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.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 launched ... > 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
On the Q1 2013 earnings call last week, Larry Page spent a lot of his time taking about the future – a future that will not be social, as Page might have had us believe in the past. He didn’t mention Google+ once on the call, and social media only came up insofar as YouTube is social. That’s a switch!So what does define the future of Google? The unifying theme just might be laziness.
Almost every Google venture that Page spent time talking about is designed to cater to our increasing laziness and impatience as a society.The web used to be a playground for tech nerds, but now it's for everybody, including people who know nothing about technology. As tech gets easier and more accessible, 5% of people mourn the loss of the control, but the rest of us lazy bums love it.Talking Is Easier ... > Read more
During Google’s first quarter earnings call for 2013, Patrick Pichette – Google’s Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer – seemed to reveal the real reason behind Google Fiber, Google’s attempt to provide connection speeds “100 times faster than today’s broadband.”Google Fiber, currently active in Kansas City and coming soon to Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, is a newer venture outside of Google’s core product stack, and the kind of “speculative product” that Larry Page said is vital to growing and surviving as a technology company.
“Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they’ve always done,” Page said on the call, but “incremental improvements are guaranteed to be obsolete over time, especially in technology.” This is why they’ve taken leaps into ne... > Read more
Have you received multiple disapprovals of ads from Google and only done exactly what is said in the email? If so, you could be in jeopardy of getting completely suspended from advertising on Google. Or, as some put it, “Google Slapped!”It’s horrible. You are forever suspended from advertising on Google and when the Google Policy Team makes this determination, it is rarely ever revoked.
Why you ask? It’s not because Google is mean or bad. It’s because Google is trying to protect the consumer from false, misleading or potentially harmful products or services. However, given the magnitude of advertisers worldwide, algorithms and bots are used to uphold policy and flag suspicious advertisers. Each ad disapproval, trademark issue, website issue or policy violation results in a strike... > Read more
About six months ago, I proposed a conspiracy theory that Google created the Knowledge Graph in order to "train" Google users to pay attention to the right-hand side of the SERP. Google can't easliy monetize informational queries, but the Knowledge Graph could be a way to increase ad revenue across the board, by proactively changing the heat map so searchers start to view the whole page as useful, not just the organic results in the middle.
Remember when Google said "Ads are just answers"? They are subtly reinforcing that viewpoint with Knowledge Graph, by providing rich "answers" right where the ads usually go!What Is Google Knowledge Graph?Knowledge Graph, launched in 2012, is basically Google's version of Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia (ha ha), "The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge bas... > Read more
My personal blog gets a lot of traffic through Google Image Search. In fact, two of my top 10 organic keyword referrers are “jeff bridges” and “young jeff bridges,” thanks to a post in which I ask the age-old question, who’s the ultimate in “cocky-hot,” a young Jeff Bridges or James Spader circa Pretty in Pink? (Scientists have not yet reached consensus on this issue.
)Well, traffic is traffic, right? Meh – maybe for a blog that has no real business goals. But let’s pretend for a second that I am running a business and have goals to reach. As such, there are a few problems with this traffic:It’s irrelevant – People who search Google Images for pictures of Jeff Bridges don’t really care what I have to say, about Jeff Bridges or otherwise probably – they just want to... > Read more
When website traffic drops, and it’s clear that you were not the cause of it, it’s time to point your finger at Google, rant, and maybe even cut down that 6000 word rant into an informative 3700 word blog post. This SEO is spending Christmas Eve with Google so hopefully you won’t have to.This is the type of early Christmas card you would not want from Google.
“It’s probably that darn Google Panda,”“I feel like it’s Penguin and negative SEO!”or “It might be those directory submissions/paid links that so-and-so did in the past”Before you go on a zealous “Google is evil” blame rampage, I understand that there’s a ton of ways to blame Google (or someone else) without proof. However, empty accusations will not get you your traffic back. Attributing traffic loss ... > Read more
The Google Antitrust Case: Is Google violating antitrust laws by using its search dominance to favor its own products in search results over competitors? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is trying to decide whether or not to sue Google for antitrust violations. A final decision about whether to pursue an antitrust case is expected before the end of the year.
