6 Essential Questions & Answers About Content Marketing for 2013

For every social media, SEO or content marketing “expert” there are hundreds, if not thousands of smart business people that do not possess advanced knowledge in those areas. That’s not unreasonable, since running a business involves more than keeping up with the latest internet marketing best practices.

On this blog we often include the basics of search, social and content marketing because that’s where a lot of people need confidence and affirmation that they’re on the right track. �To support that approach, here are a series of questions my co-worker Miranda Miller shared with me as prep for an online radio show. Hopefully, if you’re responsible for attracting, engaging and converting new business for your company, you will find them useful.

What is content marketing and what is it not?

I’ll start with what Content Marketing is not. It’s not limited to creating compelling media. It’s not simply creating�more content. Content Marketing also is not just a SEO tactic or poorly informed�blogger outreach.

Content marketing is meaningful information designed to be useful for a certain audience with the intention of inspiring an outcome or action. As I mentioned in a recent Forbes article,��The content marketers I know use customer insight, interests, goals and pain points to create editorial plans and that provide utility, not noise. It�s meaningful storytelling, not just mechanical spray and pray.”

The more I interact with corporate marketing and public relations professionals all over the world, the more I am convinced that Optimize does a great job of helping search, social and content marketers integrate and develop a more holistic approach.

How has the importance or value of content changed over the time you’ve been in online marketing?

Since I came into digital marketing through web development and search, that’s the perspective I’ll share. Within the SEO world, marketers would usually work with content that already existed and the task would be to optimize what’s there for better visibility on search engines.

When keyword targets were not represented with content, recommendations would be made to create new content. This is where (in 2007) I started promoting the idea of connecting with frontline staff like customer service and sales teams to log frequently asked questions. Answering those questions in a blog or a FAQ could not only provide new content inventory for optimization, but surface the kind of information that would be most helpful to people. This particular approach of answering customer questions has really taken off in the past year or two.

Efforts would also be undertaken to inventory existing digital assets and content for use online as a SEO asset. The focus for search marketers was very much on keywords and the assumption that companies knew their customers well enough to create the kind of information that could “sell” to the people being driven to company websites through search.

Content became a commodity in the SEO world through article spinning, scraping, doorway pages, etc because the more content included in search results, the more SERP shelf space you had to attract traffic. That approach extended to different media types once search engines began to include video, blogs, news, images and other digital assets in the search results.

Fast forward to 2012 and 2013 and you see that SEOs have become more creative with content and focused more on content quality.

However, I think there’s still a disconnect in that keywords drive editorial vs. using customer insights to drive topics & editorial which then inspire keyword optimization. In other words, optimizing for customer experience: discovery, consumption and engagement as the priority.

Because of the growing interest and attention with content, the opportunists will exploit the superficial and we’re going to see a lot�more crap content�posing as the good stuff.

For companies that can integrate their efforts at building community and tapping into various data sources from that�community via� social media, web analytics and internet marketing performance, there is a true competitive advantage to stand out amongst the growing volume of “content marketing” tactics posing as useful information.

What are a few of the industry-specific challenges you see in your company’s content plan, ie.: finance, B2B, publishing and how do you plan for those?

I wrote a post about this recently, “5 Reasons Why Companies Are Challenged by Content Creation & How to Fix“. Regulated industries must pay attention to a different set of rules than others and there’s definitely a difference between content needs for a long, B2B sales cycle than the kind of content and media that’s useful for impulse consumer products.

How will you and your team prepare to combat the new year slump (as is typical in many industries)?

Our editorial calendar provides for a continuous stream of relevant content that we plan for in advance. I like to keep a queue of articles and posts to draw from so there is no slump of ideas to share, just our individual ability to execute in a timely manner.

Also, a lot of our current marketing is tied to events, so we’re creating content and promotions pre-event, during and afterwards that ensures we’re visible in the industry on a continuous basis.

What sort of “housekeeping” should marketers be doing with their content collection?

There’s something to be said about outdated content – whether to sunset it & redirect or to repurpose. Some companies simply delete outdated content to avoid misinforming people with information that’s not up to date or no longer valid. That’s appropriate of course but in the process of determining how to deal with outdated content, some thought should be given to how that content could be repackaged, creatively redirected to fresh information or even repurposed.

There’s no doubt that content should be managed from the perspective of it’s usefulness to the target audience and for advancing business objectives. �If that same content can continue to serve as an asset for attracting new business through search, social media and the news media, then optimizing the discovery, consumption and�engagement�value of that content is essential.

What do you see on the horizon for content marketing in 2013?

Here are a few future thoughts on Content Marketing, but be sure to watch for an upcoming post that will dig deeper.

Smarter efforts towards data informed content planning, promotion and performance optimizationIntegration of earned, owned and shared mediaMore companies adopting content creation as a core part of their marketing mixOpportunists reverse engineering the success elements of content and exploiting the hell out of them, causing “content blindness” amongst consumers/buyersCompanies that have been spending on social will now be drilling deeper into how to make those investments pay off in customers and revenueConvergence between Public Relations and Marketing with content creation playing a pivotal roleMore companies focused on UnGoogling their online marketing efforts.

There you have it. A few key questions and answers about content marketing. What are some of your most pressing questions about content marketing?

Google Releasing Beta AdSense Interface To All Publishers

Google has finally released the beta AdSense management interface they have been testing for over a year now to all publishers. AdSense publishers will now or soon be able to see the new interface via a link at the top of the old interface or by visiting google.com/ads/newadsense.

Afraid to try out the new beta interface? Don’t be. You can switch back and forth between the old and the new interface via the links at the top of the AdSense console.

Google said the new interface provides better insights, controls and improves efficiency.

Insights: Google has more details reporting broken down by ad type, ad size, ad unit, targeting type, and bid type for total earnings and other metrics, over custom date ranges. There are nice new graphs so you can view impressions, clicks, and earnings plus compare text ad performance to image ad performance, compare date ranges, and easily analyze data to recognize trends.Controls: Google has made it easier to block or allow the types of ads you want to display in your inventory. They can all be found in a single place under the Allow and block ads tab.Efficiency: The new interface is faster to use and makes it easier to find data.

Google told me they have put in over a hundred changes to the beta interface in the past few months alone. They have improved every single page’s design and made each page faster and quicker to load.

Google initially released this to about 50,000 publishers, of which 30,000 or so used the beta interface actively over the past year. Last week, as per the rumors, Google has released the interface to an additional 350,000 publishers to test it out. As of last week approximately 20-30% of the over 2 million publishers had access to the beta interface. Now, all 2 million plus publishers should soon have access to this release.

This is the largest AdSense redesign in terms of changes and number of publishers being impacted ever.

You can learn more about the new interface over here and there are video demos of the new interface below.

There’s A WordPress Plug-in For That

The nice thing about the iPhone WordPress is that there is a plug-in for just about everything.

Lets say you want to create a fancy image gallery to showcase your photography. With NextGEN Gallery you can add as many images as you want and have the beautifully displayed in blog posts or on a gallery page.

Image Gallery with NextGEN Gallery

Want to poll your audience? With WP-Polls you can create as many questions and get as many answers as you want.

Polls with WP-Polls

Maybe you want to you want to add Google Analytics to all pages of your blog AND see your stats on your WordPress dashboard. Google Analyticator can do that.

Google Analytics via Google Analyticator

Lets say you want to create a contact form. With cforms you can create simple, or complex, forms all by dragging and dropping form elements.

Forms with cforms

Need to find out how to easily embed a YouTube video in your post? Viper’s Video Quicktags lets you embed YouTube, DailyMotion, Viemo, Flickr, MySpace and more.

YouTube Videos with Viper's Video Quicktags

Thinking about creating an XML sitmeap for search engines? Google XML Sitemaps has you covered. It’ll automatically generate one and tell the search engines.

Google XML Sitemaps

Lets say you want to make your blog iPhone, Android, Palm Pre and BlackBerry Storm�friendly. Well the WPtouch iPhone Theme does just that. Install the plug-in, activate it, and you are good to go. No additional coding necessary.

Mobile Theme with WPtouch iPhone Theme

Want to turn your blog into an e-commerce store? WP e-Commerce has you covered with all the store options you need to start selling anything.

Create a Store With WP e-Commerce

You can also translate your content into 41 different languages with Global Translator.

Language Translations with Global Translator

Worried about loosing your blog posts or images? WP-DB-Backup and WordPress Backup can back everything up daily and email you a copy.

Backup Your Blog with WP-DB-Backup and WordPress Backup

There’s a plug-in to do just about anything, only in WordPress.

So, what are your favorite plug-ins? Or what functionality do you need?

Align These 3 Creatives to Drive More Conversions

In the age of big data and analytics, it can be easy to forget that your campaign is ultimately only as good as your creative. Indeed, from a cost to returns ratio, the creative is arguably the most important part of a campaign.

Although more digital advertising companies are appearing on the scene every day, few specialize in creative optimization.

Here's a look at the three types of creative involved in a typical campaign, and why it’s important to think about all three types as parts of one larger customer experience.

The First Creative: The Display or SEM Ad Unit

The role of the ad is not only to get the user to click, but also to set an expectation of what the click will lead to.

With respect to SEM units, the job of the first creative is to convince users that the landing page will speak directly to their needs. After all, when users are searching online, they're looking for something very specific.

When it comes to display units, you've got to be sure that each placement on your media plan looks unique. But that's not enough. It's also critical to study your placements and to develop a creative that is appropriate for each environment.

