How to select the right Coffee Bean blends online

June 10, 2011

How to select the right Coffee Bean blends online.


What people are searching for on the internet today

October 16, 2009

The 50 most popular searches in the last 48 hours compared to the 50 most popular searches in the last 6 months

Here we take a (sanitised) look at what people are searching for on the internet  and review the 50 most popular searches in the last 48 hours, compared with the 50 most popular searches over the last 6 months.

Sex, as we’ve previously mentioned, does tend to rather dominate popular searches. Stripping out, if that’s the right word, adult, dubious, offensive, dodgy and, shall we say ‘non-family’ search phrases and keywords, we arrive at this list of the most popular searches on the internet, albeit somewhat santised.

It is, nevertheless, interesting to see just what  people are looking for. Star signs are obviously very popular with searchers, as are some websites with, what you would expect to be, fairly memorable URL’s. It all goes to show just how all encompassing the search engine now is and the importance of having your brand, organisation or message correctly represented within them and by them.

Here’s the 50 most popular recent searches:-

50 Most Popular Searches in the last 48 hours

Nos Keyword Count
1 google 4,197
2 youtube 4,145
3 myspace 3,732
4 yahoo 3,650
5 craigslist 3,227
6 breast cancer awareness 2,931
7 yahoo mail 2,807
8 aquarius 2,370
9 ebay 2,328
10 facebook login 2,287
11 2,107
12 hotmail 1,647
13 1,631
14 mapquest 1,417
15 virgo 1,367
16 gmail 1,314
17 scorpio 1,298
18 you tube 1,297
19 pisces 1,277
20 leo 1,275
21 taurus 1,248
22 aries 1,232
23 libra 1,226
24 cancer 1,204
25 gemini 1,194
26 1,093
27 sagittarius 1,055
28 msn 1,040
29 capricorn 1,012
30 1,001
31 972
32 walmart 961
33 aol 934
34 google search 925
35 805
36 tea cup pigs 780
37 google maps 775
38 amazon 725
39 cnn 722
40 craiglist com 711
41 699
42 yahoo mail login 691
43 facebook 689
44 wikipedia 685
45 halloween costumes 671
46 best buy 657
47 dictionary 649
48 craigs list 629
49 daily horoscope 623
50 bing 610
© Copyright Rivergold Associates Ltd 1998-2009

See how this compares with the longer term trends, here’s the 50 most popular searches in the past 6 months:-

50 Most Popular Searches in the last 6 months

Nos Keyword Count
1 youtube 293,662
2 google 286,644
3 myspace 263,790
4 yahoo 255,526
5 craigslist 241,714
6 ebay 166,981
7 aquarius 154,873
8 137,665
9 yahoo mail 135,656
10 mapquest 117,185
11 facebook 113,634
12 hotmail 113,577
13 you tube 110,278
14 gmail 92,732
15 89,902
16 virgo 87,444
17 scorpio 85,294
18 cancer 85,038
19 leo 83,060
20 aries 81,674
21 libra 81,571
22 pisces 81,391
23 taurus 79,826
24 79,002
25 gemini 78,189
26 msn 72,694
27 sagittarius 71,752
28 craigs list 69,620
29 capricorn 69,594
30 68,124
31 megan fox 62,781
32 57,697
33 cnn 56,867
34 55,422
35 facebook login 55,132
36 best buy 52,012
37 aol 51,828
38 51,763
39 wikipedia 48,592
40 amazon 46,697
41 45,528
42 google maps 44,660
43 fox news 44,264
44 weather 43,692
45 white pages 43,262
46 erin andrews 41,762
47 target 41,055
48 love horoscopes 40,410
49 39,755
50 dictionary 39,166
© Copyright Rivergold Associates Ltd 1998-2009

Official: Keywords aren’t important in search rankings.

October 12, 2009

Google announce officially that they don’t use the “keywords” meta tag in their web search ranking!

Bad news for all those people who have spent many hours agonising over the keywords that are most important for their website, yes, sorry guys, it’s all been a waste of time!

No, not really! Keywords are the most important element of search engine optimisation, full stop, period, end of story! Without understanding which keywords your clients, users, prospective customers , target customers, in fact anyone who you want to visit your website uses and then making sure your pages are optimised for, or at least contain these keywords, your website will not achieve its potential.

