Archive for category SEO

Google’s Little Blue Arrow

It’s amazing how the smallest, subtlest changes on a site can massively impact millions of users and sites. This has long been the case with Google. We were reminded of this when Google Instant recently changed the dynamics of search behavior by force feeding popular searches. Today a new wrinkle has been added:

Google’s Little Blue Arrow

Google Blue Arrow Yes, the little blue arrow you see to the left is essentially the change that spurred this post. A simple 10 pixel x 10 pixel blue arrow that seems pretty harmless. Danny Sullivan of Search Engline Land writes it about it as well. It is apparently part of a keyboard navigation improvement project at Google (I think they were fascinated with how you could arrow down Google Instant suggestions).

Danny writes:

It feels sort of strange to me. Google Instant already focuses so much attention on whatever is at the top of the page that this seems like overkill.

I agree, it seems a little strange. However, I think both Danny & Slavik (who reported this to Danny) may have missed the impact this little arrow could have.

The Impact of Google’s Blue Arrow

Before I jump into the impacts of “little blue, ” I want to make sure you see what it looks like. Here’s a search where there are no ads:
Blue arrow as seen in natural search
Pretty simple. The blue arrow marks the first listing. If you use your down arrow, you can navigate down the list. The arrow is not affected by mouse scrolling or paging down, so the intent is clearly keyboard navigation, which probably isn’t very common at this point, because Google never offered it before (before this change, using your down arrow would scroll you down the page as if you were using your mouse arrow.

Clearly the blue arrow draws additional attention to the first listing. I believe it may have a subtle impact on searchers who used to scan the first three or four listings to make their click decision, because the blue arrow pretty much says “look closely at the first listing.” This may give the #1 listing a small amount of additional traffic (as if it didn’t already get enough).

Where this gets a little more awkward is paid listings. Google applies the blue navigation arrow to paid ads as well:
Blue arrow marks sponsored ad
This could help Google get a slightly higher click through on the top ad as well, meaning more money for Google.

I’ll admit, the impact of the arrowing highlighting the top listing, whether it be paid or unpaid, may be a minimal boost to any one listing. (though large when applied to billions of searches). But I noticed one thing, that makes the blue arrow much more powerful:

If you hit return twice, or hold the enter button for 1.5-2 seconds, the first listing is automatically clicked!

I believe holding down the enter button too long, or clicking it twice is a more common scenario then using arrow keys to navigate. With Google Instant, the I’m feeling lucky button is obsolete (not even sure why they have it on the homepage). But the I’m Feeling lucky leap of faith is back!

With the automatic click through to the first listing, the blue arrow has essentially become the I’m feeling lucky button! Only this time, paid ads can get the feeling lucky traffic as well. Google Blue Arrow That’s a powerful little 10×10 image!

Speaking at Beer Blogger Conference

Beer Blogger conference


I’m happy to announce I’ll be speaking at the Beer Blogger Conference in November, where I’ll be conducting SEO site reviews for a few lucky beer bloggers or beer industry sites. 

Learn more about me and my involvement with beer in this Beer & SEO interview conducted by the conference organizers, including a call out for beer bloggers or industry professionals to volunteer to have their site reviewed. Brave volunteers will be rewarded with valuable advice and links for industry peers (email info @ if you are attending the conference and are  interested).

Speaking about UGC SEO at SMX East

Dustin at SMX EastI’ve been a firm believer in opening up content floodgates by allowing user-generated content for quite some time. From my time at and Wetpaint, I’ve seen how powerful it can be from a community standpoint, but also from an SEO standpoint. There’s no greater way to attack the long-tail of search then by harnessing user-generated content. Why have 2 or 3 writers, when you can have 1,000?

I’m excited to share my knowledge on UGC SEO at SMX East in October. This will be my 2nd talk on this subject (first was at Pubcon last November). This time I will have more data to share and more experiences to cover.

If you haven’t considered adding user-generated elements to your site, you are cutting your traffic potential short. Right now, you’ll have to take my word for it. In a couple weeks, after my talk, I’ll share data that I can almost guarantee will surprise you.

Search Engine Journal Interview

My interview with the Search Engine Journal went up today. Todd Mintz creatively called me the SEO Auteur thanks to my film background. It was a great interview that sheds some light on:Dustin Woodard Search Engine Journal Interview

  • How SEO has evolved over the last decade
  • Making the transition from an in-house SEO to a full-time independent SEO consultant
  • How I differentiate my SEO services
  • The power of User-Generated Content for SEO purposes
  • How to leverage social media to drive SEO
  • What domainers need to know about SEOs, and vice-versa

Read the whole interview here: Dustin Woodard Search Engine Journal Interview

New Seattle SEO Consultant On The Block

I’ve been beta testing my new career as a 100% freelance SEO consultant after a decade of working in-house for some of the most successful Seattle-area web companies. So far I’ve limited my clients to “by referral only”, meaning I haven’t actively sought out any business & only considered companies who were referred to me by close friends.

The past few months my SEO & Social Media consulting services have been a hit–enough so that I can take a much needed vacation in March.

Consider this post a declaration that SEO Naturale is open for business. I’m based near Seattle, but am available to both Seattle and non-Seattle based companies. I’ll be accepting new clients, but not until late March. Feel free to contact me (dustin@ this site’s domain) before then if you’d like to get on the list to improve your websites traffic.

PS – Despite similarities, the title of this post makes absoultely no reference to a late 80s boy band as that would be almost as lame as the band itself was.