The Second Creative: The Landing Page

The job of the landing page is to fulfill the promise of the first creative. When users click on an ad and find that they haven't arrived on the site they were expecting, the conversion rates are much lower. You need to be sure that the appearance and messaging are consistent from the creative to the landing page.

The search landing page has even more work to do in that it has appeal to the site visitor but also be SEO friendly. It has to include the right keywords but also have quality content and relevant information for driving conversions.

If you aren't seeing the types of conversions you expect, it could be time to look at a landing page optimizer, such as Optimizely.

The Third Creative: The Retargeted Display Unit

If a user clicks on an ad, visits your site, and then leaves without converting, you can now target that user with display ads. This is the third step in the conversion process.

Click-through rates for these targeted units are significantly higher and many retailers now find them crucial for driving their conversions.

As with the first creative, you need to be conscious of the landing page. If your landing page didn't drive the conversion the first time around, it's a good sign you should be making adjustments.

Site retargeting is still a relatively new phenomenon, but if there was any question that it's the future, it was put to rest with the launch of Facebook’s FBX ad exchange last September, which brought retargeting to a massive new audience.

What’s it All Mean?

In short, it means you can’t afford to look at your creative in isolation. You have to think of the entire customer experience. Look at the relationship between your ad unit and the landing page, and also understand when it's time to increase your conversions by targeting users who don't convert after the first visit with display ads.

It also, of course, means watching results very closely and A/B testing at every step of the way.

Free Design Template or Pro Web Design? 12 Things to Consider

Every now and then, a little perspective helps when it comes to the value of a website design. Template-driven or custom webs design both have several phases or steps they go through before completion. Most of the steps are invisible or produce a single piece of the finished product.

So, how do you decide which is best for you – a free website design or services you invest in?

If your needs are on the lower side of any of the 12 factors discussed in this article, you may be fine with a free web design or blog template.

As the factors we'll discuss increase in importance and have more influence on your goals, you may want to consider custom design and professional specialists for certain areas of the design.

6 Factors That Drive Web Design Results and CostsAmbition

What is the goal of the design? A simple goal may not mean accomplishing it will be inexpensive. The design must stay focused on the goal. The question is, how much effort is required to do that?

Number of People

How many people are involved in the design? Is this a one-person project, a group of five, 10 or 30? When there is a group of people on a design project, decisions and communication will take more time.

Time-saving tip: While you may seek input from lots of people, when their help is complete, let them go back to work. If someone isn't needed in a meeting, spare them and don't invite them.Type of Website

Is this a lead generation site, ecommerce, match-maker, educational, or a personal vent vehicle? Your design effort needs to match the type of site your building and the content it needs to support.

Size of the Stakes

How big is the win? If the win is big and the stakes are high, the design almost always costs more. If this site is mission critical to the success of the business or organization, treat it that way and take the design seriously.

Be careful what you ask for, and understand the cost implications of your request. Conversely, if the stakes are small, you don't need to get carried away.


A highly competitive site may require a group of top professionals in several disciplines to pull this off as chances are others are there too. Your research should point the way here.

Make sure you don't show up at a gun fight with a knife. In contrast, non-competitive sites can sometimes "win" when just one or two things right.

Funding Source

Is this a nonprofit, a small business, or a large corporation? How do they make money? The size and type of organization behind the effort affects their approach.

The way an organization makes money influences how they justify expense and pay for things. If you can, learn how much influence that will have up front.

6 Disciplines That Can Make or Break Your Next Web Design

There are several roles involved in site design. At a high level you can view these roles as either web design or web development. Underneath that umbrella there are six disciplines at work.

As you read the following section, imagine a lever on each of these six disciplines where the lever represents your investment in each. Tweak the levers to fit your design, almost like your mixing a recipe of ingredients together for that perfect dish.

By knowing the factors that drive your design results, you should be able match the disciplines to fit your needs (a little of this, none of that, a whole bunch of the other… etc.).

Consider these roles when deciding if a free design template or professional services are right for your goals.


Take a look around. How is marketing being done right now? That's probably your best indicator as to how it will influence your new site design.

It's a rare group that can look at a new design project and develop a completely different way to do things overnight.

If it isn't good, it might be time to bring in outside help. If it is good, that helps a lot. You just need to understand how important marketing is to the new design effort.

Sometimes it's everything, and marketing should own this. Marketing almost always has an influence; you just need to know how much.

User Experience / Interactive Design

Web designers create interactive user experiences every day. They really can't avoid it. It may be a small part of their work, or they may focus their entire practice on it.

Personally, I love these people and they are an amazing group. They range from conversion specialists to psychology "artists".

If you have complex goals or you need visitors to step through on online process, you're going to want to put in some in effort here.

Page Layout

Part of your design will be affected by the quality of your page layout. Which parts will be present on other pages and which parts won't are all influenced by page layout.

Do most of your visitors arrive via a mobile device? If so, page layout is huge. You may want to use responsive design to handle different screen sizes on phones and tablets.

Page layout can sometimes be confused with user experience and interactive design, but in practice, it's rare to see one person who does both well. There is a different type of thinking that goes into page layout and implementation that usually requires a different person to do it well.


There was a time when the Internet had almost forgotten typography: the art of arranging type to make language visible.

With the increased popularity of Adobe TypeKit and Google Web Fonts, typographers are alive and well online today. It may have been said best when Mig Reyes of 37 Signals demonstrates how he redesigned "Signal vs. Noise" last October.

Typography is here and it's a big deal. Take the time to review your typography, ask questions, and use it to make your design better for your visitors.

Motion Graphics

You remember the waving flags in the left and right corners of the website header, or the infamous moving "flames." Yeah, you may not want to use any motion graphics in your design because they are just too distracting; however, there are times where this type of treatment delivers exactly what the page needs to make its point.

If you might have one of those pages, get someone who understands motion graphics and subtle influence. Test your ideas, and respond to what you learn.

Now What?

Learn How to Avoid Major Redesign Mistakes at SES Toronto 2013:SEO and Website Migrations: Ensuring a Smooth TransitionSee the full agenda.

The pieces leading up to a web design may not have much sizzle or zing; they include "boring" pieces like your written goals, research findings or concept drawings. All these just aren't as much fun to share as your new design. Design is something to see, and people get excited about that.

But if you're involved in web design, development, and marketing, these 12 components are critical to knowing how to achieve your goals. After you have your web design goals down, what comes next is assembling the team:

If you find a template that does what you need, you're on your way.If you're by yourself, you may prioritize your time a little differently.If you're part of a group, get your "mix"' together, assemble your team, and get rolling.

Good luck on your next design project!

Bing Beams Up Star Trek Fans With Home Page Easter Egg, Klingon Translator

Bing's search engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before.

In conjunction with the arrival of "Star Trek Into Darkness", Bing has added a couple of features that fans should appreciate: a home page Easter egg when you search for [beam me up] and a new language option to Bing Translator: Klingon.

After you search for "beam me up" on Bing's home page, you'll be taken to an interactive experience in space. You know, the final frontier.

You can click any of the hotspots, which include the Enterprise and planets. This will lead you to various "Star Trek" searches – everything from Tribbles and tractor beams, to James T. Kirk's birthplace and the death of Redshirts, to Kobayashi Maru and bad "Star Trek" props.

Bing has also added Klingon as a Bing Translator language. So now you can translate text to Klingon (or an entire site). It is available here.

Here's what Search Engine Watch looks like in Klingon:

Bing isn't the only search engine that has paid tribute to "Star Trek". In September, an interactive Google Doodle celebrated the 46th anniversary of the original "Star Trek" TV series.

Burden Of Search UI Innovation Now Falls To Yahoo Veteran Laurie Mann

Laurie Mann has been promoted to run Yahoo Search. Mann, who is a man, has been senior vice president of engineering operations at Yahoo since 2002. Prior to that Mann spent a number of years at Oracle in various engineering roles.

The news was first reported�late last night�by AllThingsD.

Mann fills the position that was previously held for approximately three years by�Shashi Seth. Seth left Yahoo in January. He was charged with “innovating in search” on top of the Microsoft�algorithm�and search index. He presided over a period in which Yahoo saw its share of the US search market decline from just over 17 percent to about 12 percent today.

Much of those loses have gone to partner Search Alliance partner Microsoft.

During an interview at the recent Goldman Sachs Technology Conference in San Francisco, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer expressed frustration that the objective of the Search Alliance — growing the combined market share of Yahoo and Bing — has not been realized. “We want to grow share rather than just trading share,” she commented.

She also said that in the past the Search Alliance had underperformed from a revenue standpoint. However Mayer also praised the company’s working relationship with Bing. “Overall the teams work really well together. And recently we�ve seen some since gains in revenue per search. I do think the collaboration of the teams has been quite good.”

Repeating a kind of mantra from Yahoo, Mayer asserted that it was possible to innovate in search around the user experience and gain share. However, Mayer has more credibility than her predecessors when she says that most of the innovations in search over the past several years have come at the user-interface level: new content in results, instant search, voice search and so on.

During her Goldman interview Mayer identified four key areas of search competitiveness:

ComprehensivenessRelevanceSpeed/latencyUser experience

She said that comprehensiveness and relevancy were present in the Microsoft system already. She also said that Microsoft was making investments in speed, to reduce latency. “Search results have to be fast,” Mayer emphasized.

It will now fall to Mann to spearhead more compelling UI innovations for Yahoo so that it can differentiate from both Google and partner Bing. Thus far, despite a number of interesting and modest UI�experiments, nothing has really caught fire with the public.

