Penguin 2.0 part of Google Algorithm Updates in 2013

Google has released some details via it's GoogleWebmasterHelp Youtube channel about some major Google Algorithm Updates that will be taking place in 2013.  The big news that Matt Cutts revealed is that Google is releasing Penguin 2.0 in an effort to continue to cut-out Blackhat and spammy link building tactics from search engine results.

What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?
Matt Cutts, Mountain View

From what I can tell that was said in the video Penguin 2.0 will most likely go deeper than the original Penguin update Google made to it's search algorithm last April.  That means if you using duplicate content without linking to the original source, using automated link building software, basically any BlackHat link building tactics or whatever your websites will likely get harder hit this time around.  “This one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0” commented Cutts in the video. “We expect it to go a little deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.”

penguin 2.0

The other change that webmasters and sites owners should be aware if is that Google doesn't want sponsored posts or paid advertisements passing on PageRank to sites that have paid for links.  This violates Google's quality guidelines and I have a feeling that the Penguin 2.0 and the next set of Google Algorithm updates might make sponsored posts harder to rank.  It is possible i fewer companies will want to pay for links if there is no PageRank or traffic benefit for doing so.  You could always keep it secret though.

Google will also be providing more tools to webmasters that have hacked sites.  “We hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hack sites detection that is even more comprehensive.”  Cutts also said that Google will be working on communicating to webmasters so they know when their sites have been hacked sooner.  It seems they will accomplish this by having more comprehensive info in Google's Webmaster Tools and a “One stop shop” as Cutts puts it, so when someone realizes they have been hacked they can go get the resources they need to clean it their site.

It also seems authority sites with great content will be getting a boost from Penguin 2.0 and the next Google Algorithm updates happening in 2013.  Google wants to serve up sites with content, “According to the algorithms, might be a little more appropriate for users.”  So authority sites in certain areas, like medical or travel, could be seeing a spike in traffic for certain keywords in the coming months.

Some websites that might have gotten unfairly hit by the Google Panda update back in February and April 2011 might get a reconsideration.  Since Google Panda affected roughly 12% of search engine rankings, there are probably a lot of sites that were unfairly hit.  Most were not hit unfairly however.

A possibly change will be that Google will have less site clustering on search engine result pages.  “Once you've seen a cluster of results one site, you'd be less likely to see the more results from that site as you go deeper into the next page of Google search results.”  said Cutts.  It sounds like this change is not definite but will likely be something that Google will roll-out.

Matt Cutts explicitly states in the video people should take what is said, “With a grain of salt.”  Google could move resources around and decide to make different updates to it's search engine if the need arises.  It sounds like for the most part a lot of these plans will be rolling out over next few months in 2013.

What was most surprising in the video was actually nothing that was said by Matt Cutts, but he is wearing a Firefox T-shirt! 🙂  I noticed it immediately and I assume the Google execs and Chrome team probably were not too happy about it.  Most likely they didn't know until the video went up.  Google is a pretty cool place to work if they allow employees to wear T-shirts that represent competitors products.  (I am writing this blog post using Firefox by the way.)

Anyway, bottom line is if you were affected by Penguin or Panda and still do BlackHat link building techniques, Google is coming for you.  If you just have a simple blog or website and are not engaging in shady practices you should be fine as long as you have a good SEO gameplan with great content for users.

Matt Cutts did announce on his personal blog that Penguin 2.0 officially rolled out on May 22, 2013.  About 2.3% of English language and US based queries have been affected at this point.

What are your thoughts about the Penguin 2.0 and Google Algorithm Updates for 2013?  Please leave a comment below and let me know how you interrupted the video if you are a webmaster, Search Engine Optimizer, or just think I am plain wrong.  Hopefully that isn't the case though.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

Are Forums better than Social Media?

All the hype and rage you hear from marketers nowadays is all about social media this and social media that.  However, could it be that social media doesn't provide much useful information?

I ran across an interesting article on Social Media Explorer the other day which should make some marketers and companies rethink their social media strategies.  The report examined where the conversations about banks and the banking industry takes place online.  The winner?  Forums.

