Google Shopping

It seems that Google is at it again; the leading search engine knows exactly how to stay ahead of the competition; to be constantly improving. Google is constantly renovating and face-lifting each division before the competition has even caught up.

Google’s newest improvement is in their Google Shopping section, where they will be selling Product Listing Ads to merchants looking to promote their products in a more detailed and favorable light. Not only will this change provide an additional income stream for Google, but merchants will be motivated to keep their ads more up to date; with accurate purchasing information, any recent offers and product availability, since they will be paying for the spot. The program has been in the testing stage since last fall, already racking up about 50 online merchants and more than 10 million orders, but the full transition won’t be complete until fall 2012.

One of the features that is available immediately, however, is Google’s Trusted Store badge, which assigns report card style grades on each merchant’s shipping and service. This new section of Google Shopping can help customers feel confident in their online shopping experience. The “badge,” as Google calls it, is only awarded to the exceptional online stores that deliver a great overall experience to their customers. These merchants typically ship quickly and reliably, offer exceptional customer service and are trustworthy and reputable to work with. Another great feature is that you can also opt in to get up to $1,000 lifetime purchase protection per shopper, giving you access to Google’s diligent customer service team to help resolve any product issues you may run into.

One of the biggest questions companies have for Google is, “how will organic web results be affected by this transition?” Google assures its clients and customers that Google Shopping will not constitute a reversal on its paid inclusion policy. Google said in a statement that, “paid inclusion has historically been used to describe results that the website owner paid to place, but which were not labeled differently from organic search results.” Google guarantees that there is a difference between Google Shopping results—which must be paid for by merchants—and their organic search results, which companies have worked hard at achieving.

While this is great news for companies that have hired austin search engine optimization companies, who have implemented a successful SEO campaign, Google is showing a reversal in their views on how Google Shopping should operate. Just eight short years ago when the product categories were first introduced, Google stated that their free listing of results would provide users with relevant and unbiased search results. Allowing merchants to buy placement goes against their original concept and objectives for Google Shopping.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Google’s Driverless Car

We’ve all seen the futuristic movies with flying cars that can pilot themselves. Now, Google, one of the largest technology companies in the world, is helping us get one step closer to making this car a reality. That’s right; Google’s self-driving car got its license in late April, making the state of Nevada the first in the nation to license the vehicles.

The self-driving cars use sensors to watch traffic from vehicles, pedestrians and even unexpected obstacles. These cars combine GPS tracking, radar and wheel motion sensors, and while most of these features can be found on a regular, newer vehicle, Google has added special technology and software which allows the car to read street signals and actually drive itself without assistance. Google has chosen to modify the already environmentally-conscious Toyota Prius, but is still in the testing stages. While the technology will surely advance in the next few years, the “self-driving” car isn’t quite 100% automatic quite yet. The responsibility of driving safely will still fall on the human operator, meaning you can’t sit back and nap or catch up on work. Human drivers will still be required to be the eyes of the vehicle, to guarantee their safety.

Google has been showing off its testing with an engineer in the driver’s seat, since he can take over control of the car at any time just by grabbing the steering wheel. The car does show that it can sense disorderly and even dangerous movements of both cars and pedestrians and can adapt fairly easily. Once perfected, however, the Google Car will offer some solutions to our current distracted and dangerous driving problems. This is great news for traffic enforcement, because over 30,000 people are killed each year in crashes, the majority of which are due to human-driver error. While self-driven vehicles may sound like a godsend to those of us with long commutes and late-night drives, Google still has all of Capitol Hill to convince, and that’s exactly what they plan on doing.

Google has been taking its message to regulators, industry groups and tech enthusiasts to find support for their newest creation. They’ve been targeting groups like the AARP and the American Council of the Blind, whose members would greatly benefit from the driver assistance. Google even released a video featuring a blind traveler being escorted through a fast food drive-thru. While many people agree that the technology is still in its earlier years, Google seems to have every intention of seeing it through to completion. As one of the top austin search engine optimization companies, ArteWorks follows Google’s newest products and services. For more up to date information on Google and search engine optimization, visit us at ArteWorks.biz.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Reputation Management and Search Engine Optimization

Every successful company understands the importance of reputation. People buy based on an expectation of quality and service. If your reputation takes a hit, you can bet that your sales will feel the pain. Unfortunately, for some companies, their reputation can be damaged through slanderous or untrue statements, and rebuilding their image can take months or even years.