A LinkedIn testimonial from Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell says that Mann has “prodigious engineering talent [ ] matched by exceptionally strong business and legal instincts, and he always thinks outside the box.”

If that’s all true, perhaps the combination of Mayer and Mann can breathe new life into Yahoo’s search business. In a nice surprise Yahoo’s Q4 search revenues were up as the company beat analyst estimates.

Related Entries

Yahoo�s Mayer: �In The Future You Become The Query�Yahoo Q4 2012 Earnings Beat Estimates: Revenues Finally Up After Four YearsMarissa Mayer Trying To Repair Yahoo Image, Using Aggressive Recruiting Tactics

Voting Begins – Search Marketing Blog Awards

Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal has recently taken nominations for best search marketing blogs in a variety of categories. I am happy to say TopRank’s blog, aka “Online Marketing Blog” has been nominated in 4 of the 19 categories.

Thank you to friends and readers of Online Marketing Blog for nominating us! You can now vote for TopRank’s blog (5 for best!) in the following categories:

Best Search Conference Coverage – Category #16
As an official media sponsor for blog coverage of: SES, ClickZ, SMX, Pubcon, SIS and eMetrics plus 14 search, PR and marketing conferences blogged in 2007, TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog is against exceptionally tough competition but we hope the work our team has put into providing coverage of sessions, photos, videos, after conference parties and interviews was helpful enough to rate a 5. Best Search Conference Coverage in Photos – Category #17
With over 1500+ conference photos in 2007, Online Marketing Blog has taken and promoted it’s share of conference photos. Here are a few links for your SEM conference viewing pleasure: SES San Jose, SES Chicago, SMX Social Media, SIS Utah, PRSA, DMA07, SIS Florida photos, SES New York Vintage Tub & Bath Party, General SES NYC photosBest Overall Search Marketing Blog – Category #3
This one was a big surprise with formidable competition for sure. We do certainly write about a variety of topics in the search marketing, social media and online PR categories. Don’t take my word for it though, they say links are like votes and there are at least 830,000 links that support this one. At least according to Yahoo Site Explorer. Most Giving Search Blogger – Category #19
I was very surprised to see “Lee Odden” in this list and really appreciate the nomination, but there are so many other super qualified people on this list. However, it’s Danny Sullivan and Barry Schwartz that stand out to me.

Be sure to visit Search Engine Journal and vote for TopRankBlog along with all your other favorite search marketing blogs. There are a variety of categories to choose from and I’ve listed the full survey below.

Voting began today and will run until January 4th, 2008 or so, after which Loren announces the winners.

For reference, below is a copy of the actual survey/voting form so you can see all the sites listed.

1. Best SEO Blog of 2007 : Blogs covering SEO news, tips and research.

SEO ScoopPageTrafficBlogSearch Marketing GurusSEO BookSEOmoz BlogSebastian’s PamphletsTraffickSearch Rank BlogGraywolf’s Wolf-HowlSugarRaeSEO by the SEATropical SEOSearch Engine Roundtable

2. Best Search Industry News Blog : These blogs cover the search engine industry news which is happening on a daily basis.

John Battelle’s Search BlogSearch ViewsPandiaPageTrafficBlogSearch Engine Watch BlogSearch Engine LandMediaPost’s Search InsiderValleyWagMarketing PilgrimWebProNewsSearch Engine Roundtable

3. Best Overall Search Marketing Blog : These search blogs cover everything, from SEO to aid search tips, to conference and industry coverage.

Search Engine LandTopRank Blog (Online Marketing Blog)Search Marketing GurusSearch Engine RoundtableSEOmozMarketing PilgrimBruce Clay BlogSearch Engine GuideSearch Marketing GurusSEO Book

4. Best SEO Plugin for WordPress : Run a WordPress Blog? Which of these plugins do you feel is the most important for SEO purposes?

Joost’s Meta Robots PluginSimple Tags PluginAll in One SEO Pack PluginDo FollowAdd Your Own

5. Best Link Building Blog of 2007 : Which link building blog have you turned to the most in 2007 for updated link building tips and news?

Text Link Brokers BlogJustilien.comLinkJuicy.comMartiniBusterWiep.netLink Building BlogJim Boykin’s BlogEric Ward Link MosesThe Link Spiel

6. Best Social Media Marketing or Optimization Blog of 2007 : More than last year, social media marketing blogs have carved their own niche in the marketing mix.

Search Engine Guide10e20 BlogSocial-Media-Optimization.comGraywolf’s Wolf HowlTechipediaStuntDublRohitbhargava.Typepad.comMicroPersuasionPerformancingPronet AdvertisingCenterNetworksDosh DoshDanZarrella.com

7. Best Local Search Blog of 2007 : For local search marketing on a small or large business level.

Local OnlinerKelsey Group BlogLocal SEO GuideLocalBizBits.comBlumenthalsGreg Sterling ScreenWerkSmallBusinessSEM

8. Best Google Blog Not Owned by Google (or an employee of Google) :

Inside GoogleGooglfiedGoogling GoogleGoogle BlogoscopedGoogle Operating System

9. Best Search Blogging Authority on Google’s Treatment of Paid Linking

Michael GrayMatt Cutts

10. Best Search Engine Corporate Blog (owned by the search engines) of 2007

Live Search BlogGoogle Webmaster Central BlogAOL Search BlogYahoo Publisher Network’s YPNBlogYahoo Search BlogAsk.com BlogMicrosoft adCenter BlogOfficial Google Blog

11. Best Contextual Advertising Blog of 2007 : Blog dealing with advertising in contextual networks or making money from them.

ShoeMoneyTraffickDosh DoshJenSenseSearch Engine RoundtableProblogger.net

12. Best Affiliate Marketing Blog of 2007

PepperJam BlogRevenewsShoeMoneyJohn Chow5 Star Affiliate Marketing Blog

13. Best Search Engine Community/Forum of 2007 : The most vibrant, active and resourceful community this year.

High Rankings ForumSEO ChatGoogle Blogoscoped ForumsiHelpYou ForumsWebmaster WorldSearch Engine Watch Forumsv7n ForumsSphinnDigitalPoint ForumsCre8asite Forums

14. Best Search Engine Research Blog : This special category is for blog which pride themselves on uncovering search trends, patents and formulas.

AltSearchEnginesResourceShelfSEO by the SEAHamletBatistaSEOFastStart

15. Breakout Blog of 2007 : These blogs were launched this year (or went popular) and became an instant resource. Please rate them.

Dosh DoshVanessaFoxNudeTropical SEOSEOishBlogStormAltSearchEngines

16. Best Search Conference Coverage of 2007 : Speed typing and unrivaled stamina fuel these conference hounds, who cover the ins and outs of search sessions on a live and regular basis.

AimClearTopRank Blog (Online Marketing Blog)Search Engine RoundtableCreate ValueBruce Clay Blog

17. Best 2007 Search Conference Coverage in Photos : Taking the best snapshots from search marketing conferences.

Tamar WeinbergLi EvansShoeMoneyTop Rank Blog (Online Marketing Blog)SEOmoz Cartoons

18. Best Search Marketing Facebook Group of 2007 : Got Facebook? Then which search marketing group do you feel is at the top?

Drinking Your Way to PopularityCuttlettsSEO BloggersSearch Engine OptimizationInternet MarketersFacebook Whores for SEO, SMO and SEM AwarenessSearch Party Animals

19. Most Giving Search Blogger of 2007 : Search Blogger that shares the most resourceful information on an ongoing basis. Please think of overall contributions to this industry and (I know this is difficult) please pick one.

Aaron WallMatt CuttsAndy BealMichael GrayLisa BaroneNeil PatelKevin NewcombDanny SullivanLee OddenBill SlawskiRand FishkinCharles KnightBarry SchwartzTamar WeinbergAndy Beard

Remember to vote!

Bing Ads Updates: New Sitelink And Ad Position Reporting

Bing Ads rolled out some new reporting features in their March release. Here’s a look at the two of the biggest changes.

Ad Extensions Details

Adding to its suite of ad extensions reports, Bing Ads included a new “Ad Extensions Details” report. This reporting view shows sitelink performance data by campaign (and ad group if selected). Ad extension reporting by keyword and by ad was already available.

Top vs. Other

The Keyword Performance Report got a new feature with the “Top vs. Other” column. This new column shows the performance of ads when they are in the mainline (top of the page above the organic results) and the right side bar. You’ll find Top vs. Other by scrolling to the bottom of the Available Columns section in the report builder.

When running a report using Top vs. Other, you’ll see keyword performance data on any or all of these options:

Bing and Yahoo! search – OtherBing and Yahoo! search – TopSyndicated search partners – OtherSyndicated search partners – TopUnknown – You’ll see this if you are looking at results prior to the feature release of 3/14

See the March release for the full list of updates.

Marketers Like Facebook, to the Tune of $1.18 Billion in Q2 2012 Revenue

Facebook reported $1.18 billion in revenue for Q2 2012 in their first earnings call as a public company. The social network just slightly exceeded analysts expectations of $1.16 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

The figure represents a 32 percent increase over Q2 2011’s $895 million. According to Facebook, revenue from advertising was $992 million, representing 84 percent of total revenue and a 28 percent increase from the same quarter last year. Payments and other fees revenue for the second quarter was $192 million.

Facebook’s costs also ballooned, topping $1.93 billion for a 295 percent increase YoY. This was primarily driven by share-based compensation.