In the report they found that 90% of information about banks being discussed online is found on online forums.  Social networks accounted for 1% of the real conversations about banking. While Jason Falls, the writer, would obviously like you to purchase his report on the banking industry, keep in mind that he runs a site about social media.  If they were smart they would have thrown out the report and declared social media is the best place to market for banks! 🙂

social media

The article really got me thinking about where I go to find useful information online.  If I wanted to know more about web hosting, I go to a hosting discussion forum.  I would not turn to my followers on Twitter or Facebook since they probably don't know the answer and couldn't help me out.  Most of the time when I need technical help or I am trying to learn something new with software I do the same thing.

Posting cat memes and pictures while fun… come one, that's not useful to anyone.  Of course we all know that Singing Dogs are quite useful for the internet.  (These are my dogs by the way.)  To a certain extent social media is really more ideal for being entertained and engaged.  Something marketers are keen to capitalize on.

For a second I would think about where you get useful information when doing a Google search.  Do you always find what you need on blogs? Probably not.  Does Facebook's search engine (Bing) even work well? No. Can you find technical help on Twitter? Some places sure, but for the most part I doubt you can get technical questions answered in 140 characters or less all the time.

The current bank I have my money with I did research before opening an account with them.  Googling I found a bunch of threads, from genuine people (I hope), recommending their services and after reading these positive reviews on forums I decided to bank with them.  I have been using this bank's services for almost 2 years and couldn't be happier.  Their service and products are better than the local credit union's I was using and they have excellent customer support.

However, in all my research I didn't see anyone from the bank post on these forums or see bank reps taking part in any conversations.  Jason Falls hits the nail on the head when explaining why most marketers don't incorporate a forum into their overall marketing strategy.

marketers are petrified of them [forums]. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

This is an excellent point!  I will get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but the reality is that marketers can't have real and meaningful conversations.  Participating in a forum means you need to really respond to what people say and not feed them what you want them to hear.

A common complaint I've heard about forum marketing is that it can be a lot of work with minimal results.  While it all depends on the niche, and what forums are available in the niche, again you need to provide real value and not just be trying to sell your products or get backlinks for you site.   Let's be fair, marketing on social media networks isn't easy and takes time, work, and a lot of money.

Having recently attended BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, there was no discussion about forums, forum strategies, or how to get a community started.  The majority of the discussions regarding social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Before going to the conference though I turned to the BlogPaws Newbie discussion group to get useful information regarding the conference for new attendees.  I got a lot out of the discussion group where I learned great tips and advice about attending BlogPaws I wouldn't have gotten unless I was part of the Newbie group.  If I had gone to the Twitter or Facebook pages I really wouldn't have gotten many answers to my questions or gained as much insight into BlogPaws before attending.

Since forums have been around since the dawn of the web I guess they really don't have the coolness and ‘new kid on the block' appeal of social networks.  I also rarely hear anyone say they want to start a forum since blogging or building a website product or service is what most people want to get into.

If Social Media Explorer's report is accurate, a lot of marketers should consider what having a good forum presence can offer them and their brand.  Forums are not going anywhere and will be around until the internet dies I bet.  So if the conversations for your audience is on forums, you either should get a forum strategy or start one.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

[Image Source – Social Media Explorer]

.ME Registry accepting applications for Premium Domains

me registry

The .ME Registy has announced that they are accepting applications for their premium domain program.  This is part of the .ME registry trying to promote a wider use of .ME domains which has had some success.  Examples would include About.me, a site where you can post a page about yourself, and Pulse.Me, an news app.  In addition Facebook uses the URL shortener FB.me and Wordpres uses WP.me for their URL shortener.

While there has been some success the .ME domain extension it really only works for catchy words.  I think About.me is probably the best example of this since it is easy to remember and makes sense.  A lot of .ME domains just don't make sense in my opinion.

Like a lot of domain registries the .ME registry reserved premium domains.  This is in an effort to try to ensure that companies and startups can build out the domains into viable products or services rather than just having them sit there and be parked.

