As Google continues to diversify its product offering and optimize its search algorithm, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the uninitiated to navigate their way through the Google Jargon Jungle. Although the majority of Internet users are familiar with Google Search and Gmail, it is less likely that they are familiar with Google+, Google+ Local, Google AdWords, and Google Analytics. The recent algorithm updates Google Panda and Google Penguin are even more perplexing to users who may not have a full understanding of how Google Search works, what an algorithm update is, and why it matters.
With this in mind, we have decided to write a blog post that will serve as a beginner’s glossary to the most significant Google products and updates.
Almost everyone who is responsible for maintaining a personal or company website should be familiar with Google Analytics. For everyone else, Google Analytics can be understood as the statistical center of your website or blog. If you are interested in learning how people find your website, what they do when they are on your website, or how much time they are spending on your website, then Google Analytics is the tool for you. You can install Google Analytics to your website by following the instructions provided here.
Google AdWords is the service that is responsible for the ads that appear above Google search results and is a relevant tool for anyone interested in promoting a product or service. For example, if I am a personal injury lawyer whose website appears on the 5th or 6th page of Google’s organic search results, I can build an AdWords campaign around relevant personal injury keywords to balance my low organic-search ranking with higher visibility ad space in the Google search results. Google Adwords also allows users to access the Google Display Network, which is a collection of websites that allow users to buy ad space on their webpages directly through AdWords. For more information on Google AdWords, you can click here.
Google Drive is a file storage and sync service that was released on April 24, 2012. It is currently the service that users access in order to use Google Docs – a tool that allows for the collaborative creation and editing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Google Drive provides users with 5 gigabytes of cloud storage with additional storage available for a monthly fee. The service is very similar to the file-hosting service offered by Dropbox. For more information on Google Drive you can click here.
Google Display Network
The Google Display Network is a collection of websites that allow advertisers to buy ad space directly through Google AdWords. Members of the Google Display Network include www.nytimes.com, www.latimes.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, and many others. Although websites often sell advertising space directly to advertisers, many are starting to utilize the Google Display Network to fill advertising space that they are unable to sell themselves. The Google Display Network was created through the purchase of DoubleClick by Google in 2007. You can read more about the Google Display Network here.
Google+ is Google’s foray into the world of social media. Google+ is essentially Google’s attempt to beat Facebook at its own game. You can add friends to your Google+ Account, upload photos, and publish status updates to your news feed. In order to promote Google+, Google has been integrating it into many of its other tools and services. Google+ is very similar to Facebook and infrequently used as a social media site. However, it is a powerful tool for SEO as it has been noted that Google favors Google+ Company Pages to Facebook Company Pages in organic searches. The +1 button that is available to Google+ users, can additionally contribute to a website’s SEO.
Google+ Local was recently released by Google and is meant to replace the popular Google Places tool. On Google+ Local companies are able to create geographic listings that are highlighted in Google Search results as follows:
Google+ Local is an incredibly powerful SEO tool that can help drive traffic to your website and customers into your store, restaurant, or office. If you are interested in creating a Google+ Local account, you can find instructions regarding setup by following this link.
As mentioned above, Google Places was recently replaced with Google+ Local and used to serve an almost identical purpose. The primary difference between the new Google+ Local and the old Google Places is that Google+ Local requires that users create a Google+ account in order to create a Local listing, whereas Google Places did not require any interaction with Google+. Google+ Local also incorporates reviews from the rating company Zagat when listing restaurants, whereas Google Places previously used a simpler five star review system. If you are interested in creating a Google Places listing, you are too late; but you can create a Google Local+ listing by following this link.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools, like Google Analytics, is a service that is relevant for anyone who owns or manages a website. Essentially, Google Webmaster Tools allows users to better understand how their website is interacting with Google Search. Among other things, the service provides webmasters with their website’s indexing status and additional information regarding keyword searches. Webmaster Tools requires slightly more technical mastery than Google Analytics to be used effectively, however, the keyword metrics that the service provides is well worth checking out. You can sign up for the service by clicking here.
Google Website Optimizer/Google Analytics Content Experiments
Google Website Optimizer was a free tool that allowed users to make various changes to their website and test the effects of these changes on conversion rates. Recently Google Website Optimizer was incorporated into Google Analytics and is now accessed as Google Analytics Content Experiments. Owners can use this tool to do simple A-B testing as well as multivariate tests where many variables are tested against one another. For more information about Google Website Optimizer and the new Google Analytics Content Experiments tool, you can click here.
PageRank refers to to the link analysis algorithm used by Google to rate the relevancy of various pages on the internet. The algorithm was developed by Larry Page while he was at Stanford University and can be applied to any hyper-linked set of documents to determine the relative importance of each document in the set. The value that PageRank assigns to a website relies heavily upon on how many sites are linking into it, as the value assigned to a page is based on the probability of arriving on that page after a large number of clicks. The structure of this algorithm has contributed to many black hat SEO tactics including link farming, keyword stuffing, and others.
Google Panda is used to refer to a series of changes to Google’s search algorithm that started to rollout in February of 2011. The changes that were implemented were designed to lower the rank of low quality sites that were unfairly benefitting from optimization strategies that took advantage of older versions of the Google Algorithm. Google Panda takes its name from the engineer that designed it Navneet Panda. You can read more about the update here.
Google Penguin is used to refer to a Google Algorithm update that went live on April 24, 2012. Penguin, like Panda, was primarily aimed at lowering the ranking of low quality sites that had been inappropriately optimized through the use of black hat tactics like keywords stuffing, cloaking and link farming. You can read more about the update here.
Just Scratching the Surface
There are many more tools, products, and Google updates out there, but hopefully this small glossary will have provided you with a better understanding of the Google Jargon Jungle. If you can think of other tools or updates that we left off the list, please add a comment below. If you require help with any of the services listed above, then please feel free to contact Skunkworks Creative Group.