Since former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked evidence of the security agency’s covert surveillance of millions of Americans to journalist Glenn Greenwald last year, online privacy has become one of the tech sector’s most contentious issues.Few issues in tech are as polarizing as online privacy, but the topic goes far beyond opinions about the security of personal data or how it should be used.
In fact, online privacy (or the lack thereof) is shaping the future of search, whether you realize it or not.Advertisers are desperate to plumb the depths of people’s personal lives in search of more accurate targeting, while many users are balking at how the monoliths of the tech sector are gathering, storing, and using their information. But what does the future hold, and should you be worr... > Read more
Google has gone to valiant lengths to convince us that rumors of Google+’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but Google is no longer forcing new Gmail users to connect their account to a Google+ profile – yet another move that could signal the end for Google’s troubled social network.Rumors of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring.
Google, unsurprisingly, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration which had previously been in place since 2012.Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they’ll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.Gundotra’s sudden departure from Mountain ... > Read more
Google’s latest earnings call was a bit mixed – while Google saw a 22% increase in revenue over last year, bringing earnings to $15.96 billion in the second quarter of 2014, and the search giant narrowly beat analyst projections of $15.6 billion in revenue, their ad sales in the US and the UK, their two major markets, have slowed.
Non-US revenue (excluding the UK) of $7.7 billion accounted for 48% of total revenue. Their earnings per share were considered a miss as well, at $6.08.The proliferation of ads in emerging markets worldwide drove profits to $3.42 billion for the period, up from $3.23 billion in Q2 2013. More people are clicking on Google ads – a lot more. Total paid ad clicks were up 25% over last year and up 2% over the first quarter of 2014.However, the average cost per c... > Read more
If you’ve been following developments in the search industry lately, you’ll have undoubtedly have come across discussions about Google’s recent decision to remove authorship photos from search results. We reported on this soon after the change went into effect, and other industry thought leaders like Rand Fishkin wasted no time weighing in, either.
However, despite overwhelming support for the idea that Google’s decision was based on authorship photos’ impact on the CTR of paid search ads, some naysayers insisted that this couldn’t be the case. I wasn’t content to leave things at that, so I set about looking for evidence to support my theory – and I’ve found it.In the figure above, you can see that in a search for the term “negative keywords”, our paid search ad is the... > Read more
When Google announced a couple of weeks ago that Google+ authorship markup would be disappearing from the SERPs, Larry and Rand Fishkin were on the same page – both suspected that the reason for the reversal was a loss of clicks on ads.As Larry put it, “Clicks on the search results page are basically a zero sum game.
If there's an increase in CTR for one part of the SERP, some other part is losing that click. There must be a decrease in CTR elsewhere. And that includes the ads.”Do I think this theory is plausible? Sure, for two reasons:You’d expect that Google would test the feature before they told SEO’s to start using it. So it’s suspicious that we are now being told that the author photos have no positive effect.Images have been shown to increase CTR on the paid side (i... > Read more
Googler John Mueller shocked the SEO industry last week with his announcement that Google is removing authorship photos and circle counts from the SERPs.The big question is: WHY? Why would Google kill a feature they had said would instill user trust in quality search results and help valuable content stand out?Why did they want us all to implement it in the first place?Was anything we were told about Google+ authorship markup and profile images in search true to begin with?It didn't take Moz's Rand Fishkin long to tweet his thoughts on the motivation behind the change:And even more pointedly:Since Google+ authorship and the rich snippets with photos in search results were implemented, we've seen eye tracking studies point to additional attention for the enhanced results.
We've seen researc... > Read more
In September of last year, when Google Hummingbird was officially announced, Matt Cutts said that it would affect 90% of all searches, albeit in a subtle way. Considering that Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches every day, this means Google Hummingbird affects more than 3.15 billion of them.
Not exactly an inconsequential update.This image has nothing to do with Google Hummingbird. Still, hummingbirds are pretty cool.The Hummingbird update was the most ambitious adjustment of Google’s search algorithm since 2001. In today’s post, we’re going to look at what Google Hummingbird is, what it means for SEO, and what the future of Google’s quest to become the “Star Trek” computer could hold.What is Google Hummingbird?Although it’s technically accurate to call Google Hummin... > Read more
If you’ve ever read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, you probably didn’t notice a chapter about Google tracking your parental status in AdWords. Well, this is exactly what Google is doing, as Parental Status is now a demographic subset that advertisers can explicitly target.This feature went live within the past 12 hours or so, and Google has yet to make an official announcement.