In addition to the U.S. Government and European antitrust investigations, there are a number of private lawsuits by Google rivals that make claims of unfair competition or antitrust violations against Google.There is no argument that Google runs the world's most popular search engine, with 67% of the market. But has this market dominance been obtained through antitrust violations?The government’s escalating investigation into ... > Read more
Over the past year I’ve noticed that the Google results for long-tail queries have really started to suck. It often seems like Google just stops paying attention if I type more than three words. Case in point: I just searched “the french exit cilantro” and Google basically completely ignored the last word of my query:Spectacular fail: NOT ONE result on the first page contains the word “cilantro.
” (They're also all from my blog; so much for domain diversity.) I was looking for a specific post on my blog about cilantro, and was trying to save time by Googling directly to it rather than going to my blog first and performing a search there. This used to work! Even on the second page, I didn’t start seeing results that included the word “cilantro” until halfway down the page, an... > Read more
Yesterday, blanking on the name of the movie Magnolia, I googled the phrase “tom cruise movies,” and saw a really surprising result (click the image to enlarge): Knowledge Graph on Steroids!!! This huge, sliding row of movie posters at the top of the page – very reminiscent of Netflix’s browsing design – is beyond eye-catching; it’s practically all I can see.
When you click on one of the movie posters, you’re directed to a new SERP, as though you searched for the name of that movie: Larry saw something similar this week on his mobile phone while doing a tourism-related search: What’s Going on Here?You haven’t forgotten my big conspiracy theory about the Google Knowledge Graph, have you? I suspect that Google is trying to train users to pay... > Read more
SEO Experiments Now Come In A New Flavor: Google’s Messing With Your SERPsSEO experimentation is a science. Hypothesis: If I increase the quantity of inbound links pointing to a page (independent variable), then I will see my ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) for the page’s targeted keywords increase (dependent variable).
By running enough scientific experiments that were in similar, carefully-controlled environments, SEO’s can make very precise conclusions, i.e. 10 targeted exact-match anchor text links in a guest post author bio no longer increase SERP rankings for a competitive keyword after the latest Penguin algorithm update.At least, they could make precise conclusions. This causality mindset is being phased-out as a trend of the past as we speak.We’ll release ... > Read more
I taught Google Search tricks the way you teach them to Furby. Their creepiness awesomeness is on the same level. Create your unique Google Search stalker app today!When Google’s Search Plus Your World was first released, people were all worried about the world ending as we knew it. The theory was that world views were about to become narrower as an invisible filter bubble would alter your access to information.
What I hope to demonstrate here is that I believe the opposite is true.There’s too much information on the web. Better filters can help users get what they want.Let me show you how I Furby-trained Google to only more efficiently fetch the information I wanted – specifically, information about people. (Link-builders, PR professionals, and intelligence agents, it’s time to ta... > Read more
Do People Click on Google Ads?If you use Google search (and who doesn’t), you may have noticed that sponsored results (Google pay-per-click, or PPC, ads) have been taking over more and more of the search engine results page.Here at WordStream, we’ve noticed that too! So we decided to do some research into what impact all of these new, bigger, more prominent and engaging ad formats are having on the average Google searcher.
The results are astonishing:Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!Click here to skip ahead:Organic Search ListingAlgorithm UpdatesSEO vs PPCAcknowledgementsSurvey MethodologyNow, to... > Read more
Google recently announced the release of the Knowledge Graph, a new feature designed to “help you discover new information quickly and easily” by providing informative answers to informational queries directly in the SERP. In other words, for search queries that are typically answered by a high-ranking, ever-present Wikipedia page, some of that top-level information can now be found on the results page itself, so you don’t necessarily have to click through to another site.
