Is Bing the New Google?

The short answer is not yet.  But that doesn’t mean Bing is out of the running completely. While Bing’s share of core searches, 17.4 percent, isn’t in the same league as Google, who dominates with a 66.7 percent share, it is steadily rising. When compared to Yahoo’s consistently decreasing 11.9 percent share, Bing is becoming what Yahoo no longer is: a search engine that is a viable alternative to Google.

bingbing

The problem for Bing has never been stealing audiences from Yahoo; instead, they have to figure out how to get users of Google to make the switch. Earlier this year, Microsoft attempted to sway users with Bing it On, which demonstrated Bing’s effectiveness in comparison to Google (and ultimately it’s similarity, too). While the company claims that people prefer Bing over Google for top web searches, the core search shares show that most people are still choosing Google over Bing.

How Will Bing Sway Google Users?

Two new developments may be the key to attracting more Google users to Bing. First, Siri is now using Bing as it’s default search engine. While Apple is not committing fully to Bing Google is still the default search engine for Safari –  the switch does allow more users to be exposed to Bing. Although, they will be exposed unknowingly. There is no branding when you do searches on Siri, and this may be a way for Apple to ease into using Bing without causing user upset. Most likely, Apple is trying to avoid a repeat of the Apple Maps fiasco. Still, the integration of Bing and Siri is a good exposure for Bing. 

The second development is the incorporation of Bing into Windows 8.1. The new capability means that Windows 8.1 users can simultaneously search their hard drive and the web. The key for Bing was keeping results relevant. NBC news reports that over time the system applies dynamic ranking to your results, based on your prior clicks, just like when you search the Web. Another revolutionary aspect of Bing’s approach are the “Hero” pages. When you search certain people, places, or things you get a side-scrolling page of local files, streaming media, news and background information.

The integration of Bing directly into Windows makes the line between what’s on your computer and what’s on the Internet harder to define. Time will have to tell if this is a development that significantly closes the gap between Bing and Google, but the exposure certainly can’t hurt.

What search engine do you use most often? Do you use one outside of the “Big 3” (Google, Bing, Yahoo!)? Chime in on our Facebook page or @mention us on Twitter.

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Google+ Hands Beats Down Facebook In Customer Satisfaction Scores

LikeThe American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) measures customer satisfaction across different industries and releases results monthly to bring stakeholders in-depth coverage of various sectors of the economy.

In previous years, the ACSI has measured the customer satisfaction rates of Facebook and YouTube, but this year, it has added Facebook competitors for the first time, including Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Google+ (G+ or Google Plus).

So who came out on top for customer satisfaction? Did you say Google+? Because it most certainly was. With a score of 78 out of 100, it came up 17 points stronger than Facebook’s score of 61 (down 7.6% since last year). LinkedIn and Twitter were only a few points above Facebook with scores of 63 and 64, respectively.

The Big Winners For Google+

ACSI points out that some components of Google+ keep users incredibly faithful:

  • Protection of user privacy
  • Clean interface without ads in prime space
  • Superior mobile presence

There are still not nearly as many users on Google+ as there are on Facebook or Twitter, but those that are there seem to be happy there – a lot happier than the other social networks.

But Why Is Facebook Down There?

ACSI offers that privacy issues and a user interface overladen with ads is partly to blame for Facebook’s low score. It points out that the drop in Facebook’s score coincides with the introduction of the Timeline redesign:

Facebook’s drop coincides with the release of its Timeline profile, a significant change to the look and organization of its pages. Users complain that they cannot opt out of the new profile design. The big drop in user satisfaction—coming on the heels of Facebook’s somewhat disorderly IPO—doesn’t bode well for reversing the company’s sliding stock price.

Interesting. We’ve talking for the past year about the user experience, customer engagement, and the need for mobile strategy. Connect with us — we’ve got plenty more to say and want to hear your opinions as well. iQuarius on Google+  and Facebook.

Google Penguin: Checklist for Businesses

Google PenguinSocial Media Soothes Where Google Hits You Hardest

For small- to medium-sized businesses who find their rankings adrift with every new wave of Google algorithm updates, finding a way to generate traffic without having to rely on Google might seem like a dream come true.

As with the latest Google Penguin algorithm update, designed to weed out Internet pollution and spam, Google is getting more specific about how websites are judged on quality. They want quality and relevancy at the top.

Well, as businesspeople and marketers with real content to promote, we can’t complain about that, can we?

