the more credits they earn for their schools. About 60 regular Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface RT each month for a school.

– Daily lesson plans based on the Bing daily homepage image. Bing is well-known for having a big, beautiful homepage image that changes daily and inspires visitors to explore their world. Bing for Schools makes it easier to incorporate digital literacy into the classroom by offering three learning activities every school day, targeted at kindergarten through fourth, fifth through eighth and ninth through 12th grades. The activities are free, aligned with Common Core State Standards and use the Bing homepage image of the day to pose a critical-thinking question that can be solved using search tools. In addition to being linked from the homepage image, Bing will keep a growing archive of the lessons on the Microsoft Partners in Learning site.

On Making Your Own Cost Efficient Business WordPress Websites

By Dean Chester

Sure, many businesses believe that getting a website will usually involves a large investment and involve too much time just to keep it updated. Years ago, that statement may have been true…but in recent years technology has advanced to the point that you can now setup your website with very little start-up costs and in about 30 minutes time.

For those who are still hesitant to come up with their own website, we should always try to remember that with making a step, you will never make and finish it. As simple as it is today, your first step will be acquiring web hosting and a domain name. Depending on which provider will you get your hosting, your cost for this domain can be as cheap as a couple of dollars. Hosts such as GoDaddy.com offer inexpensive domains that can be transferred to whatever web host your desire.

Web hosting is immensely cheaper now than it was a couple of decades ago. Now the average cost of web hosting is just under $10 a month. If you are able to commit to a long-term contract up front, that cost can drop to as little as $5 or $6 a month depending on the host. When setting up using a web hosting provider, a couple of things you will want is a site that has unlimited data and bandwidth as well as the ability to host multiple domains.

Once you have setup your web hosting, you are ready to install your website. In the past, this would involve hours or even days of straight coding. Now, thanks to WordPress, all you need to do is install the WordPress application on your server and you are ready to go. Some hosts such as Hostgator actually have an easy WordPress install built into the host that will get your site online in a matter of minutes. Best of all, WordPress is completely free to download and install with no monthly cost to use.

By using WordPress, your total cost to setup your very own website can be less than $20 and then less than $10 per month to maintain. You can completely manage your website in regards to content and media via WordPress and you can find out more on how to use the app by checking out this easy step-by-step video on how to make a mobile friendly WordPress site. Once you learn the ins and outs of using WordPress, you will be ready to make your prescience known on the web and at a cost affordable to most any budget.

So go ahead, put your business up another notch and plan your ways on how your future WordPress website should work. With a little bit of effort and a little more tweaking using optimization and social media integration, it wouldn’t be long before you can see your site growing with a lot of visitors and consumers that are targeted specifically for your product or service.

Before Writing Code or Launching Your Website, Do This

I found a series of articles that I wrote more than 10 years ago. But, amazingly enough, all of this information is still valid and true. It’s a great primer on what you should, and should not do before launching any website, especially an e-commerce website.

Before Any Code is Written

1. Determine Product Viability

Will The Product Sell Over the Internet?

Seems like a no-brainer right? It isn’t. At least for a good number of potential clients. Will people order eggs and milk over the internet? I had a request for an “essential foods” site. It doesn’t happen often but people will ask you to optimize a site that has very little chance of success.

Find A Unique Selling Point

This is where market studies come into play and the USP is often overlooked, or worse, never even considered. If you can’t find a unique vantage point for selling a product, why bother? Why should anyone visit a site that has nothing new to offer or simply repeats a tired strategy.

Will The Margin Support The Site?

People are conditioned to believe that the Internet relies solely on volume for profit, often without regard to margins. If the margin is small a single support issue can eat up the profit. Fraud, chargebacks, etc, can all spell disaster for a site operating on a slim margin.

Order Fulfillment and Customer Service

Does the site rely on a single dropshipper? How are out-of-stocks handled? Damaged shipments? Returns? What is the turnaround time? Is there a backup? Who answers the phones? Mail? Email?

Ship Overseas?

If they’re selling Levi 501s there’s a market, if they’re selling candles why bother? Candles are heavy, shipping costs tear into the margin or force prices higher and unless the candle is a work of art, it’s just a candle…

Payment Processing

Nail that down before you start. Make sure the client can get a merchant account and that they can afford a cert. Yes, PayPal is an option, but on every site I’ve ever worked on sales increased after a real live CC option was in place. PayPal is cumbersome and it confuses people.

The Cart and The Backend

Before you touch an e-comm site it’s important to know what cart will be used and what backend is needed. Some carts are SEO nightmares and that fact will change how the site is set up. Don’t assume the client knows anything about the backend or shopping carts. It’s only after he purchases that StoreFront cart that you’ll find out that he promised to host his site on his friends *nix box.