While reputation management is not a new concept for companies, many companies are realizing that the internet has made their clean-up efforts more difficult. One negative incident among years of dedicated service can nearly take a company down, especially in a rough economy, where competitors are watching your every move. For this reason, many SEO companies can help you clean up your online reputation, by highlighting your years of quality service and reviews.

Strike While you’re Hot – It’s important to get started as soon as your online reputation has taken a hit, because you will undoubtedly be releasing your own press releases regarding the negative accusations. Embedding links in these press releases will help highlight your response to the negative incident, and how your company plans on handling it. Most consumers are forgiving with a company’s mistake, as long as they take responsibility for the damage and move forward to correct it.

Keyword selection is key – Selecting the right keywords is the most important factor in repairing an online reputation. Even if your company is using a reputable search engine optimization company and highlighting select keywords, you will need to readjust your strategy. Since the negative press is most likely popping up when consumers search your company or brand name, those are the keywords that you need to focus on. Your SEO Company’s goal will be to continue driving brand-friendly hits up, while pushing the negative press down.

Build Up and Push Down – Link building is extremely important to clear up your reputation, since your negative press has already pushed itself to the top of your company’s results. Your SEO Company should be continuing with the positive SEO, while minimizing the negative. It’s important that your website and blog are being constantly updated, especially if you are in the works of correcting any harm. Another great way your search engine optimization company can build links is to go to the source of the negative press and ask them to include updates of your press release and the steps your company will be taking to remedy the situation.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

What is Negative SEO?

Search Engine Optimization has quickly become of the best ways for a company to advertise online. Any good SEO company will tell you that an effective campaign will take a few months to get going, since long-term results comes only from organic methods. While it takes a good amount of work to climb the Google rankings, your competitors may be sabotaging you with their “negative SEO” techniques. While spiteful companies have taken it upon themselves to attempt to destroy your rankings, Google is learning how to combat this kind of sabotage.

So how, exactly, can other companies impact your company’s rankings? Since Google rolled out their newest “Penguin” algorithm in April, they have been focusing heavily on websites that use spammy sources of links. Many SEO companies have agreed that this algorithm will make it easier for companies to sabotage your rankings, since they can easily engage in these “spammy” activities masked as your company. Here are a few other tactics that may be used as negative SEO:

  • Duplicate website or blog content and distribution. Any good SEO company will provide you with fresh, original content, so any stolen content can harm your standing.
  • Optimizing negative words. Most companies want to optimize key phrases like “best Austin TX plastic surgeon,” so one way to negatively impact your SEO efforts is for a competitor to optimize phrases like “worst Austin TX plastic surgeon”
  • Falsifying business reviews Much like a spiteful competitor posting negative business reviews about your company, they can also hurt your ranking by spamming unnatural reviews, such as perfect scores. This makes your company look guilty of illegal self-promotion on consumer review websites.

So how do you know if this is happening to you? The problem right now is that Google cannot determine whether your company has paid for the fault SEO techniques or if you are being actively sabotaged by a competitor. Luckily if you’ve hired an SEO company to perform positive SEO tactics for you, they will already be closely monitoring your rankings and can see the trends starting to emerge. Your SEO company will also notice if you have a spike of negative comments coming in or backlinks coming in from strange places. A good SEO company will help you clean up the negative SEO and get your ranking back on track. They can contact Google and request reconsiderations if the negative SEO has done any damage to your rankings.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Google AdWords for Video

Google didn’t become the number one search engine in the world by staying in one place. It is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies on the planet and in true ‘Google fashion’, they’ve introduced the newest online marketing concept this week; AdWords for Video. Google has teamed up with YouTube, who they purchased in 2006 for a cool $1.65 billion, to create yet another great opportunity for online advertisers.

