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
Google Realtime Search is on hiatus since the company's contract with Twitter, enabling access to the full feed of public updates, expired on July 2, 2011.While the unique Twitter feed has been suspended, Google notes that the publicly available information on Twitter is still available and searchable on the Google search engine.
Google plans on relaunching its real-time search with access to content from various sources including Google+ information, although the date for this relaunch has not yet been set.Hopefully it will come soon, because with the suspension on Google Realtime, there is no way to find tweets further back than a few days, as Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land notes:Twitter has largely outsourced the service of Twitter search longer than a few days to Google, a deliber... > Read more
Don't You Forget About MeIn the aftermath of all the Google+ excitement, I’d like to call attention to some other Google updates that deserve our notice.You may have thought that Google+ was enough to tide you over, but remarkably Google has been dishing out additional updates without pause.Google Products Get a Face LiftYou’ve probably already noticed the new Google homepage’s cleaner, more sophisticated look.
You’ll be seeing this sleek redesign applied to a number of Google products, as Google aims to deliver an experience “founded on three key design principles: focus, elasticity and effortlessness.” How oddly vague.As Google notes, a shot of Botox from time to time never hurts…unless you have a negative reaction. Taking a look at Google’s original homepage in 1997, we ... > Read more
Google+ Has Arrived!Google’s new super-secret social project is finally being rolled out…to a select few, for now at least.But wait to you hear what Google + has got under its hood; more than just a pretty face (and it is quite attractive, thank goodness), the new social project tries to address the gaps and missing pieces in the current social network paradigm.
Vic Gundotra, one of the key players in Google +’s creation, explains:“We believe online sharing is broken. And even awkward…We think connecting with other people is a basic human need. We do it all the time in real life, but our online tools are rigid. They force us into buckets — or into being completely public…Real life sharing is nuanced and rich. It has been hard to get that into software.”Google + has done its... > Read more
There is never a lack of Google additions and updates in the webiverse, and with several happening in recent days, it’s worth taking an in-depth look at the latest concoctions Google is brewing up.Getting Started With Google City SitesGoogle has started creating new city sites, which act as a central portal showing a variety of information in one central location.
The city pages show places, offers, events, business owner resources, and community blogs.The layout of these pages is fun and aesthetically pleasing. As a person who relies heavily on resources like Trip Advisor to tell me what to check out when visiting a new city, I’m looking forward to testing out the new city pages.For now city pages is only available for Austin (TX), Portland (OR), Madison (WI), and San Diego (CA).Check... > Read more
Just over two months ago Google announced their Google +1 Button, and yesterday they expanded on the offering by releasing the Google +1 Button for Websites. Having been signed up for the Google +1 service for a few weeks now, I thought I'd write a bit about my experiences using it so far. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found it to be that helpful.
Does Google +1 Even Work?For starters, my understanding was that Google was going to roll out Google +1 data in their paid and organic search results in order to help get "Recommendations when you want them," as advertised on the Google +1 product page. Take a look at this screenshot:But what I’m seeing is that:The +1 data doesn't get updated very often. 1,401 people have +1'd Facebook and it's been stuck at that number for nearly a month now.&nb... > Read more
Get ready for your site to have more buttons than an 80’s denim jacket.In the ongoing battle over social media, buttons seem to be a popular ammunition tool, attracting users like, well, a shiny button.It may be no coincidence then that today both Google and Twitter are releasing updated or new buttons that can be embedded in websites.
Google +1 Button Now Available for WebsitesWhen Google +1 was first released, the +1 button was designated solely for the search results page. In case you need a quick reminder, the +1 button allows users to recommend certain search results. +1 is Google’s next step in an attempt to beef up their social media influence (especially after Buzz’s relative flop).You can check out our post when +1 was first released for more info, and our review of Goog... > Read more
Google has just released a nifty new addition to Google Labs. Today we welcome Google Correlate.Google Correlate – The Opposite of TrendsWhile Google Trends and Google Insights allow you to enter a search term and see the search trends, Google notes that:Researchers told us they want to enter the trend of some real world activity and see which search terms best match that trend.
