Online Marketing Blog Roundup
Online Marketing Blog Roundup featuring a weekly collection of the best online marketing news and information.
Larry stirred up quite a controversy last week with two posts that made some bold claims. First, he said that SEOs suck at PPC because they don’t approach it with the right mindset. (Later, he amended the post to say that SEOs sometimes suck at PPC – he also told me he was mainly thinking about himself.
) Then he said that the idea that SEO has more long-term value than PPC is a myth.This didn’t sit too well with some of our readers (many of whom are advocates for and practitioners of SEO – as, frankly, we have always been in the past). We had some vehement disagreement in the comments from people who thought Larry was over-generalizing or conflating “SEO” with webspam and unsustainable black-hat tactics. For example, Matt Bennett said, “you've taken your own experiences... > Read more
How do you feel about private data in public spaces? Search Plus Your World was disturbing enough. If I do a Google image search for “ice cream,” it’s because I want some generic pictures of ice cream. I don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream. I especially don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream naked.
(I don’t have any nude photos in my Picasa account, that I know of, but it’s possible right?) And I especially don’t want a friend who is using my computer to find a picture of me eating ice cream naked. And if I’m borrowing a friend’s computer, I don’t want to find their naked pictures either! (I don’t know any male models.)And now Google has officially gone completely crazy. Yesterday they announced that search results will soon inco... > Read more
Dalton Caldwell Gives Mark Zuckerberg the BusinessI mentioned the App.net project – Dalton Caldwell’s vision of an ad-free Twitter platform – last week. Now Caldwell is making headlines for an open letter that he posted on his blog, called “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” in which he recounts a meeting he had earlier this summer with several top Facebook executives.
As Caldwell describes it, he was hoping the outcome of the meeting would be “executive-level support for [his] impending product launch.” Instead, those executives informed him that the product he was developing sounded like a competitor to Facebook App Center. As you can guess, they didn’t like that. Dalton writes:Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I... > Read more
You can gauge the unexpectedness of an event by the number of tweets announcing the news that start with “Wow.” And Monday, my tweetstream was full of wow’s, because the news broke that Marissa Mayer – formerly a VP at Google and one of the company’s most public faces – was leaving to take the helm at Yahoo as CEO.
This is shocking because:1. Who would choose Yahoo over Google?! Yahoo seems to exist solely to serve as the butt of tech jokes.2. OMG, Marissa Mayer is pregnant!!!Let’s take the second shocker first: Does it matter that Mayer is pregnant? Can a pregnant woman run a company? I’ll answer this question with a little analogy. My brother and I went to the same college (Rice University, go Owls!), and we used to play a lot of ping-pong. Now, I’m pretty damn good at ... > Read more
Happy belated Independence Day, WordStream fans! With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, it feels like we had a Saturday right in the middle of the week – but no following Sunday to help us recover. Oof!When I reluctantly dragged myself back to work yesterday, I saw a note from my coworker Adam, who said he was “declaring independence from old emails,” archiving all messages older than two weeks.
That note – and Wednesday’s patriotic festivities – inspired me to think of more ways to assert your independence in the office.1. Declare Email BankruptcyDeclaring “bankruptcy” for your email means admitting that you’re never going to be able to answer all those old messages. Archive them, delete them, unflag, mark all as read – do whatever you have to do, but don’t allow... > Read more
Every year at SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts does a “You & A” question-and-answer session with Danny Sullivan. Matt McGee’s write-up of this year’s interview is full of juicy tidbits and interesting insight into Google’s inner workings – but it’s worth reminding ourselves that part of Cutts’ job is PR.
When a company goes around saying “We value transparency, we value transparency!” all the time, you have to wonder how transparent they’re being – and Google’s algorithms for organic search rankings and Quality Score are still very cryptic.But let’s see what we can take away from his comments anyway, shall we?Links Still Matter – But Not Site-Wide Links, SuckersDanny asked, “Do links still work, or are social signals gonna replace them?” Cutts responded:Dougla... > Read more
Last week, I shared the story of a guy who convinced the Internet that Abe Lincoln invented Facebook – pretty impressive linkbait, but not exactly heart-warming. But those of you with cold hearts need not fear – I’ve got a doozy for you this week. (As Woody Allen would say, there’s nothing like hot cockles.