The .ME domains part of the premium domain program this year are;

  • Around.ME
  • Fund.ME
  • Find.ME
  • For.ME
  • Hire.ME

While the .ME registry could auction these premium domains names to the highest bidder this is a good explanation of why they are not doing that. 

Why Doesn’t The .Me Registry Sell These Domains?
Our goal is to assign the very best premium domains to the best content. If we sold them outright, large domain portfolio holders who don’t intend to build websites or offer services would likely purchase these domains. We reserved these five domains so that they would be available to be used by companies, businesses and startups that provide a quality product or service. Ultimately, this has far greater value for our domain (.Me).

Let's be honest, money with strong financial and venture capital backing is going to be a factor.  They are looking for great ideas for developing these premium .ME domains which standout though.

Out of those 5 domains I personally like Hire.ME the best since it would be ideal for a microgig competitor to Fiverr.  The domain could also be used to create an Elance and oDesk type of freelancing platform.  Alternatively it could be used for a jobs listing service.  I think in this economy any of those 3 ideas would be great for Hire.ME.

Another one I like is Fund.ME since that could be used for a crowdfunding site such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.  Fund.ME is catchy and easy to remember.

I would submit one of these ideas myself but I seriously doubt my application would be taken seriously.  If you want to give it a shot and your name is “Jack Dorsey” than by all means apply to the .ME premium domain program.  The deadline to apply for premium domain program is June 15 th, 2013.

Maybe you can kickstart the .ME domain extension with your awesome idea!

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

The Best Way to Get Twitter Followers, be Warren Buffett

warren buffet

Warren Buffett, the famed Billionaire investor, recently decided to join Twitter.  While the 82-year old legendary investor may not be as social media savy as some, he has had no trouble in getting a massive Twitter following very quickly.

Buffett sent out this Tweet to announce his entry to the online social media platform on May 2nd.

Within 10 minutes of him sending this first Tweet out he had already gained 10,000+ Twitter followers.  As it stands currently as I write this post @WarrenBuffet has 396,666 Twitter followers and that number keeps growing quickly.  Since it is a verified Twitter account people don't need to worry they are following an impersonator or fake account.  I wouldn't be surprised if he surpassed 400,000 Twitter followers by the end of the day.

Buffett may prove to be one of the most popular people on Twitter as he is known for coming up with good quips and short quotes about investing, life, and everything.  This is what people like to see on Twitter and how to excel since you only have 140 character or less to express yourself.  People most likely are not looking for Buffett's quotes about life but any tidbits of info he can provide about investing.

Warren Buffett is known as “The Oracle from Omaha” due to his extremely shrewd investing skills and decisions.  Currently Buffett is the 4th richest man in the world and is CEO of his company, Berkshire Hathaway.  Buffett's company owns or has stakes in many well-known institutions and large companies such as Geico, See Candies, Fruit of the Loom, Benjamin Moore, and more.  The company's stock price finished the trading day at a $164,990 per share – BRK-A – and currently is valued at 271 billion dollars.

It is still unclear though whether Warren Buffett will actually be Tweeting himself or if he will assign a staff member or social media manager to run the account for him.  I am guessing he will be Tweeting himself since he isn't a person who is afraid to say what he thinks, at least for the most part.  Currently Buffet doesn't follow anyone, but why would he need to?  It's not like Buffett needs to worry about what other people are saying on Twitter and work to gain followers.

So next time you are wondering what the best way is to gain Twitter followers is, it's pretty simple.  Just be Warren Buffett! 🙂

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

The Short Cutts makes Matt Cutts videos Easier to Understand

If you make a living off the internet or do any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work, then you probably have seen the Google Webmaster Youtube Q&A's with Matt Cutts, Google's well-known webspam guru.  I have even written posts on this blog, Domain Spam and Why Domain Parking Sucks, which included these Matt Cutts videos.

A lot of the Matt Cutts videos can be quite useful and helpful for people to understand how Google thinks and goes about dealing with unscrupulous link-building tactics and webspam.  It also helps webmasters and web entrepreneurs figure out what you should and definitely should not do to rank websites on Google's search engine using SEO.

