Saturday, March 28, 2009

Local Algorithm Showing within General Search

It looks like Google has rolled out an algorithm where a local algorithm is now being shown within general search terms. For instance, ever since the recent brand ranking algorithm was implemented in January the top 4 floral companies have seemingly appeared secure in their dominance for many general floral keywords like “flowers,” "flower delivery," “florist,” etc…

Fast forward to today, and it looks like Google is now attempted to aid mom & pop shops. Here is a search on the keyword "flowers:"

I live in California so it appears Google is reading my IP address and populating local results in apropos. However, if I click on “change location” above the local algorithm is removed and replaced with a field box with the option to enter a new location. So if I wanted to locate a particular Baltimore Florist or just look for funeral flowers in a particular area, I would change the field box to populate that areas florists. This is a different from the usual text in the upper right corner that says: "Customized based on recent search activity." In that circumstance, a simple refresh removes the customization. But this in not the case in the new algorithm, you actually have to physically click "change location."

Also, the local listings seem to be from areas *near* my IP address location but not directly *in* my IP address area. If Google could just perfect that element to populate truer local listings this algorithm will be a breakthrough in favor for the local florist.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March Yahoo Algorithm Update

While there hasn't been a weather report released by Yahoo as of yet regarding an algorithm update, I am seeing changes in how they pull results.

Check your rankings.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cut Flower Commission & TaxPayer Money

Hot off the press regarding California's Cut Flower Commission and use of taxpayer money. Source is cited at the bottom: 
On The Money: Cut Flowers
Its a business with a more than $10 billion dollar impact on the state! 

Flowers, and many of the buds you buy are grown here in California. The largest growers actually have to pay the state to do business in the form of fees to an agency called the Cut Flower Commission. In fact, the commission runs of those fees, as well as federal grants paid by your income taxes.  Critics say Governor Schwarzenegger has told all state agencies to cut travel costs and since the commission is a state agency they, too, should watch what they're spending. 

So we wanted to know what the Cut Flower Commission spent on travel and found a lot of money spent on things that had nothing to do with flowers. 

Kasey Cronquist holds the title of Executive Director - and Ambassador - for the commission. While they have a Sacramento address, Cronquist is based in Carpinteria, California. He spent thousands in travel last year, travelling all over the country, from Salt Lake City to Cleveland to Washington, D.C. He even made a trip to Bogota, Columbia. 

Nearly every time he's come to Sacramento, he's stayed right across the street from the capitol at the Hyatt, spending upwards of $120 or more a night. 

Nearly every time he leaves town Kronquist stays at expensive hotels like a Radisson or the Fairmont in Washington, D.C. He's paid $7.00 per bottle for water; charged up to $60 for laundry; ordered room service nearly every time he stays in a hotel; hit the mini bar; and charged hundreds of dollars for fancy dinners every time he's out of town. 

They seem to be wasting fee payers revenue, says Jon Coupal, president of the watchdog group the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He says they're spending money every trip for things that are quite purely fluff. 

Coupal says at a time when state agencies are being asked to make cuts, the commission is spending too much. 

Whether its a non-profit or a government entity people need to understand they have a fiduciary obligation to the people who pay the bills, says Coupal. 

Kasey Cronquist refused to speak about his expenses on-camera, but told CBS-13s Sam Shane that he believes all the expenses are acceptable. He sent us this statement: service meals and the occasional snack or bottle of water from the mini-bar are expenses that I'm confident any frequent business traveler would find reasonable. 

He also adds that "We are passionate about what we do and all our travel takes place to help ensure a positive business environment for our growers to thrive." 

But critics like Jon Coupal say it doesn't take cross-country travel for the flower business to grow. There's still no concerted effort to look at the expenditure side, says Coupal, and see if Californians are getting the best value for their dollar and quite frankly, they're not!
Source: CBS13

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Teleflora Link Bait SuperBowl Video

A recent blog post over on SEOmoz about Comedy Central's use of video link bait reminded me of a similar situation where the SEO for embedded their SuperBowl Ad with text links aimed at ranking the giant for "flowers," "florists," and "flower delivery".... 

