Move over, Yahoo Yodel. In Europe, it’s Time to Bing.

As part of the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance, from August 3, Yahoo! search results in Europe will be powered by Bing. Yahoo! will be migrating organic search results for its European properties to the Bing search index.

Yahoo - Microsoft Search Alliance

Organic (also referred to as algorithmic) search results are the non-paid listings found on the main body of the Yahoo! search page. This transition will happen for Yahoo UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. At this time, Yahoo! is not transitioning paid search results to Microsoft Advertising adCenter and companies can continue using their Yahoo! Search Marketing accounts.

In August 2010, a similar transition happened for Yahoo.com. After the transition, there were no changes in the branding or search experience, except a Powered by BingTM‘ text in the footer of the search page.

If you are a webmaster and organic search results bring traffic to your site, you are advised to compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business and check for any potential impact to your website traffic. You might also want to check if you need to modify your paid search campaigns. Also, if you are not using the Bing webmaster tools, it is a good idea to do that now to ensure your site is prominently listed in both Yahoo! and Bing organic search results.

Google Testing A Single Column Search Layout?

Digital Inspiration is reporting that Google is testing a brand new one column layout on search result pages. Both the left and right columns have been dropped while the search options appear between the search box and the search results, as seen in the following screenshot:

google-one-column-design

Just like the previous design change of Google, there is plenty of whitespace between the results and font sizes have been reduced slightly. Here is another screenshot of regular Google search, notice that the links to view cached copies and instant previews are nowhere to be found:

google-one-column-design-layout

From the past couple of months, Google has been heavily experimenting with the design and overall look and feel of their search result pages. Prior to the release of Google Plus and the infamous black navigation menu bar, they removed the classic I am feeling luckybutton and added support for author thumbnails next to specific results. Google claims that the series of redesign is part of their strategy to provide more focus to users, so that they can quickly find the content they are looking for.

Some users have reported that this one column search layout of Google is only visible on tablet devices e.g iPad. Its possible that Google wants to test the usability of this layout on tablet devices first and then push a global  roll out  for everyone in coming days.

And not just the layout or columns, there is another report that Google might make the navigation bar sticky. That’s right, the black menu bar will get stuck at the top of the page while search results will be plastered within an infinite scrolling section in the middle. Here is the video:

Reverse Engineering Google’s Panda Slap, Hubpages Seeing Improvements After Offloading Content To Subdomains

It has been over four months since Google’s famous Panda algorithmic update, also known as Farmer update went live globally. This Panda update is one of the most devastating algorithmic changes ever, crippling site traffic of thousands of sites in a flash. There are so many forum threads where webmasters   have said that their site has just disappeared from Google search. Publishing platforms, article directories, content sites, blogs, forums or any other web property which has a lot of content were most affected by this algorithmic change.

Why this new algorithm? Because Google has been under attack from content farms and spam aggregators and they had to do something about it.

To this day, most of the webmasters have no idea what is the exact problem which led to the penalization of their site(s). Here are some case scenarios:

  • Is it just the content on the site which is considered thin and shallow in nature?
  • Or the incoming links have lost their weight post panda?   Because the sites linking to you have lost their value (assumption).
  • Were the pages been knocked off because of competition?
  • Duplicate content or canonical issues within the source code?
  • Scraper sites outranking the source for the content they have written?
  • Too many advertisements on the site   or the Ad to content ratio is way above the line.
  • A large volume of user generated content which was hastily produced and don’t serve any value.

Many possibilities.

Since no one has yet recovered from Google’s Panda slap, it makes sense to conclude it’s not just one factor.

Bing Introduces Lasso Feature in iPad app

While one division at Microsoft aspires to rival Apple iPad in more ways than one, another division has always adopted the iOS platform progressively. The pragmatism of Bing team has had them release a slick Bing for iPhone app in the past, and a Bing for iPad app in April 2011 as the first official iPad app from Microsoft. The app has been very well received and in the first three months, it has had more than 5,000 ratings in the App Store and an average score of 4.7 stars (out of five stars).

bing

The Bing for iPad app goes beyond the traditional search experience and offers a unique and visually rich way to search the Web. It allows you to quickly browse news, movies, Bing homepage images, local business listings and much more. The v1.1 of the app introduces a new feature called Lasso. Designed for the touch-friendly iPad, Lasso is a new way to search and copy/paste with the touch of a finger. You can simply press the Lasso icon in the upper right of the app and circle any word or phrase. Lasso will then create a Bing search and return search results based on the word or phrase selected.

Bing for iPad

Lasso moves Bing beyond the search box and streamlines the process of conducting online searches on the touch-screen device. It simplifies the painful process of copying and pasting pieces of text from a webpage while reading something to a search box to search the Web for that text string. Although this feature is only available in Bing for iPad at the moment, the Bing team could take it further to different devices or platforms.

