The search environment seems to have changed enormously in the last month. First, as mentioned in last month’s newsletter, Google has re-written it’s algorithm to exclude Google Bombs. For those of you without last month’s newsletter to hand, ‘Google Bomb’ is the term assigned to the practice of causing a phrase to point to a particular Web site without changing the text on that site. It’s normally achieved by a coalition of like minded individuals tagging links on their sites and Blogs using the phrase. The most famous incidence was the pointing of the term ‘miserable failure’ to George Bush’s page on the Whitehouse Web site. The first tip in this list explains how you may well be able to carry on Google bombing successfully to market your business.

The second change is the introduction of personal search by Google – the process of using the pages you have visited, your Google homepage information and your bookmarks to determine the pages that turn up when you search for a particular term. Again, there are a number of things you can do to continue marketing your business effectively online using PR techniques:

TURN OFF THE PERSONALISED SEARCH OPTION: Personalised search creates an individual view of the Internet for each PC. In order to avoid the possibility that this view could colour your perception of how well ranked your Web site is, you need to turn personalised search off. Enter your Google account, click on search history and then click on the hyperlink that says ‘pause’. Simple, you are back to viewing the Web the way the rest of the world does. Remember personalised search only applies to Google account holders (of which there are tens of millions) so if you don’t have an account you will be unaffected. 

FOCUS ON REAL INBOUND LINKS: Once you can see the Internet clearly again, you can begin monitoring the success of your Web site. Given that personalised search will make link SPAM even less useful than it already is, you need to start creating more real inbound links, from relevant and well used Web sites. Industry directories are great for this, as is a link exchange programme with friendly businesses. However, you can’t beat the issuing of press releases to online magazines. Say you issue a story with one link to your site in it. This is posted to your PR companies virtual press office (VPO) and your own. Let’s assume it’s also included on five industry sites. Already you have seven inbound links (presuming your VPO is hosted separately from your Web site, which it should be). Because these are real links that users will follow, rather than SPAM links that will only ever be followed by search engine spyders, will have an effect on your customers personalised search records.

CARRY ON GOOGLE BOMBING – BUT BE POSITIVE: As mentioned the Google Bomb is dead. Long live the Google Bomb. It seems that Google’s re-written algorithm only excludes negative Google bombs (such as the George Bush one mentioned earlier).

Google bombs are created by having a number of inbound links which feature the anchor text that you want to be searchable. For instance, I might create a link on my Blog to the Stone Junction Web site. The anchor text on the Blog could use the words PR genius, like so. If enough other sites did the same thing, we could eventually create a situation where typing PR genius into Google would return the Stone Junction Web site. This would be a positive bomb and thus excluded from Google’s new algorithm update. 

So, you can continue to include Google bombs in press releases posted to your virtual press office, Blogs and partner’s Web sites. If you are issuing ten to twenty pieces of press material per year you could begin to build up hundreds of links over time. 

MAKE IT USEFUL: Site usability and visitor retention are still top of the Web marketeers’ to do list. The more often someone visits your site, the more relevant it will be in their own personal search history. So re-use your PR material on your own site, with a few minor tweaks, to create compelling content for visitors.

MAKE IT EASY FOR USERS TO BOOKMARK: There is more chance of the US becoming a world leader in the prevention of climate change than Google revealing the secrets of its algorithm. However, it has revealed that the more users bookmark your site, the more significance it will have in personalised search. As a result, it’s essential to put as many book marking tools on your Web sites and Blogs as possible. Plenty of these come in the form of downloadable widgets. Google also supports a book marking system that is well worth your attention. Sadly, this last tip doesn’t have a great deal to do with PR, but whoever heard of a ‘top four tips’ article?

In conclusion there is a good deal to be achieved by adapting your PR material to suit the goals of your SEO strategy. Stone Junction includes embedded and inbound links in its client’s press material as a matter of course. It also provides all clients with a free, externally hosted Virtual Press Blog, which can co-exist with or replace a VPO. Furthermore, it will also offer a free Web site usability test to all new customers whose first contact comes after reading this article. Click here to e-mail Stone Junctionwith your enquiry, or ring Richard Stone on 020 8699 7743.

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