Google+ Local Bible for SMBs

If you're a small local business, having a Google+ Local profile is imperative to putting your brand – quite literally – on the map. Google Places was recently replaced with Google+ Local – a merging of Places and Plus that serves up your Google+ Local listing in Search and Maps results on mobile devices and traditional browsers. Whereas Places was a static listing, Local is dynamic and social.

A well-optimized Google+ Local page can benefit your digital marketing strategy in the following ways:

Outrank your competitors in local search.Build the authority of your brand through +1's and user reviews.Drive traffic to your website.Convert more visitors into leads and clientele.

Quick stats about local mobile use:

50 percent of mobile search is local.61 percent of local searches result in purchases.50 percent of smartphone shoppers use a GPS/mapping app to find a retail location.Only 33 percent of advertisers have a mobile optimized website (Read more mobile statistics for local business).

With more than 1 billion smartphone users around the world, a number expected to reach 2 billion by 2015, it's no surprise that mobile search is quickly becoming the number one way users search. And, when people search with their smartphones, they're looking for something local.

How do you unlock the full potential of +Local? Follow these six steps to learn the dance.

Step 1: Claim Your Google+ Business Page

In order to set up your Google+ Local account, you need a Google+ Business Page. If you haven't yet claimed your Google+ Business page, I recommend John Haydon's short video tutorial on how to do it, here.

However, if you have a +Business Page which doesn't have a Local page category, unfortunately it can't be upgraded yet. (The new +Local Dashboard was recently rolled out, however only available in the U.S. for now).

If you already set up a Google+ Business page in the category Local Business, then you have the option to merge your business page with your Google+ local page. For a video tutorial on merging your Business and Local pages, check out Matthew Hunt's video here.

Now, it's time to populate your +Local Page.

Step 2: Update Your Google+ Local Page

The process for updating your Google+ Local page is pretty straightforward. On the left panel you have a series of icons (just like Google+). Hit the Profile icon and update your About section, cover photo, company photos, videos, etc.

The key is to build a strong local page that includes all pertinent business information (address, contact information, operating hours), engaging content (photos, positive reviews) and to keep it actively updated.

Step 3: Disseminate Structured and Unstructured Citations

Let's start by outlining the difference between a structured and unstructured citation. A structured citation is a mention of your business' NAP (business name, address, phone number) on an IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) or directory website (e.g., Yahoo Directory, ODP).

Generally, a structured citation has the mark-up, which allows the search engine spiders across Google, Bing and Yahoo to read the data. (To learn how to add schema location markup check out Carrie Hill's step-by-step article. )

An unstructured citation is more of a casual mention of your business' NAP that appears anywhere that's not an official directory provider, for example, a blog, social media profile, newspaper (online/print) etc.

Having a healthy mix of both structured and unstructured citations is really important for both SEO and conversions. Tools like Whitespark's local citation finder can help you to identify structured citation providers in your area.

Some ideas for getting unstructured mentions include:

Event citations (local social event, meetups, seminars/workshops)Job boards (local job posting sites like elance, odesk, freelancer)Classified ads (Kijiji, Craigslist, Angie's list, eBay, Amazon etc.)Local newspaper classifiedsLocal realtor websitesDiscount sites (local coupon sites)Daily Deal websites (Groupon)Facebook Deals (Facebook Deals also have potential virality by inviting vetted Friends of Fans to participate in deals)Give away websites (Freecycle, Fiverr, mom blogs…)

Leveraging these structured and unstructured opportunities will definitely contribute to moving your rankings up and achieving your digital targets.

Step 4: Build Rank for Your Google+ Local Page

Google's previous local algorithm for Places was weighted on three main factors:


With the updated +Local, the algorithm has become as complex as Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's relationship.

(Fun Fact:'s Top Question in 2012 was: Will Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart Get Back Together?)

But back to what really matters: What's affecting the positioning of a +Local listing on the SERP? The most up-to-date and comprehensive ranking factor analysis I've come across so far, is from the big wig of local search engine marketing, David Mihm. He's analyzed and written extensively about the top factors that affect the rank of your Google+ Local page. And he just did a Whiteboard Friday about the evolution of the local algorithm.

(Note: This analysis was performed in June 2012, just after the Places/Plus merge, so there may be some new factors that come into play – and others whose influence will increase or decrease when 2013's assessment is ready.)

Here's a very condensed breakdown of the top five factors that drive Google's local search algorithms:

1. +Local Page Criteria

Physical address in city of searchProper business categoriesProximity of address to city center (centroid)Local area code on +Local Page

2. On-site factors

Domain Authority of websiteCity/state/province in +Local landing page titleHTML/schema NAP matches +Local page NAPPage Authority of landing page specified in +LocalProduct/service keyword in website URL

3. Off-site factors

Quantity of structured citations (IYPs, data aggregators)Quality/authority of structured citationsQuality/authority of unstructured citationsQuality/authority of inbound links to domain

4. Review factors

Quantity of native +Local reviewsProduct/service keywords in reviewsQuantity of third-party reviewsKeyword(s) location in reviewsVelocity of native +Local reviews

(Note: velocity refers to the speed at which a local listing or a website accumulates outside references, such as links, citations, reviews, or check-ins.)

5. Social/Mobile factors

Number of +1's on websiteNumber of adds/shares on Google+Click-through rate from search resultsAuthority of +1's on websiteVelocity of adds/shares on Google+

Now we know what performance indicators to put the bulk of our efforts into; it's time to find out what local region searchers are looking for.

Step 5: Perform a Local/Hyper-Local Keyword Research

Doing keyword research for local business is a challenging but high return activity. By tapping into what searchers are looking for in your local region, you open yourself to continuous discovery of quality, targeted keyword prospects, that will give your local business a competitive advantage.

You can use keyword tools such as AdWords, Wordtracker, WordStream and Übersuggest to generate an exhaustive list of as many possible relevant keywords. You can also use a fantastic local keyword tool that allows to you to include cities, state abbreviations and zip codes in your search.

Once you've analyzed and prioritized your keyword list, assigned them to the best pages (landing page, blog, mobile site, micro-site), you're ready to start building your first-class content.

Step 6: Create Value-Charged Local and Hyper-local Content

The ongoing sharing of valuable, relevant content that caters to the specific interests and intents of users on each platform you have a presence on, can have significant impact on the visibility and prominence of your brand.

It's a matter of "getting" your audience, and crafting meaningful copy that provides real value, answers questions and engages people to act. Author Rank is going to continue to give real estate to the content creators with a strong identities and that means it's more crucial than ever to build your following (Google+, +1s, reviews) and maintain your most important channels: your website, blog, social profiles, job profiles, forums, etc. with rich content including videos, images, social posts, that again, give searchers something to come back to.

Remember to keep your content cycle turning by revisiting and rejuvenating your most valuable local and hyperlocal content.

Local is “Where it's At”

The forward path of mobile search, increased local search, the influence of Google+, as well as user reviews, makes Google+ Local an invaluable platform for small businesses to utilize. Helping to drive relevant traffic and generate more qualified leads, now is the best time to do the "Localmotion" and capitalize on all the search that +Local has to offer.

To sum up, here are the key ways that will help you maximize the power of Google+ Local:

Make sure you have a Google+ Business Page for entry into the Local spaceOnce its claimed, merge your Business Page with your Google+ Local PageUpdate it with marked up business information + engaging contentBuild rank for your Google+ Local Page by optimizing the most important ranking factors (on-site/offsite factors, social media/mobile factors, reviews)Disseminate structured and unstructured citations (IYPs, directories, blog mentions etc.)Build the most comprehensive list of local/hyper-local keywordsConsistently publish value-charged content and engage with your online communities

Mary Monserrat-Howlett of nvi contributed to this post.

