Blocking Sites On Google No Longer Works

Blocking sites from showing up in the Google search results no longer works.

First reports came a week or so ago via Google Web Search Help where Googler, Kousha, said that “this was a known issue a while back.” Well, it still seems to be an issue.

I tried to replicate it and I was able to two different ways.

(1) First, when you click on a search result and then click back, Google is suppose to show you an option to block the result from showing up in the future. That did not come up for me this morning.

(2) Second, when the first option did not work, I went directly to blocked sites search setting, added http://www.proflowers.com to the list and waited a minute or two.

Google blocked site

I then searched for [flowers] and the first result was http://www.proflowers.com:

flowers in Google

Earlier this year, Google had a bug where you were unable to unblock blocked sites – that does work but you can no longer block sites in Google.

Forum discussion at Google Web Search Help.

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Social PR Tips to Get Fit for 2013 Digital Marketing

f you’re in the digital marketing world you know the keyword drill – visual, social, mobile, local, and content marketing. They’re the vitamins, nutrients, cardio, weightlifting and supplements that brands need to stay healthy, vital, and in shape. get-fit-button

2013 marks the year fit brands of all sizes can win the war against the competition and the race to gain or maintain a customer relationship.

The gimmicky yo-yo-SEO days are over – that was so last decade. Today’s healthy brands are doing press releases because they’re newsworthy, attracting links as a result of good content, and collaborating between all departments, including creative, public relations, digital marketing, advertising, and customer service.

Build a Community, Think Different

The traditional business model is changing thanks to social media communities and social conversations. Digital marketing experts report that the majority of a company’s sales cycle today happens without a company’s participation; brands and agencies that “get it” will survive.

“Small businesses all the way to the enterprise level should think entrepreneurial,” Copyblogger CEO Brian Clark shared at BlueGlassX 2012. “In order to appear on the customer’s radar early and expand marketshare, brands must shift the mindset to become media producers and think like an editorial team whether it is content, social or search.”

So how do you create a relationship with your audience before the sales cycle starts? Digital marketers chimed in offering tips on how smart brands can gain market share (and muscle share) by leveraging the best practices of content marketing and thinking like a media company.

Social PR Dos

  • Find ways to get in the social and mobile newsfeed. More organic visibility equals more publicity. “If you want to grow your social presence, and right now let’s admit that means Facebook, you have to find ways to get around the limits that Facebook is putting on organic visibility for your posts. Sure you can pay to show up in your fans’ newsfeeds, but you have to get creative to show up to a large percentage of your fans without paying. Right now that means images!” said Rob Woods, director of marketing, Reinvent.
  • Go visual by using pictures your audience can identify with! But they don’t need to be, and in most cases shouldn’t be, directly related to your brand. Woods offers this tip: Make the images 403 pixels wide by 271 pixels high. That’s the best size to look great on the web and on mobile.
  • Dial into local mobile search. “The biggest under the radar opportunity for local brands in 2013 is the explosion happening right now in local mobile search. Smartphones are now the fastest spreading technology in human history, and – as Mary Meeker just reported – 13 percent of all Internet traffic now comes from a mobile device, up from 4 percent just two years ago,” said John Denny, VP Marketing, Advance Digital.
  • Encourage users to “Google” your brand to find you rather than typing in your domain directly. “You still get the visit, but in addition to the visit you are getting a powerful signal to Google that you should rank for terms related to your brand, and you are teaching users to repeat that searching behavior,” Woods said.
  • Think like a magazine. Smart brands will have a chief content officer charged with an agile content marketing plan that includes an editorial calendar, non-promotional types of content, strong visuals, email marketing, and offline advertising.
  • Utilize paid search for positive and negative public relations. Remember that what people are talking about drives search trends on a daily basis. Janel Landis Laravie Founder, Chacka Marketing, offers this social PR tip: Everyone knows that they need to incorporate special offers and promos into their paid search campaigns, but don’t forget about positive and negative PR. If you are in the spotlight for good or bad reasons, utilize paid search to make your response the first result searchers are seeing on the results page and drive traffic to a dedicated page or blog post about it. Bidding on related terms to a recall or a community event will also let you assess just how big of a deal the subject is to your customers, because you will see how many impressions and clicks there actually were on the related keywords.are-facebook-likes-actually-useful
  • Pay to play for social publicity! All Facebook community managers should be familiar with Facebook ads and take advantage of the second degree visibility opportunities advised aimClear’s Manny Rivas. Facebook Page Post ad units are the most underused type of Facebook ad yet are extremely powerful in driving cheap traffic to external sites (like a blog).

