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What is Bernie Sanders A/B Testing?
He’s testing his website more than any other candidate. What’s he been up to and how has his site evolved to increase do…

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Search Engines

What Google SERP Reload Error Messages Say

For sometime now I’ve noticed some sort of message flashed on my screen when hitting the back button to a Google SERP. It doesn’t happen all the time, but certainly enough to have me wondering exactly what it says. The message normally disappears instantly (you only see it flash), but today one of those messages got stuck:

Google SERP Back Button Error
Google SERP Back Button Error

And the text reads:

An error occurred. This page will be reloaded shortly. Or press the “reload” button now to reload it immediately.

Yep, a piece of useless trivia, but it’s been bugging me for ages to know what the message said. Now to figure out if it’s just me seeing a disproportionate number of these messages or is it more widespread?

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Search Engines

Bing.ie Doesn’t Do Google Chrome

Just noticed this. Try going to Bing.ie in Chrome. You’ll be redirected to http://www.bing.com/?cc=ie:

Bing Ireland Homepage in Chrome Browser
Bing Ireland Homepage in Chrome Browser

But try searching for something using either “Show all” or “Only from Ireland”. Here’s what happens to me:

Bing Ireland redirects to UK
Bing Ireland redirects to UK

I get redirected onto what looks like UK results. Seems to be a Chrome-specific bug, and it behaves as expected in FF. Interesting all the same, and hopefully Bing will fix this.

bing.com resized window

Hadn’t noticed before, but while on bing.com homepage try resizing the window. Really neat the way they resize the main image area.

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Search Engines

Waldberg&Hirsch Global Collections – More Scams To Simply Ignore

Judging by the massive increase in traffic my site has seen in the past few days I’m guessing that the “legal” firm Waldberg & Hirsch Global Collections must have sent out many letters to businesses scammed by the Euro Business Guide.

If you have received a letter from the “good” people at Waldberg & Hirsch Global Collections here’s a what you should do:

  1. DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Yep, you heard me right. Sit back, relax, don’t worry one bit, and get on with running your business. And feel safe that nothing more will come of this. Why? Because this company, and the people behind it, rely on fear in order to make their corrupt living. Don’t be afraid, and don’t even acknowledge these people. Simply ignore them at every turn, and soon they will have no more victims to prey on.

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Search Engines

Yahoo! Comes to Ireland (properly)

Hands up if you used Yahoo! in the last 48 hours? Dave? Anybody?

Well if you’re here in Ireland then there’s probably a less than 1 in 10 chance you did. I reckon Google likely has a market share approaching 90% of executed searches on our small island.

Yahoo!’s low market share was in large part due to the fact that the world’s second best known search engine long ago decided that Ireland was better tied to the UK – ‘Yahoo! Uk & Ireland’.

No more it appears, and better still – Assisted Search is now available for Ireland:

Yahoo! Ireland with Assisted Search
Yahoo! Ireland with Assisted Search

That’s yahoo.com from an Irish IP. We also seem to have ie.yahoo.com so we can say goodbye to Yahoo! UK & Ireland.

By the way – Assisted Search is a neat feature that gives you some suggestions and related search queries. You can access it from a drop down below the query box. Try it out – Y! nearly always have the nicest UI features, and haven’t let us down with this interface.

Hopefully it wont take long for Yahoo! central to update their International Page:

Yahoo! International Properties
Yahoo! International Sites

Still showing Yahoo! UK & Ireland but when you click through you’re on the UK property which no longer lets you filter ‘results from Ireland’

Great news IMO.

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Blogs Search Engine Optimisation Search Engines

WordPress Mobile Plugin with WURFL Killed my Rankings

A couple of days ago my site absolutely fell out of the SERPs. I really couldn’t tell what was causing Google to receive 404 errors that Webmaster Console was reporting.

Further Digging

This was really beginning to hurt me so I decided to grab my raw access logs and look to see what was going on:

66.249.65.97 – – [23/Jun/2007:02:59:52 -0400] “GET / HTTP/1.1” 302 5 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”

66.249.65.97 – – [23/Jun/2007:02:59:55 -0400] “GET /wp-mobile.php HTTP/1.1” 404 20530 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”

What’s happening there is Googlebot is requesting my homepage, getting a 302 redirect for /wp-mobile.php, and then a 404 not found for that file. In my stupidity I didn’t copy across the file in question as per the installation instructions (although I’m not sure why the plugin doesn’t simply redirect to the plugin folder?).