In other words, they wanted a system that was like Google Trends but in reverse.Google Correlate is the response, allowing you to upload your own data series and get back a list of search terms that correspond with the real world trend.Taking Google Correlate for a Test DriveUpon first learning about Google Correlate, I was a little more than confused; science has never been my strong suit. But the Google Correla... > Read more
Saturday has come and gone, and the continuously impending apocalypse has been put off once again. No people levitating into the sky, no fiery asteroids hurtling towards earth, just a volcano in Iceland letting off some steam. Even the volcano’s biggest threat was that it might possibly disrupt flights in Scotland.
Very terrifying. By now we should be well accustomed to being disappointed about end time prophecies. With Y2K still fresh in many minds, hopefully we’ve developed a healthy enough dose of skepticism to be critical of such predictions. Human history has been littered with apocalyptic predictions. Can you guess how many have come true? The World is Ending … Again But I suppose you can’t really place too much blame on people like Harold Camping, who... > Read more
Google has made a series of changes to the way ad text is served and displayed recently, and it’s important to follow how they’re displaying ad copy and what level of control you have.Towards that end, they recently announced that display URLs domains will be included in headlines, stating that:…starting today, we’ll automatically show your display URL domain in the headline for select top placement ads on Google.
As a result, your brand will be featured more prominently in your ad, and you can use the text in the headline to highlight other information. Potential customers, on the other hand, will be able to more easily identify the site to which they’ll be taken after they click on your ad…When shown in the headline, the display URL will be separated from the rest of the text... > Read more
Godzilla vs. Mothra, Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator, and now this summer, coming to a theater near you: Facebook vs. Google.It’s no secret that social is the new currency across the internet, but Facebook’s recent attack on Google shows just how precious and coveted such social data is.Facebook Hires PR Firm to Bad-Mouth GoogleOver the past few days, there has been a lot of speculation concerning what mysterious entity hired the private PR firm Burson-Marsteller to encourage mudslinging against Google by pitching anti-Google stories to newspapers.
Dan Lyons at the Daily Beast reports that they discovered it was none other than Facebook – and they found out just by asking.A Facebook spokesman admitted that the company hired Burson for two reasons:First, because it believes ... > Read more
It seems we’re always talking about Google. Whether we consider it a friend or foe, it’s difficult to deny that much of SEO news revolves around every breath Google takes. And it’s true, you don’t hear folks saying “I don’t know, let's Yahoo it.” In keeping with its nonstop release schedule, Google recently announced several new features.
Google Analytics Tracks Page Load Times Google is like an inspirational high-school teacher. He sees the potential in you that you have not yet discovered, and he’s always setting the benchmark higher and pushing you further. Google wants you to be the best you can be – for yourself, and for your users. That’s why with Google Analytics you now have the ability to track your page’s loa... > Read more
Google Tests New SERP Format: Site Links to News Articles Replace Website Description in Branded News Searches
I saw this change in the Google SERP format today on a search for "CNN." Check out how Google has replaced the 2-line website description with up to three sitelinks with full-line descriptions corresponding to the headlines of trending news stories. Take a look here:See how you can click on "Obama won't release bin Laden photos: Reaction" and it will link directly to the article.
It seems to be working this way on other major national media outlets, for example:USA TodayFox NewsWashington PostCBS NewsI guess on branded searches for media outlets, Google might be thinking something like...The anchor text on site links are too small for news articles (they're typically 1-3 words like "contact us" or whatever)The user probably doesn't care much for the website description (they obviously... > Read more
While Twitter, Facebook, and media outlets around the world were ablaze with news of Osama Bin Laden’s death on the night of May 1st, I was fast asleep in bed. It seems I’m always sleeping through important events, having snoozed through the Royal Wedding as well. I don’t wake up at 5 am for anything, and while old ladies in fancy hats are always good for a laugh, I’ve gotten more of my share of darling William and Catherine through the continuous stream of replay coverage.