)This story starts with poetry. Several years ago I became acquainted with a poet named Patricia Lockwood, affectionately known as Tricia. Tricia had a blog, but she was less likely to post about poetry per se than the strange things her mother says ("There were very bad storms here all week, you know. Later on, maybe tomorrow, I'll take you out and we can go see all the devastation") or the disturbing illustrations on the covers of young adult books (see here and here).What beco... > Read more
Did y’all hear about Abraham Lincoln inventing the internet (or something like that)? It was the meme of the week, an owl in a box for our time – Nate St. Pierre, a blogger and consultant, told the (long-winded) story of his recent trip to Springfield, Illinois, and how he discovered a patent application filed by Abraham Lincoln in 1845 – for a product that looks and sounds a lot like an early version of Facebook:Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.
” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located co... > Read more
Color me not surprised at all: I get back from vacation to find that Google has announced yet another change that seems designed to increase profits in Mountain View, not improve results for advertisers.Ad Rotation Wears Out its WelcomeOn Tuesday, Google announced that the ad rotation setting will only be available for 30 days.
As Larry wrote earlier this week:Using the "rotate" setting for Ad Rotation is helpful for A/B testing of ads – especially because the automated "optimize for clicks" and "optimize for conversions" ad delivery options have a tendency to declare a winner rather early, particularly for small and medium sized advertisers … As usual, Google claims that the change is to improve the system for both advertisers and users.Once again it seems that Google is trying to enf... > Read more
My first day at WordStream was three years ago today. A lot has changed since I started this job. For example, this is how our PPC software looked in 2009:Check out the column headings in that “Keyword Group Segmenter”:“%v”!“%k”!“!”!I’d tell you what they mean, but I don’t remember I don’t think I knew what they meant in the first place.
o_OLuckily, at some point we figured out that prospects and customers wouldn’t understand that stuff either. We have completely overhauled our UI in the past year or so, and here’s what the software looks like now:Much, much better, right? It helps that we have a (stellar) user experience designer on our team! When I started, the design of the product was up to our engineers. We wouldn’t be here without our great engineers (some... > Read more
Negative SEO – have you heard this term before? To be perfectly frank, it’s new to me as of this week. “Google bombing” has been around for years, a kind of hack using links and anchor text to manipulate the search results as a prank – the famous example being a biography of George W. Bush returned as the first result for the query “miserable failure.
”But negative SEO is a slightly different animal. It’s the practice of trying to destroy your competitors’ rankings in the SERPs – for example by purchasing large amounts of spammy links to the site, damaging their link profile. (You may recall that some people suspected JCPenney was the victim of just such a scam.)Is this possible? Are nefarious SEO tricksters pulling it off? Yes, according to a case study featured in the ... > Read more
Last week, waaay at the bottom of my post on the ethics of search, I included a couple of links to articles about Instagram culture. The photo-sharing app had just been made available on Android OS, which had a lot of Android users cheering and a lot of iPhone users jeering (as in, “Hey, WTF? Our exclusive little club just got a lot less exclusive…”)That was pretty minor news compared to what happened to Instagram this week, though – it was purchased by Facebook for a whopping, unbelievable $1 Billion!Instagram, both the company and the app, are very simple – beautifully simple, I’m sure some would say.
They have a handful of employees and the app “does one thing well” – take a photo with your phone, add some fun filters to make it look cute and retro (like a Polaroid, sa... > Read more
Two weeks ago, I wrote about Google’s warnings that it is planning to issue an “over-optimization penalty,” AKA the OOPS penalty. Similar to the Panda update, an algorithm change intended to punish spammy sites with “thin content,” the so-called OOPS penalty is supposed to prevent sites that are over-optimized from ranking.
But where is the line between regular optimization and over-optimization? Nobody really knows. Google’s own answers have been vague at best – some of the techniques they’re now calling spammy, they advocated themselves in the past.Good Cop, Bad CopWhen Google seems to be criminalizing SEO, it’s not surprising that the search community has ethics on the brain. Last week, Joe Hall wrote a post that declared “SEO outing is immoral.” “SEO outin... > Read more
What do you guys have planned for April Fool’s Day? I have always hated April 1st – as a kid I dreaded going to school that day and walked around braced for stupid pranks. Wait a second, I’m really setting myself up to get punked here, aren’t I? I’m just going to assume that most of you don’t know where I live.
This April 1, don’t be made a fool of! Take this opportunity to study up on our top 10 most popular, happening blog posts from the past month:PPC Bid Management Guide: The Best Bidding Tips from 18 PPC Experts – I crowdsourced this guide, which is chock-full of awesome bid management tips, from some of the best (and nicest!) PPC practitioners I know. It’s can’t-miss.5 Lessons from A/B Tests: Improving AdWords CTR with Smarter Copy – In this post I looked at some... > Read more
Is your SEO over the top, Vegas-style?At South By Southwest (SXSW) last week, Matt Cutts was quoted as saying that Google is rolling out a new algorithm change that will penalize sites for “over-optimization.” Here’s the transcript of his statement, via Barry Schwartz:What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO.
