Tag Archives: Search Engines

Google Wonder-Wheel Missing

What happened to WonderWheel on Google search?

For those of you webmasters and bloggers who like using Google’s WonderWheel tool, there was an unexpected surprise that came with the new Google Instant search rollout. It seems that Google thinks that the functionality of Wonder Wheel is handled by the ever changing search results and suggestions that appear on Google.com when you search using Google Instant search functionality. Unfortunately, that is hardly the case.

google-wonder-wheel-missing The Google WonderWheel tool was a great way to not only find useful and relevant information on the web, but also for web developers and professional writers looking for ways to make money writing online to figure out how OTHER PEOPLE might search for the information being written. For example, if I were writing an article about how to make homemade snowshoes, I might search for something like “homemade snowshoes,” but maybe that is not how most people would search for the same topic. Maybe most people would actually search for something like “handmade snowshoes” or “make your own snowshoes” or maybe even “building snowshoes.” Any of those searches could be made by someone looking for the same information.

Unfortunately, despite all of its success and acclaim, the Google search engine is really nothing more than a text pattern matcher combined with a link counter. If your text does not match what is being searched for, your article will not show up in those searches, no matter how great your content might be.

Again, using the example above, if I titled my article Homemade Snowshoes Made Simple with my H1 tag and used a title tag of Snowshoes Homemade, the article would never show up in any Google searches for “handmade snowshoes,” unless there were virtually no other webpages on the entire Internet about making your own snowshoes.

In other words, as a writer looking to earn money writing online, it is critical that your articles contain the phrases used by searches in order to generate high-ranking web content that drives search engine traffic to your webpages. In fact, it is so important, that as a professional writer, I frequently use misspellings, incorrect grammar, or redundant phrases, deliberately in order to be sure that what others type into Google will match something in my well-written web content. Then, I try elsewhere to apologize and point out that it was done intentionally so that potential freelance writing clients who are trying to judge my work know that it is not just sloppy writing, but rather that Google makes you write poorly in order to succeed.

The Google WonderWheel tool helped with this problem by allowing a web searcher to type in a search, and then by clicking on Wonder Wheel in the sidebar under More Tools, see a graphical tree of other related search queries. The new Google Instant search feature does that part just fine. What is missing is that with Google Wonder Wheel you could click on the bubble with the related search term and get a new Wonder-Wheel that showed a tree of search queries related to the clicked keywords. In this way, I could have entered “homemade snowshoes,” saw that “handmade snowshoes” was a possible related search keyphrase and then clicked on it to see what search phrases might be related to handmade snowshoes as well.

(Did you see that? I used three different ways of writing wonderwheel so that people who search with a space or hyphen can still find this article online by searching.”)

Turn Google WonderWheel Back On

Fortunately, it is possible to turn Google WonderWheel back on. To re-enable Wonder Wheel, you have to go into Google search settings and turn off Instant Search. Doing that takes you back to the old search interface, which includes the Wonder-Wheel tool.

Unfortunately, since Instant Search looks like the future of Google Search, there is no telling how long this functionality might be left on. Hopefully, Google decides that there is certainly no harm in keeping the WonderWheel tool in the sidebar even if Instant Search is enabled. After all, users who find that the new Instant search feature meets their needs will simply not click on WonderWheel, while those of us who depend on the tool to help correct some of Google Search’s inadequacies can continue to use it.

I wonder if there is an online petition somewhere?

Do you use Google WonderWheel? How have you reacted to WonderWheel being removed from Google due to Instant Search?

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

How Good Are Google Search Result Rankings?

ranking Everywhere you turn people tell you the same thing about search engines; Google is the best search engine. Google is certainly the biggest search engine company. Depending upon whose numbers you want to believe, Google’s search market share is a whopping 71% or more. Google processes hundreds of millions of search queries every day and uses so many servers, computers, routers, and networking equipment that it recently got into the power business. But, does that make Google the best search engine? How good are its search results?