However, quite often these Matt Cutts videos can be confusing and not give a clear answer to the question that was asked.   Many times when I watch these videos and Matt Cutts provides answers which are not straightforward and difficult to understand, especially for those unfamiliar with web and site terminology or who don't have that much technological ability.  This recent video is a great example and here is the question;

Ranking being so valuable, how does a true biz owner that offers a legitimate business and has a vast number of customers supposed to gain the traffic “deserved” over those that specialize in creating traffic? Is it supposed to be this hard for us?

Not sure what Matt Cutts was trying to say as it what he says is unclear and vague.  Maybe he was just trying to say that it isn't possible to compete, which is disheartening to hear honestly.  He says, “Just make sure your website doesn't suck” at one point which isn't really helpful to the guy who asked this question.

matt cutts videos

Click Consult, a premier Internet Marketing & Web Development agency in the UK (that's what it says on it's website at least), has started a new website called The Short Cutts to help make these Matt Cutts videos easier-to-understand.  Essentially The Short Cutts helps you cut through the word clutter that Matt Cutts sometimes provides in his videos and gives clear, direct, and simple answers to the questions asked.

The Short Cutts has a search bar so you can sort through the all the videos that Matt Cutts has done via Google's Webmaster Help Youtube channel.  They are quite a large number of videos and Matt Cutts usually shoots several new segments each week.  (Not sure how he has time to do it, but it's cool that he does in my opinion.)  If you are interested in seeing what Click Consult and the editors of The Short Cutts think, click on a video, then click on “Join the discussion” for what the short and simple answer.   For the above video The Short Cutts answer was;

Focus your content and improve your site

I guess that is basically what Matt Cutts was trying so say and I would agree with that statement.  However, he is still confusing and I see lots of great content and great sites that don't rank well on Google all the time.  (Like this blog and Singing Dogs!)

So… I guess I would still recommend watching the Matt Cutts videos from beginning to end yourself and not always taking a short cut. You will most likely still end up confused anyway. 🙂

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

9 Tips for Running a SUCCESSFUL Kickstarter Campaign

successful kickstarter campaign

Everyone it seems is trying to raise money on Kickstarter nowadays.  It doesn't matter how wacky or crazy your idea is or well-connected you are, everyone is doing Kickstarter.

You probably have dreamed about running a successful Kickstarter campaign and getting tons of money to fund your next venture or project.   While it is quite easy to setup a Kickstarter campaign, it is very difficult to actually run a successful Kickstarter campaign.  These tips should help new or experienced entrepreneurs crowdfund their next project.

1. Start marketing BEFORE you launch

This is a simple, easy, and a key tactic to running a successful Kickstarter campaign and a lot of people do not do it.  If you can give your campaign momentum before it even starts, the chances of you getting funded are much higher.  Send your friends and family an email and just say, “Hey, I am launching this Kickstarter project and it would be really cool if you contributed when it launched.”  Obviously add some heartfelt messages and say what the project is and be genuine about it.  This way you already have a good idea of how well you are going to be funded before you put up the Kickstarter page.  You need momentum since most people won't donate to Kickstarter projects if there doesn't seem to be any chance of the project reaching the funding goal.

2. Use SOCIAL MEDIA as much as possible

If you are active on social networks use tip #1 and market the Kickstarter project before, during, and after the Kickstarter project goes live.  Social Media can be a great way to find people within your niche or field that might be interested in funding your project.  If you are not active on social networks, find someone who is and can help you.  If you know someone with a lot of (legit) followers, ask them to promote your Kickstarter project.  Don't waste time on a social networks you don't like or don't want to use though.  If you like Facebook, use Facbook.  If you have better results with Pinterest, use Pinterest.

3. Find People to WRITE about your Kickstarter project

Again I would use tip #1 and try to see if you can find a blogger in your niche that would be interested in the Kickstarter campaign before it launches.  (Good places to check are Examiner.com and Dmoz.org if you don't know of any bloggers.) Getting articles written about your campaign makes it seem serious and give you more exposure.  Chances are if a few people write about you, other writers and bloggers will pick-up the story as well.  Additionally this helps get traffic to your Kickstarter page which can be difficult when you consider how many projects and campaigns are on the site and go up everyday.