Drummer image source:

 Learn MoreGoogle+: A Quick Start GuideGoogle Warns SEO & Businesses to Avoid Fake ReviewsHow to Use Google+ Local to Get New Customers

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

Yandex Turns Up The Dial On Personalized Search

The Russian search engine Yandex has announced changes to how it presents personalized search results, saying that personalization is now based on what’s happening within a single search session.

When the company launched personalized results late last year, it was based primarily on looking at a user’s search history within the previous few weeks/months. Now, the personalization happens within seconds and is based on the current search session.

More than half of all searches on Yandex, however, are about something that interests the searcher at the very moment of searching and stops interest them the moment after. To be able to cater to such momentary searches, we now analyse search sessions in real time.

Search queries begin to influence search results within seconds. The search engine can figure out whether a person is looking for a book or a film even before they have finished typing [The Great Gatsby] in the search box.

Yandex says this change to its algorithm means it can offer personalized search results to searchers that have never used Yandex before. The company says it’s available now on all Yandex domains worldwide.

This company video explains more about the changes to personalized search on Yandex.

YouTube Boosts AdWords for Video With Ambassadors, How-to Guide & $75 Ad Credits

In addition to introducing some new features to AdWords for Video, YouTube is also creating an Ambassador program, providing an Advertiser Playbook, and giving away $50 million in free Google AdWords advertising. Adding envoys, best practice tips, and free money should help even more businesses get into video advertising on YouTube.

YouTube's New Ambassador Program

To recognize business owners that are already using YouTube to grow their business, YouTube is naming nine businesses from across the country as its first ever Ambassadors.

These businesses have seen outstanding success in reaching new customers, building a brand and engaging their fans with video. This includes ModCloth, an online-only retail operation that started in a college dorm room and has since grown to global, 275-employee company in less than a decade.

YouTube Finally Creates an Advertiser Playbook

The YouTube Creator Playbook covers two dimensions of YouTube marketing very intelligently: content and audience. But as we mentioned two months ago when Version 2 was published, a third dimension was missing: advertising.

Now, there’s an Advertiser Playbook that shares best practices and tips on how video can be a core part of a company’s advertising program. It covers: getting started with video, managing your videos, promoting your business, and tracking your success.

The new Advertiser Playbook also includes a collection of templates to help you develop a creative strategy and write a script about your business as well as a storyboard and shot list and an equipment checklist. You will want to set aside at least six hours to read the 122-page step-by-step guide.

The Advertiser Playbook also mentions several YouTube success stories, including the Orabrush, Rokenbok, and GoPro case studies.

In September 2010, Search Engine Watch looked at how funny YouTube videos helped Orabrush make a million dollars in one year.

And in October 2011, Search Engine Watch examined how Orabrush got into Walmart. Orabrush became the first product to go from no sales online or offline, to nationwide retail distribution just using YouTube.

Four months ago, ReelSEO shared the story of how the Rokenbok Toy Company was using YouTube to transform into an online business. A video about that case study was also just uploaded on April 17, 2012.

With fun and educational videos, Rokenbok Toys was able to create entertaining in-store demos of their toys virtually. Today, the majority of their online sales come from YouTube channel viewers who make up more than half of their customer base.

We haven’t covered the GoPro YouTube case study before. A video about it was just uploaded on April 19. The video tells the story of how the YouTube community has helped GoPro become the world leader in wearable and gear mountable cameras for sports and activities.

On Jan. 26, Search Engine Watch revealed how YouTube TrueView ads had pumped up search traffic and conversions for TRX. Although this case study isn't mentioned in the Advertiser Playbook, it has also been turned into a video that was uploaded to the Advertise on YouTube channel on April 12. Using TrueView video ads, they focus on making content that's relevant to their users, which leads to more interest in their brand – and more customers.

If advertisers need help creating a video, YouTube’s My Business Story free tool advertisers can use to create their first video. And as with all AdWords advertisers, advertisers can also call YouTube’s free phone support line, 866-2-GOOGLE, to get started with AdWords for video.

$50 Million in Free Google AdWords Advertising

To help 500,000 businesses get into video, new AdWords advertisers can receive a $75 credit toward video advertising when they sign up for AdWords for video. To put that into context, with $75 their video campaign can reach more than 1,500 of their most valuable customers on YouTube for one month.

Combined with the new features to AdWords for video, the Ambassador program, Advertiser Playbook, and $50 million in free AdWords advertising should help even more businesses get into video advertising on YouTube. It never hurts to send envoys, tips and money.

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

Google Now (And Nexus 4) Featured In Grammy Show Commercial

Last night during the Grammy Awards show, Google bought airtime to promote its predictive search/assistant feature�Google Now. The commercial, called “Live in the Now,” also featured the sold-out Nexus 4.

It now appears, however, that the popular handset will shortly be back in stock.

The Apple-like ad shows people around the world getting useful and “just in time” information from Google Now. It highlights a range of use cases, from language translation in Paris to transportation information in LA — all without conducting a search.

Google Now is available on devices featuring the “Jelly Bean” version of Android (4.1 or higher). The majority of Android users however are still on some version of “Gingerbread” (Android 2.3). Jelly Bean appears to be installed on roughly 13.6 percent of Android handsets.

Here’s the Google Now ad:

Google Quick View Badge Field Trial

Google announced a new Google field trial experiment for a feature they’ve been quietly testing named Quick View.

The Google Quick View badge is found on a select number of sites when a searcher uses Google Mobile search from their smartphone. The feature is currently working for Wikipedia on searches done in English on It basically will give you an almost instant view of the Wikipedia page when clicked on.

Google says the Quick View will show you the Wikipedia page “immediately.”

Here is a picture:

To see this yourself, you need to sign up for the field trial over here.

Google XML Sitemaps Now Supports Multiple Types: Is the Sitemaps Alliance Over?

Since Google launched XML Sitemaps back in 2005, they’ve added specialized formats to enable site �owners to submit content other than web pages. Until now, site owners have had to create separate Sitemaps for each content type:

MobileNewsVideoGeoImagesCode Search

That’s now changed. You can now create a single XML Sitemap that contains any combination of these content types. The Google Webmaster Central blog post doesn’t mention News Sitemaps, so presumably news content can’t be mixed with the other types.

Great news for site owners? Possibly. It may be easier to create and maintain a single Sitemap in some cases, but the lowest overhead way to create and maintain Sitemaps generally is via a script that creates and updates the file automatically. And it might be easier to keep track of things separately.

Indexing metrics

Certainly, from a metrics perspective, it may make sense to keep content types separated. When you submit an XML Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, you can see a report of the total number of URLs in the Sitemap and the number of those URLs indexed. For a long time, I’ve suggested that site owners create separate Sitemaps for different types of content and page types to easily track what percentage of each of those types Google is indexing. (This report provides much more accurate numbers than a site: operator search, although it only works accurately if the Sitemap contains a comprehensive and canonical list of URLs for a category.)

The previous limits on URLs and size (50,000 URLs and 10MB) still apply as well, so many sites will find that everything won’t fit in one file in any case.

What about the alliance?

The question I have about this move, however, is what about In 2006, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo came together to support a joint protocol. While the standard XML Sitemaps protocol for web pages is supported jointly, Google launched specialized Sitemaps on their own, and not as part of that alliance. If site owners start modifying their web XML Sitemaps to include additional markup needed by the additional formats, won’t that break the other engines’ ability to parse the files? Doesn’t that mean that for all practical purposes, Google is encouraging site owners to submit XML Sitemap files that don’t adhere to the standard and can be used only by Google?