Other highlights from the pre-earnings call press release include:

Monthly active users were 955 million as of June 30, 2012, an increase of 29 percent year-over-year.Daily active users were 552 million on average for June 2012, an increase of 32 percent year-over-year.Mobile monthly active users were 543 million as of June 30, 2012, an increase of 67 percent year-over-year.Facebook now has independent ROI data from more than 60 advertising campaigns using a variety of third-party methodologies like panels and marketing mix models. The results show that 70 percent of campaigns resulted in a return on ad spend of 3x or better, and 49 percent of campaigns showed a return on ad spend of 5x or better.

On net income, Facebook reported: “GAAP net loss for the second quarter was $157 million, compared to net income of $240 million for the second quarter of 2011. GAAP EPS for second quarter of 2012 was $(0.08), largely reflecting the effect of the accounting treatment of pre-2011 RSUs, as previously noted in the company's initial public offering prospectus. Excluding share-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses, non-GAAP net income was $295 million or $0.12 per share, compared to $285 million and $0.12 per share for the same quarter in the prior year.”

Facebook’s cash and securities grew $10.2 billion, which includes $6.8 billion in proceeds from their IPO.

Time will tell if today’s earnings call will quell the fears of nervous investors. As of 4 p.m. ET, Facebook stock had dropped to $26.84 in the wake of slashed revenue projections from game-maker and revenue driver Zynga.

Some feel stock prices are simply settling to more realistic levels since the overhyped IPO. According to Thomson Reuters data, Facebook stock has been trading at about 70 times its earnings. They put the company's intrinsic value at $9.72 a share, or about one-third its current value, based on estimates of the company's projected growth for the next decade.

Stay tuned for the highlights from Facebook’s earnings call, slated to begin at 5 p.m. ET. We will liveblog the call in the comments of this article.

New German Law Will Allow Free “Snippets” By Search Engines, But Uncertainty Remains

The good news for search engines like Google is a proposed German copyright law won’t require them to pay to show short summaries of news content. However, uncertainty remains about how much might be “too much” and require a license. The new law is expected to pass on Friday.

NOTE: See our follow-up story from today:�Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New �Ancillary Copyright� Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come

Der Spiegel explains more about the change:

“Google will still be permitted to use “snippets” of content from publisher’s web sites in its search results….

“What the new draft does not stipulate, however, is the precise definition of the length permitted.”

The draft bill introducing an ancillary copyright for press publishers in Germany (Leistungsschutzrecht or LSR) goes to a final vote at 1o am Germany time on Friday. Below is my background about the hearings that happened this week, which in part lead to the snippets change.

From This Week’s Technical Hearing

Despite all the procedural and constitutional objections to the Leistungsschutz bill, there are also a couple of technical and political ones. Critics (and there are plenty of them) raise concerns that the collateral damage by this change in copyright will hurt search engines, innovation in general, and especially smaller press publishers. They point to ambiguous language in the bill that will cause legal uncertainty and lawsuits that will take years to be settled.

The German government and supporters of the bill have done little to address these objections. On Saturday, I published an advance copy of the answers by the government in response to a letter of inquiry by the opposition Left Party. There is a continuing pattern in the government�s response referring open questions to be settled by courts or simply by ignoring the question.

One of the last opportunities to discuss the mechanisms of this ancillary right within the parliament lasted for 90 minutes Wednesday at an expert hearing at the subcommittee for New Media (Unterausschuss Neue Medien, UANM) at the German Parliament.

Public invitations for this hearing were sent out only a couple of days ago, after two weeks of behind-the-curtain negotiation between the governing factions in parliament (Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Liberal Democrats (FDP)) and the opposition factions (Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party).

CDU/CSU and FDP had previously refused to schedule another hearing next to the judiciary committee hearing in January, saying�that all questions could also be addressed in this expert hearing. As it turned out, there were a couple of technical questions that could not be addressed, due to the fact that none of the invited experts in the judiciary committee hearing were experts in the field of technology. How could anyone have known that there are at least two kinds of experts out there!

Invited experts were

Dr. Wieland Holfelder, engineer at Google (there was a consensus agreement by the committee members �that he could pass non-technical questions to legal counsel Arnd Heller from Google, who was sitting behind him)Dr. Thomas H�ppner, representative from the press publishers� association BDZVProf. Dirk Lewandowski, University of Applied Sciences, HamburgMichael Steidl, International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), London

Two experts were invited by the majority factions (H�ppner and Steidl); two experts were invited by the opposition (Holfelder and Lewandowski). The procedure was following the usual procedures: there were three rounds of questions for members of parliament, two questions from each faction to one expert or one question to two experts. There was no opportunity for introductory statements by the experts and no strictly enforced time limit on answers.

So, in order for an expert to be allowed to speak, he has to be given a question from a member of parliament. An expert is not allowed to ask questions or offer refutations to other experts directly. This results in a strategy that each side is going to give softball questions to their own experts and potentially compromising questions to the experts from the other side. It has to be assumed at many hearings that questions were exchanged before the meeting and that there is some level of expectation on what the answer might be. This is exceptionally true for partisan experts whose employers directly benefit from or suffer by the outcome of this legislative process.

Some of the softball questions provided the experts the opportunity to explain how robots.txt works (Holfelder) or explain the shortcomings of robots.txt (Steidl and H�ppner).

Holfelder introduced himself as engineer who implemented his own Web crawler 14 years ago. He distributed printouts of robots.txt examples and the resulting snippets in the search engine results pages. He explained additional meta-tags that Google uses to add or remove content from the Google (or any other of the leading search engines). To some extent, his presentation felt both verbose and strangely elementary. In an ideal world, none of this information would have been new to a subcommittee that specifically focuses on such topics.

Petra Sitte, (Left Party) had asked Holfelder to comment on ACAP, a protocol that was proposed by a few publishers and has failed to get any meaningful level of acceptance by the market. Holfelder provided a few examples in which implementing ACAP will be prone to spammers, as it mandates the way in which provided descriptions have to be shown.

Konstantin von Notz (Green Party) asked Holfelder whether it was possible for a search engine provider to detect whether specific content on a website is covered by this LSR or not. This is – in my opinion – is one of the most important questions of this bill because it outlines the potential for huge collateral damage or legal uncertainty over the coming years.

The ancillary copyright is awarded to a press publisher (a press publisher is defined as anyone who does what the press usually does) for his press product (the product of what a press publisher usually does). It exists next to the copyright awarded to the author, who can license his/her content to anyone else. It means that it is not the text itself that defines whether content is covered by the LSR.

Here is an example: a journalist maintains his personal website in order to advertise for his services as a freelancer. He has a selection of half a dozen of his articles on his website that help inform potential customers of his journalistic skills. These articles are, of course, protected by copyright. They will not, however, be covered by the ancillary copyright because he is not a press publisher. The very same texts on a magazine�s website will be covered by the LSR. How can a search engine determine if text on a website is subject to both copyright *and* LSR?

Holfelder replied that Google has a couple of heuristics to determine whether a certain page is provided by a press publisher. However, this law has no provisions for �honest mistakes.� If Google fails to detect LSR content and does not receive prior permission to index such content, Google faces legal consequences. There is no such thing as a �warning shot� or an obligation by the press publisher to proactively inform a search engine whether copy on a certain page is LSR-covered. This is the legal equivalent of a minefield.

Holfelder stated that a search engine would, in this scenario, tend toward overblocking in order to avoid a lawsuit for violating the LSR.

H�ppner, the press publishers� expert, spent his time mocking a comparison about this bill that involves taxis and restaurants. He then stated how services such as Google News substitute visiting the original pages, with some rambling about a Google service called �Google Knowledge.� It was hard to tell whether he meant the failed Google Know project or the Google Knowledge Graph in the standard Google search.

His main argument on robots.txt was a passive-aggressive one. Publishers do not like robots.txt per se; they merely use it to fight for the last crumbs that search behemoths like Google have left them. In other words, if a press publisher is providing meta description text�or Twitter cards, this should not be seen as some kind of agreement to actually use this text in order to build snippets in a search engine. I severely doubt that this position would hold in court or among the motivation of press publishers.

Prof Lewandowski�s contribution to the hearing was an interesting one as he is the first expert in a long time who does not seem to have an agenda with respect to the LSR. His views were balanced, nuanced ones, highlighting both the high level of acceptance of robots.txt and some of its shortcomings. He pointed out that at least at Google News, the limited amount of sources and the opt-in-mechanism (yes, it�s more complicated than that) of Google News would permit running such a service in an LSR world.

Steidl used his time to explain IPTC�s contribution to the world of standards and mentioning the RightsML project which is in active development. He criticised robots.txt for being without a governing organisation and for failing to express rights on a sub-article level.

Both Google and the press publishers were not very eager to present actual numbers in Google News usage or how visitors are directed to third-party websites.

In round two, Google�s legal counsel Haller was asked how Google will react to this bill, if enacted. He replied that Google does not know the final version of this bill, and that Google has not decided yet on how to implement it. He pointed out that his company would have to not only deal with publishers from Germany, but from the entire European economic area, which could exercise their own LSR rights against Google.

Editor�s Note From Danny Sullivan:�Thanks again to Mathias for contributing this report and his views. Be sure to also see our previous story,�German Parliament Hears Experts On Proposed Law To Limit Search Engines From Using News Content.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

What is Mobile App Attribution & Why is it Important?

