PlumberSurplus.com Ecommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog | About | Contact | PlumberSurplus.com Store

The Expanding World of Online Video May 2010

Posted on June 4, 2010 by Josh Mc

Every month we look at the changes, updates and effects video is having on the online community, the big changes this month have been thanks to Google and their new site redesign. Now, while I expressed my opinion on Google’s New Layout there is one tweak that is nice, the video button is a lot more noticeable then it previously was, as seen below:

Comparison of Google Search Result Page

 

    • YouTube has turned five! Hard to believe the website has only been around for five years, I cannot wait to see what the next five years will bring. Watch the below video for a recap of some of the best videos as well as a timeline on their progress:

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Cutts Video on Google May Day Update

Posted on June 2, 2010 by Zach

For those interested in more information about the latest Google algorithm update, Matt Cutts has release a video via the Google Webmaster Help videos about the recent changes. He confirms that the changes are algorithmic, deliberate, non permanent and having nothing to do with Caffeine (their latest search architecture roll out) but that it basically tweaks their algorithm and specifically effects long tail searches. He goes on to say that the update was fully vetted and that they think it is a "quality win". In conjunction with Matt's comments there have certainly been some interesting discussions about this on different forums and blogs especially about people loosing a lot of long tail traffic so we are interested to see if that continues to be the case or if over time things settle down a little.

They have also released some other interesting Google Webmaster Help videos within the last week that you may also want to check out.


 


For the best prices, on the largest selection of faucets, from your favorite brands like Kohler, Danze, and American Standard shop PlumberSurplus.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is Google Losing Their Organic Roots?

Posted on May 13, 2010 by Josh Mc

Am I the only one that thinks that Google’s changes are making organic search almost useless? Take a look at the below screen shot to see what I am talking about.

Google Search bathroom faucets

 

The actual fold of the page is right around the start of the shopping results. Scroll down some more and you see the local business results, most searchers probably don’t even get past this as there is so much eye candy and things to click on that your mind is overloaded. Sure Google is trying to give the customer a good experience by offering them options, but basically there are two organic search results in this whole mess.
 
Add to that the new suggested brands addition, which basically Google is saying “Hey you searched for this word but wouldn’t you rather have this brand attached to this word?” While this may be helpful for some searchers, it is confusing for others and actually hurts companies that are trying to rank organically for certain keywords as they not only have to battle the competitors, but also Google’s “improvements” and all of the big name manufacturers they are suggesting you were searching for.
 
All I'm saying is that Google built their search engine on the idea of providing the best results in a simple manner, but if you cannot even find the results in their barrage of suggestions and ads, then when does it stop becoming a search engine that provides information and start becoming a business that allows big manufacturers and those that pay big bucks to keep out the people trying to rank organically? Google, sometimes when people search for bathroom faucets, they actually want websites that provide general information on bathroom faucets; not videos, not the manufacturer, and not local options, but information.

But I digress. What do you guys think about this? Is it too much, or is it good for the customer experience?

 

Google Site Speed Ranking Factor and SEO Dilemma

Posted on January 7, 2010 by josh

Google has recently made it obvious that site speed is an important issue. So important that they've discussed including site performance as a possible contributing metric to search rankings. Consequently, we've been paying very close attention to site speed and elevated it as a key area of focus for the development team. One area where I'd like some feedback from the SEO community or other web masters is the area of images.

Among the results from the multitude of tools that we've used to tune our site performance (another good topic for an upcoming blog post), most have recommended we serve static content from a separate, cookieless domain or, even better, use a content delivery network. For our sites, that mostly means images. Great. No problem. We know that we can make pretty significant gains. Take this page: http://www.plumbersurplus.com/Cat/Bathroom/543. This page contains nearly 180 images. Nothing large (the entire page's contents amount to 572 KB), there are just lots of images. {UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, we've reduced the number of elements on this page considerably.}
 
performance image
 
So, currently, we serve most of those up from www.plumbersurplus.com/images... on the webserver. A handful of the images are master page content that we're going to continue to serve up from the www domain, but the rest need to be separated out to another domain or taken off of the page. We know that on a typical low end DSL connection each of these images takes about 175ms to download. We also know that if we serve up all content from the same domain, then most browsers will limit the number of simultaneous downloads of resources. In fact, most older browsers will only allow 2 resources to be downloaded from the same domain at a given time. Additionally, since www.plumbersurplus.com is not a cookieless domain, the client is transferring cookie data with each and every request! Oy! With an older browser allowing only 2 downloads at a time, assuming 180 images at 175ms each, that means the client can download all images in about 16 seconds (180 images / 2 at a time = 90; 90 * 175ms each = 15750ms = 15.75 seconds).