In spite of and the later joint support of autodiscovery in robots.txt, it appears that Google isn’t keeping either in mind as they evolve XML Sitemaps. They may say that they would love for the other engines to support this new combined format, but they didn’t involve the Microsoft or Yahoo as they developed the specialized formats, and it’s unlikely they gave advance warning of this launch to give the other engines time to at least adjust their parsers to be able to handle this new combined format.

Maybe this move is no big deal. But a lot of work went into the launch of that alliance, with the goal of making things easier for content owners web-wide, and not just for one search engine. So the partial dismantling of it, even in spirit, is a bit disappointing.

Update: It’s true that the specialized elements shouldn’t break existing parsers, even if those parsers weren’t built specifically for those additional elements. However, I do think it’s quite possible that the existing (non-Google) parsers aren’t set up to process files with additional elements and this change could break them. �It’s definitely the case that the search engines aren’t working together on these extensions, and I’d just like to see more cooperation and advancement of the original aims of the alliance: making it easier for content owners to work with search engines.

Who Does Twitter Love? Breaking Down The Twitter Suggested Users List

In some ways, it’s the Who’s Who of Twitter — the Twitter Suggested Users list. These are the 241 people Twitter currently suggests that new people should follow. Below, a look at who makes it by categories, such as media or sports. Who’s getting Twitter’s love (such as the New York Times) and who’s not (say most other newspapers).

To make the breakdown below, I used an account that was following no one on the Suggested Users List. That’s important, because if you follow someone, then they’ll no longer show (that’s why it seemed TechCrunch might have been dropped recently, but they weren’t).

NOTE (Sept. 22, 2009): About two weeks after this was originally written, it appears TechCrunch really was dropped from the list.

How to get on the list? Twitter blogged in March:

We’ve explained that the Suggested Users list is a bit like your local book store’s staff picks but there’s a little more to it than that. Our Chief Scientist developed a program that scans active Twitter accounts for a bunch of key ingredients such as how much of the profile is filled out, certain indications that the account is interesting to others in some respects, and a few other signals.

This program then generates a list of potentially interesting Twitter accounts that myself and some product team folks here at Twitter take a look at for another set of criteria. For example, is the account a good introduction to Twittering for a new user? Does the person or organization running the account have a fairly wide or mainstream appeal? If they are a celebrity or business, have we confirmed it’s really them?

Finally, we’ll do a gut check internally with a couple folks before adding them to the Suggested Users list. The list continues to grow and change although only a subset of twenty accounts are randomly displayed as suggestions during the new user signup process. Twitter is not paid to include accounts in this list. The Suggested Users feature exists to do a job�it makes Twitter more relevant and valuable to users. All that being said, when we find out Oprah starts Twittering for real we may very well put her on the list.

After having been to each and every one of these accounts, certainly plenty of them don’t seem to have that widespread appeal in terms of content. Beyond that, two or three of them aren’t in English, which won’t appeal much to non-English speakers. Conversely, Twitter has a huge audience that doesn’t speak English, so having virtually all the people listed Twittering solely in English also isn’t that appealing.

Certainly Twitter thinks things could improve. Evan Williams has an interesting discussion on FriendFeed back in May looking for suggestions. After now having reviewed the list in depth, I come away feeling as I commented in that thread:

For one thing, you could expand the list and randomize who you show by category. For instance, the New York Times is suggested. Why not alternative a newspaper account among a variety of top providers — Wall St. Journal, LA Times and so on? Is there more than one mommy blogger to be represented other than Heather Armstrong? Just how many celebrities do you need to suggest? Do People and InStyle both need to be on the list? Is Gavin Newsom really that relevant to the vast majority of your users who don’t live in San Francisco or aren’t residents of California?

Group people into categories; build your own directory of users behind it (heck, tap into Wefollow if you don’t want to do it). But you clearly are doing it, so maybe let people choose topics they’re interested in (celebrities, news, etc) similar to what Google Reader does.

Or, you already somehow magically populate accounts based on email addresses with others that seem relevant to a particular person. Use the “invite/find” others you know idea rather than suggested people.

Finally, you could have people do some searches — enter a few words they are interested in — and pull people back that way. Bottom line, I can see the advantage to suggested users. But broaden it out — give more people a chance to be included in it, even rank-and-file low follow users.

For more background on the suggested users list, I also recommend these two newspaper articles:

Twitter’s ‘suggested users’ get mammoth boost from new feature, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 20, 2009The Tweet Smell of Success, New York Times, June 14, 2009

In my breakdown, I’ve listed people within each category in the order of follower count. In the regular list, they are NOT divided into categories, and new additions seem to flow into the bottom of the list. Being at the top of the list would seem an advantage — a longer period to get followers, more chance you might be checked off. However, I found plenty of people “low” on the list who still had more followers than those higher up.

Next to each person on the list, I’ve shown their current follower count and the current description they give for themselves. Which leads to a side point. Some people really need to get more descriptive about describing themselves.

Jimmy Fallon? I’m not a late night TV talk show watcher. Telling me “Snork” as your description sort of loses a shot of letting me know when you’re actually on, what network, all that stuff I don’t know off the top of my head. Kevin Rudd, you’re “PM” — that’s of Australia, right?

In contrast, Bob Vila does a nice combination of acknowledging many people will know his fame by name (“Twitter home of BobVila”) but also educates those that don’t (“the leading site for the do-it-yourself community giving homeowners all the information they need to get the job done).

On to the breakdown:

Actors & Other Celebrities

Making up 18% of the list, this category lumps together actors, some directors, TV personalities and others that I felt were prominent enough to warrant a “celebrity” classification. I’m sure my conclusions aren’t perfect. Apologies to any “celebrities” I failed to name. I blame my own poor lack of popular culture knowledge, in these cases.

It’s hard to draw any particular patterns from this list other than having been in a Star Trek series or either Comedy Central’s Daily Show or Colbert Report might slightly increase your odds of being listed :)

Here’s everyone in this group, in order of followers:

ashton kutcher: (2,794,082) I make stuff, actually I make up stuff, stories mostly, collaborations of thoughts, dreams, and actions. Thats me.Ellen DeGeneres (2,490,961) Find Ellen’s monologue, celebrity photos and videos, games, giveaways, how to get tickets and more on The Ellen Show website.Ryan Seacrest (1,723,675): Get official tweets from Ryan and his producers about the radio shows, American Idol and breaking news from Hollywood!Kim Kardashian (1,603,990) Armenian PrincessDemi Moore (1,551,637)Jimmy Fallon (1,532,673): Snork.Chelsea Lately (1,074,235): Comedian, TV personality and Author Chelsea Handler hosts The Chelsea Lately Show on E!RainnWilson (1,068,582): I am an actor and a writer and I co-created SoulPancake and my son, Walter.Dr. Drew (1,053,202): Board Certified, MDMartha Stewart (1,046,553): curious,inquisitive,experimental entrepreneur who cares about the world we live inPete Wentz (1,032,887): the official pete wentz twitter. bass, clothes, mischiefTony Robbins (977,378): The Official Tony Robbins AccountKevinSmith (965,409) In NY directing A COUPLE OF DICKS. Not into my mouth, mind you; talking about a Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan flick I’m shooting. Into my mouth.Wil Wheaton (959,372) I’m just this guy, you know?Penn Jillette (935,437): PennSays, P&T: Bullshit!, more than half (by weight) of Penn & TellerDane Cook (930,061): Shhh I’m Shhh’ingLeVar Burton (888,822) Actor, Director, EducatorJoel McHale (876,385): Host of “The Soup” on !EGiuliana Rancic (862,154): TV Host/Wife/ChickMichael Ian Black (860,287): The Official Michael Ian Black Twitter PageKevin Spacey (772,531) Former shoe salesman now making a go at film and theater. Wish me luck…Brent Spiner (736,366)greggrunberg (727,812): 4th Year Mind Readerrob corddry (699,161): I am a gentlemanThe Real Paula Abdul (691,833): The Real Paula Abdul – American pop singer, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality.Chris Hardwick (668,757): I am Chris Hardwick and these are my Tweets!Denise Richards (663,137): ActressStephen [Colbert] (657,847)Eddie Izzard (650,332): I’m a British European, I think like an American and I was born in an Arabic countryDanny Glover (646,267) Actor, Director, Producer, Political (563,787): The Twitter home of, the leading site for the do-it-yourself community giving homeowners all the information they need to get the job done.Gossip Girl (531,177): You know you love me, so why aren�t you following me? XoXoPeter Facinelli (516,571): Actor from Twilight, New Moon, Nurse Jackie and more… Yes, this is MY OFFICIAL TWITTER…Kevin Nealon (511,686): Accommodator/Apologist/Passive Aggressorsteve agee (492,876): That dude from the Sarah Silverman Program. Yeah, him.paulfeig (490,487): Paul is a guy who wears suits and tries not to screw things up. He also created Freaks and Geeks.Mindy Kaling (411,774): writer/performer/shopperEthan Suplee (391,254): Formerly I made a living on television pretending to be someone vastly more intelligent than I actually am…Rob Riggle (383,111): Actor, Comedian, Writer, U.S. MarineDavid Harris (352,475): David Harris is a performer and teacher at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in LA. A member of Last Day of School, he performs every Thursday night at 11pmSuze Orman (345,870) Emmy Award Winning TV Show Host, Number One NYTimes Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker and America’s Most Trusted Personal Finance ExpertKyle and Jackie O (294,145) Australia’s #1 radio show who always get into trouble coz of what they say on twitter! U were warned:-)Luciano Huck (275,440): apresentador de tvJeremy Piven (226,632): Jeremy Piven