Also, apart from several quality and performance improvements, the latest release also includes an improved movie experience that lets you view multiple showtime days and theatres, and gives you  the ability to swipe through the last six Bing homepage images.

You can view a video showing the Lasso tool in action and download the updated app in the App Store.

Google Wonder Wheel And Google Real Time Search Goes Missing

Google has silently taken down it’s real time search page and another very useful search tool Google wonder wheel.

That’s right, Google real time search is presently not reachable and you will get a 404 page while trying to access Google.com/realtime.

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It has been just three days since Google Plus was launched on a field trial basis and it appears that Google has bigger plans with their real time search feature. Previously, Google real time search used only Twitter results as the source but since Google Plus has now been launched, I guess they have future plans to integrate it with real time Google Plus results.

Question is, will the upcoming version of Google real time search contain results only from Google Plus? Will Google provide exclusive results only from Google circles and ignore micro blogging sites like Twitter? I hope not but since Google is on an overhaul spree, you never know.

On another note, Google real time search was not a very exclusive service, considering the fact that the results were showed only from Twitter.com. Let’s take an example:

realtime-search

The above screenshot was taken when a major earthquake hit the northern parts of India and Pakistan on January 18th, 2011.

Notice that each and every result is from Twitter.com only and Google never shows any other source on it’s real time search result page. Minutes after the earthquake, major news channels and media publications covered the story. But instead of showing their updates on real time search page, Google restricted the results to Twitter updates only.

My point is that anyone can get the same updates from Twitter advanced search. If you’re showing results from another site without any added features, there is no reason why users will use your site instead of using the source. I agree a lot of users did, but Google never offered anything exclusive on it’s real time search page.

Now after they re-launch Google real time search again, it would be interesting to see whether Google provides a feature to filter real time results from your circles. I guess, users might get an option to see real time results from their Google Plus circles, apart from searching the whole web for some keyword or topic of their choice.

google-wonder-wheel-closedNow where is this Google Wonder wheel and why did they dropped it?

No one has any clue why Google took down the wonder wheel feature. Wonder Wheel was a very useful tool for bloggers, webmasters and anyone who needed a way to find similar topics and phrases that generate a lot of user interest. This should not be confused with Google suggest, which merely shows which queries are popular among users searching for a specific keyword or topic.

There is a speculation among webmasters that Google wonder wheel was removed because SEO’s used it to generate content only for search engines. Well, in that case, Google should also drop Google suggest, related searches and the public nature of Google Adword keyword tool.

What surprises me even more is that Google never closes a feature without giving prior notice to users. This is highly unusual, we will have to wait for some time until Google releases an official explanation or re-launches the service again.

 

Google TakeOut Makes It Easy To Export Your Data Out of Google

The one thing I really admire about Google as a company is it’s open nature towards the data of it’s users. Google has always said that the biggest asset of their business is peopleand they always want users to control the data that’s stored in their Google account.

You might know that Google already provides an online dashboard feature which allows users to manage or export data out of their Google account. You can export bookmarks, contacts, delete web search history and manage all the information right from your Google dashboard.

Today, the company has unveiled yet another product at google.com/takeout which allows users to export their data out of Google for all Google products they are currently using. Additionally, all the data is made available in open and portable formats so it’s really easy to import them on other services.

google-takeout

Currently, Google takeout works with Google buzz, Google profile, Picasa web albums, Google Contacts and Google circles while support for more products is a work in progress. Using the tool is fairly simple, head over to the Google takeout page, sign in with your Google account and choose the products for whom you want to export the data.

Once you are done, hit the Create Archivebutton and Google will provide a zip download for all the data that’s stored on your Google account.

I tried this tool with Google Contacts and it worked as described. After unzipping the package, all my contacts were shown as a Microsoft Outlook vcard file, as shown below:

download-contacts

After you have downloaded all the stuff from your Google account, you can delete them from your Google account dashboard page. Google explains

We believe that if we make it easy for you to leave Google, we have to work just that much harder to make sure that you don’t want to.

Take that Facebook!

Google Introduces Author Thumbnails On Search Result Pages, Another Step Towards Highlighting “Quality Content”

Google has just introduced yet another update on how content is shown on search result pages. Starting today, you might see a small thumbnail of the author placed on the right of a search result, as shown below:

author-results-google-search

This is a indeed a huge step towards increasing the quality of search results and providing the user substantial amount of trust factor. If you are a well known person in your industry and people trust you for the content you write, there is a high chance that they will see and recognize your image on Google search result pages. In some situations, they will skip the highly ranked pages and will click through the link to read your piece. It’s human nature!