Notice the blue font text links above. The SEO for Teleflora is hoping that bloggers will do as I just did and post it. As more and more bloggers post the video Google begins to credit Teleflora to rank better for those terms. 
Unfortunatly, in order to tell of this, I had to post the video.
Update: I replaced the live link bait with an image of it. I was just educated by my wife on the Fn + PrtSc key.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

FlowerComplaint.Com Debut

I've been working on a little website project and I think it is ready for its debut even though I'm still tweaking things.

The website is . Respondents can instantly upload floral pictures via email or mobile device to the appropriate company category e.g. Proflowers, FTD, 1800flowers, Teleflora, Justflowers.

For those of you in the floral industry the website may strike you in an odd way but rest assured the intent of the website is to give people a place to vent of their floral experience within the context of a positive outlook for our industry. 

The slogan: "Only You Can Shape & Refine the Future of the Floral Industry!"

The idea for was born right out of Google's Analytics tracking for Florist SEO Watch. Yes, that's right, I decided to create based on how some people are reaching this blog through search. So desperate are some people to vent of their negative floral experience that they either contact me directly or look within this blog for the floral company that messed up.....and comment thereat where the context of my post doesn't match their complaint. Now they've got a place to express their frustrations.

Over time as more and more user content gets added to the website I'll be giving well-written substantial complaints their own page in an effort to make it difficult for the major floral players to perform reputation management on  

I'm also going to try to incorporate related news pieces as they become available before the holidays.

Any way, the site is brand new and a project in motion. Feel free to express your view of the site and any ideas you may have to help better it. Or, if you think it's not a good idea, take your complaint over to!! (just kidding)

Friday, March 13, 2009

February Search Engine Market Shares

ComScore just released stats related to search engine market shares. No surpise, Google is up 0.3 over the previous month:
February 2009 U.S. Core Search RankingsGoogle Sites led the U.S. core search market in February with 63.3 percent of the searches conducted, followed by Yahoo! Sites (20.6 percent), Microsoft Sites (8.2 percent), Ask Network (4.1 percent) and AOL LLC (3.9 percent).

Full report can be read here. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Matt Cutts on Brand Ranking: "Vince's Change"

Matt Cutts seems to down play the significance of the new "brand" algorithm and brushes it off as one of "Vince's changes" in the following video. The tone in the video is such that the change is not as significant as SEOs are making it out to be. The problem with Cutts' commentary, is that the facts DO suggest that the change is significant, and top Google engineers like Eric Schmidt have expressed in the past that Google will be headed in a brand ranking direction. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Local Florist PPC vs SEO Pricing

As we move forward into this tight economy, marketing analysts are predicting that PPC will continue to decline while SEO continues to rise. Media Post News is reporting that:

"Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics," suggests that growth will decline for paid search from 15.9% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2013--while SEO growth will jump from 17.7% to 20.3%, respectively. (see full report)
When local brick and mortar florists inquiry with me on how much I charge to SEO their site, the first place I go is Google's Traffic Estimator to help me get a value read on what would be their most primary keyword combination for their area. In every case, my cost is pennies compared to what the PPC is running for that same phrase (which is of course tallied from competitive bids).

While most SEOs price based on full court optimization, my pricing for local florists is based on a keyword basis (which is priced against search volume and competition levels) because I know that full court optimization FOR THE LOCAL FLORIST (only) is not worth the cost. Other SEOs may think I'm crazy in saying that, but it is true for the local florist industry. How do I know that? Because I am a real-florist (who is aware of real-florist budgets) with SEO knowledge.