What Google is saying in this important post, that’s had the search world all of a buzz recently, is that for all those people who have spent many hours agonising over the keywords which are most important for their website and then stuffing them all into the “keywords” meta tag, anticipating almost immediate Google no.1 rankings and search engine domination, they will, unfortunately, be disappointed.

Most SEO’s have understood for some time that Google ignores the keywords metatag and filling the box consequently has little effect on a pages ranking’s. Yahoo has also confirmed that it disregards the “keywords” tag although, perhaps typically contrarily, Bing advises otherwise “take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit ” it says.

Zelst‘s policy has been that summarising 5 key phrases for a page is good discipline, provides a prompt for the other elements of on-page optimisation and given the amount of time it adds to the process, if it’s relevant, it is as well to have it there.

The really interesting thing, imho, that came out from the blog and a subsequent YouTube post is that Google has confirmed it is increasingly using well written meta descriptions in their page snippets on a search engine results page.

The snippet is the piece of text that appears below the page title in a search engine results page as illustrated here:-

The use of the meta description on a search engine results page (SERP)

This description, whilst having no bearing on search rankings from Google, is your opportunity to pitch your page to searchers, courtesy of Google. It’s your 10 second, elevator pitch so stuffing it full of keywords is not its purpose.

So what does this say for SEO?

Well, yes, something we’ve been saying for some time. SEO is not just about stuffing a load of random keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions and “keywords” tags and hoping for the best. It’s about ensuring your page is relevant to your target keywords, they appear in the relevant places on the page, not just in the meta headers, that your titles, meta descriptions, headings, content and tags are all crafted around your target phrases, that your structure, navigation and links are all conducive both to your users and search robots and that you ensure that an appropriate number of relevant sites link to your pages using your keywords in their link text. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Quick? Absolutely not!

The Real Duplicate Content Penalty – Google reveals the truth about Duplicate Content

September 17, 2009

The Real Duplicate Content PenaltyDuplicate content issues are something we’ve been paying a lot of attention to recently with our clients’ sites, just as it has been flexing a great many other SEO’s minds. A number of SEO companies have been pedalling the Duplicate Content Penalty as the latest hot item to sell to clients and prospective clients, promising ingenious solutions to the issue that has been causing their websites so much grief and drop in their rankings.

Firstly, what is duplicate content? Google describes it simply as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”. In other words pages which are identical or, at least, very, very similar.

Secondly, why is it such an issue? Spammers (website owners/masters who try to artificially manipulate search results via ‘black hat’ methods) have used the copying of pages and sites as a quick way to boost their rankings, after all you can soon create a website if you copy all the content from someone else. Similarly, some people have tried to achieve manipulation of search results by presenting their site across a number of different domains so that they have more than one bite of the search cherry.  This is obviously bad, and has led to the rise of the “Google Duplicate Content Penalty” myth, where people have believed that Google penalises, even removes sites and pages from its index which ‘suffer’ from Duplicate Content.

Google has stated through various sources and on a number of occasions, that no such penalty exists, it simply wishes to provide its users (the searcher) with the most relevant results and it does not wish to provide multiple links to what is, basically, the same content.  We have largely believed this, feeling that the main damage that duplicate content inflicts is through incorrect indexing, i.e. Google indexing your non-preferred URL’s and through page rank dilution, i.e. if you have internal and external links to multiple variants of the same pages, your page rank is potentially diluted across however many variants, which is what we have sought to address with our SEO Cients.

Now in a post on Google’s Official Webmaster Blog, Google has categorically denied that a Duplicate Content Penalty exists, stating that whereas they do penalise spammers and spammers who use Duplicate Content, “Spammers also use Bold tags” but they don’t penalise everyone who uses them.

Google realise that not all duplicate content is malicious. They point to real examples of multiple versions of a home page, e.g.

This is something that we have found on most of our client sites (and fixed), Google points out that it even occurs on the Queen’s website !

When you add in that some people also have .com and .net, etc., versions of their site, can you see the potential issues? In addition to which URL should Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., select, which URL do other webmasters use when they link to your site? As well as the issue of different urls being selected by the search engine, if links are split potentially 8, 16, 24, etc., times the value of these links in your page rank is diluted accordingly.