However, we’ve already seen it in action, as you can see in the following figure:Our resident data scientist Mark Irvine was the first of us at WordStream to notice the new feature. At this point, parental status targeting hasn’t been rolled out across all advertiser accounts – in fact, even some of our largest Managed Services accounts don’t have access to this functionality yet, suggesti... > Read more
Google this week announced the launch of Google My Business, a new program aimed at getting more business owners under the Google umbrella with a one-stop shop for managing their business listings in search, using Google+ and more. Google My Business is an offering for businesses just getting started on the web, but will also become the default dashboard for current users of Places for Business and the Google+ social network.
In fact, as of today, if you navigate to Google Places for Business from the US or Canada, you'll be redirected to Google My Business:This is a little unusual, as Google tends to release new products in the United States first, rolling out changes over a period of weeks or months. The incorporation of Google+ and Places for Business into Google My Business happened as ... > Read more
Poor eBay – they're having a pretty bad day. Thanks to Google’s roll-out of Panda 4.0 and the Payday Loan 2.0 update, eBay is suffering a massive loss in organic traffic and rankings. Adding insult to injury, they had to ask all users to change their passwords after a database hack.Matt Cutts kicked off the SEO hysteria yesterday as he often does, with a tweet:First released in 2011, Panda is a component of the organic search ranking algorithm designed to weed out low-quality sites, or those with "thin content.
" In its initial release, Panda affected approximately 12% of all search queries – by March 2013, Google had refreshed Panda 25 times, making it a constant source of aggravation in SEO circles.This update is particularly worrisome for webmasters, given that Google had stopped a... > Read more
Google Glass: What began as an experiment in the notoriously secretive Google X research and development lab soon became the future of wearable technology. Google recently opened up its Glass Explorer pilot program to the general public, meaning yes, anyone (with $1500 to spare) can buy one! But many people remain unaware of what Google Glass can really do.
First, for all you hardware nerds out there, let’s take a look at Glass’ “tech specs” (sorry, couldn’t resist):12GB of usable memory (16GB Flash total)802. 11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity5 megapixel camera720p video resolutionIn this post, we’re going to explore five creative ways you can use Google Glass – and tell you how you can win your very own Google Glass headset (for free!) in WordStream’s new Grade and Get... > Read more
What are on-the-go consumers looking for when they're using mobile devices to perform searches with local intent? Four out of five local searchers want the ads they see to be customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings, for one.They're also looking for information they can act on immediately.
Fifty percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, according to new research by Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased, commissioned by Google.Their study took place online in January 2014 and explored consumer behavior across nine different verticals including Auto, CPG, Retail and Finance. Each of the 4,500 study participants completed a vertical-specific online survey. In order to participate, they had to be at least 18 years of age, cond... > Read more
When consumers are searching for local business information, it makes sense that so long as your business listing information is correct, your business will show on the map when the search includes your physical location and product/service … right?Not necessarily. Julie Bacchini from Neptune Moon shared an interesting blog post (aptly titled “This is Why People Hate Google”) last week that highlights factors outside of a company's physical address that may influence how and when your business listing will appear in local searches.
She started looking into the issue on behalf of a client who has had trouble getting their business listing to come up in local, relevant searches. In fact, according to Bacchini, the business appears on page two in Google's search results when people searc... > Read more
In the latest Webmaster video, Matt Cutts answers a question that could have come from me (but actually came from someone named Leah in New York):Google changed the search engine market in the '90s by evaluating a website's backlinks instead of just the content ... Updates like Panda and Penguin show a shift in importance towards content.
Will backlinks lose their importance?There have been some arguments – notably from Russ Jones in the comments on this post (extrapolated on by Rand Fishkin in a recent Whiteboard Friday) – that links will actually increase in value over time.In the below video, Matt Cutts says the opposite is true. It’s not around the corner, but Google will eventually put less emphasis on links – not, however, purely because of link spam, but because links to a s... > Read more
Rand Fishkin just published the results of a test he did to see if query and click-through data might affect search rankings. To run the test, he asked his Twitter followers to search the term “imec lab” and click on the Moz result. He did not link to the post in his tweet:Care to help with a Google theory/test? Could you search for "IMEC Lab" in Google & click the link from my blog? I have a hunch.
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) May 1, 2014Rand writes:A blog post I’d published last week ranked number 7 in Google US results (incognito/logged-out, without regional geographic bias), the same as it had a week prior just after I wrote it (sadly, I forgot to take a screenshot last week when I first looked at the ranking). After noting the position and taking a screenshot, I sent&nbs... > Read more
If you’re like me, you’re checking Gmail constantly. Despite how much time you spend on Gmail, I bet that good old Google Mail is still holding out a few secrets on you! Well we’re blowing its cover and showing you some of the most valuable Gmail tips and tricks to make your email checking a bit easier.