That is way too freakin' long.
 
Instead of allowing all that content to be downloaded in serial, we would be well served to parallelize resource downloads. We can do that by serving up content from alternate domains. Too many alternate domains is bad, because the DNS lookups take some time, too. But eliminating the cookies and allowing the downloads to run in parallel should improve load times considerably. When I brought this up to our manager of SEO, the STOP sign came out. We don't want to wreck whatever SEO value we've garnered from images.

According to analytics, we get a significant enough amount of traffic from images that making a change to our image domain could be detrimental. So, here's the dilemma: Which ranking factor do we chase, existing images SEO or improved site speed? We decided to tip-toe into an image subdomain by changing the way images are served on a few pages on OutdoorPros.com: http://www.outdoorpros.com/Cat/Skateboarding/85 and http://www.outdoorpros.com/Cat/Skateboard-Decks/26/List. Images on these pages are served from images.outdoorpros.com, a cookieless domain. In addition, those images are still available from the www.outdoorpros.com/images... subfolder so that links to existing images aren't broken.

Before we go head first into serving up all image content from the images.outdoorpros.com subdomain, we want to see that content get indexed. We did this a few weeks ago. No index. In looking for a solution to the index problem, I've found lots of people saying it took as long as 6 months to see an index of their images. We've been around linking to images.outdoorpros.com to see if we can siphon an index of the images.outdoorpros.com subdomain, but haven't had any luck yet. Although we really have little reason to believe there will be issues with this, we would like to make sure before making site wide changes.

I'd love to hear recommendations on how to get the new image subdomain images indexed. Or, better yet, I'd love to hear an educated opinion on the move to an image subdomain as it relates to SEO and the balance between SEO and the SEO benefits of improved site speed (aside from the other known benefits of improved site speed, like improved conversion rates).


With Google rolling out ranking factors based on page load time, it's obvious to say that if our site is slower, our pages will rank lower, and if our site is faster, our pages will rank higher.  In the most basic form, the lower our ranks, the less we sell. The longer we wait, the more we risk severe and unpredictable consequences. In all probability, of the more than 200 ranking factors (who knows?), site performance will only be a slight influence. So, it's likely that the sky is not falling, but we don't know. Barry Schwartz, in the aforelinked searchengineland.com article, even says that "virtually no one complains that their [Adwords] quality score is low because of having a slow site." Despite this assumption, we still want to make this transition as quickly as possible in order to improve site performance.

Comments please!

Google and Bing Partner with Twitter to Utilize Tweets in SERPs

Posted on October 23, 2009 by Josh Mc

So as most of you know BOTH Google and Bing have announced partnerships with Twitter to add tweets to search results in real time (as well as Bing stating they will add Facebook status updates). While Google’s integration of this is still a while off, Bing has created a beta page for it, but has yet to directly integrate. Bing’s exact description is below:

  • “A real-time index of the Tweets that match your search queries in results. This feature makes it easier to follow what’s going on by reducing the amount of duplicates, spam, and adult content.
  • Giving you the option to rank tweets either by most recent or by “best match,” where we consider a Tweeter’s popularity, interestingness of the tweet, and other indicators of quality and trustworthiness.
  • Providing the top links shared on Twitter around your specific search query by showcasing a few of the most relevant tweets. Additionally, Bing automatically expands those small URLs (like bit.ly) to enable you to understand what people are tweeting about. Instead of showing standard search result captions, we select 2 top tweets to give users a glimpse of the sentiment around the shared link."

Below is an example of the Bing implementation of Twitter. You can see the search for faucets shows my most recent tweet about faucets as well as a shared link posted to the article that is from @SWNeilPlumbing as well.