Hosting

Determine what system and with what company the site will be hosted on. You can avoid all kinds of problems by doing a little bit of research about the host. Some of those problems include trying to figure out how to get that .asp cart to function on a Unix box or finding out that raw logs aren’t available and you’re stuck with Joe Bob’s Vunderbar Stat Package.

Summary: If you followed all the steps above you know that you are working with a product that will sell over the Internet, the product has a unique selling point, the margin is big enough to make a profit, how the orders will be fulfilled and who is taking care of customer service issues. You also know whether or not you’re shipping overseas, how payments will be processed, what type of cart and backend will be used and you’ll have enough information on the host service to know what challenges are in front of you. And you’ll know all this before any code is written if it’s a new site. Now you can start working on some of the SEO aspects.

The Pre-Game Plan

1. Finding Those Keywords

(coming in Part 2) This is much too lengthy to cover in one post, so I’m breaking it into 3 parts. Rest assured I’ll cover every whitehat tactic and blackhat trick I have ever used. It won’t be comprehensive, hell, I don’t know all the tricks, so I’ll only write about what I know. ;) Oh yeah, this is also what works and has worked for me. It’s not the only plan, or the best plan, but in the interest of sharing and keeping scarcity from being a factor, I figured this might help. ;)

Easter Bunny Kicked Out of PRWeb Press Release Web Site

The Easter Bunny has officially been kicked out of PRWeb, the popular press release web site. According to Standing Dog’s latest blog post, the Easter Bunny could not be included in a recent press release due to the fact that the Easter Bunny is “parodic”.

Easter Bunny

The popular press release distribution service recently contacted Standing Dog Interactive in regards to a pending press release that dealt with an Easter brunch. Writers at the Dallas-based interactive marketing agency were shocked to learn that the Easter Bunny was deemed “parodic” and could not be mentioned in an introduction, tongue-in-cheek be damned.

According to the editors at Vocus, they did not feel that it was correct to mention the Easter Bunny in a press release–although the mention of the Easter Bunny in this case was related to an Easter promotion that was being done at a hotel.

I have reached out to the folks at Vocus for an official comment on the matter. Unfortunately, the Easter Bunny himself could not be reached for comment.

Pheed App: Better Social than Twitter or Facebook?

Pheed App

If you have spent any amount of time online, you have probably spent at least a few minutes browsing a social network. Almost every brick and mortar business has some form of social media presence that it uses to help customers better connect with their products and / or brand. Although there are many social networks to choose from, almost everyone is either on Twitter, or Facebook (once upon a time that would have been Myspace, but that time has come and gone), while the more tech savvy are on niche social sharing sites like Instagram, and Tumblr. But on the horizon, another social network is hoping to throw its hat into the ring, and currently it seems to be getting the attention of teenagers who are looking for something they can get on that isn’t shared by their parents (or grandparents). That social media network’s name is Pheed.

Pheed app homepage

O.D. Kobo, the creator of Pheed (pronounced just like “feed”, except spelled with a “ph”) was looking for a way to take the picture sharing capabilities of Instagram, and give it a social networking spin. The interface for Pheed is very similar to that of Instagram. One of the interesting features of the interface is that it includes a dislike icon represented by a broken heart. Depending upon if you are accessing Pheed via an Android or iPhone device, you can get it as a stand-alone application, or as a web based app. Regardless of the version you download, you will be able to send text messages, post pictures, and make comments on various “pheeds”. One of the other amazing things about this app is that you can share or stream audio content regardless of the file type. The app does have copyright filters in place to detect illegal audio sharing. Other than that, users can feel free to access the unlimited audio streaming capabilities of this application as much as they wish. You can even share your content on other social media websites.

To make this a one stop shop for social networking, the content on Pheed can be shared on other social networks like Facebook, and Twitter, You can even share content via email which would be very handy for internet marketers who wish to send current content to their email lists. People on Pheed can subscribe to your pheed channel in order to gain access to content that you post through this app. You can also unsubscribe just as easily as you can subscribe to any pheed channel which opens the doors for people to test out content without feeling any obligation to continue subscribing if they later find that the content is not to their liking. You can also search the channels for hashtags – similar to Twitter, but with access to content that could also be easily found on Facebook. To sweeten the deal, you have 420 characters to post a pheed (unlike Twitter’s 140 character limit), and you can add other media to your pheed posts, such as pictures, and video. With video, you have the option to use a pre-existing video, or record one – the same is true for audio.