Gmail Keyboard ShortcutsDid you know you can use a number of Gmail keyboard shortcuts from within Google Gmail? Some general Word shortcuts apply so that when you’re composing messages, you can use Gmail shortcut keys like:Ctrl + b | Make your text bold.Ctrl + i | Make your text italicized.Ctrl + u | Make your text underlined.Ctrl + Shift + 7 | Create a numbered list.Ctrl + Shift + 8 | Create a bulleted list.Ctrl + k | Insert a hyperlink for highlighted text. (Note: For Gmail ke... > Read more
It’s no secret that there’s little love lost between Google and Facebook, even to those outside the Valley. Google proved this once again today by announcing it has expanded access to +Post ads to all advertisers and that these ads will support Google Hangouts on Air.What Are Google +Post Ads?Google first announced +Post ads in December, billing them as a new format of ad that brands can use to drive engagement across multiple platforms.
Simply put, +Post ads are pieces of content from brands’ Google Plus profiles, such as videos and photos, which are repurposed into ads to be served across the Google Display Network.What’s the Big Deal?In the official blog post announcing the rollout, Google highlighted some examples of how advertisers have used +Post ads to drive user engagement.... > Read more
In his latest Webmaster video, Matt Cutts answers the question: “How does Google separate popularity from authority?” (This question came from a “Blind Five Year Old,” by the way! That’s our friend AJ Kohn unless someone stole his alias.)It’s an interesting question, but I’m particularly interested in an offhand comment that Cutts makes at the beginning of the video.
To distinguish between popular sites and authoritative sites, he uses the examples of pornography and government websites. Porn sites are more popular than government sites, he says, but government sites are more authoritative:If you were to look at sites that are popular – for example porn sites are very popular – but people tend not to link to porn sites. On the other hand if you take something like the Wis... > Read more
It's fair to say Google's Amit Singhal shocked the audience at SMX West last week when he told Danny Sullivan a solution to the not-provided keywords issue will be announced "in the coming weeks or months."Wow .@theamitsinghal announced that google is working on solution for keyword (not provided) situation #SMXWest #smx pic.
twitter.com/taQEMTYv9m— Larry Kim (@larrykim) March 12, 2014Google hasn't given an inch on the keyword data lost to site owners and marketers when secure search was fully implemented in September 2013. It was a change two years in the making; SEOs and site owners saw keyword data gradually disappearing to the "not provided" dark side from September 2011 on. Throughout, panic ensued as site owners were no longer able to track users by the keywords that brought them to... > Read more
In a recent Webmaster video, Matt Cutts confirmed that Google has tried internal versions of its search engine that work entirely without links. The results are low-quality – “for now,” he said. But this suggests that the value of the almighty link has come into question at Google, and they may be working on a version of the PageRank algorithm that doesn't depend so heavily on the link graph – which means PageRank as we know it might be on the chopping block.
But when?Don LaFontaine, Master of the "In a World" Movie Trailer VoiceoverIn light of this, we asked some of our favorite SEO and inbound marketing experts to answer the following three questions:Do you see the link losing value over time? Do you foresee a future where backlinks lose some or all of their weight in the PageRan... > Read more
Internet marketing legend and conference organizer extraordinaire Brett Tabke took time from his busy schedule recently to discuss a number of issues with me, from the impact of Google search updates and upcoming trends in online marketing to the future of his popular Pubcon conference series. Read on for his fascinating insights into Google’s changing business model, the secret of content marketing and more.
Thanks for talking with me, Brett!Referral Data Losses a Game ChangerLK: Back in November, you and Joe Laratro spoke at SLC/SEM about the Year in Search Marketing. What do you think were the biggest game changers in search in 2013? BT: The Snowden revelations gave search engines cover to implement SSL connections on all searches. That has led to the loss of referral data. Not h... > Read more
Yes, Google tracks what you do. Yes, Google knows a lot about you. Yes, Google reads your email. Yes, it’s 2014, and no one cares.Online privacy concerns were a hot topic in 2013 (e.g. Edward Snowden), but I suspect even more information will be gathered about all of us in 2014. Oh well. Each day, we hand over more information to Facebook, Amazon, Google and any other successful online brand.
Personally, I like when Amazon recommends products I might like, when Facebook shows me updates from my closest friends, and when Google tailors their search results just for me.Clearly, there are some boundaries when it comes to personal privacy, but I think more and more we are opting in to sharing our information, rather than worrying about our information being used inappropriately. Microsoft la... > Read more
A new feature that allows marketers to undo changes in Google AdWords is welcome and probably long overdue, though it begs the question: is the AdWords Editor dead?Right now, the AdWords “Undo” button seems to be a limited test, available only in select accounts. What it does, however, is gives advertisers the ability revert to the way their campaign was before changes, or to download a fresh version of account or campaign specifics.
