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Google has a ton of different tools available inside of the Google interface.  You can check to see all the pages on a single site, you can look through specific title tags, and with the “link:” command you can see links to a particular page or site.

However, this command is by no means the main tool you should use to get backlinks.  There are several holes in this command, and Google themselves advise to take it with a grain of salt.  SEOmoz has a great post about several misconceptions on this command.

So how do you get a decent report on backlinks?  There’s no perfect tool, but the two I’d recommend using are the Google Webmaster Tools and the Yahoo Site Explorer.  Both give a much better amount of information than the “link:” command and can give you a better concept on just what kind of backlinks a site has.  Which, as we all know, is indicative of the quality of SEO for a particular page.

More people are learning about the changes that came with the latest Google AdWords update.  One example that I think is a major one is the update combining Google AdWords with Google Local (also posted on DailySEOTip), but there are a few other changes that are visible.

One of the other changes that I haven’t touched on yet is the adding of the Google Merchant account details to AdWords ads.  This can actually add product listings into your Google AdWords ad.  Videos are also being seen inside ads, as well.

Images of all of these can be found in a post on Search Engine Land.  For a lot of people, the way to take advantage of these are very easy, and are very worthwhile.

Google AdWords has had an update recently, and it now appears you can actually advertise and have your address appear on Google Maps with your ad:

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

Example of AdWords on Google Maps

This involves having Google Local set up (also known as Local Business Center).  If you don’t know how to do this, you can check out my earlier post on putting your business on Google Maps.

Once you have a business account set up and associated with the same address you have on your AdWords account, you can get your ad to show up on Google Maps by editing your Campaign settings and then under Locations, open the “Show relevant addresses with your ads (advanced)” option.

AdWords Campaign Setup

AdWords Campaign Setup

Here the easy way to do it is to choose the first option, which is to select your Google Local Business Center account, which will put your address information into your ad and also put a matching blue “pushpin” on Google Maps for you.

The alternate choice you have (if you don’t have an associated Google Local account set up) is to put in the address and phone number manually, in the second option here.  This will also display this information with your ad.

Keep in mind, the only way this will work is if the keyword that is being searched on is relevant to the locality your address is in.  For example, a city name.  (Just the way Google Maps normally appears in search results.)  If your keywords match this type of query, then your address and phone number will appear with your ad, in addition to a little point on Google Maps.  And this is great news for anyone who does local advertising.

It appears Google and YouTube are starting to put in something new – automated captioning.  This will help a lot for people who are unable to receive the audio for either physical or mechanical reasons.  It’s going to start with English only, but they will be using voice recognition software to turn the audio into legible captions.

There is word that this update may affect SEO, but I have my curiosities about this.  It can only truly affect SEO if the captions are somehow written into the page code.  We can only see if this is the case once this new development in YouTube goes live.  We’ll see how it turns out.

So the Associated Press has stepped up and actually scanned a full book to be available for search (Sarah Palin’s book, to be specific).  The funny thing about this is that they have openly protested Google doing the same thing with story headlines and summaries as going beyond fair use.

Who’s in the right?  Is this something that’s going to blow up in the AP’s… face?  More details from Danny Sullivan here.

So it seems like some security guys have found a few new attacks, posted as image links on blogs.  These posts are engineered to end up on high Google results, but point to malware sites.  It apparently doesn’t work on up to date server software, so keeping your updates current is a good idea.

You can get more details here and here.

So Google made a few major updates this last weekend to AdWords.  I manage several different accounts, so I’ve seen first-hand what kind of impact this has had.

First of all, they updated the AdWords Editor – a great tool, by the way, I highly recommend it.  You can find it here: AdWords Editor.  But yeah, they made a few tweaks, in particular I noticed changes to the Campaigns tab.  You can now affect the ad schedule from here, location changes, so forth.  And if I remember right, the “Keyword Opportunities” option in the Keywords tab is new, as well.  It’s the Google machine offering suggestions on keywords that might be relevant to your ad group.