There are also issues relating to the breadcrumb trail of your URL, different size, weight options of the same product, if you are selling online, different country versions of the same language site, e.g. Irish, UK, US and so on.

Added to that we can think of Affiliate versions of pages, inadvertent/innocent cloning of pages, non-approved copying of content and a number of other issues, which all can affect a site/pages particular ranking.

Google re-emphasises the use of permanent “301 redirects” and use of the “rel=canonical” tag as ways to address this, which Zelst has been successfully using for a number of months to deal with these issues.

If you would like to discuss your potential duplicate content issues or want help to address them contact Zelst today.

And Then There Were Two!

September 16, 2009

Microsoft + Yahoo = <Google?

Well, no one saw that one coming did they?

Of the hundreds of different internet search engines available, up until last Wednesday there were only really three meaningful ones. And now that number has shrunk by a third, with Microsoft’s announcement that it was joining forces with Yahoo. The essence is that Yahoo will replace its own search engine with Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, for users of its popular pages (and split the resulting revenue) and Yahoo, errr…. Well, they’re going to get their salespeople to sell all the advertising, although they won’t be selling advertising to their self service customers, i.e. the vast majority of them, this is Bing’s job. Oh yes, and Yahoo has licensed its Search Technology to the new Microsoft Bing operation, although it hasn’t clarified the monetary aspects of this deal. Sounds like a good deal, especially if you’re a Yahoo shareholder….not?

Microsoft and Yahoo have been flirting and/or playing the mating game for over 18 months now and the recent intensified spats with Google have flagged up that the two were getting ever closer to consummation.

The launch of Bing, a much improved search engine compared to its predecessor, which took  big chunks out of Yahoo’s market share, was Microsoft’s trump card or the final nail in Yahoo’s coffin, depending on your perspective and choice of metaphor.  Not only did Yahoo see its users deserting it for Bing but the realisation of the scale of resources needed to keep its own search engine in the game not to mention the marketing costs to persuade people to use it left Yahoo feeling increasingly irrelevant.

So Yahoo is now positioning itself as a media company, has ditched its tech roots (and founder Jerry Yang in the process) and has launched a new home page! And the main thing that Yahoo was known for and the source of the bulk of its current revenue will be provided by Microsoft.  Yahoo Search Marketing, aka Overture, the inventor of the PPC search model that has powered its rival Google to world domination will, essentially, cease to exist.

What Does This All Mean to You?

In real terms to most people there was only really one search engine last week and there still is today. Google is so far ahead of the game that, to a lot of people, putting Bing and Yahoo together is largely irrelevant.

With most of our clients we are seeing shares of between 85 and 95% to Google, 5-10% for Yahoo and 1 to 2% for Bing, with around 1% for the rest. Yes, this is distorted because most of our clients are running Google AdWords campaigns but even stripping out the paid clicks doesn’t make the comparisons any less stark.  As an example for the keyword  “cheap beds for sale” even with a Yahoo ranking of 6 compared to a Google ranking of 12 Google produced 3 times more traffic and of a significantly higher quality for our bed client. With the keyword  “buy cheap beds online” despite a no 1 Bing Ranking compared to a no 8 Google ranking Google produced 20 times more traffic than its newest challenger. With Ottoman Beds despite ranking of #1 on Yahoo,#7 on Bing and #10 on Google the split was 4% Bing, 36% Yahoo and 60% Google.

Advertisers should welcome a stronger competitor to AdWords, but it will mean there will now only be one meaningful alternative rather than two. Bing’s new PPC offer is considerably improved but it still probably isn’t as good as Yahoo’s Overture PPC set-up and even if you put the absolute best bits of Microsoft’s paid search together with the absolute best bit’s of Yahoo’s, it still wouldn’t be as good as Google’s AdWords.

The main difference should be volume. To smaller PPC advertisers it simply isn’t viable to run ads on either Bing or Yahoo. Search volumes are so much smaller in comparison that the cost of setting up, monitoring and managing campaigns across Bing and Yahoo only makes sense for large advertisers. That, added to the fact that generally clicks are poorer quality from these two has left us recommending to most of our clients that they just stick with Google. Hopefully an improvement in the PPC search engine combined with the increase in search volumes of the two will change this. The danger is that in putting two smaller mediocre operations together the end result will be one slightly larger mediocre operation, which will play once more into Google’s hands.

