For anyone that works in SEO or that is attempting to do some search engine optimisation on their own site; Google is usually thought of as the Holy Grail. Whilst the search giant is coming under increasing pressure from Yahoo! and Bing, especially in America, it is still considered the king of search engines and the one that all websites need to impress in order to increase their online presence.
But what about all the other search engines out there? Believe it or not there are many ways you can choose to search the web if you so wish; some being more entertaining than others. Here are a few alternatives to Google that could enhance your search experience (or not).
Are you fed up with a search engine responding to your query in record breaking time with millions of relevant answers? Well Wackosearch could be the perfect search platform for you. As the tag line on the home page suggests; there really are no limits to how wrong this site can be. Wackosearch will provide results that have absolutely nothing to do with the word of phrase that you searched for. Whilst this may be frustrating for some it will provide infinite entertainment for others and it could pull up some pretty interesting websites that you wouldn’t otherwise have known about. I’m not sure how you’d go about boosting your rankings on such a site though.
Swagbucks was initially the brain child of everybody’s favourite nonsensical rapper, Kanye West. Originally called searchwithkanye.com this search engine allows you to rack up virtual money with your internet activity. Just by searching, reading articles, making online purchases and playing games you can increase the amount of Swagbucks in your bank and then trade them in for prizes in the Swagstore. The search engine is completely free to use and you can earn rewards from such places as Amazon, Starbucks and Marks & Spencer.
This alternative to the big engines has to be my favourite on the list. This parody of Google will take your search results and translate them into a language that the hip and trendy youth of today are all too fluent in. The entertaining results will be written as though spoken straight from Snoop Dog’s mouth and will provide an endless source of fun. My favourite thing to do its search for my own Twitter account and read what my tweets would sound like had they been sent out by someone a lot cooler than me.
Whilst the rest of the suggestions on this list may be more useful for entertainment purposes than anything else; DuckDuckGo can offer a practical alternative to Google for anyone who wants nothing to do with the way they collect data from their users. This platform takes privacy very seriously and states clearly that your searches will not be remembered and no personal information about you will be saved. Of course this means there is no helpful suggest tool like there is with Google, but at least you know you are not being watched and your information isn’t being passed on to third parties.
There are many things that you cannot be sure of in the world of SEO, but one thing that is certain is that things will change. What is considered best practice today was not even heard of a year ago and so we can predict with almost 100% accuracy that things are going to continue to develop in the future.
Predicting the forthcoming advancements in search engine optimisation is no mean feat as the changes are dictated by algorithm updates and passing trends, but this doesn’t mean we can’t make informed judgements. Many of the things that will become important will be evolved versions of practices that we already know but others will be totally different to what we do today.
Here are a few things that we could well see becoming a vital part of a successful SEO strategy in the coming months and years.
Semantic Search –
Semantic search is something that we know Google are working hard to put in place. At the moment the search engine giant can only understand the words that you use on one level – the definition (or variety of definitions) which the word has. Hence when we type in the word ‘reading’ it not only understands that we are referring to the act of studying the words in a book but also that there is a place in Berkshire called Reading, and it finds it difficult to distinguish between the two effectively.
In the future, Google will be able to understand the context of our queries better and be able to show us the most appropriate results. Therefore if we were to search for ‘hair of the dog’ it would know we meant hangover cures and not dog hairs.
Semantic search will also mean that the search engines know the relationship between different words that have similar meanings. At the moment Google can deal with small semantic fields and so knows that the word ‘advice’ is closely related to the word ‘tips’, and so it will display results for both; whichever term you use. This will be developed further to include larger semantic fields meaning that sites will have to use as many variations of their chosen keywords as possible in order to rank well.
A Swing Towards Onsite –
Any good SEO specialist will know that there needs to be a balance between onsite and offsite optimisation in order to get good results, but we could soon see this tip in favour of onsite SEO. No one has ever been able to put any exact figures on how much effort you should put into each side of the optimisation process, but with content marketing making up a large part of a lot of people’s strategies it’s often thought that offsite is more effective.