4. Make it CLEAR why you need money, and what you will use it for

People need to understand what you are doing and why they should give you their hard earned money.  Successful Kickstarter campaigns describe what they need money for in detail and clearly.  If you just put up a paragraph and think that's enough, it isn't!  If you are not the best with words, that's fine.  Find someone who can help you truly describe why you need money and awesome things you are going to do with it.  The most important thing when writing the description is to sound genuine and real.

5. Use keywords for SEO impact

Since Kickstarter has high authority and Pagerank (7), using the proper keywords can really help give your page a boost in visitors.  Having a well-written description that is SEO friendly will make Google love it, which is important.  You can use the Google Keyword Tool to find what words you should and should not include in your description.  (When using the Google Keyword Tool remember to select “Exact” since it defaults to “Broad” searches which won't be as helpful.)  Also remember to put a link to your website (if you have one) in the description.   That will help your website's traffic and link juice.  Also chances are people are going to check your website before contributing.

UPDATE: Google has shutdown the Google Keyword Tool and moved to a new more comprehensive tool, the Google Keyword Planner.

6. Use beautiful PICTURES, a lot

Using beautiful and eye-catching pictures will help keep people on your Kickstarter page.  If they are on the page longer, they are more likely to contribute money.  Remember that the cover image for the Kickstarter project is important to draw people to the page as well.  It should be distinctive and stand out from the crowd.  If you don't take good pictures find someone who is good with cameras help you.

7. VIDEOS sell, so use Vimeo

Videos are a great way to tell the world your story of why you need money.  For instance, a lot of indie film projects put-up trailers so you can get an idea of what the movie will be like.   If you are going to put up a video, make sure to use Vimeo and not Youtbe.  It makes me crazy when I am watching a Youtube video and it freezes!  (This happens even on fast internet connections since Youtube's bandwidth and servers seems to get overloaded during certain times of the day.)  That should definitely not happen on your Kickstarter page since people are impatient.  Vimeo has better video quality and rarely freezes.  That's why lots of startups use Vimeo nowadays instead of Youtube.  Remember you are not focusing on Youtube views, you need to focus on quality and getting people to give you money.  Vimeo even has a nice Video School so you can learn about good techniques for making videos.  By the way, don't feel like you need expensive cameras or equipment.  My Sony HD Handycam, which cost $500, shoots in full 1080 high definition and is great for making short internet videos.

8. GIVEAWAY stuff or something

Successful Kickstarter campaigns giveaway stuff or something.  For instance if you are a band and need money to rent a studio, then mailing the album once it is completed to someone who contributed $50 is a logical thing to do.  If you don't have stuff to giveaway, you could just post the person's name on a Donor List or something like that.  You don't need to offer the world but offering something is important.  People are much more likely to contribute to a Kickstarter project if they feel they got their money's worth.

9. DON'T use Kickstarter!

What? How does that make sense?  While Kickstarter is quite popular and has a ton of traffic, that is double-edged sword.  Your Kickstarter campaign could get a lot of traffic but more likely it will get drowned out by the all the other campaigns vying for people's attention.  It is estimated that only 32% of Kickstarter projects get funded.  You might want to try IndieGoGo which is another popular crowdfunding platform and came before Kickstarter.  The nice thing about IndieGoGo is it has flexible funding option, which means if you don't reach your funding goal, you still get some money.  IndieGoGo is also catered more toward non-profits.  Crowdrise, GiveForward, etc are good options if you are a non-profit.  There are also other crowdfunding alternatives which cater to specific needs or groups.  These might be a better fit depending on your project and fundraising goals.

Successful Kickstarter Campaign

I hope these tips help make a successful Kickstarter campaign or IndieGoGo, Crowdrise, etc for whatever you want to raise funds for.  If you have any tips that you would like to add, please let me know and leave a comment below.

Know someone who wants to crowdfund their next project or big idea?  Please share this article with them before they start it so they have a successfully funded project.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!