Search Engine Homepage Content Olympiads

Google and Yahoo have always been on different paths in the quest for being king of the hill among search engines. But as I went to each site looking for Olympic updates & information, I noticed a glaringly obvious difference between the Gold & the Bronze when it came to their homepage content strategy for the 2012 London Games.  As the two giants regularly tussle for domination of their sectors, is the competition fierce for the web visitors and advertising dollars during the games?  As it’s been pointed out on several occasions, Yahoo has (or “is” based on opinion) a big branded advertising business and isn’t shy about it. Google is all search – you get no advertising on its homepage whatsoever.  One could say that Yahoo’s homepage creates a schizophrenic type atmosphere and Google chooses to reflect why people go to any search engine at all – to simply search. Each has a diametrical perspective; which may or may not be shared by minimalistic loving web surfers or those who want to know everything every moment of every day.

Now it may just simply be “tomato v. tomahto” – all up to the users choice of flavor. Let’s see where these two rivals stand on the content podium for the 2012 Olympic Games looking at just this one, but VERY TELLING facet – the homepage. For this year’s Olympics, you can almost see the tumbleweed across Google’s homepage with nothing more than a clip-artish image above its unapologetic, simplistic search box. Whereas Yahoo completely capitalizes on the opportunity to lavish (and possibly overwhelm) you with up-to-the-minute stats on what sport is broadcasting, which country is leading in medals, and all note & news-worthy headlines from every vantage point of this historical event.
Could it be that the choice of a clip-artish image was a passive-aggressive “thumbing of the nose” at Yahoo’s voracious need for your attention?  If so, Google gets benched on the therapy couch for this one…lol.  But before they end up neck and neck for your search engine loyalty, what finds them at the same starting line is the intent of the user.  If one chooses to be in the know, then Yahoo wins hands-down because it is in part what they do best.  Yahoo hand-holds you every day, all day- showing you what’s hot (and not) and postings about every media event worldwide. They actually look to be a strategic partner with both their advertisers and users alike. So you are ALWAYS in the loop, whether you want to be or not when just searching for let’s say a great vinaigrette recipe.

Die-hard Google fans will say that their fearless leader displays a search engine decorum truly lacking in their competitor and that if people want news, the can get news BUT only when they ask for news.  They provide a discriminating à la carte rather than a force feeding approach. At the end of the day, Yahoo hands down is a true entertainment portal capable of satisfying various entertainment and leisure users.  For better or for worst, Google isn’t trying to be an entertainment portal, so it doesn’t even come close to competing with Yahoo in this regard.

So as far as the 2012 Search Engine Homepage Olympics are concerned, Yahoo’s neck is a little more laden than its competitor. Now I know that Goolge lovers might say that “everything that glitters isn’t gold”…Well I guess you’re not Yahoo then are you?  LOL.

Blogging: Why Your Small Business Needs It

Hand writing in cloudsOur last 4 prospective client requests for websites all had questions about blogs. I personally was pleased because there seems to be a growing conscientious to how effective blogging is to not only your site’s SEO but to your business’s brand. There’s a few things I want to talk about like transparency, effectiveness, analytics, and search engine optimization. Now I know there are many blog platforms out there, but for me a self hosted WordPress site offers so many options and features and the learning curve is fantastic to pick up and go.

The Reach: Taking some time out each week to write a post or two can really help drive some numbers to your website. Mainly because WordPress and search engines get along really well, but also because blogging creates fresh new content on your website where a traditional website may only see new content once a quarter. Even what could be seen as a low-interest website like stamp collecting could achieve visits by the thousands each week based on what they talk about and how. Never limit your business products or services to just what you think may be a small target audience. This is the internet we’re talking about here, millions of people are on throughout the day and night. There’s bound to be hundreds of thousands who share your views and can appreciate your opinions and opposition to a subject matter.

Engage, Engage, Engage: Consider other blogger’s and sites that talk about what you do and comment on their posts. Not so much to try to drive away readers, but to bring up valid points that may have been missed, or a little bit of controversy. We all like drama, and some of the hottest posts aren’t in the original article but in the comments where readers go back and forth trying to one up each other or drive home a point. You’d also be surprised at all the places you post, and who may want to view your blog entries to see if you know what you yourself are talking about.

Crowd-sourcing and Feedback: Without full-out asking for it, blogging can be a way to get great customer feedback. Consider a competitor of yours recently launched a new product. At first it seems like a great idea and may be a great product to those that need it. But what if it has a major flaw or is missing something vital that one of your products has and your clients appreciate much more than your competitors? Well after writing a post about it comparing the two products, you can see how your visitor weigh in with their comments. Of course your post won’t be written in a way to seem like your bashing. We’re not trying to be e-thugs, but a tasteful comparison could lead to better R&D for your brand, even when there isn’t competition.

Search Engines: I wonder when we’ll stop calling them search engines and just refer to Google instead. Google’s algorithms are still quite unknown, but what is known is how well an unknown website can pop-up as a number 1 or 3 organic result for a subject matter. Regardless of what the site looks like, and more so on how relevant the content is to the string of keywords used in a user’s search. With a static HTML site, you’d have to embed keywords, a page description, and some meta-tags to your page’s code. Not to mention the on-page keyword usage and image ALT tags you’d have to remember to include. With WordPress all of that is mostly taken into consideration. When adding an image to a post you easily have the options to put captions and alternate text messages for your images and graphics. You have a categories and tags box to check off and type in your keywords and associated post categories. It all really makes for an effortless optimization.

Overall Effectiveness: If you’re a small business who thinks that no one out there is interested in reading about what you have to say, let me tell you that you’re wrong. Even for the stamp collector, there is plenty to say that people are looking for. Imagine if you were the only blog out there talking about the history of some stamps, or hidden facts about some designs for stamps, or maybe even ways to save money on postage that most people wouldn’t know. I’m not a stamp collector but show me how to save money on postage and I’ll be all over it, and share it with my friends who may share it with their friends. One because its easy to read and share both on computers and mobile devices, and Two because it offers an audience I normally wouldn’t be able to reach on my own through traditional marketing. When I first started blogging late last year, I posted once a month (maybe) and I had traffic to my blog at about 25-50 people a month. Now I have a team of 2 other (3 soon) bloggers and we each post a different subject article once a week. In the past 30 days we’ve had almost 1500 visits (Google Analytics).

I hope that this clears some uncertainty on why you should get blogging NOW! For those of you that already do, add your pointers in the comments below. We can all learn something to be more effective!