The best case scenario is that with Bing’s much improved search engine combined with the more than doubling in volume will provide a worth competitor for Google and keep it on its toes.

There are also things like the venerable and still really useful Yahoo! Directory and Yahoo’s sponsored placement ‘Search Submit’, of which as yet announcements have still to be made. What will happen to these?

And What for the Immediate Future?

One of the big issues here is that the deal is subject to regulatory approval and could take up to two years to complete, which is a heck of a long time in search engine terms. The big worry is that Yahoo will limp along as a lame duck, lose even more of its best people and users in the uncertainty, Bing will continue to get a little better and raise its market share a little and Google will rub its hands and get even stronger. Stay tuned…….

Is Your Website Leaving You as Frustrated as this Experience?

September 26, 2008

Putting on the Ritz

Imagine you’ve met the perfect person, all you ever dreamed of and wanted in an ideal partner. So special that your heart skipped a beat whenever you even thought of them.

Then imagine they’d agreed to a date, with you!

The Perfect Date?

The Perfect Date?

So you set out to impress, yes, you’re going to impress definitely…

You look a million dollars, you feel great, you smell divine, how could they resist?

You’ve laid on the cocktails, taken them to the most exclusive restaurant, ordered the most exquisite dinner imaginable, chosen the most expensive wine and, at the culmination of the evening, as you wait breathlessly on their words, they utter that classic, knee trembling line ‘I’ll call you later’.

How would if it feel if that happened to you? Imagine how you’d feel if it happened every Saturday night?

What if it happened every night?

Then imagine how you would feel if it kept on happening to you, repeatedly, all day and every day.

You’d be really stupid wouldn’t you?

Can you really believe anyone would be daft enough to let that happen to them, over and over again and do nothing about it?

And yet amazingly this sort of thing goes on all the time on the internet.

I daren’t count the amount of times I’ve been told ‘we need more traffic!’. Yet getting more traffic is like asking for more water when you have a hole in your bucket, or asking ever more people out on expensive dates when something you do or say every time makes your perfect partner never want to see you, ever again.

Traffic isn’t the issue, it’s what you do with it, just like it’s not your chat up line that’s not working, it’s your conversion process.

Peter Van Zelst is the founder of Specialist Online Marketing, which runs an integrated online marketing service for small to medium sized UK organisations,using PPC, SEO, Email, Affiliate, Social Media and a number of other activities and utilising Analytics to ensure every click counts.

The 10 Best Uses of PPC Search Marketing

September 12, 2008

How to use PPC/Paid Search Advertising Most Effectively

There’s lots of debate in online marketing and search engine circles (even in general discussions down the pub, for that matter) about the best way of online marketing. SEO’s will always tell you that Natural Search is best; PPC Search Professionals will advocate that Pay Per Click is far more effective; Affiliate Marketing experts will advise that the Affiliate channel is the only way; the email marketing guys will shout that nothing works like email and so on.

The truth is that they all work really well but what YOU should use depends on what YOU want to achieve.

Depending on your objectives; products/services/industries/markets or segments; product lifecycle stage; different customer/target customer groups or such criteria, one or more of these online marketing activities is going to be best for you. The secret is selecting which!

Pay Per Click Search Advertising and how to use it most effectively

Because PPC is immediate, flexible, controllable, targeted, measurable and, in some cases, extremely cheap, it is ideally suited for certain situations. In these appropriate situations, PPC will give you a significantly higher return on your investment than literally ANY form of marketing and advertising, and I can more or less guarantee that.

We recommend that the 10 best uses of PPC are as follows:-

1.Starting out with a new website

When you first launch your website it is extremely difficult to get initial traffic. Google and the other search engines take time to index your pages, you have yet to start building any links, other webmasters can’t see your page rank, no word of mouth or recommendations have started to kick in, referral traffic doesn’t exist, you’re faced with spectre of the mythical Google Sandbox, and the list goes on.

If you launch your website at 10 o’clock, you can have traffic coming to your site at 10:00:01 with PPC. What’s more, with a correctly built, optimised and managed campaign you can be at the top of the search engines from day 1, minute 1. Even better with a good campaign, every single visitor that hits your site is looking for exactly what you do and is ready to buy.