When it comes to mobile advertising, there is always a question regarding attribution. Attribution is the measurement of user events in result of marketing activity. An event can be an app install, repeat app launch, level completion, in app purchase, etc.

Every mobile marketer wants to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaign, especially if it involves spending money on advertising. However, attribution is a pretty unique problem for mobile because there is no standard tracking methodology.

This problem doesn't really exist in the online advertising world because there is already a solution: cookie-based tracking. It's fairly easy to set up integrated marketing campaigns to figure out which visitor came from which source.

For example, you can run a Promoted Tweets on Twitter, Sponsored Stories on Facebook, and an AdWords campaign on Google all with the goal of driving visitors to download a new whitepaper guide on your website. To figure out which visitors came from which source, you would simply append parameters on each URL to track the performance of each channel.

To track users from Twitter you could send visitors to http://www.example.com/resources/?source=twitter, visitors from Facebook to http://www.example.com/resources/?source=facebook, and visitors from Google to http://www.example.com/resources/?source=google.

In this analytics system you'll be able to see how many visitors were attributed to each source and also what their additional engagement is with my entire website.

The accessibility and ease of use for tracking online marketing activities makes attribution a necessary standard for online marketers. Marketers can attribute every dollar spent to specific return on investment for that dollar.

Imagine not having a standard solution for tracking the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. That's the problem many mobile marketers face.

If you're advertising an iOS mobile app on premium networks and several publishing partners to drive app installs, you can't just append a tracking parameter to a URL to track and attribute the app performance across several sources. The URL you would need to track conversion on is the app store URL. You can't just append a tracking parameter to that URL to attribute installs to sources.

Once a user clicks into any app store environment, their actions enter a black hole and we can no longer determine who was responsible for generating an install of a free app or a purchase of a paid app. This tracking problem is specific to iOS apps. Google provides a referral tracking system to let marketers see which marketing sources are driving visitors to the Android Market and downloading your app.

Although there isn't a standard method of tracking iOS apps, there are two methodologies that are most used:

Unique Identifier Matching: Attribution using unique identifiers is done by matching the unique identifiers from the install to a click. Unique identifier matching is an automated and real-time way of comparing clicks to installs instead of manually conducting the matching at the end of a week or month using Excel spreadsheets. Unique identifier matching enables 1:1 matching of click to install where identifiers can be passed app to app.Device Fingerprinting: Device fingerprinting pulls basic and not 100 percent unique information from a user's device headers, including IP address, to connect a user from click to app install. Device fingerprinting works by redirecting a user through a tracking link and collects the publicly available HTTP headers about the device. This information is used to create a fingerprint about the click of the tracking link. When a user installs the mobile app, the SDK collects the same data points from within the mobile app and sends it to the platform. The platform generates the fingerprint of the install and then searches for clicks with the matching fingerprint. The last click with a matching fingerprint is then used to attributed the install.

Using one technology that has the ability to track and attribute all sources of your paid media – and also supporting several types of tracking methods – is vital to being able to see what your spend is most effective.

16 Secret Google Analytics Advanced Segments Worth Their Weight in Gold

Analyzing your website data with Google Analytics is much like mining for gold. Advanced prospectors profit because they know where to look to find the nuggets, while inexperienced practitioners come up with only dirt after making the mistake of trying to prospect the entire mountain.

If web analytics is like gold mining, then a Google Analytics advanced segment is the pickaxe you need to chisel through your data to expose the glimmering insights inside.

We've tapped into some of the web's finest web analytics professionals to share their tips for mining analytics gold. Here are 16 secret – until now – Google Analytics advanced segments that could make you insights rich, too.

1. Converters by Count of Visit

This first series of segments is one of my favorites given that I work mainly in lead generation for higher education. The Converters by Count of Visit segment series gives you three segments to show behaviors of people who convert after 1 visit, 2-5 visits or after 6+ visits so you can get a feel for what content is consumed and acted upon at various points in the sales funnel.

Link to Segment Series: http://bit.ly/GASS-CbCoV

How to Use this Segment: Start by applying all three segments to any of your favorite content reports to see relative differences in content consumption by count of visit. Then apply them one at a time to take a deeper dive into user behavior across the customer journey.

2. Whales

Whales is the e-commerce cousin to my lead gen segment, and it captures visitors who spend a lot with you. For example, if average site revenue is $100, then your Whales segment might be set to capture orders with revenue of over $300. Understanding the behavior of your top customers presents all sorts of opportunities ranging from helping you find more of them to motivating other customers to become top customers.

Link to this Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Whales

How to Use this Segment: This segment is especially useful when applied to standard or custom reports that show dimensions such as campaigns, keywords, geography, and items purchased.

Segment Contributed by: Avinash Kaushik is the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google and author of the Occam's Razor blog. Check out his post on segments when you're done reading this one.

3. Organic Image Traffic

Many people with image-rich sites were puzzled when their traffic dropped in late-January due to a change in the way Google Images works. This segment allows you to see search traffic coming from the Google Images search engine separately from regular organic search so you can investigate image-specific search trends.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-OrgImg

How to Use this Segment: Apply this segment to your SEO reports to look at keywords, landing pages, and other dimensions typically explored with organic search.

Segment Contributed by: John Doherty is the Office Lead at Distilled NYC. Check out John's work on segments to learn more about segmenting search and social.

4. Screens Under 600 Pixels Wide

Google Analytics user agent detection can be thrown off by the countless new mobile devices on the market. This handy segment filters for a variety of mobile devices by applying a regular expression to the screen size dimension.

It controls for devices that aren't fully detected by Google Analytics by excluding screens with a 0x0 pixel dimension, which is the case for devices prone to detection issues. This segment captures devices with screen resolutions ranging from 100-599 pixels by 100-599 pixels.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Screen599

How to Use this Segment: Apply this segment to any report where you want to see mobile visitors but don't want to see any devices with screens over 600 pixels wide.

Segment Contributed by: Angie Schottmuller is an accomplished industry speaker and blogger, and the Director of Interactive Strategy and Optimization at Three Deep Marketing.

5. Keyword Length Segment Series

Keyword length segments have appeared in several articles dedicated to advanced segments because looking at traffic by keyword length can reveal significant insights. Segment reports by keywords that consist of 3, 4, 5 and 6+ words with this set of 4 Google Analytics segments to understand the proportion of website visits sent by head terms relative to long-tail terms within your search space.

Link to Segment Series: http://bit.ly/GASS-KWlength

How to Use this Segment: Apply all four segments to any report where keywords are important, such as a keywords performance reports and landing page reports, then apply one at a time for detailed insights.

Segment Contributed by: Justin Cutroni is a web analytics blogger, speaker, and the Analytics Advocate at Google. See more of Justin's advanced segments in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.

6. Common ISPs

The service provider report is a good place to start your investigation when trying to isolate odd activity on your website within your Google Analytics profile. Filter out the vast majority of common ISPs with this advanced segment and reveal culprit ISPs sending large amounts of unnatural traffic.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-ISPs

How to Use this Segment: Apply this segment to the Network report under the Audience section of Google Analytics. This segment filters out greater than 80 percent of the traffic to your site and allows you to review long tail service providers with ease.

Segment Contributed by: Jeff Sauer is the founder of Jeffalytics.com, VP at Three Deep Marketing and the author of helpful resources including the Periodic Table of Google Analytics.

7. DMA Quartiles

This segment series helps control for population when looking at geographic reports. It uses Neilsen's DMA measurements to group major metros into four quartiles (e.g., Q4 contains cities with a DMA ranked 1-8, including New York, L.A. and Chicago.). Export data using these segments and compare to Neilsen's demographic stats to look beyond raw numbers and into market share for each of the four quartiles.

Link to Segment Series: http://bit.ly/GASS-DMAs

How to Use this Segment: Apply these segments to any report with unique visitors as a dimension to determine share of voice by U.S. city for your brand. Export report to Excel. Then add Neilsen's DMA data to the spreadsheet and divide your unique visitors by Neilsen's number of U.S. households to determine your share of voice across markets.

Segment Contributed by: Sayf Sharif is a Web Analyst at LunaMetrics.

8. Blog Bounce Remover

The natural tendency for the majority of all blog traffic is to bounce. After all, the lion's share of visitors just came to your site to read your article and then be on their merry way. This segment doesn't remove blog traffic, but it does remove folks who landed on your blog (defined as "/blog/" here – modify as required for your blog) and only looked at one page.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-BlgBnc

How to Use this Segment: Apply this segment to any reports that compare landing pages on your site against your website's goal metrics to identify the top landing pages in the form of both blog posts and other pages on your website.

Segment Contributed by: Thom Craver is a technical SEO and web analytics consultant, speaker and blogger.

9. The Brand Interest Segment

Some pages on your website are created to convey your brand's key messages, such as an "about" page, a "testimonials" page or section about your team. This secret segment series contains three segments that measure different levels of engagement with your brand:

People who did not view your brand page (e.g., an "about" page in this example)People who viewed a brand page, but didn't visit your blogPeople who viewed both your brand page and your blog

Link to Segment Series: http://bit.ly/GASS-Brand

How to Use this Segment: Compare users who visited branded pages to those who didn't. You can apply all three segments at once or individually, depending on how you wish to analyze the results. Begin by applying all three to your favorite content reports, then one at a time for a deeper look.

Segment Contributed by: Anna Lewis is the Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai. Explore 15 additional useful segments identified by Anna.