 

Twitter and Bing Partner

 

This is really a cool idea as it somewhat implements a recent “comment” system for websites. Theoretically you can see social trends associated to the keyword you are searching for.  Then below the link you can see what people have been saying about the website that was socializing on the topic or keyword searched, on Twitter.  Google’s implementation of this will likely be integrated into universal search results and will likely feature the keyword searched in regular SERPs as well as any recent tweets with information on the websites.

 

Reinventing the Way We Search

So what does this mean for the SEO’s out there? Well in the short term, not much, but in the long run it could mean a complete redefinition of the way we do our jobs. As an example, right now having dedicated content that has garnered a lot of links and been well indexed by Google, directly improves the search results. But what happens if Google and Bing start to integrate Twitter posts in the universal search? Twitter posts are news as it is happening, and typically do not carry a long life span. So technically if they are integrated into Google and Bing they could theoretically out rank or draw attention away from websites that have been fighting for the main page for months, when they have only been posted for an hour and received five to ten retweets.

This change will directly affect SEO as you will battle for placement through the continuous posts of content that people deem “retweetable”, thus theoretically allowing your twitter post to be bumped higher on the universal search results. Now my ideas are guesses as to the actual implementation, but one way or another, this is the future. As people start to rely more on Twitter and Facebook (which Bing has confirmed they are adding) for their news, friend connections, and link sharing, we will have to adapt the way we do SEO to accompany that.

What do you think? Will these twitter posts make it into Google’s universal search results, or will they just be a stand alone search such as images and shopping?

 

Google Enhances Filters for Shopping Websites in Main Search – Good or Bad?

Posted on October 1, 2009 by Josh Mc

Today Google rolled out more filters to their ever expanding Google Search Options category. While past roll outs have not had as much of an impact on eCommerce websites today’s new updates may change that greatly. Today they launched a past hour filter, search within a specific date range, websites visited filter and show more or less shopping websites filters.  Along with these filters Google also included refinements for search so that users can review results by only book, blog, and news.  Of the changes, websites visited and show more or less shopping websites, create the biggest potential impact from an internet retailer’s point of view. 

Filter by Visited or Not

Google now gives customers, potential customers and searchers the option to only view results from websites that they have visited previously, as well as websites they have never previously visited.  This can have varying affects on a merchant. First, if someone stumbles onto a website and decides to purchase something, Google remembers that the customer went to that website. What this means is that if the customer had an enjoyable experience and wants to buy the same product again or similar type of product (but doesn’t remember who they got it from) they can simply go to Google type the same or similar search and narrow results through only visited sites, and “Viola!” the website appears, the customer remembers and they get the repeat business. The same thing can also work in a negative way, if the customer has a bad experience, an item gets broken in transit out of your control, or some other problem happens they now have the option to filter you out of their Web search life.

 

Show visited websites or not

 

View More or Less Shopping Websites

The second and one of the more important new feature’s for eCommerce websites is Google giving the customer the ability to filter based on whether they want to view more or less shopping websites. This could be really good for up and coming e-retailers who aren’t currently ranking on the first page in SERPs, because when someone filters with “more shopping sites” this can actually take other results out of the top ten and push other websites from the second page to the first page. The new search filters can also help e-retailers take over top placements from non shopping related websites such as Wikipedia and others information related websites. On the negative side however, if someone selects “less shopping sites”, the filtering can potentially remove valuable content retailers have created because it has been flagged as a shopping website.

Show more or less shopping websites

 

 

Google Bring On More Rich Snippets

Posted on September 9, 2009 by Zach

Rich Snippets are a feature Google introduced in May.  Rich Snippets use microformats to structure data so that Google can index it and add it to search listings. Yelp was their original experiment and beta test of Rich Snippets, they used the data to display aggregate reviews and price ranges for product listings. When I first read about this new feature I was interested, and stared at the examples via Yelp’s organic listings because enhancements like these are eyeball magnets for users.  All retailers love eyeball magnets. They also enhanced the search experience.