This should make testing much easier.With all of this functionality in the web interface, are we now hearing the death knell for the Google AdWords Editor, desktop version?Why I Used to Use AdWords EditorBack in the day, AdWords Editor had a ton of advantages, including:Offline editing, which was a real issue in and around 2005. Now, however, we have wi-fi... > Read more
With Google constantly rolling out new features and design on the search results page, including personalized and location-based search results, there's no longer such a thing as a standard SERP for everyone. So what’s driving the new Google search results page layout?The team at VirtualHosting.com has put together a new infographic that examines what today's Google SERP looks like and what it means to be at the top of Google’s search results.
According to VirtualHosting, the new Google search results page is driven and defined by:Click-through rates (CTR) – Which parts of the page get the most clicks? How much does CTR fall off after page 1?Searcher intent and location – Does the Google user have intent to make a purchase? Are they looking for local businesses or trying to co... > Read more
The Q3 2013 earnings call revealed that Google shares are at an all-time high – and yet, average cost per click (CPC) continues to fall.With Google stock up, you’d expect CPC to be up as well. After all, something has to be driving the growth. So what gives?Attention Shoppers: AdWords PPC Ads Are On Sale (Again!)The trend is clear – cost per click on Google’s paid search ads continues to fall.
The average CPC in Q3 was down 4% since last quarter and down 8% versus the same quarter last year. This is the 8th consecutive quarterly decline in average CPC since Q4 2011.Our own internal customer data aligns nearly perfectly with the official earnings reports – we found average CPC to be down by 9% this year. And as you can see by the trend line, we don’t see things bottoming out any... > Read more
Google voice search – because who has time to type these days? We all have better things to do, like binge-watching Breaking Bad or looking at pictures of babies trying to lift weights. Finger exercise was the last remnant of physical activity for office drones, which means this future is only a few decades away:Thanks Google!We could debate about how much Google had contributed to the obesity epidemic while improving our techno-lives, but to be fair, Google Voice Search is a pretty nifty move by Google.
Google has been continuing to build on its development, making our online activity even lazier easier.Last month Google did some upgrades on Google voice search, enabling Google search to connect with your other Google accounts to deliver personal information to users. In this post... > Read more
There’s been a ton of grumbling and conspiracy theories in the search engine marketing community about how new enhanced campaigns - the biggest and most disruptive upgrade to the AdWords advertising platform in the last 10 years - are just a ploy to raise CPCs. Various vendors including Adobe, Kenshoo, Covario and others have recently released studies claiming that CPCs are already rising by 6% this quarter.
So I was surprised to hear that the exact opposite happened in Thursday evening’s Google Earnings conference call. AdWords CPC was down. Here’s an excerpt from the call:Paid Clicks – Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network members, increased approximately 23% over the second quarter of 2012 and increased... > Read more
Google Products Graveyard: Mourning Google Reader and Other Discontinued Google Products and Services
Google Reader is going away on July 1, leaving its small but loyal fan based scrambling to find a replacement RSS reader. (This longtime Google Reader user has been very happy since switching to Feedly.)With Google Reader on its death bed, and iGoogle approaching the end as well, we thought it was high time we revisited some of the many other Google products that we’ve said goodbye to over the years.
Many of these products were great ideas that just never caught on with a larger audience; some had overlapping functionality with other products, forcing Google to focus development efforts on one over the other. I still mourn the old, social version of Google Reader. Which Google product still haunts you from beyond the grave?Our Google Graveyard infographic reviews some of the many great i... > Read more
It's been a busy few days in the news and many of us have been glued to our "sets" (i.e. Twitter) following the filibuster in the Texas senate and, this morning, the Supreme Court's historic decision to strike down DOMA (the defense of marriage act), the 1996 law which denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
In a cute act of apparent support for gay rights, Google has implemented a rainbow search box for searches related to gay marriage, such as "gay" and "lesbian":What do you think of Google's show of support? Should the search giant stay out of politics?You can read about the significance of the rainbow flag to the gay rights movement here.UPDATE: Though we only noticed this today, Danny Sullivan points out that the rainbow search box was already in place for Gay Pri... > Read more
Ever since Google introduced auto-complete in 2004, predictive search has become a welcome part of our internet interactions, helping us search faster, find results quicker, and discover answers to questions we didn’t even know we had.As predictive search becomes more powerful, tools like Google Now have become capable of delivering relevant, personalized information to users, all but eliminating the need for search as we know it.
Will Google’s continued efforts in predictive search destroy search engines as we know them today? Is Google Now the beginning of a self-destructive path for the king of search?In this post we’re looking at all aspects of predictive search – how Google uses it in search engines, the role it plays on mobile devices and in new features like Google Now, and w... > Read more