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
Thanks to everyone who helped us get the news out about our infographic: What Industries Contribute to Google's Revenues. A special thank you to John Abell at Wired, Jennifer Booton at Fox Business, and John Letzing at the Wall Street Journal, Noam Cohen at the New York Times, Eric Mack at CNET, Jeff Haden at Inc, as well as the guys at Black Hat PPC! In this post, I’d like to address a few of the questions that came up in the comment sections of our blog and other sites that covered the news.
Here it is again (click to enlarge), in case you missed it!And now for some Q&A’s about our Google Advertiser Infographic:Where Is the Legal Industry? (i.e., Where Are My “Mesothelioma” Keywords?)Here are the top 20 industries that spent the most on Google advertising last year.Finance &a... > Read more
In case you missed Google’s announcement yesterday, beginning in February they will begin migrating campaigns that are utilizing either the “Conversion Optimizer” or “Enhanced CPC” options to the “Optimize for Conversions” ad rotation option. According to their results making this change can result in a 5% increase in conversions.
Now I have nothing against Google researching ways to increase performance for their advertisers, in fact I support it. It’s good business on Google’s part to help their advertisers succeed and I think they should continue to research best practices and actively produce educational materials. But that’s where yesterday’s announcement crosses a line for me, because Google is actively reaching into advertisers’ accounts and altering how they ... > Read more
Monday, Google+ finally opened its doors to businesses with Google+ Pages.That’s right, businesses now have the option of creating a brand page on Google+. You aren’t limited to one page either—if you have several popular products, you might want to consider making different pages for your business, products, and even events.
Google+ also lets you choose from a few different types of pages that break down into many sub-categories. For example, putting yourself in the “local business” category gives you the option of listing an address and phone number. What You Can Do With Your Google+ PageThere’s a lot you can do on your Google+ page. There’s the obvious, such as uploading and sharing photos, videos, links, and viewing all your +1s. But there’s plenty more you ca... > Read more
Yesterday Google announced a new ad placement, with ads now being displayed at the bottom of SERPs. This additional ad spot comes along with a number of other updates Google has been making as it cleans up Gmail and Google Reader (with mixed feedback), adds Dynamic Search Ads, and starts hiding some organic search query data, to name a few changes.
Google is pushing the PPC big time. Google notes that in testing, this new bottom placement performed better with CTR than side ads. Google attributes this to the fact that users tend to scan a page from top to bottom, with the news ads fitting better into the user’s “flow.” You can compare the performance of ads in top positions vs. other positions with the “Top vs. Side” segment, which will be appropriately re-named “Top vs. Other... > Read more
Google AdWords Display Ads – Google’s Paying Close Attention to Display, Does that Mean You Should Too?
You can learn a lot about marketing from Google, and if you’re in search marketing paying close attention to what Google says and what types of things they place emphasis on are vital to your lively-hood. This is why Matt Cuttsgets 350 comments on a post announcing a change in the algorithm that affects around 2% of queries, and it’s why search marketers have a much keener interest in Google Plus and its integration in SERPs, Webmaster Tools, et al than your average social network.
So when Google starts to push something and you’re a pay-per click practitioner you pay attention. Recently I’ve been aggressively retargeted by Google’s “Watch This Space” campaign:I’ve also seen it on LinkedIn where I’m sure from a job title, skills, groups, and probably even demographic... > Read more
Google this week has been serving up huge sitelinks for branded searches. Take for example, this organic search for "WordStream" and look at the huge sitelinks (highlighted in yellow):I've seen searches with as few as 2 huge organic sitelinks, and listings with many as 12 huge organic sitelinks. The new super-sized mega sitelinks take up the entire page! (Learn More: WordStream's AdWords Sitelinks Guide)SEO Impact of Huge Sitelinks in Google Search ResultsAll other organic search listings are now pushed down significantly "below the fold".
It's going to be very tough for an SEO to generate any traffic on branded keyword searchs. The new mega sitelink pushes the number 2 organic search result below the fold! And it's even worse when there are a few sponsored links above the organic sea... > Read more
Google+, Google’s latest answer to the Facebook question, launched last week, and the fact that people are still talking about it could be a good sign for the search giant/social giant wannabe. Could it be that Google+ isn’t destined for the Google graveyard?On the Plus Side, It’s Better Than BuzzDanny Sullivan took a look at Google+ one week after launch and finds that users are gaining followers and traffic.
He points out that it took 17 months for Search Engine Land to get almost 1,000 followers on Google Buzz. In the same time period, its Facebook fans increased by nearly 16 times as much, and Twitter followers increased by about 35,000. And in just one week, Search Engine Land has 1,000 followers on Google+, indicating that it’s a lot more successful than Buzz right out of the... > Read more