What we searched for in 2013

Google has shared what we searched for in 2013, especially useful if like me you have a short memory.

Among the highlights – the royal baby – equal marriage – Pope Francis – the death of Paul Walker – Nelson Mandela.

Funny how a year can be condensed into 1 minute and 31 seconds.

61 languages being spoken on Twitter

This infographic shares insight into the range of languages being spoken on Twitter, together with data on the most popular social networks putting Twitter in fourth place behind Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. Languages spoken on Twitter

Creating content that Google search will love

So many people still believe with the web that build and they will come, they wont. Build with great quality content, they might. Build with great quality content promoted via an integrated search, social and email strategy then you are more sure of success.

This is a great infographic that shows that investing in original quality content is essential for SEO and how ‘social is SEO and content is social’.

It also includes a great quote from Google’s Matt Cutts ‘Try and make your site so fantastic you become an authority in your niche’. A goal that should become all of ours mantra if we want to be successful in this space.

Why content is so important for SEO

Christopher Wellbelove

What happens in 60 seconds on the internet

This infographic shows what happens in 60 seconds on some of the most popular domains/apps. Some stand out stats include the fact that in 60 seconds there are 278 thousand tweets, 20 million photo views on flickr, 2 million searches on Google and 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube. Rising social stars such SnapChat and Pinterest feature as well with 104 thousand photos shared on SnapChat and 11,000 active users on Pinterest.

What happens in 60 seconds on the internet

Christopher Wellbelove

Winning elections on-line

The US elections are continuing to demonstrate how the internet is playing an increasingly important role in engaging with voters. Research in the US has shown that 7% of on-line searchers may change their votes. In a close election what political parties do on-line could make the difference between winning and losing.

Democrat Barrack Obama has been heralded as changing the future of political campaigning. Michael Cheney, from the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, who studies online campaigning says that Barack Obama elevated the Internet’s social reach from novelty to necessity after Obama used it to build online grassroots support that helped fuel his rapid rise. Cheney believes that the use of social media has to be part of campaigns in the future and that candidates who don’t use this model aren’t going to be as succesful.

Google recognises this and has appointed a ‘head of elections and issues advocacy’ as sales of sponsored links go through the roof. For Google this is a huge opportunity to make money, for politicians looking for votes pay-per-click advertising is an easy way to reach potential voters.

It is no longer sufficient to build a website and upload press releases about how good you are and how terrible the opposition is. Messages have to cross multiple platforms in multiple formats. Supporters need to monitor and respond to discussions on-line. Candidates need to be taught not to be phased by the on-line chatter which could be disproportionally influenced by opponents who utilise the power of social networks such as Facebook and the many elections forums that grow in the run up to polling day.

Campaign strategist, plotting the progress of their campaign, need to use services such as Hitwise, to monitor traffic and searches for political websites which can give an indication of who is gaining ground in a campaign and the subject matters that the electorate are most interested in.

In the UK by the next general elections, and london local government elections in 2010, the internet will play a bigger part than ever before. And especially where the vote is close an election really could be won (or lost) on-line.

Unleashing the power of wikipedia

Powerset is a powerful search engine for Wikipedia. Once used I would argue that you will never want to go back to the in-site search on the Wikipedia site again.

This is how Powerset describes itself and what it does:

‘Powerset’s goal is to change the way people interact with technology by enabling computers to understand our language. While this is a difficult challenge, we believe that now is the right time to begin the journey. Powerset is first applying its natural language processing to search, aiming to improve the way we find information by unlocking the meaning encoded in ordinary human language.

Powerset’s first product is a search and discovery experience for Wikipedia, launched in May 2008. Powerset’s technology improves the entire search process. In the search box, you can express yourself in keywords, phrases, or simple questions. On the search results page, Powerset gives more accurate results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles. Finally, Powerset’s technology follows you into enhanced Wikipedia articles, giving you a better way to quickly digest and navigate content.’

Great features

Especially useful is the ‘article outline’ that appears when you are within the article and floats down the page as you scroll. Within this you can click links and jump straight to the section you select.

The results are excellent, reacting to your search keywords or question showing you the title together with an extract including highlights of the words that match your search. If there are lots of results you can further drill into the results around particular words, with these results rendering within the same page so there is no need to wait for the page to reload with new results.

As a regular user of Wikipedia for research Powerset has now been added to my Flock search bar.

I have discovered that Powerset has been purchased by microsoft so it will be interesting to see how this technology is incorporated into Live Search.

Creating a site map for Google

With more and more people finding sites through search engines it is essential that your site is search engine friendly. One way you can improve your ‘relationship’ with search engines is the creation of a Google sitemap.

Google sitemaps help Google to crawl your site, telling it where all your interesting content is, which done properly can help improve search ranks and provide you with useful insight into how people are finding your site.

A Google sitemap is different from the sitemap you may have on your web site. A Google sitemap is an ‘XML’ file placed where your site is hosted for use by a search engine crawler rather than a human user of your site. Using the sitemaps does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

To tell Google where your sitemap is you will need a Google account where you will then get access to Googles webmaster tools. Creating an account is easy and free.

To add a sitemap to Google you first have to prove you are the owner of the website. You do this by placing a file on your site which Google then uses as proof the site is yours and that you are authorised to view statistics about it.

There are several tools available to create site maps. G Sitemaps is free without restriction. I haven’t used it extensively however it seems to do the job on first look.

Google’s advice on producing sitemaps for a large site

‘You can provide multiple Sitemap files, but each Sitemap file that you provide must have no more than 50,000 URLs and must be no larger than 10MB when uncompressed. These limits help to ensure that your web server does not get bogged down serving very large files.

If you want to list more than 50,000 URLs, you must create multiple Sitemap files. If you anticipate your Sitemap growing beyond 50,000 URLs or 10MB, you should consider creating multiple Sitemap files. If you do provide multiple Sitemaps, you can list them in a Sitemap index file. A Sitemap index file can list up to 1,000 Sitemaps.’

Video Sitemaps

If your site has video the content is hidden from the search engine except for what you write about it within the page. To improve your listing of video content and get your content listed in Google video search you need to create a video site map.

Here is an example, provided by Google, of what a video sitemap would look like.

Here is a sample of a Video Sitemap entry using Video-specific tags:

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
        xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.0">
<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/video123.flv</video:content_loc>
      <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes">http://www.site.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc>
      <video:title>My funny video</video:title>
      <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.site.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>
   </video:video>
</url>

<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_other_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/videos/video1.mpg</video:content_loc>
      <video:description>A really awesome video</video:description>
   </video:video>
</url>
</urlset>