Sockamillion (866,158): I am Jason Scott’s (321,656): Meet celebrity pets, see the cutest photos and create your pet’s profile!

Astronauts & Space

It’s a growing category! Buzz Aldrin just joined Twitter and so only recently was added to the Suggested Users List.

Mike Massimino (662,036): NASA astronaut, mission specialist for STS-125AstrobiologyNAI (350,189): NASA Astrobiology Institute: we study life in the Universe!Buzz Aldrin (121,634) Astronaut, Apollo XI, Gemini 12, Doctorate from MIT in astronautics, married to Lois Aldrin for 21 years. Korean War veteran – fighter pilot of 66 missions

Athletes, Sports & Gaming

Making up 10% of the list, those involved with compiling the list really seem to like basketball. In order of followers:

THE_REAL_SHAQ (1,674,118) VERY QUOTATIOUS, I PERFORM RANDOM ACTS OF SHAQNESSLance Armstrong (1,437,970): 7-time Tour de France winner, full time cancer fighter – LIVESTRONG!Tony Hawk (1,147,997): Professional skateboarder, dad, videogame character, husband, ceo, kid chauffeurNBA (994,788): News and notes directly from the NBA. Find out as soon as Amazing Happens!FragDolls (836,671): Ubisoft’s all-girl professional gaming team. We’re passionate about video games and geek culture, and love to see more women playing and making games.Paul Pierce (741,825): The one and only Truth, Paul Pierce of the Boston CelticsA. Jo. Martin (687,119) Work with Shaquille O’Neal and other athletes/brands to grow their digital brands. Known for zany ideas like Random Acts of Shaqness and measuring the results.Serena Williams (643975): This is the official Serena Williams twitter page.NFL (634,714): Official Site of the National Football LeagueLos Angeles Lakers (620,300): Official Twitter Feed of the Los Angeles LakersDwight Howard (609,731): After the ring!Stewart Cink (538,846): UST AxivCore shaft in driver and 3wood, UST Attas shaft in 5wood, X100 in all ironsRyan Sheckler (531,243): Professional SkateboarderMano Menezes (513,831)joe sebok (513,253): professional poker player, president of, searcher of the ultimate ride, and lover of peanut butter and jelly.Nick Swisher (495,498): The official Twitter of Nick Swisher, NY YankeesKareem Abdul-Jabbar (456,427): NBA’s All-Time Leading ScorerBill Simmons (439,388): I write ESPN’s Sports Guy column + host the BS Report podcast. My new book (The Book of Basketball) comes out on 10/27.John Calipari (421,390): The official twitter page of University of Kentucky Head Men’s Basketball Coach John CalipariAli Nejad (332,653): Host of NBC’s Poker After Dark and Face the Ace. Fox News Red Eye panelist. Hater of haters…wait…Orlando Magic (283,560): This is the official Twitter of the Orlando Magic.Ian Poulter (264,891): Global tour golfer, play pgatour & europeantour. Massive Arsenal fan and also Orlando Magic fan. Love all Sports, Cars, most of all love my Family timeDana White:(125,601): [UFC]MLB (64,170): Major League Baseball’s Official Twitter! 100 verified MLB Tweeps at (just choose your team’s logo!)BarryZ (NO COUNT: ACCOUNT NO LONGER WORKS BUT IS STILL LISTED BY TWITTER) Pitching is my main source of fun

Businesses & Organizations

You’ve got a mixture of business that sell to consumers (Dell), charities (charity water), airlines (JetBlue and Southwest) and companies like Google. By follower count:

A Googler (1,162,592) News and updates from GoogleWhole Foods Market (1,027,398): Fresh organic tweets from Whole Foods Market HQ in Austin, (967,925): Woot : One Day, One Deal. Also see our other feeds: Airways (895,996): Have a question? Follow us and let us help! – Currently on duty: Morgan Gigi, Lindsey, and LaurieWorld Economic Forum (892,071): Official Twitter account of the World Economic Forum, known for the Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland (@Luefkens tweeting)Dell Outlet (873,245): Refurbished Dell� computers, electronics. Question/comment? Contact Stefanie Nelson at @StefanieAtDell. More Dell Twitter accounts at (838,159): We’re a tee company where artists worldwide submit tee designs to us for a chance at $25,000+! Anyone can submit, score, share and buy their favorite new tees!Amazon MP3 (767,208): Daily Deals and special sales on DRM-free, play-anywhere music downloads from Amazon. The official Amazon MP3 twitter feed.CBOE (650,984): Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) is the largest U.S. options exchange and the creator of listed options.CMEGroup (642429): A CME/CBOT/NYMEX Companycharity: water charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. www.charitywater.orgiTunes Trailers (606,488): Official movie trailers and theatrical content updates to Apple iTunes Trailers, Apple TV, and for the iPhone/iPod touch on Twitter.CDC Emergency (549,746): CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response: increasing the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.Etsy! (521,558): The world’s most vibrant handmade marketplace. Reading your tweets: Anda http://anda.etsy.comUNHCR Official tweet (467,000): The official tweet of UNHCR. Follow us as we provide vital aid and protection to the forcibly displaced around the world.ROC4LIFE (457,681): Rocawear’s Online Community Site. Get all the latest News, Fashion and Culture highlights you love. Bookmark us today.Southwest Airlines (298,068) The LUV Airline! Airplanes can’t type so @Christi5321 is responding/chatting with you!joinred (207,576): Bringing people and brands together to help fight AIDS in Africa. Join us! Follow (RED).