The Consumer Shift Away from Google

If we think of Google as a single marketing channel, albeit a big one, we are headed in the right direction — because there are other sources of traffic and link juice, and they are getting more and more powerful by the day. Why not go straight to the source? After all, consumer behavior has shifted towards reliance on social media, as opposed to Google. And Google may help them find specific products like no other source but, through social media, they are getting brand information, recommendations from friends, and reasons to buy.

The bottom line is that people – and by people, we mean 60 percent of the entire U.S. population – use the social networks. So dip in.

Google Penguin: Checklist for Businesses

1. Get people, as opposed to Google, to share your content.

Do you have gorgeous photo galleries, videos, infographics, and other visual content? Put them on Facebook ,Twitter, and Pinterest. Be funny. Be inspiring. Most importantly, be social and shareable.

2. BLOG

We can’t stress this one enough. Good, fresh content is something that both people and search engines look for. When you blog regularly, it helps build your brand and gives your readers a reason to come back, but it also forces search engine crawlers to continually index and rank your site.  And Google Penguin gives particular weight to fresh, original blog content.

Push out blog posts regularly. Hire an Internet marketing company with great writers to help. Get guest blogs, and guest blog on others’ sites to establish yourself and your blog. Blogging is a big part of how Internet marketing is done these days, and it is simply too big a deal to ignore.

3. Go visual with Pinterest and YouTube.

People latch on to visual content. Visuals, particularly video, can pack a whole lot of information into a short time frame. And visual content is infinitely shareable, made even more powerful by both Pinterest and YouTube – two sites that are GREAT sources of traffic.

4. Stay on top of Google+.

In an effort to push Google+ further into the social realm, Google Penguin is giving its content and users unnatural importance in search engine results pages. Take advantage.

5. Optimize your Facebook and other social network profiles.

  • Buy social ads
  • Interact with relevant businesses
  • Make sure people see your URLs
  • Fill out all your profile info
  • Pull in your blog stream
  • Link to your profile on important keywords on your site
  • Do newsworthy things and publish them

***

What To Do

Google Penguin cares about relevancy, quality, diversity, and freshness — because these are the things that will ultimately make for a better Google search experience. What may seem like an initial hit to some of your Internet marketing efforts may be the best thing that ever happened — because it can push down those that are gaming the system, and help you and your brand rise to the top for being the cream of the crop. Just don’t slack on Google Penguin and social media best practices, some of which we have outlined for you above.

If you haven’t started in social media, start yesterday. If you’re there, do more. Get help — dedicate a team to it. This is a full-time job. Hire a full-service Internet marketing team. Iquarius Media’s number is 407-362-6503. We can:

  • Stay on top of your social media profiles
  • Start your blog and do exhaustive research, then have dedicated writers create your blog content
  • Produce videos and motion graphics
  • Custom-fit these and other Internet marketing services to you and your company

If you have questions, ask them. Ask us. You can do that here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Google+, to name a few.

Google+ Redesign is …So Pretty

 

google+Google has announced an overhaul of the Google+ interface. The rollouts began this week, and the changes are designed to be more customizable, more social, and more visual. It also offers a new interface for Google+’s breakthrough – but underused – service, Hangouts.

Icon-Centric Navigation

Navigation is the most obvious and dramatic change. Instead of function buttons framing the top left corner, the buttons for your Google apps – your profile, photos, hangouts, etc.— populate a “navigation ribbon” along the left, where users can drag-n-drop app icons. It’s a Google-simple version of the iOs app shelf.

A mouse-over reveals an app icon’s functions. Dragging app icons off the navigation ribbon will automatically drop it into the “…MORE” section. The ability to add, remove, customize your personal favorites and most-used Google+ features is designed to coax longer interaction.

The Twitter-like trending box in the upper right feeds into the Explore page, where users can see what’s going on throughout the entire network.

Emphasis on Photos and Videos, Hangouts

According to Google, much of the overhaul was designed to “make sharing more evocative.” One area that got lavished with attention was videos and photos. More screen real estate is dedicated to them. There was an emphasis on sharing from anywhere on Google, including YouTube and Google search.

The dedicated Hangouts page features a rotating list of current and popular hangouts, from pros and from your circles. Hangouts – like buffed-up conferencing — are still used primarily by tech-y and nerdy types, as is most of the Google+ network. The page hopes to make Hangouts more accessible to everyone else.

No one can deny that Google+ is thoughtfully designed. It was partly a matter of reaching out to a different type of user, namely, everybody.

