Trend Lines and Valentine’s

heart art

art with a heart

Many marketers today are using Google Trends to conduct simple, “at a glance” market research.

Even if you’re not working in marketing, though, you may still find the SEO-related online research tool fun and easy to use.

For example, this month is February, a month often associated with Valentine’s Day here in the U.S. as well as the color red. So, I just visited the Explore Trends portion of the Google Trends site and added the search term, “red,” to see how well that term has been trending lately.

The results page provided some interesting stats related to “red” searches:

  • Interest Over Time – the trend line showed the number of global searches with “red” since 2005, and I was able to discover that the most searches occurred during the month of May, not February, during the year 2010.
  • Regional Interest – Broken out by region and by city, this section of the results showed that the most users searching “red,” were found in the region of Croatia and the city of Boston.
  • Related searches – Broken out by topics and queries, I learned that Google visitors were also interested in the related topic, “red – color” and were also searching with the related queries, “red hot,” “red bull,” and “red sox.”

Considering these results, you can probably understand how marketers could use the Google Trends tool to conduct a quick assessment of how well the names of their products and services are resonating in the market.

What about you? Have you ever wanted to gauge the interests of those around you in a particular topic?

I’ve wondered whether Google may use the tool to see how its own services are trending. I just revisited the Google Trends site and submitted the search term, “google.” Glancing at the trend line on the results page, I think Google would be pleased.

And back to what’s trending during the month of February every year, though the search term, “red,” seems to be lackluster, the search term, “Valentine’s,” seems to continue to rule. Don’t just take my word for it, check out the trend line.

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Watch Out! You’re About to Become a Query

digital busstop-com's "Big browser is watching you" image

digitalbusstop-com’s “Big browser is watching you” image

If you read the Wikipedia definition of “query,” you’ll learn that a web search query in computing is a “query entered by users into web search engines.”

What’s your favorite web search engine?  If you’re located here in the U.S., you’re likely to respond by stating, “Google,” “Yahoo,” or “Bing.”  If you live outside of the U.S., your answer could be the same or may be different.  In France, for example, you might offer up, “Voila,” as your response to the question.

What type of technology platform do you use most often to perform web search queries?  For example, do you most often conduct online searches using your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer?

Since the latest technology industry stats are predicting that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the web by 2014, I would venture to guess that your response to the previous question might be, “mobile phone.”

Speaking of mobile computing and its potential impact on search engine optimization (SEO), did you by chance catch Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s videotaped interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week?

I enjoyed hearing Mayer’s predictions about the future of mobile computing and SEO, and I especially enjoyed hearing her predictions about how the concepts of personalization and customized search engine results will impact SEO moving forward.  Mayer suggested that personalization won’t replace search in the future but will become a critical part of search, stating:

“One provocative way to think about it is this…a lot of folks say, when you type into the search box, that’s your query.  In the future, you become the query…it’s what you type, it’s your background, it’s where you are, it’s your preferences, it’s what you looked at yesterday…and the search box can take all that as the input and come up with a set of results that are customized for you.  And, the nice thing is that if you’re the query, then 1-you can actually explicitly type in search terms, or you could just be the query passively…this is the notion that if we can pick up on your context…who you’re talking to, where you are, then can we actually provide useful information or a series of links, pictures, videos that are actually more useful in your current context because of that context?”

What do you think of Mayer’s suggestion that you, as a user of search engines, will become the query in the future?  Do you like the idea that your online actions, i.e. user preference “signals” that you emit, will be mapped to information supplied by online organizations who will be watching your every online move?  Do you think the benefits that you will gain from a more personalized online search experience in the future will outweigh any concerns you might hold about your online behavior being more closely tracked?

If the idea that your online search behavior will be more closely watched in the future bothers you, you may want to evolve your thinking.  According to Mayer, that future reality may be closer than you think.  “I think it’s probably going to happen in the next three to five years,” Mayer stated in her interview last week.

What Are You Searching For?

Google search image

Google search image

When was the last time you searched for information online using Google’s search engine?  Yesterday?  One hour ago?  Thirty minutes ago?

Considering recent Statisticbrain.com stats on the average number of Google user searches that occur daily and annually, no doubt, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s search engine recently.

Marketers today who are focused on search engine optimization (SEO) want to know your search behavior.  The more SEO-savvy are using free and paid online tools to discover the actual keywords that you’re choosing to type into the Google search box when you’re trying to locate the information that you’re seeking online.

For example, the Keyword Tool inside Google Adwords can be used by marketers to reveal that North Carolinians who are searching for information about the upcoming North Carolina State Fair event are actually typing in keywords such as, “NC state fair,” or, “state fair,” when conducting their online searches.

Have you ever noticed the auto population feature of the Google search engine?  When you begin to type specific search terms into the Google search box, you will automatically see several suggested search terms that represent the most commonly used search terms of other users in your surrounding geographic area.

Even if you’re not a marketer by trade, you can use Google’s auto population feature to discover the most common types of information that those around you are seeking.  How?

Try conducting a simple A-to-Z letter search approach.  Simply go to the Google search box and type the letter, “a,” and look at the automated suggested search terms.  Then, do the same for the letter, “b,” and the following letters in the alphabet. It’s a fun exercise.