10. Q&A Keyword Monitoring

Some keyword modifiers are dead giveaways for consumer intent. Words such as "how," "what," and "versus" are filtered into this advanced segment with a nifty regular expression.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-QandA

How to Use this Segment: Mine your own keyword traffic for ideas to add to a Q&A section of your site. If your site doesn't include a Q&A section, consider using this Google Analytics advanced segment to see if people are asking questions you might not be answering.

Segment Contributed by: Kane Jamison submitted this segment after reading Joshua Unseth's article on the same topic.

11. Cart Abandoners by Traffic Source

If you have an ecommerce site, then you probably wonder why people abandon your cart without checking out. The truth is that the answer probably varies greatly, often by source. One way to explore differences in cart abandonment is to segment it by traffic source.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Carts

How to Use this Segment: This segment teases out cart abandonment for Facebook visitors. Make as many copies of it as you have primary traffic sources. Then apply the segments to your goal funnel reports to inspect whether traffic abandons differently by segment or if there are universal snags in your ecommerce flow.

Segment Contributed by: This advanced segment was contributed by Dan Antonson, Lead Analyst at SMC Pros.

12. Geographic Brand Ripples

Google Analytics reports typically are set up to compare apples to apples, such as comparing your brand's presence in two different cities. This series of segments demonstrates a brand's ripple effect throughout a region by comparing traffic from two main cities (i.e., Minneapolis and St. Paul), the target metro area (i.e., the Twin Cities in Minnesota) and the target state (i.e., Minnesota) for a given brand.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-BrandRipple

How to Use this Segment: Change up these segments to reflect your key target cities, your metro area and your state. Then combine all three in a geographic report to assess micro vs. local vs. regional trends.

Segment Contributed by: James Svoboda is the Vice President of MnSearch.org and CEO at WebRanking.

13. Cohort Analysis

This segment requires using both custom variables and advanced segments and demonstrates how to segment users along different stages of your sales funnel. Set the following as a custom variable when someone completes a key step, such as the "checkout" process for a free trial:

_gaq.push(['setCustomVar', 1,'Free Trial Started', 'YYYYMMDD', 1]);

The advanced segment that works with this code identifies the visitor-level variable associated with the user on subsequent visits for as long as their cookie persists. This allows you to see how they behave differently from visitors who haven't started the trial.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Cohort

How to Use this Segment: Apply to any conversion-oriented report to look at differences in conversion rates, conversion paths and different content consumed along the way for people on the free trial versus people who haven't yet tried your product or service.

Segment Contributed By: Mike Pantoliano is an SEO Consultant at Distilled and an advanced web analytics speaker and blogger.

14. Conversion Rates: Business Hours vs. Off Hours

Does the conversion rate on your website change when you close the doors to your brick-and-mortar building? This segment – which is similar to day-parting reports from AdWords – compares traffic received during and after business hours.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Hours

How to Use this Segment: Adjust this segment series to align with your business hours. It defaults from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. (ET) but you can adjust it to align with your own hours of operation and then apply conversion data reports to investigate differences in website performance both before and after hours.

Segment Contributed by: Michael Freeman is the Senior Manager of Search at ShoreTel.

15. Detecting Content Piracy

Is someone stealing content on your website? The content piracy segment allows you to see what traffic has been generated against your Google Analytics profile by any other hostnames that aren't yours.

Link to Segment: http://bit.ly/GASS-Piracy

How to Use this Segment: Apply this segment to reports in the Audience section of Google Analytics to inspect the areas and technical characteristics of fake sites created to copy your brand's assets without your permission or benefit.

Segment Contributed by: Pamela Nelson is the Senior Director of Analytics & Reporting for Prime Visibility.

16. Add Your Segment Here

The last Google Analytics secret segment is where you come in. If you've made it this far, then you're very likely to have a Google Analytics advanced segment of your own that you've been keeping to yourself. Consider adding a link to your secret segment – along with instructions on how to use it – in the comments to help others find those nuggets of gold buried deep within their own mountain of web analytics data.

Across From Google I/O, Microsoft Runs The “Bing It On” Challenge

Coming out of Google I/O at Moscone Center in San Francisco yesterday, I did a double-take. Was that Microsoft pitching its “Bing It On” challenge against Google directly across the street. Yep.

“Put the science back in computer science: test your Google bias inside,” read a big banner, over the entrance to the Metreon Mall, which is across from Moscone.

Inside, there’s a “Bing In On” kiosk:

One side is just an invitation to take the challenge; you actually do the challenge on one of the other sides:

The kiosk simply takes you to the Bing It On site, where you’re invited to run five searches and see which results you prefer, when shown them from Bing and Google side-by-side. You’re not told, however, which results are Bing’s and which are Google’s.

I found the machine pretty sluggish to use. The on-screen keyboard wasn’t very responsive, and it seemed slow to load pages. I gave up trying to complete a test, myself.

No Pictures!

Since anything search-related catches my eye, my immediate reaction was to start taking pictures. That caused a mall security guard to tell me I couldn’t. That just made me want to take them even more, especially when plenty of Google Glass-wearing people were wandering through, any of whom could easily take a picture and not be detected.

Indeed, Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Matt McGee, standing with me and wearing his pair of Google Glass, used them for that purpose.

Later, we both headed over to the Metreon for a midnight screening of Star Trek: Into Darkness (great, great movie, by the way). Coming at 2:30am PT today, we were intrigued to see a guy working on the Bing It On machine:

It was opened up physically, and the challenge screen itself was down, revealing what seems to be Windows 7 underneath.

I asked the guy working on it what he was doing, and he basically just said “stuff.” The weird bit was when I went to take a shot from further out:

By this point, the guy in the red shirt had turned up. When he saw me taking a picture, he started saying I couldn’t. I actually have a really nice in focus shot of him looking at me directly saying this, but I thought I’d spare putting his face out there.

No big deal. I had my picture anyway and headed out. I don’t think any type of rigging was going on. I really don’t, no wink-wink, nudge-nudge. It would be pretty hard to do, since there’s no way to anticipate what someone is going to search for.

But, it was sure weird to see such sensitivity over taking pictures of the kiosk in the middle of a very busy mall, filled with smartphone-carrying people.

Was this installed just for Google I/O? I’m checking on that, but I don’t think so. It does appear to be fairly recent, as I can’t find any references to it when I do various searches. Bing has just ramped up its Bing It On campaign, which began originally last September. It may have been installed as part of that or earlier, as kiosks have been in use for months.

Personally, I’ve actually felt this has been one of Bing’s smarter moves, versus the negative Scroogled campaigns. It pits Bing up against Google in a relevancy fight, and Bing can often do very well.

Postscript: Bing has confirmed to me that the installation was put into place specifically for Google I/O. And last night’s repair was to fix touchscreen issues. All sides of the kiosk should now be working today.

Matt Cutts Stops By SES To Talk Google & Answer Some Difficult Questions- #SESSF

Hot off the heels of Avinash’s SES opening keynote, day two of SES San Francisco 2012 included another famous Googler to start the day. Matt Cutts (@mattcutts), Distinguished Engineer for Google, is the head of the Web spam team. He and his spam fighters, as he refers to them, make up part of the Google Knowledge Group. �He was a last-minute addition to the SES schedule, interviewed by Mike Grehan, VP and Global Content Director for Incisive Media, as part of the day two kickoff.

The conversation started with a few quick blurbs about what’s new in Google search. Cutts addressed the audience discussing how the Google Knowledge Graph was starting to be used more and more. The Google Knowledge Graph is the technology behind how Google determines what you’re trying to search for when you enter a query. Matt used the example of�[rio]. Is the user searching for the city, the 2011 animated film or the brand of Casinos? Google helps users quantify search queries with multiple meanings through the auto-complete suggestions in the search bar.

Knowledge Graph is also how Google is trying to learn that searches for [Representative Ryan] and [Paul Ryan] should return the information. It is supposed to help Google disambiguate between all the alternatives of a given search phrase. He explained first Google released Google Sets, then it evolved into Google Squared, which essentially became the Knowledge Graph today.

Matt Cutts also touched up the recent addition of Gmail messages as part of the results you see on a Google search. He said it is strictly opt-in for a very limited trial usage and there is a separate, distinct URL you need to use to opt in to it.

At this point, Mike Grehan invited Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land and Brett Tabke of PubCon to join him on stage. Together, the collective brain trust fielded questions from the audience. Cutts took the lead on the answers, while Grehan, Sullivan and Tabke took turns trying to get deeper answers in the follow-up.

TopRank Readers Bonus: Q&A With Google’s Matt Cutts

First up was a question about Google Penguin and Panda. Cutts was frank and told attendees to expect Penguin updates once a month. The reasoning? �Google is trying to create a much better user experience all around.

Regarding social signals, Cutts acknowledged�followers and friends are a signal. At this time, it’s not as simple as the more followers one has, the higher you’ll rank. However, he suggested in the future, that may likely be the case. Unfortunately, Google is limited to what it can know. Their deal with Twitter’s “fire hose” of data expired. Google can’t crawl most of Twitter anymore.

How much does Google+ help increase rankings? �The 10-year trend may be the more +1′s you have, the more you may be rewarded in the rankings. But for now, that is not the case.�It is a signal Google will look at. However Google will be looking at it from a standpoint to see how well it works as a signal. For now, “I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on +1 just yet,” Cutts stated plainly.

Not too long ago, Matt was quoted saying, “Do SEO but not to much SEO.” This prompted an audience question of “What is too much SEO?”

