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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - November 2009

Welcome to the latest monthly issue of our regular newsletter covering web search and marketing news, trends and advice.

This month's edition looks at the new deal that Twitter has signed with Microsoft and Google to incorporate its 'real time' feeds into their search engine results. We also review Google's recent launch of Place Pages for Google Maps which gives much more comprehensive information about a location. Finally this month, we consider the new Intelligence tool and other enhanced features that Google has added to their Analytics service.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered. If you'd also like to keep up with the latest developments during the month, don't forget our web marketing blog - we've included a summary of some recent stories from the past month at the end of this newsletter. You can also now follow us for regular updates on Twitter.

On to this month's edition...

Twitter signs deals with Microsoft & Google

As the popular "micro-blogging" service Twitter continues to grow its user base at a rapid rate, the main search engines have now recognised the need to provide "real time" search results from this service. During October both Bing and Google announced new ways of providing their users with access to the information being posted on Twitter.

On October 21st Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, announced that it had made a deal with Twitter to include their "Tweets" in its search results and released its "Bing Twitter" search engine. That same day, Google announced that its inclusion of the real time messages into its index would be coming out soon, although there was a feeling that this announcement was rushed out as plans for Google's own "Twitter search engine" or some form of more general real time search engine were less specific.

Microsoft's version of Bing Twitter is only currently available when the searchable locale is set to the US, but undoubtedly more international versions will be available soon. There is also a slight delay in displaying the "Tweets", which are 2 minutes old on Bing, when compared to Twitter's own search facility that displays them within 30 seconds. This, according to Microsoft, is due to "trying to remove duplicates, filter out adult content and do some other processing", the speed of which it hopes to improve shortly, as the Beta version has only just begun to run live.

This acknowledgement by the two prominent search engine companies of the importance of this more up-to-date socially-based information being made available to users will provide a great leap forward in the mainstream awareness and demand for fresh searchable networking information on the Internet. Although Microsoft and Google are both coming slightly late to real-time Twitter search - as there are already companies such as OneRiot, Crowdeye and Collecta that provide feeds from Twitter, as well as a Firefox plugin that displays Twitter results above Google's main results it is a notable move and one that may add more functionality to a search of this type of information.

Also at the end of October, Google announced that "Google Social Search" would be coming soon. This service was in development before the Twitter deal was announced and is unrelated, as social search provides 'trusted' search results, which is only applicable to users who are logged in via their Google account. When a user searches, Google will identify the people you trust, then ensures that you see relevant content from them showing up in your search results, such as reviews or other comments.

Back at Bing, their "Social Search Team" have also indicated that there will be a Bing powered Facebook search engine soon also, which is likely to be incorporated with the Twitter one, into an all-encompassing social-search engine. It seems that both of these search engines are now competing to trump each other with new services and announcements, which can only be a good thing for the web user!

To find out more about the new Twitter Search and Social Search tools from Google and Bing and what they could mean for your business please contact us now.

 

Google launches Place Pages for Google Maps

Google recently announced that they have added increased functionality to their Maps service, in the form of Place Pages. These pages now supplement the location details about a place with information on businesses, points of interest, transit stations, neighbourhoods, landmarks and cities all over the world.

According to Google, the new Place Pages "allows a viewer to now see all the information about one place in one place". Users can access a Place Page by clicking on "more info" in the Google Maps search results, or by clicking "more info" in the mini-bubble that appears over the map image. This enables you to get much more information about a place, including photos, videos, a StreetView preview, nearby transit stops, reviews and related websites. The information is aggregated information from places such as Citysearch, as well as other local review sources and should be a great tool for searchers, as well as local businesses to promote their services.

This new layout also benefits business listings, with more information being provided about the location and company, including details provided by the business owner, images and reviews from customers. There is a wider and longer new layout to the Maps results and major prominence is now being given to a link titled "edit this place," which draws a new level of attention to the fact that Google views Maps as an editable, Wiki-like entity. Like Wikipedia though, this may at some time in the future raise doubts as to the reliability of some of the data within Place Pages particularly the reviews.

The new pages are useful if you're searching for more than just an address, and they make Google Map searches more like browsing a travel guide using than a search tool. However, they impact your ability to quickly and easily compare the search results, because Google Maps has changed the behaviour of the "more info" links in search results, resulting in a more detailed view of individual listings, rather than numerous ones for the one location that can allow comparisons and selections to be made.

The new behaviour works well for destinations, but not so well if you're trying to compare business listing results, since you need to keep hitting the back button to get back to the list of results. While Place Pages are quite useful for more in-depth detail and personalised reviews, losing the old version of the "more info" link was a bad decision and hopefully one Google will correct in the future.

Contact us if you'd like more information about Google Maps and how to add or update your business listing through Google's Local Business Center.

 

Google Analytics introduces new Intelligence

In our continuing series on the most useful functions within Google Analytics, this month we review some of the new features that Google has just announced, including more comprehensive reporting capabilities, greater customisation options and a new "intelligence engine" that it says "can help search marketers drive smarter data insights".

The most significant of these new features is the "Analytics Intelligence" that is designed to "provide automatic alerts of significant changes in the data patterns of your site metrics and dimensions over daily, weekly and monthly periods". For example, Intelligence could alert you about a large surge in visits from a particular referrals site last Thursday or let you know that bounce rates of visitors from Queensland increased by 80% a week ago.

The idea of this feature is to save time delving through statistics to discover erratic patterns of behaviour and instead, use this time more constructively by determining what needs to be done to resolve the issues highlighted by the alerts.

Other features of Analytics' new "intelligence engine" include the ability to define alert sensitivity and to create custom alerts. These custom alerts give the option to compare the same day to that in the previous week and highlight any chosen custom discrepancies on a week-to-week basis. This should prove to be a very useful addition.

The other features that Google has recently added to Analytics are:

Although this expanded functionality of Analytics will undoubted improve its reporting capabilities, the most necessary element in making its information valuable will remain the human-being who correctly interprets and takes action upon the resulting data!

If you'd like to know more about how the new Intelligence function, or how Google Analytics could be used to enhance your website's performance, please contact us for further information.

 

Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular web marketing blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:

 

We hope you've found this month's issue useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.