Social PR Don’ts

  • Don’t have OCD with what your competition is doing. “Find what’s different about your brand and promote that…it’s going to come across as much more sincere than doing a zombie infographic,” said Julie Joyce, owner and director of operations, Link Fish Media.DuckDuckGo TIME Best Website of 2011
  • Don’t let Google run (or ruin) your life. Google isn’t the only form of digital muscle. There are other sources of protein to build up marketshare strength. Joyce noted that the key is to win the popularity contest on other networks and build out a content marketing system across a multitude of digital channels and platforms.
    • Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter
    • Bing, DuckDuckGo
    • Quora
    • Other quality niche websites
  • Don’t ignore the local SEO opportunity. Brands that understand that local organic search results is a public relations opportunity will win the local marketing race. “The smartphone essentially becomes a local discovery machine, and that fact is driving skyrocketing numbers of local searches. The two dots that many brands have not yet connected is that once people are out and about with an always on internet device, a large part of what they do is related to searching for things around them. Google is increasingly favoring local results in the SERPs that are personalized to the user’s exact geo location. If you are a digital marketer connected in any way to driving results in local markets, you need to begin orienting your brain toward the unique set of local seo best practices that help you rank high in local search results,” noted Denny.
  • Just say no to useless content and get focused! Stop overdoing guest posts on low-trafficked sites and trying to get a giant variety of thin content posted all over the web,” said Joyce. “Start building up content equity on a few great sites.”
    • Focus on writing one great article a month and promoting the article versus focusing on a higher quantity of articles per month but less quality and less promotions.
    • Find authority sites in your niche and ask to do a guest post there, then promote the heck out of it and if it goes well, ask if you can turn it into a series or become a regular columnist.

Get Fit for 2013!

So how can brands get stronger and stay fit in 2013? Bulk up on a healthy content strategy and load up on exercises that help create brand longevity and vitality. Avoid toxic social media influences and unnecessary SEO indulgences.

Forget Rankings: Here Are 6 SEO Metrics That Matter

It would be an understatement to say that the SEO landscape has changed a lot through the years. In just the last two years the changes have been dramatic.

Panda and Penguin top the list as the most visible game-changers, but there is another one that occurred somewhat under the radar – but has been equally dramatic in its impact on SEO.

That change is Search Plus Your World. In a nutshell, Search+ personalizes your search results. Google evaluates your location, brand mentions, your friend’s search history, who is in your social media sphere and even your search history.

Think custom-tailored results.

What that means is you and I could both search for “swine flu” or “tablet” and come up with different results. Each of our respective result pages will be tailored toward those factors I mentioned above.

When the number of searches for those terms multiply into the thousands – now you, as an SEO practitioner, have a problem. A typical client is looking for consistent rankings in the top three spots on a number of key terms. That’s what he’s been trained to expect. He or she is thinking old-school search, and will be sorely disappointed in your results.

What you need to get him to think about are the new-school SEO reports, because Search+ killed normal rankings. What exactly are those new reports? Here are the six you need to pull from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

1. Average Rankings

Obviously Google knew what they were thinking when they developed Search+ from both sides of the equation. They are trying to give the end users the best possible results out there, while giving SEO practitioners, who are on the other side of the equation, the tools they need to stay on top of the game.

This is where the Average Rankings report comes in. Here’s how Google explained it:

google-average-ranking-example

Average Ranking gives you the ability to gauge how many links in Google are being seen across the board. In other words, it’s a weighted measure of all impressions.

Start with this metric because the client, no matter what you tell them, will still want to see ranking reports. You probably won’t be able to break him of that. So, generate an average ranking report and show them how their pages and website is performing overall.

2. Impressions

An impression report used to be the redheaded stepchild of SEO. Who cared about how many times your search query listing appeared? Who cared about eyeballs? What you want is action – people clicking through to the site.

So in the old days of Internet marketing you’d use impression against click-through rate to develop a conversion ratio. That was something you could visibly improve upon.