We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who a... > Read more
For a while now, there’s been chatter about whether “inbound marketing” should replace the term “SEO.” The conversation came to a head this week (if heads are something that conversations can come to) when Rand Fishkin blogged about it at SEOmoz in “The Brand of SEO and the Trend of Inbound Marketing.
”Rand starts by noting the SEO industry’s bad reputation:Last night, a startup friend of mine was over, reviewing a slide deck I'm building for another round of fundraising pain, when he received a spam email trying to buy some links on his site."Ha. You SEO guys never quit do you?"Then today, in an interview with a candidate, I asked her about her background in SEO and she replied, "I told my husband about SEOmoz and he said 'SEO company? Watch out, those guys are spammy... > Read more
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Yay women! And before you get all uppity about why there isn’t an international men’s day, there is:That’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to focus on why yesterday’s Google Doodle was so, so terrible:Let’s just do a quick run-down:The capital G is the gender symbol for woman, AKA the Venus symbol.
Fair enough.The second “o” is a flower. That seems pretty weak. It’s not International Flower Day, and women aren’t really that into flowers.The next thing that pops out to me is the little “g.” It styled so it looks a little like a gender symbol. But what it primarily looks like is a bra. Maybe even a coconut bra. Really, Google? This is how you represent women across the world? Flowers and bras? (Andrew Hanelly suggeste... > Read more
Sorry for the terrible awesome pun, but I’ve just been reading this Quora thread, “Death by Puns,” and it almost killed me.Anywayz, I saw two great posts this week on link building, and I know how much you guys love link building, so let’s take a look at some of these great tips.At Search Engine Journal, Sujan Patel writes about 13 unconventional link-building strategies, including:Set up a guest speaking gig: Patel writes, “suppose you reserved a room at your local university and offered to give a free presentation on a topic in your niche.
Assuming you advertised your speaking gig correctly, you could see a surge of backlinks from local news sources or other local publications covering your event (not to mention the participants who share word about your presentation on various... > Read more
As someone who has recently been subjected to several “brainstorming” sessions (OK, I initiated at least one of them), my interest was piqued by a recent New Yorker article title-tagged “Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work.” Oh really!According to Jonah Lehrer, the whole brainstorming craze started in 1948, when Alex Osborn published a book called Your Creative Power.
“An amalgam of pop science and business anecdote," the book became a surprise best-seller. It was full of little tips and tricks to help people boost their creative output, and one of those tips was “How to Organize a Squad to Create Ideas”:When a group works together, he wrote, the members should engage in a “brainstorm,” which means “using the brain to storm a creative problem—and doing so in comm... > Read more
WordStream’s founder and CTO, Larry Kim, isn’t just a PPC veteran and secret linkbuilding addict – he’s also a world traveler and accomplished amateur photographer. Last week he traveled to Africa with his frankly gorgeous wife (who is also a surgeon!) and took some drop-dead amazing photos of the local wildlife.
Naturally, I wanted to find a way to post some of his fantastic shots on the blog, so I took a page from PPC Memes’ book and did what I could to make them relevant to search marketing. (Also, I’m back in the Boston office this week, and the combination of after-work drinks and minor jetlag has made forming full sentences more difficult than usual.)So please enjoy (and share!) these search marketing memes – the captions are mine, but the photos are all Larry. &nbs... > Read more
On Tuesday, Miranda Miller of Search Engine Watch published a story called “Google, Bing & Yahoo in Partnership to Sell Top Organic Local Listings?” The article outlined a new service offered through Bruce Clay Inc. – a venerable search agency – in partnership with Universal Business Listings (UBL) called Local Paid Inclusion.
Local Paid Inclusion, according to its own website (which has since been taken down, but can still be viewed in archive form; you can also view screenshots at Search News Central), was billed as a way to get your website to the top of the local listings – for a fee (emphases mine):In January of 2012 we were approached to participate in a new and exciting program: Local Paid Inclusion (LPI). We’re offering it directly to local businesses, to chai... > Read more
The downside is, anyone with a Google account will be treated as “a single user across all our products” – that means you won’t be able to have a Gmail account and leave it at that. As long as you are logged in, Google will attempt to integrate your experience across its products – for example, pulling content from your Google Docs or Picasa albums into your search results:Our recently launched personal search feature is a good example of the cool things Google c... > Read more
In light of Wednesday's tremendously successful SOPA blackout, I thought we'd take some time to recap and document the day the web went dark. The stop SOPA and stop PITA blackouts were really powerful because with online champions like Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit teaming up, the blackouts most certainly raised awareness and affected people who had no clue about these ridiculous bills until yesterday.