The concept is simple; AdWords for Video is available to online advertisers who are looking to purchase keywords to promote their videos. The keywords will allow videos to be found during relevant video searches and the companies will pay only for the targeted video ads that people actually view. Not only can they promote their company through AdWords for Video, but they can also gain access to detailed information about how, when and where their ads were viewed, which can give them valuable insight as to where their marketing dollars are being best spent.

The concept was created over two years ago, as the rise of SmartPhones has encouraged a frenzy of advertisers running towards mobile apps and internet videos. YouTube’s Group Product Manager was talking with some of his business-owner friends and recommended that they advertise on YouTube. The thought had never crossed their minds, and they were curious to learn more. Singh headed up the project for the past two years and has found that, on average, “YouTube video ads drive a 20 percent increase in traffic to your website and a 5 percent increase in searches for your business.”

AdWords for Video had a soft launch in September, when the program was first announced to the public and has been in beta testing with a select few advertisers. Now AdWords for Video is having its official launch and Google has even appointed nine business ambassadors to go public with their success stories. The program integrates your company’s video campaign into the AdWords dashboard, which makes AdWords for Video fairly intuitive for regular AdWords users. Google is even giving away $50 million in free Google AdWords advertising to encourage businesses to give it a try. While Google AdWords can be set up and managed by your own company, hiring an experienced SEO company can help maximize your online advertising dollars. A good Austin SEO company will optimize your keywords through a fully integrated campaign, saving your company its valuable time to focus on what it does best.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Black Hat SEO Techniques: Dangerous and Unnecessary

Search Engine Optimization is an interesting and complex method of increasing your Website’s page ranking, visibility and traffic. While most companies are becoming aware of the importance of an effective SEO campaign, they have no idea what to look for in an SEO company. A lot of SEO companies are employing the same techniques, but a reputable and qualified company will never cut corners. “Black Hat” SEO techniques are often used to cut corners and can quickly get you banned from search engines. So how do you know when an SEO company is using “Black Hat” methods versus the more ethical “White Hat” techniques?

Keywords – Keywords are extremely important to any SEO campaign and should be effectively researched and used to optimize your site. Black Hat companies will use your keywords in irrelevant articles, looking for the accidental or unintended clicks. This kind of technique is useless to you, because you are not only looking for traffic, but for pre-qualified leads that are genuinely linking to your product or service.

Content – Black Hat companies will not keep your blog filled with relevant and up-to-date content. Why? White Hat companies know that Copywriters are one of the most important pieces in their SEO mix and will pay them accordingly. Black Hat companies will cut corners, creating spammy and even childish posts, which can slash your company’s credibility and even get you banned from search engines.

Keyword Stuffing – Now that you understand the importance of keywords, it’s easy to see why a company would want to take advantage of its power. Black Hat companies do what is known as “keyword stacking” or “keyword stuffing” where they repeat keywords often in a simple sentence. They may include lines of content saying “Boston Dry Cleaners are the best Dry Cleaners in Boston, everyone that lives in Boston loves using this Dry Cleaner”

Bait and Switch – Otherwise known as “cloaking,” some SEO companies will trick visitors into visiting their site by using keywords that link to unrelated, broken or even harmful sites. They may use a popular keyword like a celebrity’s name who has been in the news, and link it to your site.

Price – One final giveaway of a Black Hat SEO company is a ridiculously low quote for an enormous amount of work. A good Austin SEO campaign can take from six months to a year to get your page rank up. Black Hat SEO companies will make promises they can’t keep, like being ranked #1 in a few weeks or quoting a quick $50 for your entire campaign.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Twitter: Become A Leader With Help From an SEO Firm

Twitter is one of the most unique and interesting social media platforms we’ve seen so far. For many older, more traditional companies, Twitter is just not a concept they can wrap their head around; there are pictures, profiles, hashtags and conversations that look like a completely foreign language. Many companies would much rather discredit the social media giant than recognize its true marketing power. Those companies are making it much easier for their competition to capture and connect with their shared audience.