So naturally it wasn’t until I groggily sat down at the computer with my coffee the next morning that I had any idea of the massive NYC partying I had missed out on. And like many others, I got the startling news via Facebook.Twitter Sets Aflame With an Abbotta-BANG!Osama Bin Laden’s death has once again exem... > Read more
Yesterday Google announced that their Instant Preview feature will now apply to ads. That means you’ll now be seeing that nifty little magnifying glass appear next to ads as well as organic search results. Clicking the Instant Preview magnifying glass brings up a window that lets users preview the ad landing page.
In the image below, you can see that my Google search for “flowers” brought up a few ads. Clicking the magnifying glass next to my 2nd ad, I got to see a preview page and was able to confirm that the ad would, in fact, lead me to a site with an abundance of beautiful flowers to sell (just seeing them all nearly makes me sneeze). Instant Preview allows users to preview the ads they are about to click on to ensure that the content of the landing page matches what... > Read more
In Google’s continuing efforts to get more social, Google’s Map Maker tool made its introduction into the United States yesterday. Map Maker allows users to add and update maps with their own insights. This can mean a number of different things, such as moving place markers to more appropriate spots, pointing out certain parks and playgrounds, building a more detailed map of a college campus, or even marking the bike lanes in your town.
Essentially, it makes Google Maps into a Wiki.Google’s Lat Long blog notes that since the release of Map Maker, the percentage of the world’s population that has detailed online maps of their neighborhoods has jumped from 15% to 30%. Users have mapped road networks, bike lanes, schools, and even entire cities that were not documented ... > Read more
If you were ever wondering how Google Suggest is so good at predicting your desired search, Google today revealed (through a job posting) some rare insight into exactly what powers Google suggestions.If you search on Google today with Google Instant on, you'll see a little link on the bottom of the suggested searches that says "We're Hiring Autocompleters", as shown here:Clicking on the highlighted link will take you to the job description of a Google Autocompleter (click here for a screenshot).
And here are some of the job description highlights... Required Responsibilities of a Google AutocompleterWatch anonymized search queries as they come in to Google.Predict and type completions based on your personal experience and intuition.Suggest spelling corrections when relevant.Keep ... > Read more
All day yesterday I watched the news of the Google +1 beta launch reverberate around the SEO space (see WordStream's own coverage for Google Plus One screenshots and impact on AdWords). There is a lot of great coverage and some interesting insights, including (but I can guarantee you not limited to): Danny Sullivan's take SEO Moz's response Coverage on Tech pubs And the list goes on.
Obviously if you're here at the WordStream blog, you're likely concerned with what this all means for SEO and AdWords. Let's try to unpack that step-by-step, thinking through the following questions: What's the actual, honest-to-goodness impact on SERPs tomorrow and in the next few months? How is Google likely to implement this data? What impact (if any) should this have on your marketing efforts -- today, ... > Read more
Stemming from Facebook’s popular “Like” button, the search engine colossus Google is joining the social fray once again. Google’s new “+1” feature has just been introduced, and it’s quite exciting. Starting today, a small percentage of Googlers will see a +1 button next to search listings.
If you aren’t seeing it and just can’t wait to try this new feature out for yourself, head over to Google Experiment and click “Join this experiment.” With Google’s new tool, when you click the +1 button next to a search result, it will light up, basking in the glory of your approval. Now, when you or a friend search a similar topic, they can see that you recommended certain results. And if your buddy recommende... > Read more
Last night I performed a Google search on my home computer, using Firefox. I only got four results back on the first page, though there were over 55,000 results total (see below). I was not signed in but Instant was on. It looks like Google is testing this style of SERP when it thinks a handful of pages are clearly the most valuable, relevant results for the query.
Presumably, some users would prefer fewer choices as long as those choices clearly addressed the query. Didn't either Sergey or Larry once say that in a perfect world, Google would return only one result? This page did not address my needs as a searcher, because I was specifically trying to determine where my own blog ranks for this query -- i.e., whether I rank on the first page. If this experiment became the norm, "the f... > Read more