Petitions were signed, calls were made to state representatives, and the word got out.If you're looking to understand why SOPA and PIPA are bad bills and how they will hurt your business, check out our previous blog post explaining them and their disastrous affects.So what did the SOPA and PIPA blackout protests achieve?18 Senators changed their position on PIPA after witnessing the massive ... > Read more
At first, I thought it was just a hokey blog post title. But it appears that Google has actually launched a feature called “Search plus Your World” – and with this feature, they claim, “a beautiful journey begins.” (Gag me, right?)And what is this feature, you ask? Oh, you hadn’t heard? Perhaps “feature” downplays the import.
It’s really the next iteration of search – another step towards integrating social data into the results. According to Google, the changes encompass:Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page; Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediatel... > Read more
Ever the hypocrisy cop, Aaron Wall earlier this week exposed some seemingly devious behavior on Google’s part – namely, a series of sponsored blog posts promoting the Google Chrome browser along with a product video.Wall writes:When K-Mart paid some small business bloggers to do sponsored posts Matt Cutts wrote a post about how he torched those small bloggers (while doing nothing to K-Mart) & equated that exercise to selling links that promote bogus brain cancer solutions.
The posts were about how great Chrome is and its many benefits for small businesses. Wall compares the practice to “BP buying ads about doing tourism in the gulf.”Danny Sullivan quickly picked up the story and expanded on it at Search Engine Land, calling the campaign “jaw-dropping.” He points out that thi... > Read more
Last year I realized that my weekly Friday round-ups, taken as a whole, constitute a yearly round-up. So last December I reviewed some of the search marketing highlights from 2010, and I’ve decided to make it an annual tradition, right up there with watching Mickey’s Christmas Carol on 12/24.Here’s some of the wild, wonderful and wiggity-wack stuff that went down this year in the world of Internet marketing, in chronological order.
(Notice how many of these headings begin with “Google” – like it or not, the Mountain View giant is still ruling the roost in search.)Debate Rages (Sort of) Over Search NeutralitySome people think search engines, like ISPs, should be “neutral” – but how exactly would that work? Since search engines by definition rank some results over others, t... > Read more
Penelope Trunk, true to her “Brazen Careerist” brand, wrote an assertive – and annoying – guest post this week on TechCrunch called “Stop Telling Women to Do Startups.” It starts with a sentence that isn’t even grammatically correct:We need to get more guys who are running tech startups instead decide to be stay-at-home dads.
She goes on to say that of course this statement sounds “stupid” – just as stupid as the reverse, or saying that more women should do startups instead of being stay-at-home moms. There are plenty of opportunities for women in startups, she claims – but women don’t want them, because women want babies.As far as I can tell, her only evidence for the claim that women don’t want to do startups is that not many women do startups. Trunk is assuming ... > Read more
1. People Like Being LabeledOr, to be more specific, people like being included in a group, and you can use that psychology to persuade them toward action. In a great article on KISSmetrics, Gregory Ciotti applies the results of five consumer psychology studies to the science of conversion optimization.
Gregory recounts one of these studies like so:After being interviewed in regards to their voting patterns, half of the volunteers were told that they were likely to vote since they had been deemed more politically active, and the other half was not.The results?On election day, the group that was told they were more likely to vote had a 15% higher turnout than the control group (despite the fact that people were randomly told they were more likely to vote, and not told based on th... > Read more
SEOmoz this week reported on a new AdWords extension – and surprise, surprise! It’s a social extension!Seems like almost everything Google does these days is a subtle or not-so-subtle push for Google+, and this update is no exception.As you’d know if you read our Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Ad Extensions, extensions are ways to make your ads bigger and give searchers more opportunities and incentives to click or reach you by including extra site links, product images, phone numbers and more.
When enabled, the new social extension shows searchers “how many people across the web have +1'd the landing page or the Google+ Business Page.” As Mozzer JustinV explains, there are two flavors of social extension, personal and basic:The personal extension shows how many people in the s... > Read more
A couple of days ago our fearless head of marketing, Laura, noticed an odd result in the Google SERPs – the sponsored results for the query “adwords services” were pretty run of the mill, but the first organic result was a bit shocking:I tried the same search on my own machine and got the same result.
What the hell?At first when you see “Adult sexual services” you think someone has successfully spammed the results with white text on a white background or some such old-school black-hattery. But this result is from the official AdWords domain! The page is from the Legal section of the AdWords Policy Center (“Requirements for advertising with Google AdWords”). “Adult sexual services” is from a list of “Restricted Products and Services” that also includes abortion, endang... > Read more