Apple iPod product review via Rich Snippets in SERP


While we are reviewing and looking to implement microformats for Rich Snippets for our own websites I sure hope that Google continues to roll these enhancements out across the board.  The shear time saved when researching for restaurants and products are great for the user. It would be awesome to search for a product via Google, and immediately see in the organic listings what the review ratings, prices and promotions (like free shipping) are for the product via the SERP page. I have however yet to see more than one listing using Rich Snippets on any one SERP page, which defeats making comparisons.  So I am hoping more people jump on the bandwagon and get this data into the SERP’s!


Drooling Dog Bar B Q Review via Rich Snippets in SERP

 


For the best prices, on the largest selection of faucets, from your favorite brands like Kohler, Danze, and American Standard shop PlumberSurplus.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of July 10th, 2009

Posted on July 10, 2009 by Vanessa

Kohler is arguably one of the most innovative brands in the home improvement industry. The new Karbon faucet has completely transformed the kitchen and more specifically revolutionized the kitchen faucet. Meanwhile Kohler seems to effortlessly create bathroom fixtures that are not only sleek but save water, like the Escale toilet.

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of June 26th, 2009

Posted on June 29, 2009 by Vanessa
  • By now most of us have heard the news of Michael Jackson’s death, what really surprised me was the way in which many of us found out about it…. Twitter.  Twitter may be having a far greater impact than we may even know.

  • This title speaks for itself: Amazon: “A Search Engine With A Warehouse”.

  • We know that load times affect user behavior, but would you say that fractions of a second could have a billion dollar price tag?

  • Are you ignoring important landing pages?

  • Apparently there is controversy over personalized ads, but are we really surprised that people don’t want to share their social security numbers?


Kohler is arguably one of the most innovative brands in the home improvement industry. The new Karbon faucet has completely transformed the kitchen and more specifically revolutionized the kitchen faucet. Meanwhile Kohler seems to effortlessly create bathroom fixtures that are not only sleek but save water, like the Escale toilet.

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of June 5th, 2009

Posted on June 5, 2009 by Vanessa
  • Tim Berry and his wife Vange collaborated on what they have learned over the last 22 years as small business owners and came up with a list of ten lessons they learned.  They point out that these lessons may not work for every business but in my opinion Tim and Vange may be too humble about their list.  Businesses are still failing today because they either don’t know about the topics discussed in this article or they choose to ignore them.  I chose three points to reiterate for our audience:
    • 2. We built it around ourselves
      Our business was and is a reflection of us, what we like to do, what we do well. It didn’t come off of a list of hot businesses.
    • 5. We spent our own money. We never spent money we didn’t have.
      We hate debt. We never got into debt on purpose, and we didn’t go looking for other people’s money until we didn’t need it (in 2000 we took in a minority investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalists; we bought them out again in 2002). We never purposely spent money we didn’t have to make money. (And in this one I have to admit: that was the theory, at least, but not always the practice. We did have three mortgages at one point, and $65,000 in credit card debt at another. Do as we say, not as we did.)
    • 7. We minded cash flow first, before growth.
      This was critical, and we always understood it, and we were always on the same page. See lesson number 5, above. We rejected ways we might have spurred growth by spending first to generate sales later.

  • The Palm Pre comes out this weekend, and I am quite excited about it!  Search Engine Land reports on Google’s excitement for the release of this smartphone that has Google Search, Maps and YouTube already built into the device.  What’s important about this article is the trend toward mobile apps and how advertisers will choose to plan for future PPC campaigns.

  • Bing seems to be the word of the week and (#badabing) the tweet of the week.  Bing even managed to become the number two search engine for a day, which isn’t all that surprising considering the dollars that Microsoft is tossing at their ad campaign, but will it last?  Some think not, and I tend to agree.  I tried to use Bing for a day, but I couldn’t even make it that long.

  • Adobe BrowserLab is making it easier for developers to test cross browser compatibility.

  • We pride ourselves on being problem solvers, in fact that is how Gordian Project came to be our name.  We go about discovering problems and implementing solutions in various ways, but I enjoyed this simple outline for those in their infancy of tackling issues.


Kohler is arguably one of the most innovative brands in the home improvement industry. The new Karbon faucet has completely transformed the kitchen and more specifically revolutionized the kitchen faucet. Meanwhile Kohler seems to effortlessly create bathroom fixtures that are not only sleek but save water, like the Escale toilet.