The other big change I saw was Quality Score.  The Quality Score on a lot of my keywords dropped.  In some cases, heavily.  Google is getting tighter when it comes to looking at relevance between keywords, ads, and landing pages.  In particular, the landing page.  The average QS used to be around 7, you had to be pretty far off to drop much below that.

Well now I’m seeing an average closer to 5, and only very relevant pages are getting 7 or higher.  A page has to be completely relevant and contain a lot of solid info (as well as be on a high quality site) to get a 9 or 10 now.

Not sure how this will affect advertisers, but it may be interesting to watch.  It does mean that I’ll have to be a lot more careful with the quality of pages I point my ads to.  I recommend you do the same.

Google Caffeine is finally going live, apparently after the holidays.  Caffeine is the latest update to the Google algorithm, which makes a few people nervous  They’re starting with a single data center update, but Matt Cutts says they’ll be rolling it out fully by the end of the holidays.

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-caffeine-update/

So last month Matt Cutts posted a blog entry giving away some startling news.  Apparently the “nofollow” tag makes a link still absorb PageRank, but not pass it on.

In the past, most (educated) SEOs used the nofollow tag to adjust PageRank flow.  This was done because using the tag would completely block the link from passing PageRank, and that PageRank was passed on to the other valid links on the page.  This is called PageRank Sculpting.

The way this works is like this: say I have 4 links from a page I run.  The page has 60 “points” of PageRank.  Well, by default, all 4 links each get 15 points.  Before, if I wanted to make some of these links get more points (PageRank Sculpting), I’d add the nofollow tag to links.  So if I nofollow’d one of my 4 links, then the resulting 3 links would now pass on 20 PageRank points, adding more “link juice” to the pages they were pointing to.

From the updates on Google (which, apparently, have been running for over a year), this now is a bit different.  The link that I added the nofollow tag for still absorbs the 15 points, but does not pass this “link juice” on.  So I now have a page with 60 points of PageRank, 3 links get 15 points, and 15 points are lost.

As you might believe, this made many SEOs rather unhappy.  I myself am not thrilled with this news, this now makes me have to rethink/redefine PageRank Sculpting for my own SEO projects.  I know this is going to affect how many SEO’s use their blog comments, as well.  Before, defaulting the blog comments to nofollow meant that all links stayed intact, PageRank points stayed in the places the web developer wanted them to be.  Now, any additional comment (even if they are nofollow) pulls PageRank away from the site page.

Because of this, I suspect many SEOs will now either make their comments in an iframe, or remove comments from their blogs entirely.  I’m of the opinion Google actually gives PageRank to some sites based on links they have going out, not just links coming in.  This is very hard to test thoroughly, but I’m starting to wonder if leaving comments in a blog as dofollow would be better than not.

Eh, I’m just trying to keep integrity and do white-hat SEO, so I’ll try to find the best way to do it all.  We’ll see what comes of it.

This is a question posed by various people – SEOs, internet marketers, online business owners, and even just people browsing the web: which search engine is best?

Well, this really comes down to depending on what your approach is.  If you are just browsing, it’s really a personal preference.  But if you’re in internet marketing, then it comes down to understanding the varieties of users who are using each.

To start, Google is still controlling the search engine market, with 64.2% of all searches in April (according to ComScore).  Yahoo is second with 20.4%, and Microsoft is third with 8.2%.

As most people know, the bulk of traffic can be gained through Google.  Doing SEO or AdWords can take advantage of this traffic.  It’s been seen through PPC marketing that Yahoo does not get quite the same traffic but does tend to get a higher percentage of conversions.  This varies based on market, but it’s worth noting.

So what this means for internet marketers is this – definitely use Google if you’re interested in traffic.  For SEO or PPC, it’d be good to start with a focus on Google, and follow up with adjustments for Yahoo (and with PPC, start advertising with Yahoo) after a set plan is set for Google.  Microsoft is really an extra option to take advantage of, but in some cases may not be worth too much extra time/effort unless the amount of traffic gained through them is notable.

Make sure to realize that it’s worth it to go beyond just looking at Google.  One fifth of all internet search engine users use Yahoo, so the numbers there speak for themselves.  Be sure to keep that in mind when focusing on your internet marketing endeavors.