Google+ Reaches 90 Million? Kind Of.

google+ larry pageGoogle CEO Larry Page announced last week during the year-end earnings call that Google+ (Google Plus, or G+) now has over 90 million users. This is in addition to the amazing growth in the single month of December, where Google+ saw almost 20 million new sign-ups, much of it through the millions of brand-new Android devices unwrapped during the holiday season, according to Google+ watchers.

Google+’s last official estimate, in October, was 40 million users. And though Page claimed that 60% of Google+ users engage with Google every day, he did not specify if these 54 million users were engaging with Google+ pages or the other wide range of Google products.

Google also reported its first $10 billion quarter, and they’re up 50 million Android devices since last quarter, bringing it to 250 million.

At any rate, Google+ is only 6 months old. It took Facebook almost a year to reach one million users. Google+ had 10 million in 16 days. On the other hand, Facebook is expected to reach the billionth user mark by the end of this year.

(Do any business owners have any doubts right now as to the reach of social media networks? If you do, please, call us. We’ve got some talkin’ to do.)

As for Google+ and Larry Page, we’re going to file this under “one to watch.”

Social Media Ads: Facebook Users Click Ads Twice as Often than Twitter and Google+

Facebook ad campaignsChitika, a data analytics company, has released a study that reports Facebook users click on ads more than twice as often as Twitter and Google+ users.

“Given the announcements and roll out of new social media advertising programs on platforms including Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, we wanted to investigate where advertisers will have the highest potential to engage with users based on CTR (Click Through Rate),” a representative for Chitika said.

The study measured the Click Through Rate (the likelihood of a user clicking on an ad) of different social media users, taking data from referrers. Essentially, what it looked at was which social media advertising platforms were bringing in the most traffic. It examined which social media networks provided the Click Through links that landed users on websites in their sample. For example, if a user saw a link on Facebook and clicked it to get to iquariusmedia.com, Facebook would be considered the referrer. The data was narrowed to include the Click Through Rate of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+  — and it was this data that was the basis for the report.

The compiled data set included millions of impressions from social media, which yields the Click Through Rate of the average user on the three social media networks.

In the same report, it was stated that social media users click on ads on Google+ and Twitter with about the same frequency (Google+ at .1% and Twitter at .09%). Facebook measured a .24% Click Through Rate.

There were several key points about social media advertising addressed in the report.

  1. The best social media network to run an ad campaign on is highly dependent on the type of campaign being run.
  2.  A time-sensitive ad campaign may benefit from Twitter’s promoted trends
  3.  Simply using Google+ to promote products or services may have new benefits to search visibility
  4.  It is possible to optimize for all segments of web traffic

“As always, a cost-benefit analysis is key to identifying which platform (if any) is worthwhile for your product or service,” Chitika says, “…and when making the final decision on an ad campaign, it is essential to keep your target market in mind.”

Optimizing Your Social Media Ad Campaign

As marketers, we are excited about the possibilities of optimizing your ad campaign for different types of audiences. We are incredibly optimistic about Google+’s new functionalities and interconnectivity with Google Search — and what that can mean for your marketing strategy and search visibility. We like the growing sophistication of analytical tools for Facebook and Twitter and are confident that they can help us design an ad campaign that is optimized for you as well as for your product or service.

What to do:

1. Call us to tell us what product or service you’d like to promote.

2. We’ll make our recommendations about which social media networks to run your ad campaign on.

3. Then we’ll work with you to custom-fit the ad campaign around your needs and budget.

4. After you make your final choices, we’ll execute the plan within hours.

Google Starts Getting More Personal Today (1/10/12)

google peopleStarting today (Tuesday), Google search results will start looking different more frequently for different people. Google will start including content from their social network, Google Plus (G+), including photos and comments, when it performs a search. This way, search results will be more intimately tailored to each user. The search engine will even start incorporating content from their older photo service Picasa.

This feature will automatically be made available to all English-language searches conducted by users who are logged into Google. This is just one step toward one of Google’s most ambitious goals. Eventually, Google hopes to amass enough information about each person’s individual preferences and interests in order to provide custom-fit search results. Google is calling this functionality “Google, plus your world.”

People signal what’s important to them through what they do and share on the social networks, and it’s this information that Google is in the business of curating. Facebook has greater insights into personal tastes, though, because of its 800 million users sharing 1.5 billion photos each week. This is the territory that Google is hoping to encroach on with these new additions to their search.

Here’s the part we wanted business owners to hear.