Quality of Google Search Results Page Rankings

Answering the question of how good Google’s searches are is not straightforward. There are numerous factors that can go into ranking websites and webpages as the best search result, or the number 38 search result. Which ones to include and how much weight each search ranking factor should be given is a matter of opinion. Some may claim that larger, better known, results should rank highest, while others would claim that the democratization of information is exactly what makes the Internet so powerful, therefore, no preference should be given to “mainstream” websites or their pages.

However, examining Google’s search results with human eyes often provides some insight into how well the company is doing when it ranks websites in the top ten search results. (UPDATE: The guys over at Search Engine Journal published a different look at what I was getting at here.)

Check out my freelance financial writer page.

Google tracks the preferences and history of most users. It uses this data to “personalize” the search results for that person. For example, if you often search for something like denver sightseeing, a search for something like tourist attractions may be skewed toward attractions in Denver, even though denver was not included in that particular search. Furthermore, if you often visit a specific website, especially by clicking on its links from searches, that site may be pumped up to a higher position in future searchers.

Many writers seeking to earn money writing online fall victim to this trap. Since they logically visit their own websites more frequently than others, they are likely to rank higher in most searches performed by the website author. Unfortunately, this often leads new writers into believing that they rank much higher than they really do for a particular search.

Always perform any searches that you want to use to see how things look to everyone else in your browser’s privacy mode. Google Incognito mode is useful for seeing unpersonalized search results and is my personal favorite, because it does not shut down your regular browsing session to go private.

Once you have launched a private browsing session, type in a few Google searches that you think would be productive ways of finding valuable information. Obviously, two word searches are difficult because there can be so much interpretation. Try better searches with three or four words. For an example, try “LCD versus Plasma”. Then try “LCD vs Plasma”.

google-search-results-quality-comparison

Despite Google’s insistence that it handles synonyms for you in searches, the differences between the results when using “versus” instead of “vs” are very different. This is technically an abbreviation, not a synonym, but the point remains that what results you get for your searches depends very much on EXACTLY what you search for. That is why writing to multiple keywords is so important.

You’ll notice throughout this site (and even in this article) I make an effort to link back for both “earn money writing online” AND “make money writing online” because it really does matter.

When you are out there writing content for yourself or your clients and building powerful backlinks to your best stuff, be sure to do the same. Otherwise, the best search engine in the world might not rank you as high as you deserve based on one tiny little word.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Best SEO Optimized WordPress Themes for Writers

best-seo-optimized-wordpress-themes-for-writers-graphic The guys over at WordPress Hacks recently updated their ever popular best free WordPress themes article for 2010 and that got me thinking again about all of the themes I’ve looked through. In the ongoing quest to find the best WordPress themes for writers I’ve looked at TONS of WordPress themes, and I do mean TONS. I’ve looked at free WordPress themes, I’ve looked at premium WordPress themes, I’ve looked at theme frameworks, I’ve looked at WordPress Photoshop template files, I’ve looked at empty themes, basic themes, and yes, even themes that claim to be great WordPress themes for writers. The good news is that means that I have a lot of experience with what is out there for good WordPress themes to use for professional writers. The bad news is that the reason I have looked through so many different WordPress themes is because I still haven’t found the perfect theme, yet.

I could do like everyone else does and just compile a bunch of links to good WordPress themes. I could even give it a really great SEO optimized title like 25 Best WordPress Themes for Writers. But, in an effort to perhaps speed along the development of quality WordPress themes for writers to use, I decided to compile a list of the best features a WordPress theme can have to make it useful for writers, and frankly, everyone else too.

Search Engine Optimized – SEO Ready WordPress Themes Required

Let’s get real here for a minute. Professional writers are professional writers because they get paid for what they do. Writing professionally isn’t easy, and quality writing and quality website content are valuable commodities. Running a freelance writing business website is a lot more profitable if people actually see it. As Han Solo once said, "I ain’t in this for your revolution, Highness. I expect to be well paid."