However, as it becomes harder and harder to get content placed on external sites and Google looks more closely at trying to stop people who are continually attempting to cheat the system; more focus could indeed shift to onsite signals such as internal links, meta tags and a regularly updated blog.
More Social Signals –
Without doubt, the biggest change in SEO during the last year or so has been as a result of the rise of social media. This has become such an important indicator of just how popular, relevant and useful a site is and so these signals are continually being built into the algorithms.
At the moment Matt Cutts has admitted that Google cannot see how many ‘likes’ a certain post or profile has or how many followers your business page has; it can only determine the amount of social shares related to your content. However, in the future we could see even more social signals becoming important such as how often a business or location is recommended on Facebook or how many people re-pin your photos on Pinterest.
Technology Specific Search –
We have already seen the fact that more people are using their mobile devices have an effect on search criteria; in that if your site is not well optimised for smartphone use then it won’t be displayed near the top of the search engine results to someone searching on their phone. But this could also be developed further to account for new and exciting pieces of technology and we could therefore see a split in SEO ranking signals.
Google glass is on the verge of becoming a main-stream product and who knows what other communication technologies we are going to be graced with in the future. It’s likely that they will all have a say on how we go about our searches and so we may see different sets of criteria being used depending on what sort of device the search is being made on.
In the last year or so the topic of social media has been hotter than a hot cake that has just been taken out of the oven and thrown straight into the mouth of a burning volcano, but there are still many businesses that are making mistakes with their activity. Twitter was recently valued at between ten and fifteen billion dollars and, along with Facebook, has become the go to social networking platform for business marketing. However, if you are not using it correctly then the chances are that it is not producing any value towards your company.
Social media advice should be taken with a pinch of salt a lot of the time because it doesn’t work in the same way for everyone. However, there are a few things that are true across the board and plenty of mistakes that we should all avoid.
The Misuse Of Hashtags –
I have to say that this is a pet hate of mine and can really put other people off from reading your Tweets. Twitter may have created the hashtag and brought the word into the English language but that doesn’t mean you have to cram as many of them into your 140 character limit as you can. Just choose a couple of broad ones that represent what you are saying. Hashtags can also be used to search for conversations that are happening in your industry which you can then join in on to increase exposure.
Tweeting Waaaaayyyy Too Often –
Although there is no limit to the amount of times you can tweet; you should really think about setting one for yourself. If you are sending out a constant stream of tweets then not only are they not all going to be read but people are going to reach for the unfollow button quicker than you can say ‘#fail’.
Being Antisocial –
Although the ultimate goal of Twitter marketing is to increase the exposure of your brand; it’s not all about you in the social media world. If you end up turning your social media into a one way conversation then your endeavours are sure to be as fruitless as a banana tree in the Hebrides, and so instead you should be looking for engagement. Don’t just talk; listen too. Ask your followers questions, point them in the direction of other great accounts they should follow and do everything you can to make use of this immediate and personal media.
Not Taking Advantage Of Software –
Alongside the rise of social media as a marketing tool there have been many different pieces of software created in order to make things easier and quicker for you. One of the best has to be Hootsuite which helps you to control all of your accounts from one dashboard and plan your tweets ahead of time. Other useful pieces include Tiny URL which helps you keep to your 140 character limit by reducing the size of any links you choose to post, and Followerwonk which helps you to find key tweeters in your industry and build relationships with them.
Repeating The Same Content –
There is great content to be found all over twitter in the form of funny gifs, interesting infographics and generally entertaining posts but these soon lose all effect when they start to do the rounds. It may be entertaining the first time, enough to bring about a smile the second, but by the time you’ve seen it for the tenth time the smile will have quickly turned to contempt. To avoid this you should look to create your own content or at least find pics, graphics or gifs that nobody else has thought to post.
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