Cutts’ reply was If you’re doing good seo, you’re making your site faster, and all the good guidelines Google publishes and wants you to follow, then you’re fine. Too much SEO was basically a misspeak on his part. Rather, Google is targeting people buying back links and people who do not necessarily write their own content. Not people who may be trying to “over-SEO” their sites.

Another audience member asked about Google scraping data from other sites to create content on a search result page, further asking why there so much Wikipedia content in the results.

Google wants to provide information to simple queries, was the simple reply. Cutts stated, “If you type in 2+2, we can take you to a calculator tool on a page, but users really want the answer. We want to have good information providers.”

Suggesting that Google may scrape everyone’s site in the future, the audience member followed up asking, “But where does Google draw the line? Google is doing what is right for Google. Google is getting all in our business,” suggesting that Google is hijacking people’s content. This drew applause from the enthusiastic morning crowd.

Cutts explained that Google is driven on or users’ expectations, which go up every year.� People expect natural language queries. Their attitude is whatever you type in the search box, Google wants to give you the beat information.�Cutts stated Google has one guideline on this situation: Google needs to keep ahead of the curve. If they were to stay stagnant and not innovate search, someone other company would come along and make a cooler search�and deliver a better experience. He took this opportunity to give a nod to Apple’s voice activated Siri. However, he didn’t answer where that line would be drawn.

Overall, the session was a roaring success. Some tough questions were given and Cutts offered replies to all of them on the spot, staying cool under the scrutiny of the audience.

Make Content Marketing Work: 3 Tips to Activate Your Top Influencers

We discover, consume, and share digital content in radically different ways than we did five years ago. This fundamental change has been driven by the rapid adoption of social media and mobile devices.

Social media is both a content filter and a distribution channel. We discover and consume more content than ever because of social media.

What’s more, as people engage with and share this content with others, it sends strong signals to the search engines that improve its position in search engine results, which increases the content’s reach significantly.

In conjunction with social media’s impact on content discovery, the smartphones and tablets we carry around with us have expanded the time and spaces in which we read, watch, and share this content.

The net result of these changes is that we have more content to consume and more time to consume it in. Sounds like a win-win for consumers and marketers right?

Not so fast. The new reality is that the firehose of content consumers receive is highly filtered and curated through the digital connections consumers trust whether they be friends and/or subject matter experts. Look at your Facebook newsfeed or Twitter stream for examples of this.

Making your message stand out in the stream of content rolling past your target audience is a major challenge. So although we might be spending more time consuming and sharing content, marketers’ access to that time is increasingly limited.

In response to this disruption and the opportunities it creates for marketing through social media and search, content marketing is a hot topic among digital marketers these days. Content marketing involves creating unique content and driving discovery, engagement, and distribution of it through a combination of organic and paid channels.

How 1% of Your Audience Makes Content Marketing Work

What makes content marketing work is creating and distributing content that appeals to the 1 percent of the audience who will successfully refer others to it. These are the users with many connections and authority on the subject, who will pass on links to your contests, promotions, deals, and other marketing campaigns because they think it will be useful to the people who follow them. These key influencers and advocates are more than just fans – they’re brand ambassadors when brands give them content worth sharing.

Brands that track and quantify word-of-mouth impact have found that the sharing done by these key influencers can drive 20, 30, or even up to 70 percent of all of the discovery and engagement with their campaign content, surpassing paid media in some cases as the most efficient driver of discovery and traffic to their sites. That’s pretty incredible, considering these "super influencers" drive an even higher share of conversions — on average influencing 30 percent or more of all conversions on marketers’ sites just by recommending a brand’s products, content, or promotions to their online connections and followers.

What’s more, as people share links and send social signals in the forms of Likes, tweets, pins, etc., traffic from organic search can increase due to improved position in search engine results pages (SERPs).

When you see data like this, you realize pretty quickly that identifying and engaging with the super influencers is time well spent.

If you can build relationships with this 1 percent directly by recognizing their influence, thanking them for sharing with their audiences and followers, and rewarding them for their loyalty, they will be motivated to share early and share often each time you create useful and engaging content.

Identifying the key influencers among your target audience is fairly straightforward. There are a wealth of social media measurement tools that enable marketers to find the people who are talking most about their brand, see what type of content they’re sharing and with whom, and how they are sharing it (email, Twitter, Facebook, their own blogs, etc.).

Once you find these influencers, the trick is activating them to share even more. Here are three tips to help you activate your top influencers.

1. Use Exclusive Content

Your most engaged and influential users love to be an inside source of new information for their friends and followers by sharing contests, information, or deals with their social networks before other people have heard about them.

Create exclusive content you share only with these key influencers, and let them know they were one of a select few to receive this special opportunity. This makes your brand advocates feel appreciated and provides them with exclusive information they can use to boost their reputation as a source of new inside information and fresh scoops.

One client decided to engage its most ardent fans when planning a large industry event. The company reached out to these key influencers, inviting them to post a “register now” button on their social profiles, blogs and websites, and offering them lower-cost VIP passes if they shared the event with friends.

The result was a huge uptick in sharing that significantly influenced registrations for the event. People who found out about the conference from an influencer were 37 percent more likely to register than direct visitors, and influencers ended up driving more than $1 million in total registrations.

2. Avoid Facebook + Twitter Tunnel Vision

When you’re looking for super influencers, chances are you’ve already determined who shares the most on Facebook and Twitter. But, in many cases, the people who really influence traffic and conversion on your site are the bloggers and active participants in industry message boards and forums.

One client launched a social media contest and found that a single blogger referred thousands of people and directly drove 42 percent of all traffic to the contest.

To find and activate the people who are truly passionate about your products, services, or sector, you must monitor the blogosphere, message boards, and forums continuously.

Once you’ve gathered the necessary analytics data to find exactly which individuals are driving the most traffic to your campaign sites, reach out to these people individually. Treat them like the real VIPs they are. Let them know you appreciate their loyalty and interest in your products. Invite them to be a part of a separate and exclusive program for others like them.

This high touch approach to building relationships with the most influential among your target audience is more effective at building a large base of brand advocates than special rewards and brand swag.

3. Analyze and Understand Your Social Segments

Your top fans are so valuable they are worth the extra effort of some special attention. But not all influencers are alike.

When you plot the influence of individuals, you’ll see a curve that is remarkably similar to the long tail distribution of search terms. Influence follows a “power law,” where a relatively small number of individuals drive the lion's share of social referrals. Those at the peak of this curve are what we refer to as “super influencers.” Super influencers have large, loyal followings and audiences who trust their insights and the relevant content they pass along.

Understanding this distinction between the people capable of referring more than 100 friends and followers and those who would be lucky to refer a few is key to crafting your content marketing strategy.

In order for your content to “go viral” you need to have one-to-one relationships with your super influencers, and at the same time target your standard influencers a bit more broadly.

For example, you will want to connect with all your influencers by commenting on their blogs and syndicating their content via Twitter, Facebook, and your own blog. Thank them for their loyalty, and generally give them focused attention.

Make sure to go the extra mile with your super influencers and treat them as an extended part of your team. Offer these valuable individuals the opportunity to obtain and review your products before they hit the market, for example. Offer them after-hours shopping at your stores, a few free hours of your services, or invite them to a special VIP party. Be creative and have fun.

Remember, your super influencers, when treated right, can drive a huge percentage of your brand’s discovery and engagement. That’s reason enough to throw a party isn’t it?

Bottom Line

Creating content you think is useful and relevant isn’t enough to make your content marketing program work. You need the energy and influence of the 1 percent of your audience capable of driving discovery of your content through the social filters upon which we all rely. And once you find them, you need to build lasting relationships with them and motivate them to share.

Over the long term, a primary content marketing goal is to increase the size of your influencer base. By finding these individuals, delivering useful content to them, and engaging in a direct dialogue with them you will be setting the foundation for a strong and mutually rewarding relationship.

With the support and engagement of this growing army of influencers and advocates, you will drive discovery of your content among a larger percentage of your target audience directly and through improved position in search engine results. You will also have the opportunity to grow your audience of influencers and advocates.

Twitter Is Currently Down For [Insert Your Reason Here]

Time for a fun game to break up the monotony of your day slaving away to make companies more profitable online.

Twitter is currently down, and has been since just around 11:15 a.m. The Twitter Status page tells us:

"Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue."

There's no Fail Whale. Twitter's error page is a bit of an “Oops.” It looks like the form field should have autofilled with some logical explanation as to why their service is unavailable, but failed to do so.

Let’s hope it’s not that pesky cascaded bug at work again.

Give us your best reason in the comments: Why is Twitter down and when will they be back?

UPDATE @1:30 PM: Twitter seems to have returned to most users now.

UPDATE 2: The official word for Twitter on today's two-hour outage: 

The cause of today’s outage came from within our data centers. Data centers are designed to be redundant: when one system fails (as everything does at one time or another), a parallel system takes over. What was noteworthy about today’s outage was the coincidental failure of two parallel systems at nearly the same time.

comScore: Bing Barely Gaines Share In June 2009

Now a third major ratings service has released search engine share figures for June 2009, and like the others, they show that Bing made only a tiny gain in the wake of its launch and major ad campaign.

The comScore figures have gone out to the financial analyst community, and the comScore press release with them usually arrives a week after that. But Mark Mahaney at Citigroup gave permission to cite figures in his report, which includes analysis for investors (too early to call, Bing has a “solid product” but faces “large uphill battle”).