Media & Reporters

The biggest category on the list, which makes sense as many of these put out information that would be safe for people of all sensitivities. Twitter REALLY likes the New York Times, listing it and several of its reporters. The only other papers getting a nod are single listings for the Guardian and the Chicago Tribune. NBC News also gets no love, while CBS News and ABC News get listed. CNN makes it; Fox News doesn’t. The list by followers:

CNN Breaking News (2,266,921): is among the world’s leaders in online news and information delivery.The New York Times (1,385,145): Where the Conversation Begins. Home page stories from, special features and more.The Onion (1,259,223): America’s Finest News SourceNPR Politics (1,104,408): Political coverage and conversation from NPR NewsPete Cashmore The hottest Twitter news, Twitter tips and Twitter help. Plus, the best social media links around! (1,067,318): Breaking news and current events from around the globe.E! Online (1,043,571): The official E! Online Twitter. Hot celebrity gossip and entertainment news. Check our following list for all the E!-family Twitters. For more: eonline.comKevin Rose (1,013,999): Founder of social media site Random ideas, entrepreneur, climber of rocks, video blogger, & tea drinker.BBC Click (1,001,227):The BBC’s flagship technology TV show. Click is on BBC1 Sat 06.45 & News Channel Sat 11.30 in the UK. International times are at (963,834): ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent and Host of This WeekGood Morning America (956,830): The Official Good Morning America Twitter PageMichael Arrington (937,907) Breaking Technology News And Opinions From TechCrunchRachel Maddow MSNBC (908,941) I see political people…People magazine (908,120): is the No. 1 site for celebrity news!David Gregory (894,655): Host of NBC’s Meet the PressGuardian Tech (887,777): News and comment from the Guardian’s technology teamThe Moment (884,790): Where Style Meets Culture [NY Times pub]Women’s Wear Daily (864,443): The Official Women’s Wear Daily TwitterNightline (838.464): ABC News, Nightline: LEGAL NOTICE: If you send us a tweet, you consent to letting ABC use and showcase it in any media, possibly even on television.BNO News (824,390): Live breaking news and developing stories non-stop from America and every corner of the World. Since 2007, the fastest Twitter-based news service.Larry King (771,743): Host – CNN’s Larry King LiveTerry Moran (771,495): Nightline co-anchorPitchfork (768,468): The essential guide to independent music and beyondCBS News (760,724): News alerts from CBS News.John Donvan (739,954): ABC News CorrespondentGary Vaynerchuk (718,644): Wine guy, host of Wine Library TV. Video blogger and Businessman that loves people and the hustleScott Simon (713,804): Host of NPR’s Weekend Edition SaturdayJohn Dickerson (821,562): Political correspondent, Slate/Analyst CBS NewsSiliconAlleyInsider (711,525): Digital business news, live from New (695,252): is the #1 destination for the latest celebrity styles and click-to-buy shoppingDavid Pogue (670,761): Tech columnist, NY Times; CNBC tech dude; Missing Manuals creator, dad of 3!richard bacon (670,067): minor celebrity BBC Radio Fivelive presenterOm Malik (599,637): Founder of GigaOM. Venture Partner at True VenturesEWPopWatch (589,290): From Entertainment WeeklyDigg 2000 (559,457): All stories on Digg that get 2,000 or more Diggs.Questo of The Roots (535,741): your favorite twitterer’s favorite music (525,774): – the most comprehensive and iconic collection of professional photography on the web.Fant�stico (504,080): Este � o twitter oficial do Fant�stico, da TV Globo. Aqui voc� vai ficar por dentro dos bastidores e novidades do programa e do siteHealth magazine (492,909): Hi, we’re: @amaconamac @feedthebelly @healthylady @kstinchfield @lmalick @mgokay @rayhainer @seankelley @shaunchavis @ttamkins @wealer from Health magazine.soraya darabi (487,365) hello, strangers. i manage partnership and social-media marketing for the new york times (@nytimes). say hi.Dr. Sanjay Gupta (441,850): CNN Chief Medical Correspondent; NeurosurgeonJoel Stein (437,943): am neither important enough nor unimportant enough to do this.Michael Ausiello (432,627): Exclusive TV news and scoop from Entertainment WeeklyJack Gray (400,507): Producer/Writer for Anderson Cooper 360Newsweek (386,237): Newsweek magazine�s daily news, blogs, photo galleries, audio and video reports from correspondents; podcasts, mobile content and archivesRichard MacManus (363,550) Follow ReadWriteWeb for the latest in web technology and social media trends.Chris Cuomo (313,878): Good Morning America News Anchor, Car guy, Fishing Guy, Cooking guy, Married, two angelsAnn Curry (285,620): Journalism is an act of faith in the future.Nicholas Kristof (262,797): New York Times columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winnerColonelTribune (233,902): The Colonel knows Chicago. He is also a more gentlemanly version of (231,345): The Official Twitter Page of ABC NEWS — Online News, Breaking News, Feature Stories and Moremystyle Quick Tip (23,610): Fashion, beauty and home secrets from editors, experts and readers


At 17%, musicians make up the third biggest category on the list. Sister Hazel is at the bottom of the list but is also a relatively new addition. In order of followers:

Britney Spears (2,437,455): Yes! This is the real Britney Spears! We’ve got updates from her team, her website and yes, even Britney herself!John Mayer (1,729,806): Recording/Sandwich Artistiamdiddy (1,513,928): KING COMBSColdplay (1,378,122): The official Coldplay twitter page.50cent (1,187,411): The Real 50 CentAshley Tisdale (1,116,708): The Official Ashley Tisdale Twitter Page. New album GUILTY PLEASURE coming 7/28!!!Dre’ (1,106,306): Actor, Rapper, Producer, Gamer, & C.E.O. Of SODMGAshlee Simpson Wentz (1,095,381):this is the only official ashlee simpson twitter. “click your heels three times and think of me”Sara Bareilles (1,078,719)Hammer (1,075,891): http://mchammer.comMariah Carey (1,013,769)Alison (973,079): hi there, i’m ali. i’m in a band called a fine frenzy. life is funny. let’s have a laugh.lilyroseallen (953,385) I can babble a littleJessica Simpson (913,486): The Official Jessica Simpson TwitterMandy Moore (907,303) Singer-Songwriter-Artist-Actress and moore!Mark Hoppus (871,150): The Official Mark Hoppus Twitter Page, for what it’s worth… Be warned, I tweet a LOT.Fred Durst (846,148): Member of Limp BizkitAl Yankovic (837485): You know… the Eat It guy.Jimmy Eat World (819,947): A rock band from ArizonaJohn Legend (796,491): The Real John LegendJim Jones (746,627): Rapper; CALL ME: 1 (917) 675-3685samantha ronson (740,847): Don’t be mad, UPS is hiring.Lenny Kravitz (740,837) I am giving away two spots on my guest list for each show on my European tour. Starts 4/17 through the Summer. Let Love Rule!Zoe Keating (734,024): Cello, computers and pancakes. The daily twitterings of a professional avant cellist and amateur nerd.Chris Cornell (722,527): The Official Chris Cornell Twitterdanny masterson (713,180): born in NY.moved to LA at paid to model in ’ paid to act in ’82.stopped gettin paid to model in’ paid to DJ in ’ paid to remix in ’08.Imogen Heap (706,846): I’ve been tweeting about making my new album, Ellipse (out 24th Aug). Now… I guess I’ll be tweeting about how it gets from my studio to your ears…Nick Cannon (693,755): MR. CHAIRMANcolin meloy (642,370) singster/songstruner for the Decemberists, Orangina shillNoush Skaugen (579,033) Download an Exclusive song FREE – Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Idealistic Dreamer….Together we can change the world…<Pete Yorn (559,075): for more stuffKimberly Cole Music (545,719): Singer/Songwriter/Performer Kimberly Cole just opened for Katy Perry on NYE at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles and her new SUPERSTAR EP is out now!Matisyahu (540,849): Come to my RV on tour now � Free listening parties. http://wheresmatis.atWyclef Jean (538,639): The Official Wyclef Twitter PageHypnogaja (513,613): Alt. rock band with new concept album, Truth Decay – follow us on Twitter for updates on free music, shows and more.Counting Crows (ad) (455,877): Letters from Adam: My Boyhood Among the Outlawsmoby (441,695): New album ‘Wait For Me’ out now!!Next To Normal (405,327): Next To Normal: 1st Broadway Show to Perform on TwitterErnie Halter (356,924): Musician, Songwriter, Traveler, Lover, Humanitarian, Eater of Cheese, Redbull EnthusiastD.A. Wallach (300,437): Half of Star Trak’s Amazing Chester French Band!Travis McCoy (293,899) It’s an honor to be part of Staying Alive. If you learn 1 thing from following me- Be safe & take your LIFE seriously. Each one teach one, love & respect-TravieJon Secada (112,881): Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter.Sister Hazel (76,144): Musicians, The Rock Boat co-founders, Lyrics For Life philanthropists, loyal friends and family men.