I must confess, the other day, I used the A-to-Z letter search approach and found the results to be fascinating. For example, when I typed the single letter, “c,” into the Google search engine box, I saw the below auto populated search term suggestions:

  • confessions of a CF husband;
  • confessions of a homeschooler;
  • confessions of a dangerous mind;
  • confessions of a shopaholic;
  • confessions of a glamaholic; and
  • confessions of a cookbook queen.

Typing the letter, “d,” yielded these associated search suggestions:

  • dictionary;
  • delta;
  • durham bulls; and
  • dominoes.

As a blogger, I appreciate how this A-to-Z letter search approach can be a great tool to find content ideas that are current, relevant and popular for inclusion in future posts.

If you’re not a marketer or blogger, then learning the search habits of others may not be one of your primary concerns.

At the least, I hope the subject of this post reminds you of one of life’s truths:  sometimes when you search, you can find more than you’ve ever dreamed.

Be My Guest, Blogger

Welcome Mat

Welcome Guest Blogging

For those of you out there trying to improve your Web site’s organic search rankings and optimize your Web site for SEO, consider guest blogging strategies.

Guest blogging is a fantastic way to naturally build your organization’s brand visibility and organic search rank on search engine sites.

So, what is guest blogging?  In this Koozai video, James Perrin explains that guest blogging occurs when a website’s owner publishes content on his or her website that is written by someone else.  According to Perrin, key benefits include:

1-    Enhanced visibility of your site’s content;

2-    Enhanced social sharing of your site’s content (your content will most likely be shared, and social sharing is a huge ranking factor with SEO);

3-    Relevancy and quality of Web sites – when guest blogging, you write for sites that are of high relevancy and quality for your industry, which will pass authority onto the link that you’re trying to optimize;

4-    Page Link – you’ll be writing for Web sites that have a higher page rank than those links found on blog spinning sites; and

5-    Enhanced PR, branding and marketing for your site via enhanced exposure.

Where can you find guest blogging opportunites?  Perrin suggests sites like Guest Blog It but also suggests sourcing on your own.

In this MySheCave.com post, I’m taking a different spin with guest-blogging.  I’ve  invited a guest blogger, with pen name Josifina O’Brien, to co-write the remainder of this post.  Here is Josifina’s contribution:

Have you ever read an amazing book and then gone to see the movie adaptation and found that the adaption has missed all the key points and details of the book?  Or, have you ever had the book become real at the movies, down to the very color of the characters’ hair?

Movie adaptations of popular books are a common thing to see at any movie theater but that doesn’t mean audiences appreciate how their favorite books were adapted. The magic of the movies is really highlighted when a movie adaptation turns out right.  Here are some of my examples of book-to-movie adaptations that turned out right:

 1. Gone With the Wind

2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe

3. The Notebook

Of course, there are adaptations that bomb…completely. Here are some movies that I am aware of that really missed the mark:

1. The Da Vinci Code

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

In some cases, the result is divided.  Everybody has an opinion and, in these cases, no one can agree…bad or good?

There is one debatable movie that no one can agree on, including myself. The book/movie is The Hunger Games.  The question I have for you guys is, is the book better than the movie, or is the movie better than the book? 

Guest blogger Josifina O’Brien is a 13-year-old young lady who lives in the Equality State, U.S.A., home of elk, bison and former Vice-President of the U.S., Dick Cheney.  Besides guest-blogging, Miss O’Brien enjoys reading, downhill skiing and paddle-boarding during her spare time. 

Blog Images: More than Hunky-dory

Fun For Hunkydory Little Golden Book cover

Fun For Hunkydory Little Golden Book cover

Can you recall a cover image from a favorite book that you read as a child?  One of my favorite children’s books was a Little Golden Book titled, “Fun For Hunkydory.”  After all these years, I can’t forget the book’s cover image of a cute little puppy playing in the grass.

And, consider the popularity amongst adults of the new social network site, Pinterest.  Talk about images galore!

Without doubt, pictures and images within books and media for children and adults convey meaning and can make lasting impressions on readers and users.

But, what about blog posts?  Why should a blog author include images inside a post?

I can list two reasons to include images within blog posts:

  1.  Visual Learning – Many individuals who read blog posts are visual learners.  The visual learning Wikipedia entry cites an Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education study titled, “Graphic Organizers: A Review of Scientifically Based Research,”  which concluded that “visual learning improves student performance in the areas of retention, comprehension and organization.”  If you’re trying to convey a concept within a blog post, including a relevant image will likely help you be more effective in that effort.  Also, including images within your longer posts may help keep readers interested in reading the entire post.
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – After attending a recent SEO workshop sponsored by QIC Learning and led by SEO expert Phil Buckley, I was reminded of the fact that crawling search engines today respond favorably to tagged images on blog and standard Web pages.  Properly tagged images within blog posts can help you optimize your Web site for SEO and increase the chances of your blog content surfacing higher in organic search results at popular search engine sites like Google.  The Digital Graphics Inform post, “The Importance of Tagging Photos for SEO,” provides tips for successfully tagging images for SEO purposes, and, if you’re seeking royalty-free images for your blog, check out DailyBlogTips.com’s post, “Where to Find Images For Your Blog.”

According to Dictionary.com, the word “hunky-dory” is an adjective meaning, “satisfactory. OK. fine.”

When it comes to visual learning and SEO, blog images are anything but.

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