3996683276_d1b463577e_z

The weather today is… sunny with a chance of ranking stability.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking weather and rankings! In this newsletter we wanted to introduce you to a fantastic new tool which we will be using to help us determine if a ranking or traffic drop could be due to a Google Algorithm update.

Those wonderful people at SEOmoz have come up with a way of visualising the data. To make it interesting and easy to work out if there is anything to be concerned about in the world of Google Algorithms and their affect on the rankings, they’ve used the concept of weather forecasting.

The idea behind this is that you can log into MozCast and take a glance at the day where you think there’s an issue and you’ll get a visual representation of how the Google algorithm has changed, and as such how rankings will have been affected. The higher the temperature or the stormier the weather the greater the algorithm change and the affect on the rankings.

When you tie this information with the Google Algorithm Change History which SEOmoz always keep a record of, then we have a fantastic record of information to refer to whenever there are questions around why a Client’s traffic and/or rankings may have dropped.

Bing introduces ask a friend feature

Bing have recently released a new feature in their ever increasing campaign to top Google as the number 1 search engine.

Simply by tagging Facebook friends as you search, you can ask them questions related to your search.

Before everyone rushes out to flood their friend’s walls with interesting questions that they will surely appreciate very deeply, there is one important thing that should be pointed out about this new feature….Bing’s Facebook integration is not available in many countries (including the U.K.)…yet!

This means that many will have to wait until the final release to endear themselves to distant acquaintances in this way.

In theory, once the final release does hit, Bing will have a cool new feature to help them claw back some market share from Google. Like Google +, search will have more personal results, but the clever thing that Bing have done is to make sure you actually want the more personal results before they give them to you.

In practice, Bing has had a go at social integration before, and though I thought it was pretty well-done, it didn’t affect market share. Google has a strong brand image and market dominance, so new features on competing products won’t necessarily convert people from Google search. There’s no reason to suspect the story will be different this time.

I’m also hard-pressed to see the use of the thing. With close friends, I’ll know who’s in the know and about what topics. That’s why they’re close friends. I don’t need Bing to tell me about what my close friends know.

With Facebook-only friends, I’m not likely to ask them anything because I don’t know if they’ll be busy, or appreciate the intrusion. It’s not polite. Besides, if I need to know something that obscure, I’d be better-served by a library.

This is a feature to watch, and could be very well-implemented. I don’t know if it will become a viral, if irritating, game-changer or not though. For now I’m sceptical but open-minded.

Yahoo! release Axis browser

Yahoo! have released a new browser, touted as a new way to search. It’s attracted cynicism in some quarters, but having tried out a few of the features I can see the potential appeal.

For desktop, it’s pretty superfluous. The size of most monitors today is more than enough to present most of the information on a page in text format, with site-links too. For a smartphone, though, the browser is very useful.

More-over, its image and snippet dominated search, presented in nice neat squares and rectangles, reminds me of nothing so much as the Windows 8 User Interface.

Putting two and two together and coming up with eleven (I’m using ternary to skip ahead a few steps), it seems to me like this is an attempt by Yahoo! to take a sideways step into the smartphone market without anyone noticing.

With smartphone usage growing all the time, this could prove to be a decent challenge, with time.

I find it interesting that both Microsoft and Yahoo! appear to be specialising their search engines at the same time. I wonder if it’s a coincidence.

Google Knowledge Graph

Google acquired the start-up Metaweb Technologies in July 2010, along with a huge (previously) open source database that started at 12 million searchable entities, but is now said to stand at 500 million unique objects, as well as mapping the relationships between them.

What will this mean for searchers?

Well, if you’re searching for a person, you could find useful biographical information such as birth date, death date, career highlights and successes. If you’re searching for a country, you could see encyclopaedic information such as GDP, primary exports and central faiths.

Google is also said to be using Wikipedia and CIA World Facts as sources for the new knowledge graph information.

This is interesting for businesses, as it could lead to Google beginning to separate search results out, for instance, into informative and commercial results – after all, in accordance with Google’s own attitude towards duplicate content, it’s unlikely to bring up Wikipedia’s information twice on the first page of search results.

In theory, this could give businesses who can’t, won’t or simply don’t use AdWords to compete for clicks on a much more even footing.

Check out our blog post on Knowledge Graphs.

Bing! goes social by