This is a potpourri of people who didn’t quite fit in other places. There are a number of authors among them — in the future, perhaps I’ll break that out as a category. The category makes up 11% of the list. By follower count:

Brooke Burke (992,098): Co-CEO of Modern Mom, celebrity mother of four. Read my daily blog – real, soulful, honest.� Founder of CEO -Tony (980,455): Day (960,959): Actress, New Media Geek, Gamer, Misanthrope. I like to keep my Tweets real and not waste people’s time.Heather B. Armstrong (918,569): Mommyblogger, tyrant, snugglebunnyVeronica Belmont (908,684): Host of Tekzilla on Revision3 and Qore on PSN. Also, a geek.Steven Johnson (869,456): Writer. (Six books, most recently Invention of Air.) Web site creator (3 companies, most recently Dad (three boys.)Brandon Mendelson (846,782): Empowering the world to help others through social publishing. Will be traveling across America to help the homeless.Ana Marie Cox (843,379):� There is no such thing as adventure. There’s no such thing as romance. There’s only trouble and desire.Ryan Penagos (830,498): writer/editor/bloggeradventuregirl (806,051): Hi Everyone! Travel Expert- Adventure Girl at your service!Tim O’Reilly (786,703): Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media. Watching the alpha geeks, sharing their stories, helping the future unfold.Neil Gaiman (774,670) will eventually grow up and get a real job. Until then, will keep making things up and writing them down.soleil moon frye (769,191)Padmasree (751,592): CTO of CiscoDavid Allen (747,648): Originator of GTD, founder of David Allen Co.Jason Sweeney (552,078): limited edition, macaroni and glitter on construction paper.dick costolo (504,141): [cofounder, FeedBurner]Chris Anderson (494,046): TED = Ideas worth spreading!Joe Trippi (478,618): Fmr Dean Campaign Mgr. Author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Tweets important causes. Internet and Democracy. Social media and business.Jack Welch (477,527): Author and CommentatorJohn Green (464,575): I write books and make videos with my brother.MC Thumbtack (459,435): writing. photography. hockey. punk rock. QOTSA. sushi, New followers read this: Brown (401,433): signing up a million mums and guest editing Fabulous magazine as Patron of Wellbeing of Women charityRoger Erik Tinch (382,815): Art/Online Director for the CineVegas Film Festival, film fanatic, tech head, web geek, design nerd, art lover and music snob living in Vegas.Doug Ulman (329,236): Cancer survivor, Pres/CEO of LAF, runner, golfer, traveler, social activist, optimist, avid reader, and fearful flyer.Kai-Fu Lee (115,178): I am the President of Google Greater China. I used to work at Microsoft, SGI, and Apple. I have written several Chinese books.


Twitter likes mayors! Who would have known? There are a couple on the list. And Britain’s Downing Street beats the US White House. The list by followers:

Al Gore (1,264,116)John McCain (1,022,338): U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)DowningStreet (980,680): The official twitter channel for the Prime Minister’s Office based at 10 Downing Street.Gavin Newsom (755,758): Mayor of San Francisco, Candidate for Governor of CaliforniaThe White House (705,092): Welcome to the official Twitter page of the White House.Newt Gingrich (670,547): Former House Speaker, author,Fox analyst,founder, @AmSol. With enough time I’d be a paleontologist,chef,zoo director and movie reviewerGov. Schwarzenegger (670,043): As California’s 38th Governor I look forward to hearing from you.Mufi Hannemann (532,258): Mayor: City and County of Honolulu (Official Account)Jerry Brown (514,111) I’m the current Attorney General for California, former mayor of Oakland and a former governor of California.Rania Al Abdullah (446,139) A mum and a wife with a really cool day job… [& Queen Of Jordan]Cory Booker (396,344): Mayor of Newark, New JerseyKevin Rudd (191,938): PM [of Australia]

Twitter Employees & Associates

People follow the official Twitter account more than any other in this category. Here’s the list, in order of most followers to least:

Twitter (1,796,771) Always wondering what everyone’s doing.Evan Williams (1,096,879): CEO of TwitterBiz Stone (934,439) Co-founder of Twitter, Inc.Jack Dorsey (897,603): Creator, Chairman and co-founder of TwitterChris Sacca (815,650) I advise Twitter. I use Twitter. I love Twitter, and a couple other things.Jason Goldman (811,352): Flipped my wig at age 22 and it never grew back. Also: I work at Twitter.

Web Sites

Cats saying funny things — Has Cheezburger — leads the list. Here’s everyone in order of followers:

Has Cheezburger? (949,616): This is the official ICHC TwitFeed. Check out @icanhaschzbgr for moar conversation.someecards (911,127): Welcome to the Twitter feed of acclaimed humor site,! (881,522): Share music on TwitterUstream (827,080): Official Tweets about the best live streams, updates and news from Ustream. If you need help, message (738,609) Tweeting our favorite spots on earth so you can dream about your next trip. Personalize your trip stream on (Megan & Adam do the tweeting here.)You Look Great (689,652) Your daily passive-aggressive affirmation.cakewrecks (610,813) Jen from Cake Wrecks here, at your serviceExecTweets (515,905):Here to help you find and follow the top business executives on Twitter. Presented by Microsoft.Funny or Die (505,283): We like to laugh.BestAt: The Best @’s (417,762): Automagically retweeting the funny tweets since 2008. A ‘Best of Twitter’ featuring the best @’s. An @JoeLaz production.G4TV (348,933) The Official G4tv Twitter. Video Game videos, reviews and news. Check our following list for all the G4-family Twitters. For more:

Still Need More?

If the suggested users list people aren’t enough, well — you could always add me: dannysullivan. Or Search Engine Land: sengineland. Also see our The Big List Of Search Engines & Their Employees On Twitter post.

5 Vital Facebook Reports Every Community Manager Should Know

A wise marketer once told me, "You can be a likeable community manager and still suck at managing a community." The best community managers are likeable, yes, but they also use data to learn about their existing and potential community as well as how best to interact with them.

Let's examine Facebook Insights reports and public data sources that will help you understand, at a granular level, how your community consumes the stories you create, your fans demographic information, and how users are engaging with your competitors. Most all of these reports and metrics can be found in the Facebook Insights UI or in downloadable page and post level Excel reports.

Negative Feedback by Total Clicks

It’s a bummer to think that any of your hard earned fans won’t always pick up what you throw down, but it happens. Some users decide to hide your story, some click the X button and some will hide all of your posts all together. Hmm, wouldn’t it be easier to simply unlike the page?

In any event this data is viewable in both the page level report and the post level report, but not in the Insights UI.

BTW: The post level report offers additional data not found in the page level report. In addition to Hide clicks and Hide all clicks, the post level report will tell you how many times users hit the X button.

People Who Like Your Page (Demographics and Location)

Have a peek in the “Likes” tab in Insights to understand where geographically your fans are and what languages they speak.