After the initial culture shock has worn off, many companies are able to see the marketing and branding potential that Twitter offers. The social media site is basically offering you your target market on a silver platter! Not to mention a place ideal for branding, link building, and content sharing. Companies often miss the mark because they think their target market doesn’t use Twitter. Even if your target market is not on Twitter, the major search engines look at your social signals and you should include social media within an SEO strategy. You do not need to make a sale or gain a new client/customer from Twitter. That won’t always be the end goal for every business that uses Twitter. In this case, your goal should be to use Twitter as a means of branding the company and using the social media platform as a way to share information, tips, statistics, news, etc. from your industry.

One of the biggest problems companies have with Twitter is finding followers, since tweeting with no followers is like airing a TV commercial to an empty room. So how do you go from Twitter rookie to Twitter leader in a matter of months? One of the best ways to boost your online presence is to hire a social media and SEO expert. While this may sound costly, you will find that companies can offer many different options to fit your budget. There are quite a few reasons to consider hiring a company to manage your social media accounts:

They don’t call them “experts” for nothing – Think of your favorite baseball player; do they throw a ball better than you? Of course, it’s their job! Just like anything else in life, an expert knows the ins and outs of their field much more than an amateur. They also devote their time to continued learning and staying on top of the latest trends. While you can invest your time and energy learning these tricks, it will be less efficient and your other work could suffer. The truth is that if you are running your business, you will not have the time that a social media or SEO professional has.

Best use of company money – Many companies are always looking to pinch a penny. While this is generally a safe way to keep their budgets in line, many companies don’t realize they’re spending their money incorrectly. Using a salaried employee who excels in their current position to work on social media for one to five hours a week makes no financial sense. It can be especially harmful to your budget when they are still learning the ropes or a bit rusty, since they are much less efficient than someone you can use for less. When you retain a qualified SEO company who offers social media as a part of the strategy, you get an entire team of “social media addicted” professionals working on your behalf.

Division between work and play – If you or your company’s designated social media worker are familiar with these platforms, it’s hard to know when to work and when to play. You’re already spending money on social media, by using an employee’s company time to keep up. It’s even worse when you’re tempting them with a fun social outlet, when their time could be spent elsewhere. While we do agree that having a designated person from within the company to address direct messages or @replys with specific questions/comments/concerns is vital, the day to day social media updating and building of social authority should be left to the search engine optimization company to manage. A qualified firm will not only manage your Twitter account, they should also be on the watch for direct messages and @replys that need to be forwarded for the designated company employee to address.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Why Add Social Media to your SEO Campaign?

Search Engine Optimization, like many technology-based industries, is a constantly growing and changing field. SEO has finally become well-known enough that, while most businesses don’t understand the inner workings, they do recognize its importance. One key branch of effective SEO is a well-managed social media campaign.

Social media is no longer the entry-level branding tool that it once was. As social media companies grow and evolve, they are realizing exactly how important it is to connect both B2B and B2C companies with potential clients and customers. Many platforms have created special pages and functions specifically for businesses only.

Not only does social media work on its own, but it’s becoming more integrated with search engine optimization every day. Search engine ranking algorithms are now including social data and “social signals” as criteria. These search engines use social links to determine relevance, so every time a link is Liked, Re-Tweeted or +1ed it will help improve its ranking. Of course, this is just one small factor in search engine ranking, but one that definitely should not be ignored.

Many companies will get as far as creating the page and adding a few friends, not realizing that they’re missing out on a free advertising and relationship building platform. Many companies that try managing their own campaigns will often start out strong, and then abandon the responsibility after a few short months.

Many other “do-it-yourselfers” don’t understand the importance of a fully integrated SEO campaign and will attempt slowly bouncing from one tactic to the next. Some companies only have a set amount of time to devote to their online marketing campaign, and will therefore commit maybe one week to social media, the next to e-mail marketing and the last to PPC management. While some online presence is better than none, an effective campaign needs all branches; blogging, link building, social media, etc. to be working together to really maximize your exposure and page rank.