So you can see how Google was getting those 404 errors. But my stupidity aside, there is a very nasty flaw in Ruadhan O’Donoghue’s plugin: mobile content is served to search engine robots.

If you serve excerpts for each post on your homepage then you really want the Search Engine bots to see that content. Granted, my own cock-up added to my issues by serving 404’s to the bots, but I think the plugin will need some modification to ensure that regular web-crwalers aren’t getting the minimal content that mobile devices get. For actual post pages this isn’t really an issue, but for the homepage this plugin could really affect your rankings – I for one need to ensure that my homepage is served correctly to the bots.

Here’s a few requests from my log:

74.6.69.105 – – [23/Jun/2007:03:05:04 -0400] “GET /statistics/02-03-2007/social-media-marketing/ HTTP/1.0” 302 0 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)”
74.6.69.105 – – [23/Jun/2007:03:05:24 -0400] “GET /wp-mobile.php HTTP/1.0” 404 20492 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)”

72.30.216.101 – – [23/Jun/2007:03:10:34 -0400] “GET /contact HTTP/1.0” 302 0 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)”
72.30.216.101 – – [23/Jun/2007:03:10:35 -0400] “GET /wp-mobile.php HTTP/1.0” 404 20495 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)”

66.249.65.97 – – [23/Jun/2007:02:59:52 -0400] “GET / HTTP/1.1” 302 5 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”
66.249.65.97 – – [23/Jun/2007:02:59:55 -0400] “GET /wp-mobile.php HTTP/1.1” 404 20530 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”

It appears that MSNbot isn’t affected by this, but both Googlebot and Yahoo!Slurp are served up the mobile equivalent of your blog.

The plugin is taking over the parsing for all those user agents as they accept mobile content. But the fly in the ointment is that the content served up by Ruadhan’s plugin is extremely paired down: the homepage simply includes links to your last 10 posts. I’d say this could spell the kiss of death for your search engine rankings (even if you manage to copy the files across *doh*).

I’ve left a comment on the plugin page over on the .mobi blog, and trackbacked to Michele’s post where I first saw this plugin. Hopefully Ruadhan can come up with a workaround for this issue, as I’m quite sure a mobile plugin will be very useful given that mobile devices are going to appear more and more in your logs going forward.

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Google Search Engines

SES London – Google Working on ‘Pseudo-Pagerank’

‘Pseudo Pagerank’

The Meet The Crawlers session included reps from the big 4 search engines (Ask is now as big as Live by many counts).

During the QandA one of the subjects discussed was the supplemental index and Dan Crow of Google made a curious statement. I paraphrase, but basically Google is working on a ‘Psuedo Pagerank’ algorithm that will compute pagerank for pages that do not receive ‘regular’ pagerank.

Dan mentioned that ‘Pseudo Pagerank’ would be an ‘in-site’ pagerank which was computed purely from the on-site factors. He also said that this new algorithm was not yet live.

To give some further context on this, Dan was commenting on how Google decides what to index, and how this ‘pseudo pagerank’ might be used as a proxy for regular pagerank. In essence, pages that were previously overlooked or supped may in future make it into the primary index.

Perhaps this is well known, but I personally hadn’t heard anything about ‘Psuedo Pagerank’ until Dan Crowe made reference to it in that session.

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Link Building Search Engines

SES London – When is a Link Farm NOT a Link Farm?

Answer: When it’s a hub.

The things search engine reps mention…

If you were at SES London, you might have heard one or two little nuggets that seemed inconsequential at first, but were probably more important than you realise.

I was lurking toward the back of the room at the Linking Strategies Session when (I think) Tom Alby from Ask made a comment about hubs and authorities. He said that the difference between a link farm and a hub is that at least one or two authority sites would be linking back to the hub.

Hmmm… so there I was thinking about that for a second. If one or two authority sites link back to a link farm, hey presto, you’ve got a hub! I’ll be honest – I couldn’t hold back the snigger, and I wasn’t alone.

From the last row in the room, I swear I could just about hear the penny drop in Greg Boser’s head as he sat next to the Ask guy. I’m pretty sure he was trying very hard to hold back the laugh (he didn’t succeed :grin:).

Very funny moment, and probably one of those little nuggets the search reps wish they hadn’t dropped.