In more general searches, like “music”, “sports”, “fishing”, “design”, you name it, Google will generate a drop-down box of suggestions from companies, people, and places that have accounts on Google Plus. Couple that with Google’s ability to localize search results — and the fact that Google Plus signed up 20 million users in December alone – and the implication for companies is huge. This brings the idea of targeted traffic to soaring new heights.

[Existing clients: Call us, as always, if you want more information on how Google fits into your marketing strategy and what we can do for you. Potential clients: Ditto.]

No More Talking About Google

Listen, we talk about Google so much because, as business owners, we know the power Google has over our livelihoods. From gathering targeted customers to publicizing our accomplishments, to simply making sure we stay in touch with all the people we need to keep near, it is the world’s information hub.

We concentrate so hard on creating media and marketing our material in a way that keeps us in Google‘s good graces. To us, Google is that little something that we keep in our minds as we check how our clients are being seen, or how they’re being found, or as we SEO every paragraph that leaves our desks; or if we have something that needs to be shared. It occupies a small but constant space in our minds.

From Shatara, our Internet Marketing Director:

Increased productivity, international presence with a local feel, a professional necessity: those are some of the things that come to mind when I think of Google. Having the world at your fingertips (literally) makes it much easier to manage both personal and professional relationships in this age of informed shoppers. You can’t help but do your best to have a strong presence on Google, to ensure that your potential clients find your brand instead of your competitors.

Worth a Thousand Words — Well, More Like Billions

That’s why, sometimes, it’s a valid mental exercise for us to step back and see things like Google for the great social forces that they are. Knowing, in aggregate, what people are searching on Google is a sociological study in itself. Every year, Google Zeitgeist gathers information about all the billions of searches that were conducted over the year, and they’ve done it again “to capture the year’s 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011.” We’d like to step back for a minute and just hear what Google is saying through the power of video.

iQuarius Media has had a stellar year. Now that the end of the year is approaching, we’re all starting to look back at the year in review.  We think this video is a great little reminder of the wonders and weirdness of 2011. It also keeps us humble knowing that there are things that are bigger than us; it’s a fitting celebration for the coming holidays and of our wishes for you, our clients, and ourselves for an amazing 2012.

Zeitgeist 2011

Google+ Pages For Business: Taking Branding to New Heights

Google Plus (Google+ or G+) just launched its G+ Pages for businesses. We already know that a proper Google presence is absolutely crucial for business growth. And we know that G+ is the most explosive force on the social network scene in history. Now, the marketing propellant that is Google search combines with the G+ social aspect – and what you get is a powerful opportunity to increase your company’s presence on the Internet.

+1, +1, +1…

Here’s where G+ Pages surges ahead of Facebook: linking your Page to your AdWords campaigns. All the positive interactions and SEO-boosting fragments that your marketing efforts have been able to garner up until now get tallied together as a single total. Your customers will be able to see all your +1s seamlesslessly, no matter where the +1s came from (including from your website) and whether they are looking at:

  • one of your ads
  • a search result
  • your Page

It also means you will be able to put all your recommendations in more places. As Google points out:

“This means your +1’s will reach not only the 40+ million users of Google+, but all the people who come to Google every day.”

More importantly, this integration with regular Google search means your recommendations from your customers – all your +1s – send an even stronger signal to Google about the popularity and authority of your brand.

Making (Direct) Connections With All Things Google

Of course, the biggest power of Google is that it is everywhere. These G+ rollouts are just the beginning of Google connecting all of its offerings together. We couldn’t be more excited, as social media marketing people, of the potential uses of all these changes coming up (and of course we’ll blog about it as the changes are rolled out)!

Google is even changing the functionality of its basic search to give more importance to G+ with Direct Connect. Typing a + before a company name in the search bar will take you directly to their page. This is only in limited functionality as yet – you can only do it with big names like +Android and +Toyota for now – but the possible ramifications of this for businesses is immense.

Google Themselves Say It Best

From their blog:

 “Google+ has always been a place for real-life sharing, and Google+ Pages is no exception. After all: behind every page (or storefront, or four-door sedan) is a passionate group of individuals, and we think you should able to connect with them too. For you and me, this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour. Google+ pages give life to everything we find in the real world.”

To Our Clients, Friends, and Fans

All of our current social media clients should know we’ve got them covered regarding G+ Pages, as well as all upcoming trends in social media and Internet marketing. You’re welcome to call us/message us/see us with questions, of course. While we’re at it, new friends and fans — whether you need Internet marketing, social media, audiovideo, or website help — are welcome to contact us as well.

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