For instance, if you had a shop in say Houston Tx....why pay an SEO for a full court SEO job to rank your website for multiple keywords....which would include keywords like "Houston flower delivery" when only 1 search a day is performed on that phrase; or for "Houston funeral flowers" when zilch ("o") searches are performed on it. 

It would make much better sense to pay an SEO to focus on ranking your website for just "Houston flowers" as roughly 200 searches are perform on that phrase each and everyday (and price it out according to that search volume). By concentrating on one or two primary keyphrases it keeps the SEO cost down for you, and ultimately pays off in the same way a full court optimization would. After all, you would be ranking for what the bulk of people are actually searching for any way. Of course, if you are in area where you serve multiple large cities (and there is a search volume present), you'd want rank for those cities too.

To give you a better example of a PPC to SEO comparison (which applies to my service only), let's look further at the search term "Houston flowers." Google's Traffic Estimator indicates that it costs an average of $720 - $1,170 a day to rank in the top 3 Sponsored Ads for that particular search. Yes, that's a day!! My cost, $450 a month for a top 5 organic ranking. 

If you are in a smaller populated area with less search volume my cost would be that much less. Many of my florist clients are paying as little as $300 a month for search volumes that are averaging 4,500 searches a month.  If you are in area where search volumes are even less, my pricing will be priced off the volume of searches for your area.

Any way, that's how it works. 

Take your phone book budget and replace it with SEO. There's a reason those books are getting smaller.


Monday, March 2, 2009

PageRank Update February 28th

As some of you know, Google updates their PageRank meter once every three months or so*. In an effort to document changes in PageRank values for the major floral players as the updates happen, I've created a table.  I'll be posting an updated version of this table after every PageRank update. The latest update occurred on Feb. 28th with the most noteable change going to 

I started keeping track of when updates occurred on the Sept. 28th 2008 update... 

PageRank Prior to Sept. 27th 2008

PageRank Update

Sept. 28th 2008

PageRank Update

Dec. 30th 2008

PageRank Update

Feb. 28th 2009





Proflowers PR6

Proflowers PR6

Proflowers PR6

Proflowers PR6

1800flowers PR7

1800flowers PR7

1800flowers PR7

1800flowers PR7

Teleflora ?

Teleflora ?

Teleflora PR6

Teleflora PR6

Justflowers ?

Justflowers ?

Justflowers ?

Justflowers PR4

Flowerpetal PR4

FlowerPetal PR5

Flowerpetal PR5

FlowerPetal PR2

Wesleyberry PR7

Wesleyberry PR5

Wesleyberry PR5

Wesleyberry PR4

*While it is true that the PageRank meter is updated once every three months or so, there are times when a real-time PageRank update is imposed on a specific website usually for a negative purpose.

Note: This most recent update has caused much discussion in the SEO world because it was hardly noticed compared to other updates. While some SEOs have labelled it a we see above some websites have changed. So I'm treating it like a PageRank update.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 PageRank 5 to PageRank 2 (Dunce Hat)

Back in 2008 I had a watchful eye out for as they suddenly began to rank 3rd in Google for “flowers.” Back then, I noted that some of the tactics they were employing to rank were very risky. Sure enough, just a couple of weeks later they didn’t even rank in the top 1000 for the same key-phrase. At the time, they had a Google PageRank value of “5” and were drawing most of the energy to rank from the following websites which also had PageRank values of “5”:


[As I mentioned back then, if you clicked on the links above and scrolled to the bottom you saw a variation of this: "Need flowers for your night out? Click here to send flowers."]

Fast forward to 2009 and it appears that not only has Google devalued the PageRank values of flowerpetal’s network websites (from PageRank 5s to PageRanks 3s & 4s), but itself has been hit the hardest going from a PageRank 5 to a PageRank 2.

Yes, while this PageRank devalue is like a public spank equivalent to having to wear a dunce hat, continues to rank good for geographical florist searches even though primary ranking for popular general terms has been taken away from them.  

But they’ve been publicly spanked nonetheless.