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Mobile Internet Search Engines

Mobile Opperators To Launch Search Engine – Sounds Like More Walled Gardens To Me

The Sunday Telegraph published a story stating that a group of some of the globes largest cellular operators are banding together to create a mobile phone search engine. It would appear the mobile operators have finally decided that they no longer like the idea of sharing their booty with the search engines. So

So what’s the big deal?

Well apparently mobile search is going to be big, very big. And the top cellular operators want to make sure that they get their slice of the cake. This to me sounds like more of the ‘walled garden’ school of thinking, which in my view is absolutely the wrong direction. I don’t think consumers want to be limited when it comes to Internet use. I think they want technology that enables them to access all the cool services they use daily on their PCs and laptops.

Unfortunately the mobile operators have never been overly interested in what the consumer wants. They care about one thing and one thing only – revenue. And consumers, by their nature, tend to act in ways that are not always compatible with the revenue generating desires of the operators.

At best this is short-termism

Obviously I’m into search. And I do think that mobile is the next frontier that will catapult search, and the Internet in general, forward. But to be frank, the mobile operators are always going to be fighting from a defensive position. They don’t want us to access data on our own terms because they think they could make more money by accessing it on theirs. And therein lies the Achilles heal. Sooner or later the operators wont be able to defend their position and the flood gates will open.

But could they replicate Google?

I think you only have to read through Bill Slawski’s blog to see that the major search engines have been patenting their IP like no one’s business these last few years. The operators will likely pour a couple of hundred million into something which will fail after a year or two. The Telegraph article speculates that this might be posturing, and the operators may negotiate a deal for a larger revenue share with the major search engines.

Part of me hopes this is the case, that we wont have higher walls in the garden, but a bigger part of me hopes they try to build their own search engine and fail miserably.

As an aside, I’ve always wondered does anyone actually like the mobile operators?

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Google Search Engine Optimisation Search Engines Social Media

What is Google’s OneBox, and Will Local Search Ever Land in Ireland?

Google recently announced that they are going to include Local Results in the OneBox feature of their search results.

Now I’ll try to explain that in English

Let’s say that you are looking for a trades person of some description to come and fix an electrical appliance. You might head over to Google and search for ‘[trade] [location]’ (replace with the relevant info).

Well now when Google ‘senses’ that you are looking for location-specific information they provide a nice map and some listings of local service providers:

Google Local Search - hairdresser harrogate

[Edit: or let’s say you’re looking for a hairdresser in Harrogate :mrgreen:]

Now this currently does not work for Irish searches (we’re not important enough :(), and I doubt it’s going to appear any time soon.

According to Barry Schwartz over at SEL the US version also includes a rating system indicated by stars next to the listings, but I couldn’t see this from where I am located.

So how do you get into the local listings?

Well currently listing a local business on Google Maps is only possible in the following countries:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • France
  • China
  • Japan

Users must validate there address with a PIN which is snail-mailed to that address. Once you’ve validated your site it has a chance to be returned in the Local Search results that now appear in OneBox.

Hang on a second. What the hell is OneBox

OneBox is an inserted ‘box’ of relevant info that Google decides to insert above the organic search results. You’ve probably come across OneBox if you’ve ever searched for weather related phrases:

Google Search - weather new york

or perhaps ticker symbols:

Google Search - ticker symbol goog

You can see that these results are not organic listings per-se.

From Google’s help pages:

OneBox results
Google’s search technology finds many sources of specialized information. Those that are most relevant to your search are included at the top of your search results. Typical onebox results include news, stock quotes, weather and local websites related to your search.

(Hat tip to Bill Slawski at SEL for finding that.)

Who cares? I’m in Ireland…

Well chances are that this technology will be rolled out across more markets in the coming months/years. The biggest impact will be on websites targeting local search phrases. I see a lot of localised searches here in Ireland (e.g. ‘[search phrase] dublin’ or ‘[search phrase] ireland’).

If local search is rolled out in Ireland you might find that your coveted number #1 rank in Google for ‘estate agent ballsbridge’ suddenly becomes a number 4 or 5 spot after that big eye-catching map and those very relevant local listings.

Marry those local listings with a ratings system (which plugs into the social aspects of search) and it might turn out that few people bother to scroll any further down the page beyond the local results that appear in the OneBox.

Of course one person’s threat is another person’s opportunity. Worth keeping in mind I think.