Well, now that we’re in the world of Search+ it’s again important to know how many eyeballs there are on a comparative search term. You can’t work the white hat tactics anymore and nab number one, so now you need to know who is seeing what, where and how often.

What you really want to know is if your page is even showing up for your keywords. And where.

But impressions probably don’t mean what you think it means. And this is critical if you want precise tracking. See, Google looks at two things when it comes to impressions.

For example, if you do a non-personalized search on Google with “Search Engine Watch,” this is what you will get:

search-engine-watch-google-sitelinks-non-personalized

Google displays seven possible URLs you could click on. But don’t count that as seven separate impressions. What you see above is one impression.

Here’s where it gets tricky: a hit on one of the sitelinks equals a hit to the top level domain. When people are clicking through to a page from a search query listing you might see an inflation of your top-level domain hits. So, if you want to deliver accurate reports, make the necessary adjustments.

However, if on the same page you have two different listings (your root and an interior page), then these listings will count as two separate impressions.

3. Visitor Growth

visitor-growth-graph-google-analytics

The next report you need to train your client to love is the visitor growth report in Google Analytics. It’s a baseline growth metric. What I like about this report is its simplicity: the trend shoud be going up. If it’s doing that, then you’re succeeding. If it is flat-lined or going down, you’re failing.

The other thing about this report your client might like is that you can calculate expected qualified leads from traffic – or your reach.

It’s necessary to report accurately by separating the new visitors and the repeat because that will impact your reports. For example, pulling in repeat visitors is a good sign that your content is compelling. If the ratio is skewed to new visitors, however, you might be delivering good headlines, but not substantial content.

4. Conversions

campaign-conversions-google-analytics

A conversion is what happens when somebody successfully completes a goal you’ve created in Google Analytics. These goals include things like buying or subscribing on a landing page.

This report will help your client see how those impressions that lead to visitors are actually turning into profit. This is also how to evaluate ads, copy and keywords. Are they working together? Can you isolate the weak link? Where are people leaving your site in your sales cycle? Conversion goals will help you decide.

This report is all about conversion, and that is decided on two measurements:

  • One-per-click: A one-click conversion means you’re measuring a single action like signing up for a newsletter or downloading a report. A conversion equals someone successfully performing your goal. Your ratio is simple: impressions versus conversions.
  • Many-per-click: Sometimes you have goals that don’t end with a single action – like when you’re trying to measure the path an agent takes through your purchase path. This will demand you use a many-per-click measurement.

5. Exact Match

adwords-keywords-google-analytics-exact-match

If you take a peek at the Google Analytics exact match you’ll notice that it looks a lot like the PPC exact match: you’re targeting a specific URL, and will only get reports delivered on that particular URL.

Who should care about this? Established businesses that are going through a rebrand (you’ll want to avoid domains with keywords and focus on your brand name, which is what people will search for). Or even new businesses where local search (establishing the city name in the URL) is a key part of your SEO strategy.

This is important because you can narrow your efforts to one very precise URL – and eliminating any confusion that might come up from similar URLs. Say you’re targeting /purchase-chickens. Google Analytics will ignore all variables that might fall under that variable (/purchase-chickens.html for example. If you want to measure that URL, then create a separate goal).

6. Regular Expressions Match

I like to view regular expressions match as an extension of exact match because it allows you to bring under one umbrella similar goals. Using our example from above, inside Google Analytics identify your regular expression match by typing in “^/purchase-chickens”. In essence, you’re telling Google Analytics to hunt down metrics on any page within that family of URLs: /purchase-chickens.html, /purchase-chickens/blog and so on.

What you won’t see are URLs with those keywords, but flopped: blog/purchase-chicken or subscribe/purchase-chicken (you can find that data, however, by using the $ symbol instead of the ^ symbol).

Conclusion

Being a metrics rock star is definitely a requirement in this new world of SEO rules where the landscape is changing daily and c-level executives are demanding more and more accountability when it comes to your SEO endeavors.

In other words, you have to validate your work.

But that’s always been the case, really. Yet, now, validating your work is getting easier when you know the right metrics to share – and how to explain them to your client or boss.

Armed with these new tools you can explain how high rankings alone are not enough (or even the most important factor) when it comes to search. You can tell them that conversion is what counts. And you know how to increase their conversion.