If you notice growth in a certain demographic segment or manage a multilingual and/or international community, take advantage of the option to target your page posts by geo or language. The community will thank you, most likely in their native tongue.

Daily Organic Impressions

Those “Talking About This” and “Viral Reach” metrics are helpful when trying to understand how deep into the second degree of separation (friends of fans) your content has spread, but be sure to mine the “Organic Impressions” metric in the page level report to understand how many times your posts have been shown in users’ News Feeds, tickers or on a Page. These metrics lend an understanding of content’s propagation at its most basic and fundamental level (Page Level Report – ‘Key Metrics’ tab - Column AA).

Plot the data on a graph to pinpoint spikes in impressions.

Have a look at the post level data to understand what post types were responsible for those spikes. In the example below, note the engagement centered around three photos posted on April 10 and 11.

BTW: Make sure to pull data on a regular basis or track in a third party tool. Facebook only gives the last 89 days.

Lifetime Post Stories by Action (Post Level Report)

This report gives a good look at how you’re doing when it comes to the “Weight” variable of the EdgeRank algorithm. Remember Weight assigns value to the actions users take when engaging with the content. Generally speaking, the longer the action takes to complete the more “Weight” it has.

Visual representations of data make for easy consumption.

Competitive Intelligence

Click the Likes tab button on your competitor’s page to view the number of new likes and people who have created a story about the page in the past 30 days. Facebook also ponies up their most popular week, city, and age group.

Hover over the line graph to view data specific to any certain day in the date range.

There is certainly no shortage of data when it comes to Facebook Insights. The page level Excel report alone has 65 freakin’ tabs! Don’t be shy community managers! Pull those reports and dig right in.

Vital data is right there below the surface, but it's up to you to identify the metrics and reports that speak best to your channel KPIs.

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

The Misleading Sinister Surge in Traffic Before Google Panda & Penguin Struck

I receive a lot of calls from companies that have been hit by Panda or Penguin, and both algorithm updates have been fascinating to analyze. When I first begin speaking with companies that have been impacted, my goal is to quickly identify exactly what happened over time, so I can begin the process of identifying why the strike occurred.

Although each company has its own history, and story to tell, there’s one element I wanted to cover today that might be able to help you as well. And if you’re saying to yourself, “Glenn’s crazy, our traffic has been surging recently! We have nothing to worry about...”, then you should grab a cup of coffee and read the rest of this post.

Trending Leading up to an Algo Hit

Once I gain access to a client’s analytics reporting and webmaster tools account, I begin analyzing Google organic trending leading up to, and then following, an algorithm update. The drop in traffic can sometimes be catastrophic.

For example, one company that reached out to me from Europe saw a 98.5 percent drop in traffic after getting hit by Penguin. I almost fell out of my seat while reviewing their reporting. And as you can guess, Google organic traffic is how they landed most of their business.

Although it’s easy to focus on the staggering drop in traffic, it’s extremely important (and interesting) to analyze the traffic leading up to a hit due to an algorithm update. What was happening then?

Could the algorithm hit have been predicted by flagging unusual traffic patterns? Were there any signs that a cute, black and white animal was barreling down on them?

Well, for some of the companies I’ve helped, the answer is yes.

Google organic trending could have signaled problems, but unfortunately, the business owners and webmasters didn’t pick up the up the signs (or were misled).

“But it was Going so Well.”

That’s the quote I’ve read and heard a thousand times since February 2011. I’ve also heard, “we got hit out of nowhere”, “we had record traffic levels leading up to the drop”, and “we were ready to expand our business when the drop occurred”. Yes, that surge in traffic was misleading, and I would go even further and say it’s sinister.

Not every site hit by Penguin or Panda has experienced this surge, but several that I have analyzed have seen that surge. And the traffic surge is an important signal that can mean you’re doing your job well, or you’re not. Regardless, it’s important to understand the surge is happening so you can determine what’s really going on.

For most webmasters without a solid understanding of SEO, that surge seems like Google is rewarding them for doing the right things. When in reality, the surge is the data that Google needs to collect in order make a decision (algorithmically).

The webmasters in question had a false sense of security (and empowerment). They made changes, they saw results, and then witnessed a surge in traffic from Google from target keywords. And sometimes, they weren’t just any target keywords, they were the most competitive keywords in the lot.

So, why would a webmaster view that surge in traffic as bad? How would they know that a tsunami was quickly approaching?

The answer lies in understanding the SEO tactics being executed, how those tactics were impacting traffic levels, and how those tactics could damage a website. And that’s where the disconnect occurs.

Here are two examples of trending from sites that experienced a surge before an algorithm hit (one directly from Google Analytics, and one with data exported from Omniture):

Some Possible Causes of the Surge

When it comes to Panda and Penguin, there are many triggers that could cause a site to fall victim. I always explain Panda as a much deeper algorithm update at this stage than Penguin, and there could be a number of reasons a site gets hit by our bamboo-eating friend.

Penguin, on the other hand, is extremely acute (at least until future versions of Penguin roll out that take additional factors into account). I’ve now analyzed more than 160 sites hit by Penguin, and the culprit every time was a horrible link profile.

So, what causes the surge in traffic that I’ve seen across several of the sites hit by Panda or Penguin? The answer is simple. The poor SEO tactics actually worked for a period of time until enough data was available, and until Google rolled out the next algorithm update. And at that point, it was too late.

Some of these companies could have avoided disaster had they noticed the red flags and taken action. Let's dig into a few of the causes of the surge in traffic. Hopefully it helps you understand why some sites attract Penguins and Pandas.

1. Thin, But Over-Optimized Content

Some companies began churning out a lot of low-quality, thin content that was heavily optimized (from a title tag standpoint). Based on their domain authority, which they built up over years, those sites began ranking for target keywords when the content didn’t deserve to.

As Google sent more traffic, more users bounced off the site as they hit weak pages. As more pages were added over time, and more users left, Google hammered the site during the next Panda update.


Be neck deep in your reporting. Understand your organic search traffic, including which landing pages are receiving the most traffic, and why.

Yes, ask why those pages are ranking. If some of the companies had asked the question during the surge, and then answered objectively, they would have clearly seen the problem.

Removing those thin pages, or enhancing them, would have been smart, and could have avoided a disastrous drop in traffic. You can read a case study I wrote about a Panda recovery here. There are some important insights in that post that relate to this topic.

2. Building the Wrong Links

OK, you can substitute “spammy”, “risky”, or “unnatural” for “wrong” in the subheading above. Many of the companies hit by Penguin at some point hired an SEO company for link building. They didn’t track the company at a granular basis, but noticed a really nice uptick in rankings and traffic as the company built more links. “We were very happy with the results”, “our core keywords kept rising in the search results”, “business was never better”, etc.

Unfortunately, it only takes a few minutes in Open Site Explorer or Majestic to see the problem. The links being built were all spammy. Tons of directories, article submission sites, comment spam, link networks, etc.

The link building worked in the short-term. Rankings rose, traffic increased, and everyone was happy. That’s until Chilly Willy made a visit and hammered the sites in question.

Note, if you’re interested in learning more about a site hit by Penguin, why it was targeted, and how it recovered, you can read another case study here.


Know who you are hiring, get references, check the sites they have helped, and check each site’s link profile. The proof is in the pudding.

Continually check your inbound links via Google Webmaster Tools, third party tools, as well as double check reports from the SEO agency helping you. Had the companies struck by Penguin analyzed all of the links being built, and the heavy use of exact match anchor text, they possibly could have addressed the situation while it was happening (and not after losing significant amounts of traffic).

Yes, some of the companies were fully aware of what their SEO agency was doing (and gave approval to do so). I don’t necessarily feel bad if that’s the case, and understanding the links wouldn’t have made a difference.

