Archive for the 'Everything Google' Category

Play a game and help Google with image search

Google has a beta application called Google Image Labeler which it describes as “a feature of Google Search that allows you to label images and help improve the quality of Google’s image search results.”

Sounds kind of boring, but leave it to Google to turn image labeling into an online game.
google-image-label-linkHere’s how it works

You are matched up with another online user and both of you are shown an image. You each start adding labels to the image until you both suggest the same label. To add to the challenge, you can’t see the labels your partner is adding. So you just keep adding labels until the game tells you that you matched — or you and your partner may click a “pass” button to move to the next image.

Once a match is made, a new image is presented to both of you and the process begins again. And just to make it really exciting, there is a time clock. You and your partner are given two minutes to label as many images as possible. And of course, it wouldn’t be a game without scoring. So there are points rewarded for successful matches.

After the clock has expired, you are shown a page containing your overall score, thumbnails of the images you saw, along with identifying information:

  • image size
  • image URL
  • whether it was a pass or a match (with matched word)
  • your partner’s labels

Google Image Labeler Screen

A little warning

Some of the images presented are a bit risque. However, Google does not believe you’ll come across inappropriate images. In the Image Labeler FAQ Google states, “While there’s no guarantee, it’s unlikely that you’ll see mature content because all images are filtered under image search’s Strict Safe Search setting.” Hmm, well I saw a few that apparently snuck past the filter.

Also, since you are playing with an unknown partner, your success – or failure as the case may be – depends in part on the other person. On one occasion, I had a partner who I couldn’t match with at all, and when the game was over and I reviewed his or her image labels, they were not related to the images at all and were rather silly like “poop,” for example.

You should give Google’s Image Labeler a try, but I’ll warn you , it is a little addictive.

Google’s New Ad Preferences Explained

GoogleYou’re probably familiar with Google’s AdSense Contextual ad network that displays ads on websites based on the context of the content on the page. Now we are introduced to yet another type of ad network. Google has launched in beta what they call “Ad Preferences.”

Ad Preferences displays ads to the user based on the user’s interests as edited by the user and as interpreted by the user’s search history, websites visited, etc. In Google’s words:

As you browse certain Google services and websites that have partnered with us using our AdSense program, Google stores a cookie in your browser to understand the types of pages you visit (this cookie appears as .doubleclick.net in your browser). Based on this information, Google associates your browser with relevant interest categories and uses these categories to show interest-based ads on participating websites.

Google has also published this video to explain Ad Preferences.

Before you become alarmed with concerns of online privacy, know that Google does enable you to opt-out of the tracking and it claims they do not capture any personal data. But you should probably look into it more yourself. Here is where you can read more about how Google’s Interest Ads work and also the FAQ’s. Here is where you may opt out of Google Ad Preferences on your computer or set your preferences.

Top 5 Superbowl Ads According to Google

googlesearchtermsSuperbowl XLIII is over. NBC, advertisers and their agencies are surely pleased that the victor was not determined until the last play of the game. Congratulations go to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a hard-fought victory and the Arizona Cardinals for providing one of the more entertaining Superbowl games in years.

Even before the confetti flew to signal the end of the game, the internet was all a-twitter with people casting their votes for their favorite Superbowl Ads. Here are the top 5 Superbowl Ads as determined by search volume on Google, reported by Google Trends:

  1. Jack in the Box – Hang in there Jack
  2. Denny’s – Free Grand Slam
  3. Vizio
  4. Go Daddy
  5. Hulu

This list definitely does not match my top five Superbowl ads. These may not have been your favorite ads either, but advertising really isn’t a popularity contest or a beauty pageant. The true measures of a successful ad are that it is memorable and it moves the viewer to action. In the absence of sales figures and primary research, Google search engine queries are a pretty good barometer.

To Understand SEO, Get to Know Google First

When you pitch a new business prospect, you get to know a little about the company first. What business are they in? Who are their customers? Who are their competitors? How big is the company? And a million other things. You cater your pitch to appeal specifically to the prospect. The more you know in advance, the higher your odds of winning the account.

Well, it’s the same thing with search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to understand SEO, you first need to gain an understanding of how search engines work. And with a tight grip on 60+% of the search market, that means Google! Here’s a simplistic look at how Google works, from the 50,000 foot level.

Google has bots or spiders ─ programs it calls “Googlebots” ─ that “crawl” billions of web pages everyday. The Googlebots analyze the pages to determine what each page is about (keywords to match to your query) and the relevance of each page (incoming links from other pages that help determine the importance of the page). All this information is stored to create Google’s “index.” The index is constantly being updated to add new pages as well as to record changes to existing pages in the index.

When you place a keyword into a Google search box, Google checks its index to determine which pages are most relevant to the keyword and presents (or “serves”) a snippet of those pages in order of Google’s proprietary and highly complex ranking algorithm.

Here’s an illustration from Google that shows the search query process, which by the way, is usually executed in less than a half a second:

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

Think of SEO as a process of employing various techniques to:

    1) ensure that the pages of a website are easily and thoroughly crawled and indexed by Google
    2) maximize the relevancy of the web pages through quality links and other Google-defined factors
    3) closely match the content on web pages with targeted keywords

For a little more explanation of crawling, indexing and serving, check out what Google has to say on the subject. Soon you’ll be ready to make your pitch to Google.

The Anatomy of a Google Search Results Page

Natural listings, organic results, sponsored ads, SERPs — these are just a few of the terms used to describe elements of a Google results page. But do you know what each one means? If they’re Greek to you, then keep on reading.

When you conduct a search query on Google, the results page presented — also known as a search engine results page or SERP — usually contains links that are free as well as links that are purchased. Free listings are referred to as “natural” or “organic” results. They represent the majority of the results on a SERP and are found along the left side of the page. See the green box in Figure 1 below.

Purchased links are called “Sponsored Links,” but may also be referred to as “pay-per-click ads (PPC),”  “Google AdWords” or “paid ads.” Sponsored links are found along the right side of the page, and may also be the top three links on the left side of the SERP. See the pink boxes in Figure 1 below.

Organic results vs. Paid results

Figure 1 -- Organic results vs. Paid results

As suggested by the name, Sponsored Links are paid ad placements based on the purchase of clicks for specific search query keywords. Organic results on the other hand, are completely controlled by Google. Google bots crawl millions of web pages every day, constantly analyzing the context of pages and adding them to its index. Using Google’s proprietary and incredibly secret algorithm, it serves up organic results to your query, making every attempt to provide the highest quality web pages matching the keywords.

There is a lot more that may be said about how PPC and organic listings happen, but we’ll leave those for other posts. For now, if you would like a detailed explanation of all of the elements on a Google SERP, visit Google’s Web Help page (link).


Welcome

There are approximately 12 billion searches conducted on the internet each month. And that number continues to grow. As more companies look for ways to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive environment, marketers seek to integrate search engine optimization (SEO) into their marketing communications. And with the advancement in non-technical online tools, SEO is not just for programmers and search marketers anymore. Search Matters is specifically for marketers who want to learn about organic search and how to integrate SEO into their integrated marketing communications programs.

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