For example, if you google “Mae West,” you see some basic information (date of birth and death, height, name of spouse, and some of her more well-known movies, as well as related figures) to the right of the organic search results (click to enlarge):Yesterday, I was talking to Larry about different types of sea... > Read more
I was frustrated and disappointed when the news broke that Google retired Google Places services and replaced it with a new Google+ Local. I already spend a lot of time adding and verifying businesses on Google Places and didn’t want to go through the same process again.However, when I logged in to the new service at https://plus.
google.com/local, I found that nothing fundamental has really changed – Google just transferred data, adding more information and additional features like business score and recommended local places. Those businesses which are not verified by their owners still require verification by phone or mail, the same way it was on Google Places. Meanwhile, the new local pages look fresh, engaging, and have more features for business owners and visitors.Here's what it l... > Read more
Are your Google Alerts not working? Maybe you've set it up wrong. But before we walk you through how to correctly set up a Google Alert for yourself, let's revisit how does Google Alerts work.Google Alerts are a way to monitor the search results for a given query. In theory, setting up a Google Alert is a great time-saver, because you get an email from Google whenever your specified query shows up on the web.
These web alerts are useful for a number of reasons:Brand monitoring – Keep track of mentions of your brand and products.Reputation management – Respond in a timely fashion to negative mentions and reviews.Link building – Push social traffic to positive reviews of your brand, or ask webmasters to turn citations into links.Journalism/Blogging – Follow media coverage of a topic ... > Read more
Yesterday Google announced another big round of “search quality highlights,” i.e., changes to the algorithm that serves up your search results. These lists – which Google has been publishing on the Inside Search blog since December 2011, supposedly in an effort to “push the envelope when it comes to transparency” – have just gotten more unwieldy and impenetrable over the last several months.
The first list included 10 “algorithmic and visible feature changes.” Yesterday’s announcement listed 50 changes.That’s too many updates for this little soldier, and I tweeted so:Apparently I’m not the only one who finds these lists semi-unreadable:According to Google, “we make roughly 500 improvements in a given year,” and it would seem that almost all of them have a cutesy c... > Read more
Chances are you’ve seen this new addition to Google’s black bar and wondered, what is this new Google Play?Ready, Set, Google Plays BallIn a nutshell, Google Play is the rebranded Android Market.Those who have Androids will see Google Play replacing the old market icon. Google Play is the one-stop-shop to buy apps, ebooks, movies, and music.
Sound a bit like iTunes? Yup, that’s the idea. Google Play even introduces itself in an Apple-style manner, with big, crisp images and minimal text. iTunes does a great job of being the central location for iPhone users to purchase anything and everything for their mobile devices, so naturally Google is picking up the hint and following in due fashion. Purchases can be made on the Google Play site online, or through the Google Play mobile ap... > Read more
Search suggestions: They’re sort of like that annoying friend who’s always trying to guess what you’re going to say before you’re done saying it. I often think, “Nope, Google, that’s not where I was going with that, not at all, at all,” but like many an annoying friend, I’d miss the search suggestions if they went away.
Google’s Autocomplete feature provides search suggestions as you type to save you time when you’re typing a common query. For example, start typing “Fa…” and Google guesses that you’re probably looking for Facebook. Sometimes the search suggestions are so ridiculous that it seems like they must have been handpicked by some Google employee with a bizarre sense of humor, but according to Google, the suggestions are determined algorithmically:A... > Read more
In the latest move to make SEO harder and increase Google revenues, Google yesterday introduced a new ad format called Enhanced Ad Sitelinks. This new ad format has some similarities to the existing site links ad format, but instead shows related ads in your AdWords account rather than your site links.
Here's what the new super-sized adwords sitelink looks like now:In testing, Google said that "ads with enhanced sitelinks were more useful and relevant" and "clickthrough rates were significantly higher than the same ad with traditional 2- and 3-line sitelinks." Obviously (duh), this has something to do with the fact that the new ads can occupy up to 3 times as much real estate on a Google SERP. It looks like a highly effective way to dominate above-the-fold search results, and further push o... > Read more