The name and thumbnail image are derived from the Google profile of the author in question. This feature is still in it’s experimental stage but the way Google is rolling up updates one after another, expect it to go global within a couple of weeks.

How Google Identifies the Author of An Article?

Three things are in play here: the content page on the website, an author page on the same domain and an active Google profile of the author.

Google uses a lot of different signals to determine whether a particular author has a substantial amount of authorityon the subject. To ensure that your author profile is shown on Google search result pages, here are a few things you should know and implement:

1. If you haven’t created a Google profile yet, do it right now. Add a profile image and a clear bio describing your areas of interest, previous work experience and the sites for whom you write or contribute.

2. Next, add the links of sites where you contribute articles on a regular basis. When you link your Google profile to the author pages where you contribute content, you are telling Google that you are the person who wrote this piece. And don’t just link to the homepage of the site, link to your author page so Google can find all your articles.

3. Ask the webmaster of the site to incorporate support for authorship markup. The markup uses standard markup tags e.g (rel=author) and (rel=me) to enable search engines and other web services identify content produced by the same author across different websites.

It is important to note that Google will list the identifiedcontent on the +1 tab of your Google profile. This is unlike manual links added by the author and Google will automatically identify Youas the author of an article and show it on your Google profile.

Will following all the best practices for authorship markup automatically guarantee that your profile image will be shown on Google search results? I guess, No.

Users won’t see a thumbnail attached to every link on search result pages. Instead, a few results will be highlighted, showcasing the work produced by Bestauthors writing on the subject the user is searching for. Will this also include social signals? Google isn’t saying but with the introduction of Google plus one button and the very recent +1 social service, I guess it’s just a matter of time when social signals and authorship markup will go hand in hand.

From the past couple of months, Google has been increasingly focusing upon increasing the overall quality and usability of their search results. First, they declared war on content farms by introducing an algorithmic update which was geared towards reducing the rankings of low quality sites and pushing higher quality sites up, so users can find high quality content instantly. The algorithmic update had some serious consequences, so Google is constantly pushing out minor tweaks to it’s search algorithm.

And not just machine learning, Google is also heavily experimenting with the behavior of humans and how their eyeballs react to the design changes.   They introduced a related search feature at the bottom, removed the I am feeling lucky button from the middle and changed the header by introducing a black navigational bar at the top.

With so many design and usability changes in such a short span of time, it is evident that Google is constantly experimenting the overall usability and quality factor of search results.

More information regarding author results on Google search is available on this webmaster tools help page

Google Testing A New Design Of Search Result Pages, Removes “I am feeling Lucky”

Looks like Google wants to do away with the classic I am Feeling Luckybutton. Some sources have reported that they are seeing another major design overhaul of Google search where the “I am Feeling Luckybutton is missing.

google-not-feeling-lucky

From the last couple of months, Google has been testing newer mockups every other week. First, they tested a completely new look of Google search result pages by changing the color, fonts and spacing’s between links.

Soon after, they performed another test by moving the URL up and placed it between the title and meta description. If you have missed our earlier stories, the following screenshot should do a quick recap:

changes-google-search-design

The third mockup however, adopts a rich color scheme, removes the I am Feeling Luckybutton and slightly revamps the order of links in Google search result pages. Let’s take a look at another screenshot (courtesy Google operating system blog):

google-search-redesign

As you can observe, the search button has been replaced with a really bold counterpart where the word Searchhas been removed and replaced with a magnifying glassicon. The header portion of Google search result pages has been revamped with a greyish background while the sidebar filters have received a new color (Red). There is no hover background for the sidebar filter links, while the Cachedand Similarlinks have been moved to the Instant Previewbox.

With so many changes one after another, it’s no wonder Google wants to completely redefine the usability of search result pages. This is evident with their algorithmic tweaks which aims to improve the quality of search results. On both fronts, Google wants to provide a useful user experience and since they are testing a major design overhaul of their search result pages in parallel with the Panda algorithmic update, it’s clear that something big is round the corner.

The newer design has not been rolled out yet, so we will have to wait until Google pushes it out to all users globally.

Google Improves It’s Related Search Feature, Shows Similar Items From A List

Often times, you may want to see similar items that closely match with your search criteria.

It’s unlikely that you will remember the names and details of all the items that belong to a group. Let’s quickly take an example to understand how list of searches work.

Say you are researching about American presidentsand want an easy way to find out all the individuals who were previously president of USA. You don’t know the name of any U.S president at all so how do you search anyway?

One example in this case is to head over to Wikipedia or any other website which has a list of all U.S presidents, copy the name from that website, prepare your internal list and then start your research on Google.com.

Google understands that in some situations, it makes perfect sense to show all the items that belong to a particular group. NBA players, American authors, Spielberg movies, you get the idea.