For June 2009, here’s the search share handled by each of the major players in the United States:

Google: 65.0%, unchanged from May 2009Yahoo: 19.6%, down from 20.1%, a 0.5% dropBing: 8.4%, up from 8.0%, a 0.4% riseAsk: 3.9%, unchanged from May 2009AOL: 3.1%, unchanged from May 209

In terms of search volume, actual number of searches handled:

Google: 9.135 billion, down from 9.307 billion, a 172 million search dropYahoo: 2.755 billion, down from 2.877 billion, a 122 million search dropBing: 1.179 billion, up from 1.149 billion, a 30 million riseAsk: 552 million, down from 555 million, a 3 million dropAOL: 439 million, down form 438 million, a 1 million drop

The volume figures are important. With Bing showing a 0.4% rise in share, while Yahoo shows a 0.5% drop, it’s easy to assume that Bing “stole” share from Yahoo. However, what happens each month is that the overall “pie” of searches gets larger or smaller in general. In the summer, the pie often shrinks as people are out of school and not searching as much.

So Yahoo’s drop? The 122 million searches that it lost didn’t all flow into Bing, which shows a 30 million rise. Of course, normally you’d also have expected Bing to also have shown a summer drop. That’s also important to consider, in fully measuring the gain. For example, if it had normally fallen by 50 million searches, then to show a 30 million rise would mean in reality an 80 million overall gain.

Aren’t interpreting stats fun? Suffice to say, Bing did well to be up, but it’s uncertain who they pulled away from (especially since the Bing marketing and publicity might have generated “new” searches that wouldn’t normally have existed), and we remain very much in watch and see mode.

For those keeping score at home, here’s how it looks with the other rating services, on a share and gain basis, with June 2009 cited first, then May 2009 and the change:

comScore: 8.4%, up from 8.0%, a 0.4% riseCompete: 6.2%, up from 6.5%, a tiny 0.3% gainHitwise: 5.25%, down from 5.64, a .039% drop

On a weekly basis, Hitwise found a rise from the beginning of the month in June to the end of the month. More on that in the related stories below:

Bing: comScore sees Gains; Compete Sees Same Old, Same Old (early June 2009 figures)Hitwise: Bing Both Grows & Drops In June; Google Still Tops (full June 2009 figures)At One Month, Bing Says Unique Users Up; Compete Says Barely Any Gain In Searches (full June 2009 figures)Report: Search Ad Spending Stabilizes While Bing Gains On Google, YahooReport: Google Has Nothing To Fear From Bing Itself (interesting consumer behavior survey from JP Morgan)

For those who want an early peak into July, here’s the past five days of share data from Compete:


Bing figures don’t include searches at Club Bing, which add about another 1.5% or so share, roughly. Bing started June in the 5.5% to 6.0% range, so it’s picked up about 1% share according to Compete, since June.

As I keep saying, while there’s a temptation to draw conclusions from the early figures, we really want to see what happens around October and November. People will be back from school then, the months will be more “regular” in nature and the Bing marketing campaign will likely have ended or ramped down. Will word-of-mouth have spread by then? Will behaviors have changed?

Want to Have a Larger Impact on Your Organization? 4 Tips for Becoming A Better Influencer

How Can You Become A Better Influencer? Tip: You'll attract more bees with honey than you will with vinegar!

Last week Lee Odden shared a post �on attracting the attention of influencers online. �Whether we’re talking about�influencers with mass appeal, or those that have a closer and more personal relationship with their followers, each person presents an opportunity to learn and grow.

That got me thinking, when it comes to the inner workings of an organization: what makes a good influencer, and would I consider myself an influencer at TopRank Online Marketing? �In my opinion, there are some key factors that make a good influencer.

Building a strong relationship and trust with your peers is essential in influencing their decisions.Having a team centric attitude towards those that you work with (no man is an island).Presenting an attitude that says �I�m lucky to be here� vs. �the company is lucky to have me�.

There is a certain power that comes with having influence over your peers. �A power that should not under any circumstances be abused. �After all, what is power without trust? �The bigger question to ask is: why should you want to be an influencer? �There are many benefits to being an influential member of a team including flexibility, trust, decision making power, and proof of ability just to mention a few. �I would like to dive into some of the qualities that I think make a better influencer, as well as some signs that you may already be an influencer and didn�t even know it!

4 Tips for Becoming a Better Influencer

#1 Listen More Talk Less: �Think back to your �Sales 101� training, what is one of the most important rules that salespeople must always remember? �Don�t talk yourself out of the sale. �By listening to what your customers (or in this case peers) are really saying, you can �better formulate recommendations that will have the largest impact on both their perception of you as well as the project, situation, or problem at hand.

#2 Give Before You Get: �One thing that I have found is that you cannot automatically expect that your peers will want to help you. �I enjoy seeing the organization I work for from a variety of perspectives and not just my own. �Being aware of when your peers may be struggling or need help is the perfect opportunity to offer your help. �Offering assistance on a fairly consistent basis will show that you are invested in making each person on your team successful, and are not simply looking to pull ahead of the pack. This will in turn increase your team’s willingness to help when you’re in a bind.

#3 Work Outside Your Comfort Zone: As online marketers our industry evolving at a rapid pace. �What was best practices when you go to sleep, may be vastly different than when you wake up the next morning. �There will always be tactics that you don�t know but �by charging full ahead and working on projects or platforms that are outside of your standard comfort zone you will increase your adaptability and ability to think on your feet. Adaptability and quick problem solving will increase perception that you are an innovator within the organization.

#4 Suggest Collaboration: I�m sure you�ve heard the saying: �two heads or better than one� well imagine what you could do when your whole team puts their brains together. �When we come up with ideas on our own without collaborating it�s easy to self validate concepts and consider only one point of view on the subject. �By creating an open brainstorming you will give your fellow team members an opportunity to share their opinions and feel that they have an impact on the end product, recommendation, or solution. �What you will end up with will most likely be a better version of what team members would have come up with individually.

4 Signs That You�re An Influencer & Didn�t Know It

While many of us may be working on becoming a bigger asset or a bigger influencer within our organization there are many people who are influencers, but don�t know it. �What are some signs that you may be more influential than you think?

When your company is making new hires they ask if there is anyone you know that might be a good fit for the organization.You�re asked to work on projects or tasks that are outside of your job description. �Proof that you are adaptable and can work freely.Team members come right out and ask what you think they should do as it relates to one of their clients or customers.You�ve formed a meaningful and unique relationship with each member of your team, which shows that you are interested in them as an individual.

Truth Be Told: I shared what being an influencer means to me but I�m curious to know what you think. �Do you thinking working towards influencing your team members is a self serving strategy, or will it help the greater good? �Is there anyone in your organization that you would like to nominate as an influencer? �Why would you nominate them?

Bing’s Image Search Gets A New Look, Updated Features

Bing has updated its image search today with a new look and some tweaks to its search and discovery features.

The first thing you’ll notice, aside from the fact that puppies are really cute, is the tight tile-based layout that Pinterest often gets credited for making popular in the past year or so. Both Flickr and Yahoo have recently rolled out similar layouts — Yahoo, in fact, rolled out a very similar look and feel just yesterday.

Image search on Bing has also been updated to the minimalist user interface that Bing.com launched in early May. There are also bigger thumbnails and a “magnifying glass” tool that pops up above each image with information.

On the feature side, Bing is touting the filter bar at the top of the image results that lets users drill-down to images based on size, color and other options. There are also related topics and trending image searches to the right and search suggestions up above.

Of interest, too, is that Bing says image search makes up about seven percent of all Bing queries.

Source: Google Ending AdWords Reseller Program (For Now)

Following rumors over the past week or so that Google was shutting down its local AdWords reseller program, I’ve received two separate confirmations of this today from credible sources. Both confirmed that Google is indeed shuttering the current form of the program, which has operated for at least three years. One of the sources said that the program will cease at the end of this month (this week).

The AdWords reseller program has been used by local media companies and several independent sales channels to help sell search marketing to small businesses in the local market. Conceptually it was a win-win for Google and its local media partners; however in practice it hasn’t worked out quite as well as hoped.

When asked last week about the status of the program, a Google spokesperson said the following:

“The Google�AdWords Authorized�Reseller�Program is still active. We remain committed to building relationships with third party partners that enable small and medium-sized businesses to realize the benefits of cost-efficient, targeted and measurable online advertising solutions like AdWords.”

These sources told me that Google has said it intends to relaunch the program later this year, though perhaps with somewhat different terms and conditions.

What this apparently means in the immediate term is loss of free API access and related account creation tools. The companies that had operated in this program will still be able to access APIs and function as “agencies” for their local advertisers they just won’t have the same “insider” status. However, again, Google apparently indicated to both of these sources that at some point in the next few months a new version of the program would be made available.

My speculation is that Google is seeking to “fix” the program and putting it on hiatus. A number of the companies using it and selling paid search to local, small businesses have suffered from heavy churn. While that’s a complicated issue that has many contributing factors, one apparent frustration on Google’s part is that some participating firms siphon off a significant chunk of the advertiser’s media spend as margin or fees, leaving less to make the actual keyword buys and delivering less real value to the advertisers accordingly.

One of the sources I spoke with also speculated that Google was now more interested in “owning the [SMB] advertiser relationship” even though he also believes that Google can’t efficiently acquire SMB advertisers in the way its local channel partners can. While all that remains to be seen, Google has made a much more direct outreach effort to local SMBs in the recent past with simplified ad units such as “enhanced listings” and “local listing ads,” the second of which is now hiatus as well.