In regards to interactivity notification, users have access to a list of notifications to let them know when someone has subscribed to their pheed channel, or when someone has liked, or disliked a particular pheed post. To make it easier to tag content that is accessed frequently, there is the Keeper function. The Keeper function is similar to a “favorites” option on other social networks. You can tag a piece of content on Pheed as a “keeper” so that it is easier to access later. You can then refresh the screen by clicking on the “Refresh” icon in the upper right hand corner. For those looking to limit the kind of content that they will have access to, the content level access rating can be set to a particular tolerance level (PG, PG-13, R, etc.). Pheed even gives you the option to monetize your content. Those who choose this option can receive 50% of whatever Pheed pulls in for their channel (if you are a celebrity, you can probably negotiate for a bigger cut of the profits).

In short, Pheed is a mash-up of the social media content from various social networks all brought together on one convenient platform. Many critics have said that Pheed won’t last long because the interface is somewhat garbled, and messy looking and that most adults probably are going to want to steer clear of this…, but that’s the point. This is a social network that is designed to appeal to a much younger audience (teenagers, and young adults). For internet marketers who are willing to take out the time to understand how Pheed works, this can be a GOLDMINE of information as to how to appeal to a younger demographic. Teenagers, and young adults tend to have much more discretionary income than most adults, and are willing to spend money on virtual goods, or anything that they find fun, and engaging. Pheed can easily be used by internet marketers to better understand how those under 18 years of age think. Overall, for internet marketers looking to expand into the teenage market, there is A LOT of marketing data that can be obtain by interacting with those who are on the Pheed social network – IF one is willing to take out the time to do so.

Improving Marketing ROI – 3 Top Tips

responsetap

An online marketing strategy should never stop evolving and improving if it is to remain cost effective and successful. To get you started, here are 3 tips for you to consider when looking to improve your online marketing activity.

Tip 1: forecast alternative solutions
You may have a decent marketing strategy at the moment but if you don’t at least consider alternative strategies, you may be missing a good little trick to further improving your online campaign. Forecasting alternative solutions will help guide you when making crucial marketing related decisions and may help increase leads and profits!

For example, you could say we are currently spending 50% of our budget on PPC and 25% of our budget on SEO but if we were to reduce our PPC budget to 30% and increase our SEO budget to 45% could we expect more, or less returns? Would increasing our PPC budget by 10% give much larger returns or would it just give a minor, incremental increase?

This is useful but to significantly improve ROI you would need to create a set of requirements to measure and analyse your results with by making use of advanced call tracking software as well as other detailed analytics software. You also need to ask yourself which portals are converting and where are they coming from? Are they prompting telephone calls or online enquiries? Are these leads resulting in conversions or are they just enquiries? Once you have this information you can begin to improve the areas of your site that don’t seem to be converting very well by learning from the parts that are converting well.

Tip 2: Analyse all portals within the conversion funnel
It is unlikely that any one portal is going to be the direct result of a conversion. It is more likely that your customer was influenced by some of your other marketing strategies before they eventually decided to make a purchase. For instance, it is quite common for customers to carry out their research on their phone but they tend to hold back their purchase until they have access to a computer.

Looking at the types of webpages your customers visit before they make a purchase is important since your customer is likely to carry out research numerous times by reading informative pages on your website before they decide to go to the page where they can make a purchase. All these pages are part of the conversion funnel – it is important not to neglect any marketing portal when analysing their overall effectiveness to your marketing strategy. In 2012, 50% of all Internet connections were made from mobile devices and an incredible 61% of these mobile searches resulted in a phone call! This clearly shows how important it is to factor in your mobile strategy when optimising your conversion funnel.

In addition to this, looking at repeat purchases and customer loyalty cannot be neglected and you would need to determine why the customer has chosen to purchase another product from you. Of course, obtaining this information is not as simple and straight forward as looking at the initial conversion but using conversion attribution reports (found in good call tracking software) can help.

Tip 3: Learn from your mistakes
Improving ROI is a linear process and cannot be achieved overnight. The best way to do this is to know that although your initial strategy may seem brilliant to start with, it may not be as good as you think and you should always be on the lookout for a more effective solution. Analyse your past performance to determine what is working well and what could be improved. You may choose to look at variations within the marketing mix, analysing the performance of your various target segments as well as testing new offers.

Completely changing a marketing strategy can sometimes be harmful – a more sensible solution would be to allocate a pre-agreed portion of your budget on trying new strategies on small scale. Any strategy found that seems to be performing better than the existing strategy can then be rolled out on a much bigger scale.

This is a post on behalf of visitor level call tracking specialists ResponseTap.