Starting today, you might see a Top Referencessection at the bottom of Google search result pages which is an improvement to how related searches are shown on Google.com. Previously, Google offered search suggestions focusing only on the long tail of search and different keyword variations.   But this feature has been extended to work with lists and items that are part of a subset of queries.

Here is how.

google-related-searches

Previously, users were only shown different keyword and phrase variations of the same search. This is an aggregate data of search queries which closely matches with the queries of other users. Google has extended this feature for specific queries with the Top Referencesfeature which now shows different items from a list.

So if you are searching for American authors, Google thinks that you want a list of American authors and then refine your search deeper. It can happen that you don’t remember the name of John Steinbeck, so Google will now show you all the items that match with your query, so you can just click on the list item and perform long tail searches on your own.

If you click one of these links, the collection of links moves to the top of the results page and results are shown depending on the links you click next.

google-related-searches1

These related searches currently appear in English only on google.com. Google says in a blog post that their search algorithms uses variety of signals to determine the most relevant and accurate items that may be present on a list. These suggestions are shown automatically when Google thinks the user is searching for a specific item that is part of a bigger group. Please note that there is no way to toggle Top Referencessuggestion on Google.com, as you can do with related searchesavailable in the left sidebar.

Some observations:

1. The Top Referencessuggestion is shown only for very very popular queries.

2. Most of these queries are short in nature. Works best with one or two words at maximum.

3. Searching for an individual list item won’t show you the references suggestion. Instead, if you type in the name of the larger group, you are most likely to see similar items of the same list. So if you search for Mark Twain, you won’t see any references suggestion at all. Instead, you have to search for american authorsand the references suggestion should appear.

Google has been quite busy rolling up updates one after another. A few days back they introduced voice search, search with images and Instant pages. We told you that Google is working on a major design overhaul of their search result pages with the URL’s being plastered between the title and description snippet. It looks like their search team is also focusing on user interaction and discoverability of content, not just design, look or feel.

We tried this improvement with some sample queries [Indian cricketers], [nobel prize winners] and [seven wonders of the world]. Try them out and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

CloudMagic: Search GMail and Google Docs Even Faster

The usage of cloud-based services is increasing every day. Though good search features are offered by Google for Gmail and Google Docs, it is not always as fast as desktop search. Also unified search results across multiple services are not provided. CloudMagic was developed with these requirements in mind. It offers extremely fast, offline, search-as-you-type feature for online data.

CloudMagic has been launched with Gmail and Google Docs. CloudMagic can search across multiple Google accounts for presentations, spreadsheets, documents etc., and present a unified search result. It also offers instant email message previews as well as drag-and-drop feature for search results.

Online data is indexed and stored in your local hard disk. Relevant text data is indexed leaving out all kinds of attachments and binary data. Only a fraction of the entire data is indexed. So it occupies very little of your hard disk space. The index gets updated automatically when you are online. The indexed web pages need not be kept open for updating an index. You do not need to store passwords with any third party servers because the index is stored in your local hard disk.

Currently CloudMagic is available for Firefox and Chrome. Here are the installation instructions for both the browsers.

Installation on Mozilla Firefox

1. To install CloudMagic in Firefox click Tools > Add-ons in the menu bar to open the Add-ons window and search for CloudMagic.

cloud-magic-step-1

2. Click on the Add to Firefoxbutton. The following license agreement window is displayed.

cloud-magic-step-2

3. Click Accept and Installbutton .Then click on Install Now in the Add-ons window. Once the installation is complete, restart Firefox. The CloudMagic icon will appear in the toolbar as shown below. Click on it to open the CloudMagic page in a new tab.

 

cloud-magic-step-3

Installation on Google Chrome

1. To Install the plugin in Chrome open Cloudmagic homepage in Chrome and click the Install Now button.

cloud-magic-step-4

2. Once the plugin download is complete, click Install as you are prompted to.

3. When the installation is complete the CloudMagic icon is displayed in Chrome.

cloud-magic-step-8

4. To use CloudMagic you need to add your Gmail accounts first. Click on CloudMagic icon and then select Manage Accounts drop down arrow beside the search box.

cloud-magic-step-9

5. In the following page, one more click brings you the add account page.

6. Add as many Google accounts you wish.

cloud-magic-step-11

7. Next click on the Preferences link to set the search preferences. You are now all set to use CloudMagic.

cloud-magic-step-12

The next time you open your GMail or Google Docs account you find a CloudMagic search box as shown in the screenshot below.

cloud-magic-step-13

Isn’t that great? If you are power user of Google docs and Gmail, CloudMagic is an indispensable tool. Try once and you’ll love the instant search that the tool provides. With tons of emails stuffed in your mail this certainly makes your life easier. Happy searching. Do let us know if this has made your search experience better.