So how, exactly, can your social media campaign compliment your current online marketing strategy? Observe your competition. If they are reaching out to their audience through weekly contests, trivia questions and prizes, you may want to do the same. Make sure your SEO Company is posting regularly and consistently, so you don’t lose followers. Lastly, always stay branded. This is another mistake many companies make by not hiring an Austin SEO company; they think any social media interaction is better than none, so they allow multiple employees to manage their campaign. Varying tones and information can confuse your audience, so keep your company’s brand clear.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Keyword Research

One of the first steps in optimizing your website and planning and effective SEO strategy is to conduct thorough keyword research. Many companies are beginning to understand how important and necessary a good strategy is, yet they have no clue how the process begins. The answer is keywords. A keyword or keyword phrase is what a user will enter into the search engine to find the products and services that they desire. Many companies only partially grasp the concept of keywords, and will say something like “I want to be the first site that comes up when you type in the word ‘real estate agency’.” What many companies don’t understand is that an SEO company performs extensive research on which keywords or keyword phrases will benefit your company the most.

While no SEO company should guarantee you the “first ranking” or “top spot” on the search engines as they do not work for or with the major search engines, they can get you to the number one position or very close to the top. Two important concepts when conducting keyword research are search volume and competition. Search volume is important to look at, since the greater the number of people searching for your chosen keyword means the more natural traffic your website will be acquiring. Competitiveness for that particular keyword, however, can make your SEO efforts much more demanding. Business often think that they should be optimized for their business name as opposed to a more general or frequently used keyword. Optimizing for “Example Business Name” will not have as much search volume as “Austin real estate” for example.

So how do you get started on optimizing your website? Your SEO company will begin first with keyword research, where they can determine not only how many local and global searches are conducted on a monthly basis for your potential keywords, but they can also estimate the difficulty of getting your website ranked.

Any good SEO company will be able to get you ranked over the course of time. While competitive keywords can take more time and effort to build your ranking, they are often the keywords that pay off more in the long-run, since the increased traffic will be going to your site versus your competitors. Keyword research is especially important if you have a smaller SEO budget, since you will have less room for error. A larger campaign can benefit from using multiple keywords, and will help expand their visibility.

Once your Austin SEO company has decided which keywords are ideal for your company, they will create an integrated campaign for onpage and offpage SEO that will primarily optimize your keywords while adding a mix of blogging, natural link building and social media management.

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the SEO industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.

Google Play

Google has become synonymous with innovation. They have been estimated to run over a million servers and process over a billion search requests daily. Anyone who knows technology knows that Google is no longer simply the leading search engine. The company offers email service, document trading, a social networking service and even its own web browser. Google took the lead in the development of the Android mobile operating system, one of the only phones that competes with Apple’s constantly upgrading iPhone.

In true Google form, they’re now paving the way on an entirely new project—Google has taken lead on a new digital entertainment destination where you can keep and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps all in one place. Google Play uses cloud computing to store all your entertainment, so you can access it from anywhere at any time. Cloud computing is also a great way of storing your information because you never have to worry about moving your files or losing them, if anything should happen to your computer.

While developers are thrilled to release Google Play, some wanted to go with the name “Google Market” to stay with the Android Market theme and to more accurately describe some of the features it offers. Their position is that “Play” doesn’t convey the fact that Android has created some very innovative enterprise communication tools, which can all be used in a work setting. Google wanted no confusion between their newest offering and Windows Phone Marketplace, which is why they went with “Play” instead.

Google Play will be featured in Google’s black bar, which will attract many more potential customers than Android could alone. In fact, according to StatCounter’s February data, 27.24 of the Web’s pageviews are viewed in Chrome, compared to the 1.93 percent in Android.

So what exactly can you do with Google Play? You can buy close to any kind of music you’d like, with millions of options, as well as store up to 20,000 songs for free. You’re free to browse one of the world’s largest selections of eBooks, download over 450,000 Android apps and games and even rent some of your favorite movies, all in one place. Google has shown an interest in offering movies for sale, but that portion is still in the works.

For those with Android Market, Google eBookstore or Google Music, these will all become Google Play, and the Android Market app will be upgraded on your phones or tablets in the upcoming weeks. Will this have any affect on page rankings and SEO? As a search engine optimization company, we believe every Google creation will have some kind of affect on our business. While the jury is still out on Google Play, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the SEO industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.