While there are numerous reasons a pro writer might create and publish a website, every one of those reasons succeeds or fails on a single criteria, getting enough traffic driven to the website in order to see all those webpages filled with high-quality professional writing. Leaving aside the debate about whether or not content is king when it comes to search engine rankings, one thing is clear, unless you have the means to manually drive readers to your website, you’ll need to grab search engine traffic to establish a readership. And, the way to a searcher’s heart, is through the first page of Google search results.

Check out the latest on credit card rewards programs at Finance Gourmet…

A few years ago, an Internet expert and SEO guru named Court published a list of top SEO problems in WordPress themes. He was right on the money, and it was a hit. At first, only the best WordPress themes were properly search engine optimized.  It took a while, but soon the entire WordPress developer community was cranking out SEO-optimized WordPress themes. Today, only the lowest quality WordPress themes make the basic SEO errors that Court outlined in his post.

The problem is that developers have stopped there. The last was called the most basic SEO errors committed in WordPress themes for a reason; they were the BASIC SEO ERRORS. They were not the ONLY SEO errors made in WordPress themes. So, while most quality themes now exploit Google’s overdependence on being told what is "important" on a webpage via header tags — that’s the H1, H2, H3 tags in your theme’s code — by making a post’s title the H1 element instead of the blog’s name. However, many themes still do not handle H2, H3, and H4 properly. Just making everything else H2 is NOT good SEO practice.

Some of the SEO issue in WordPress has been solved by the platform’s extensibility in the form of plug-ins. The most common SEO plugins for WordPress are All-In-One SEO plugin (outstanding SEO in it’s name, BTW), and Headspace2 (not so good on the SEO, but more "brandable"). These plug-ins allow webmasters and authors to easily set certain SEO parameters automatically, or make it easier to set them manually. These SEO WordPress plugins will ensure that your title tag is the same as you post title unless you set it otherwise, for example.

So, what else does a high-quality WordPress theme for writers need?

That’s coming up next…

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Wedding DJ Costs or How Much Power Does It Take To Rank High In Google Search Results?

wedding-dj-dance-playlist-graphic At the request of a friend I recently wrote up an article about the wedding DJ business. More specifically, I wrote a Hub about wedding DJ prices. The idea was that since so many people want to know what a wedding DJ costs, but so few DJ companies actually will say on their websites what they charge to DJ a wedding reception or other event, that he could refer them over to the webpage with the data.

The wedding reception DJ rate piece did pretty well while it sat on top of some of the topics pages on HubPages itself and generated a little bit of traffic organically. However, the article doesn’t really show up anywhere in main Google search results pages. The SERPs are, of course, loaded with long-established webpages that ironically, do not answer the question most people are asking when they search for wedding DJ prices or wedding DJ rates or something similar.

Instead these searches return webpages with information about wedding DJs who will do a wedding reception for you, but not pages that actually have any price or rates on them. In fact, most of the top search results flatly state something like, contact us for rates, or fill out this form for a rate quote.

This is one of the area where Google and all Internet search engines fail miserably. They are unable to detect the difference between a webpage that actually lists rates or prices and one that points you somewhere else for that same information. This is obviously a very tough programming challenge both from the perspective of being able to discern when someone wants actual pricing information, and from the perspective of knowing which content delivers an actual rate or price. Then, there is the even more difficult task of determining which pages best serve the searcher. For example, a highly regarded webpage about wedding reception DJs that does not list a solid dollar amount might still be a better resource than a thinly populated webpage with dollar signs all over it, but filled with less than useful information.

Out of curiosity, I have typed up this post which both exceeds the commonly excepted minimum word requirement to be taken seriously by Google (300 words) and that has two links with different anchor text to the webpage in question. The homepage of this site sits at around a 3 on the fabled PageRank scale based on various toolbars, so we aren’t talking about huge fire power, but it has been known to push up a page into the top 10 results for lesser used keyword searches. Thus, we’ll get to see two things. One, how far, if at all can these links push my Hub (which stands on the shoulders of HubPages and its "authority") and, two, what alternate searches might be less competitive, and potentially more profitable?

Stay tuned, or just grab the Make Money Writing Online RSS Feed.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS