Greg Lyon


Top Ten Google FAILS of

Greg Lyon // in Strategy

There’s no doubting it: Google is awesome. When you spend a lot of time doing SEO, it’s even more awesome to see your hard work lead to the first organic result on Google’s results page. No matter how much you optimize, however, it’s inevitable that you’ll garner some misguided traffic. That’s why it’s important to analyze the search query report: a report of all your site’s Google-originated visitors (paid and organic) and what they typed into Google to get there.

Though some misguided traffic can be frustrating, it can also be a great source of entertainment.

To see your organic search query report, access the “Keywords” section of the “Traffic Sources” tab in Google Analytics. To see your paid search query report, you’ll have to click on “Reports” in the drop-down menu under the “Reporting” tab in Google AdWords, then “Create a New Report”, then select “Search Query Report” and select your parameters.

Top Ten Google FAILS

Without further ado, I’d like to present the top ten Google FAILS of Disclaimer: this is all real. Not only did people actually search this stuff, but they also came to Vodori after searching it. 

    1. “geocitiesizer"
      This thing is awesome! I’d say our web development is a little more professional though. Slightly.
    2. “is bradley cooper a tool”
      Congrats to Mike Kinney for making a pop-culturally relevant SEO Title tag for his blog post, but I’m not sure if this searcher got the answer they were looking for. I don’t want to answer this question honestly, because that might hurt my chances of scoring tickets to the premiere of The Hangover 2. Lylab Brad ;)
    3. “how to define+spring 3.0, there is an xml namespace for configuring taskexecutor and taskscheduler instances + examples”
      Personally, I’ve been trying to rank #1 organically on Google for this one for a while now. I’ll pat myself on the back for the excellent long tail keyword research and our first hit.
    4. “most important languages in the past”
      Elvish. Klingon. Igpay Atinlay. American (note: this is also the current most important language).
    5. “puzzles for my girlfriend”
      This is an interesting one. One would assume that the searcher is looking for a puzzle for their girlfriend to distract her while they’re up to no good (or debugging). In that case, I would recommend this one.  
    6. –≤–æ–¥–æ—Ä–∏
      According to Google Translate, this means hydrogen in Russian. You win, Putin, you win.  
    7. “rovegno italy”
      Indeed, our President shares his last name with a small town in Northern Italy. I think I’ve found my suggestion for next year’s summer outing. Well, here would work too.
    8. “what are the most important new advancements engineering in the last decade”
      There’s only one, and it’s the Three Little Piggy sandwich at Chicago’s own The Silver Palm. Double smoked ham, pork tenderloin, bacon, gruyere cheese, and some fried eggs.
    9. “sexy enterprise”

      And last but not least:
    10. “what is meant by online marketing”
      Uhh…defer to Rob DeMento.

Happy search query reporting!


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David Shapanka


Google Instant Alphabet Search

David Shapanka // in Strategy

The buzz on teh internets this week is all about Google Instant Search, the behemoth's next step in taking over your mind the web. We've gotten used to (and been entertained by) their autocomplete suggestions, but populating a whole page of search results is a pretty big leap. It also opens us up to a whole new world of distractions.

C is for Craigslist

The alphabet itself can provide hours of fun1! Just typing in a single letter shows you the first page of search results for that letter. Type "a": you get a whole bunch of Amazon. "b": Best Buy. "f": Friendster (Psych! It's Facebook, you silly goose). You get the picture.

Running through the alphabet gives you a who's who on the internet at this moment. OR, it can reveal surprising information. For example, apparently people still use Mapquest. And local concert venue Ravinia should be proud they're the top result, at least for a search executed in Chicago. My contact in Washington, D.C. tells me REI is the top result there. Fun fact (free of charge): There's an REI less than 600 feet from Vodori's front door in Chicago, but Ravinia still gets the drop on them. And there are no REI stores in D.C. proper. Google still has some work to do, it would seem.

My favorite wrinkle here belongs to everyone's favorite Scrabble piece: Q. "Famous Quotes and Quotations at BrainyQuote" is the first Instant Search result, followed by a bunch of other quote-related sites.! A simple, no-frills site with a handful of ads, is sitting pretty with the top spot right now! Must be pretty exciting for a site that I've never heard of. It would be interesting to see if their traffic has increased dramatically since Instant Search launched and curious nerds like me started poking around. Apart from, it's the only non-heavy-hitter on the list. Incidentally, it appears that Instant results don't always match the executed search results. Hitting "Q" and <Enter> gives you a Qwest stock quote, Chicago style manual FAQs, and the Q Wikipedia page. This is fascinating stuff, people.

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

Most Googlers know what they're looking for, but to someone who is easily distracted, Instant Search can change the way we use the web. The aimless wandering that used to be confined to IMDB and then moved on to Wikipedia can now reside in the Google search bar. Let's say I'm a slow typer who's curious about the John Travolta/Robin Williams smash hit Old Dogs. I type "O" and start hunting around for the "L" key. Meanwhile, I glance up and see Orbitz on the screen. I'm reminded of a trip I was thinking of taking, and soon enough I'm booking a flight. Kayak, Travelocity and Priceline are pissed, and super-jealous of Orbitz's SEO prowess. Home Depot is jealous of Lowe's, AT&T is jealous of Verizon, and T.J. Maxx is jealous of Kohl's. FYI, I'll probably buy a shirt from Old Navy and enroll at Old Dominion University before I learn that actually, Old Dogs probably sucked.

Once the novelty wears off, it'll be interesting to see how this affects mobile devices or the upcoming Google TV service, not to mention SEO practices. Not only do you have to beat out your known competitors, now you're up against anyone that shares a few letters. Personally, I can't wait to see what happens.

Coming soon: Episode Two: NUMBERS!

1"Fun" is on a sliding scale.

The full Google Instant Search Alphabet, if you are curious:

Best Buy


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The face of Vodori.


UI Updates: Google Versus Facebook

Matt Strick // in Strategy

Every time Facebook makes user interface changes, people hate it. When Google makes a change, there is almost no reaction. And there's a reason for that.

Facebook is really lucky to be in a position where no matter the controversy (exposing personal data, stolen ideas, site redesigns), they keep growing. They've recently hit 500 million users. The struggling individual user's anger over relearning the site layout is overridden by his or her desire to stay connected with the community. In a lot of markets, users would just switch to another product. So I have come to expect an uproar when changes appear on such a well-used application. Not so with Google's Gmail.

The Gmail Update

Gmail gets an update, and while admittedly it would take a lot to turn away their 40+ million users, nobody seems to care. It is possible that the changes are being overshadowed by other announcements, including Google Wave and the open Internet policy. But the real reason no one has much of a problem is because the change to the site is so small. Keeping it so limited has the added bonus of highlighting the new features for the user. By keeping so much the same, the change gets magnified. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and found a shiny new box in your room, but everything else was the same. You might be skeptical, you might be angry, you might be excited, but you would still go examine it. You could figure out how to deal with that box being in your room.

Facebook Transformations

Apply the same analogy to the way Facebook makes changes. You wake up tomorrow, and not only is your room rearranged, but the door has moved and the windows that used to face west are now on the east. This might be exactly the way you would have set things up in the beginning if everything could be made to your own specifications. But it would be hard to handle because you did not get to make the decision. Somebody else came in when you were sleeping and changed a lot of the rules. And even worse, you might not even realize that now there is a new feature available, because you are too busy trying to find your pants and get out the door.

The Takeaway

Not many of us have 500 million users to appease. However, it is important to be sensitive to your target audience with each change to your site. Does it significantly disrupt their regular interaction without a noticeable improvement in functionality or performance? If so, have the patience to update gradually. Give users shiny new features, one at a time. Don't uproot them into a completely new home overnight.


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