2. Competition, around your name or in general

Just like when you’re starting out, if you have a common, generic or widely used name, e.g. ‘john smith’ or ‘flowers’ or ‘sarah palin’, it will be very difficult for you to achieve high search engine prominence. Which means if you’re marketing your business offline, people won’t be able to find you. Using PPC for this is an extremely important and very effective way of protecting your brand name and making sure your customers find you.

Similarly, sometimes it’s just not possible to get a top Google ranking for a particular term or would be prohibitively difficult. In these cases, if you need presence for that keyword phrase, then PPC is your option.

3. Testing

In search engine marketing you need to know the keywords that will be used by your customers, and the words that will attract them to your site and not those of your competitors. You also need to know which keywords deliver conversions, be that sales, leads, enquiries, downloads, etc., and which don’t. You also need to know if that keyword will bring lots of traffic or hardly any.

There’s no point in optimising for a particular keyword that no-one searches for or having descriptive text and titles that don’t drive people to your site.

Because PPC is so flexible, immediate and measurable you can test out any conceivable number of variations of keywords and phrases, titles, advertising messages, landing pages and so on.

You can then be sure that when you do start to optimise those important keywords, they will drive viable volumes of quality traffic that bring in business.

4. Low volume/high conversion search terms

Just as in the above, because Pay Per Click is flexible, instant and highly measurable, if you identify that a particular keyword phrase brings in a high level of conversions but has very low search volumes, you can assess whether it is more profitable just to run with PPC for that particular phrase.

5. Sales Push or Demand/Workload Control

Most businesses are limited by capacity but also have a minimum level of business they need to cover overheads. With a well run PPC campaign the moment you feel like you’re going to need some new business you can either turn on or turn up your PPC advertising volume and, lo and behold, in comes the business or at least targeted leads.

Once you’re reaching capacity and are worrying about how you can fulfil all your orders or work, simply turn off or reduce the PPC advertising volume.

Few advertising media can compare with the speed, immediacy, controllability and flexibility of PPC and I would say it is a superb tool for controlling your businesses work load.

6. Perishable Products/Services

If you grow Strawberries, offer coach tours, run seminars or sell Valentine’s Day gifts you have a very time specific offering and a limited window to sell your product or service. There’s no point in offering your Strawberries two weeks before they are ready and there’s little point in advertising valentine’s gifts on the 15th February or your seminar they day after you ran it.

Just like the above point, you can regulate your advertising according to demand so if you still have empty spaces on your seminar the week before you can promote heavily or you can cut back your advertising once your coach is nearly full.

7. Promotions/Special Offers

If you have a twice yearly sale, a one week promotion or a 10% off day, then PPC is highly effective. You can advertise whenever you need and pull the moment you stop the promotion. You can take your potential customer to the exact landing page that advertises your promotion or even multiple promotions. Your advertising is fresh, exciting and you’re not promoting something that finished 3 months ago.

8. Time Specific Advertising

If you offer next day delivery up to, say, 2 o’clock in the afternoon, then you don’t want to be promoting next day delivery at 2:30pm. With Pay Per Click Search Advertising you can time your adverts so that they appear from say 1am to 1:55pm each day so you never disappoint or mislead a customer or potential customer.

9. Geographic targeting

If you only sell to a local market you don’t want to be promoting your offer in India or to the Highlands of Scotland when you only service London. With the Geographic targeting options available on the main search engines you only need to advertise to the geographic area you cover, so your ads aren’t shown to people outside this area.

10. Short Term Campaigns

If your site is built around an event that is going to take place in 3 months time and then be over, PPC is really the only way you can effectively drive viable levels of traffic to your site. You can launch your campaign whenever you’re ready and then go like mad until you’re satisfied. As soon as the event’s over you can switch off your PPC campaign.


An intelligently used, highly targeted, optimised Pay Per Click Campaign is one of the best forms of internet marketing and when used appropriately is an invaluable weapon in your marketing armoury.

Peter Van Zelst is founder of Specialist Online Marketing, which runs an integrated online marketing service for small to medium sized UK organisations,using PPC, SEO, Email, Affiliate, Social Media and a number of other activities.