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The changing face of Google – Geoff Wolak

I can remember when Google asked how many results you wanted to see, the early 1990s. Since then Google has evolved, from the hippie chic search engine that everyone trusted (when there were no paid adverts) to the monster that it has become today.

First there were no adverts, the search engine was just made up of non-paying listings, although we all (us SEO guys) soon figured out how to fool Google and get a good ranking for crap small website.

Then came adverts on the right, and we all knew that they were adverts, and so avoided them in favour of the unpaid (natural) listings. To this day, 70% of all users still “trust” the organic listings more than the adverts.

In order to try and fool the consumer, Google put adverts at the top of the organic listing, a line underneath the adverts. That line soon became a very faint line, and adverts appeared at the foot of the listing as well.

Soon there were ten adverts at the top, ten at the bottom, and ten organic listings in the middle – depending on what topic you were searching for. At about the same time, Panda and Penguin were on the horizon, and Google shut down those websites selling cheap backlinks and cheap traffic. Few exist today, and a new site would not exist for long.

During Panda and Penguin, threats were made, and threats were carried out, many sites taken off the Google listing. I lost 5 out of 300 websites, re-launched them in an hour and carried on. But things had changed. Not in Google, but in the web industry, and people’s perception of good SEO verses bad SEO (white hat verses black hat for those that need to get out more often).

Good SEO was anything that helped Google or made money for Google. Bad SEO was anything that did not make money for Google. Unfortunately, Google has a monopoly, and so people were afraid of the threats. “Pay an SEO guy and we’ll take down your listing.” Since many people relied on their website, the threat was taken seriously.

If you paid and SEO guy to get you backlinks, and you moved up the listing, you were a terrorist. If you paid Google to place your advert at the top you were a saint. Only an idiot would fail to see that Google has no morals.

But the result of Panda and Penguin was a great deal of complaining, legal action, and admin overheads for Google, who gave up after a 2 year struggle. Since Panda and Penguin I have not had a website taken down, not heard of one, no matter how badly the rules are broken. Google threatens, but Google does not follow through.

After Penguin, Google stopped displaying Pagerank, to thwart those who lived by it as a financial measure of the value of a website/domain. Pagerank is still there, the basic algorithm has not changed. In fact, the basic algorithm has not changed much since day one.

But after Pagerank was dropped, MOZ developed Domain Authority and Page Authority for anyone daft enough to use them. MOZ uses historic backlink counts to calculate DA and PA, not traffic, not keywords, not relevancy nor quality – purely the number of backlinks. It is for people daft enough not to understand what it is, and it bears no resemblance to Pagerank, nor has any credibility at all.

Yet many a dumb web designer would put faith in DA and PA, not a clue how they were calculated, and would shun the use of backlinks. Brains were switched off, Google notes read and trusted…

DMOZ has also now bitten the dust, AOL and Netscape fed up of it. It had been seen a place to get a quality listing, with meaning and power. More nonsense from SEO bloggers.

So what is it that Google wants its loyal obedient follows to do?

Imagine you open a restaurant. Don’t advertise, is what Google advocates. Let people walk past and find you (local relevant interest), eat your food and recommend you (organic backlinks). If you grow as a result of that, you may someday make some money.

But if you have a mortgage, a loan, staff to pay, bills to pay, then screw Google and advertise your new restaurant, whether people love the food or not. Get an SEO guy, and try and stay afloat. To do what Google wants, is to grow slowly and naturally – assuming you don’t go bust in the mean time.

I have not changed my approach to SEO in 20 years. Google told us that backlinks were bad, yet backlinks are key to position. Google told us that exact match domains were OK, then bad, now OK again. I kept my EMD’s going throughout.

For the consumer, and the SEO guru, the advent of PPC images was a game changer, in that the 70% of people who still trusted the organic listings suddenly started clicking on pictures, not the trusted listings. At the same time, Google started putting up maps with red dots, and people starting looking for the closest supplier – not the best supplier. People would zoom in on their area, and find that garage, even if that garage was on page 4 of Google.

If the user had looked at the organic Google listings then he/she would never have noticed that garage on page 4. But because that garage is on a map, and close, it is now in play, Google itself making a mockery of Google’s own rank listing system.

The future for Google’s listing is likely to be a map, with images around the edges, bigger images for those that pay extra. It is all changing quickly, and as ever Google is driven by profit, yet people still trust it.

Retailers will give consumers more payment options.

The rise of mobile payments and the EMV mandate in the United States will prod merchants to update their old payment terminals to newer models, which will not only help retailers with compliance and security, but also enable them to accept more payment options.

Notable players include PayPal, which recently rolled out the PayPal Here Chip Card reader. PayPal’s device is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and is built to accept both EMV and magnetic stripe cards, as well as NFC payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Similarly, there’s Mercury, a payment solution that equips retailers with the hardware they need to accept EMV cards as well as mobile payments. There’s also Poynt, a smart terminal that supports several payment technologies including magnetic cards, EMV, NFC, and QR codes.

As retailers increasingly adopt these payment solutions, we can expect more stores to start accepting additional payment types, most notably EMV cards and mobile payments.

Example: Vend customer LifeLine Repairs made the switch early on when they only had two stores. They had plans to roll out 23 more stores and knew the process would be much smoother if they started the transition early.

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More than half (62%) of US consumers with Internet access now shop online at least once a month, and just 1% say they never shop online, according to a recent report by Walker Sands.

Online buying trendsThe most common types of products bought online in the last year include electronics (69% percent of consumers surveyed purchased online in 2013), books (67%), clothing (63%), household goods (38%), and office supplies (30%).



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