However, there are companies out there that trusted third parties to build links to help with SEO. In those situations, seeing the actual links could have triggered some questions. And those questions could have halted the process of acquiring more spammy links, which in turn, could have kept the big bad Penguin away.

3. Affiliate Content and Links

Some companies decided to add an affiliate component to their core domains. They had built up strong domain authority and wanted to use that authority to drive organic search traffic to affiliate pages. They figured this would be a quick way to earn some money from their hard-earned SEO strength.

Bad idea.

As the affiliate content was being added (which also included followed links to the partner websites), traffic began to pick up. It makes sense, given the query volume around some of the keywords being targeted, in combination with the domain authority of the sites in question. The combination yielded a surge in traffic that was paying off nicely for the companies.

But, three things were going on that weren’t readily apparent to the business owners.

The content didn’t answer any questions, solve any problems, or provide any additional value for the user. The pages were simply a conduit to the partner pages where users could buy products. Engagement dropped off a cliff. Bounce rates skyrocketed, dwell time was incredibly low, and Google picked up on this. The followed affiliate links weren’t helping matters… Affiliate links should be nofollowed. Passing PageRank to affiliates is never a smart idea, and Google isn’t going to react well.

And as you can guess, the sites got hit, and hard. The misleading surge in traffic made everyone involved feel warm and fuzzy. And the additional money coming in from affiliate marketing was icing on the cake. That’s until Panda had a conniption and stomped all over the site, including non-affiliate content (Panda impacted the entire domain).

The pain from the drop forced several of the companies I was helping to lay off employees, revamp their sites, and hope for the best. Some have recovered, but it’s a long and tiring process. Believe me, you don’t want to have to deal with Panda if you don’t have to.


Don’t use a site that you’ve built up a lot of domain authority in as your affiliate marketing website (when that wasn’t the initial intention of the site). Several of you probably cringed wondering how anyone would do that. But it happens.

The sites are strong, it’s easier to rank with an established site, and business owners end up pulling the trigger. The problem is that it works in the short-term until the mighty Panda pulls his own trigger.

High noon with a Panda doesn’t end well for the cowboy. He finds himself without a horse, without food, and without bullets. That’s until he’s let back into town, often with less power than he had originally.

Summary – The Surge is Sinister

Don’t fall victim to the surge. Understand your site, your efforts, and your traffic levels.

You should know how and why new organic search traffic is hitting your site. And above all, make sure it should be hitting your site in the first place! Because if it shouldn’t, there are several mechanisms that Google can use to understand what’s going on.

Remember, that surge in traffic could reverse itself faster than you can say “Panda” or “Penguin”. And at that point, you won’t have much to look at in your reporting.

Ask questions, do your own detective work, and avoid a major hit. Fear the surge.

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

A 7-Step Landing Page Template to Convert Prospects into Leads

Pay-per-click search marketing may have been invented in the second Clinton administration, but it's a modern iteration of a hundred-year-old tradition of direct marketing: Find people who have a problem, get their attention with a small, inexpensive ad, and then offer them some thing of value related to their problem in exchange for the ability and permission to follow up.

If you're using PPC to generate leads (as opposed to asking your visitors to pull out their wallets on the spot), the landing page is the fulcrum of your efforts; it's where you convert cold prospects into warm leads.

One of the tried and true methods, which all too few marketers employ, is a free report (the B2B version is often called a white paper).

The free report is the tool of choice when your prospect isn't yet educated or motivated enough to take action of any kind. By contrast, the consumer awareness guide works better when the prospect knows they have a problem, knows they need to solve it, and are looking at you and your competitors side by side.

The free report essentially names a problem faced by your prospect, gets them emotionally involved in the horrible current and future consequences of the problem, unveils a generic solution, and then introduces and sells your version of the solution.

Here's a template for free reports that you can adapt to most markets in which your prospects are just becoming aware of the problem and potential solutions.

1. Introduce the Problem

So if you're a computer consultant to small businesses and your front end product is firewall software installation and maintenance, the first thing you need to do in your report is explain what the problem is:

If you've ever downloaded a movie or song from a file-sharing site, you've probably also installed six programs that let outside users access your computer.

Any hacker can exploit these holes in your security to read the entire contents of your hard drive, including confidential client information, your financial reports, your credit card information, and much more. And if you are connected to the internet via cable modem, DSL, or T1 line, then you're vulnerable 24/7.

2. Agitate the Problem

Now, once you explain the problem, you get your prospect sufficiently alarmed about the problem by helping them visualize it and providing case studies, like this:

One of my clients had a hacker break into his network and steal his social security number, home and office addresses and phone numbers, and credit card numbers and expiration dates, all unbeknownst to him. Three weeks later the police were at his office door, leading him away in handcuffs…

3. Describe a Generic Solution

Next, you describe a generic solution (or several solutions) to this problem:

There are many inexpensive and effective tools on the market that can stop most hackers cold. Firewalls prevent unauthorized outsiders from accessing anything on your hard drive. They can also alert you to all attempts by hackers to gain access…

So far you have provided valuable information that could save your prospect untold grief. You haven't sold anything. You've built up a subtle debt of goodwill and trust.

4. Explain Limitations of Generic Solution

Now that you've selflessly shared valuable information, you've positioned yourself as a helpful expert. From here, you can begin to advocate for your product or service. A great way to do this is to explain all the hassles and difficulties with the solution you just described, like this:

But there are so many firewall products on the market, with so many upgrades being announced all the time, that choosing the right one is an overwhelming experience for many computer users.

Also, any system that you choose needs to be configured so that it doesn't prevent you from doing the things you need to do: send and receive email, use the web, share documents, back up and restore files at remote locations, and many others. As your system changes, you'll need to reconfigure the firewall on a regular basis.

No wonder 98% of all small businesses have no protection against hackers whatsoever.

5. Introduce Your Specific Solution

Your next step is to explain how what you do solves all of these problems:

That's why I created the ‘Hands-off, No-brainer, Protect Your Vital Data from Criminal Scumbags' program for small businesses. I come out and install the firewall on your system.

It takes about an hour, but I don't leave until it's running perfectly. I test every conceivable function and make sure there are no conflicts.

I monitor all the upgrades for my clients, and can install them and reconfigure the firewall properties from my office, without any effort or hassle on your part. In fact, unless you check the log file, you won't even notice that anything is different.

You get to concentrate on your work without worrying about the security of your mission-critical and sensitive personal information.

6. Provide Details Through Testimonials

Here is a great place for testimonials from happy clients, with specifics. In those testimonials, you're going to want to address the specific objections that people may have, by having your testimonials start with those objections, and then be convinced by your service.

You're also building a value case for your product, so that when you reveal the price, it will look like a great deal compared to what it's worth:

Dominic installed the firewall on March 3. On March 17, an alert popped up that someone was trying to access our network. We later found out that the office down the hall that shares our T1 line was compromised, and their entire hard drive was wiped out. They've spend the last month scrambling to restore what they can, apologizing to clients, and doing damage control.

They've lost at least $85,000 in business since March, not including the time and aggravation they've put in trying to fix the problem.

Aside from the 45 minute installation and the alert, we haven't even noticed that anything is different. Dominic and his software are completely maintenance-free. And when we call him with a question, he always gets back to us within the hour. Any business that doesn't use Dominic is putting far too much at risk.

Now when you reveal your pricing, let's say $250 for the software package, free installation, and a $500/month maintenance contract, it seems like a giant bargain in comparison.

7. Share a Call to Action and Reduce Their Risk

Finally, tell them what to do next to get started. The smaller the step, the more likely they'll say yes at this point. For example, instead of asking them to sign a contract, offer a free system audit. Or a phone conversation.

Another way to reduce their perceived risk is with a bold guarantee. Explicitly state your guarantee at this point, so it's easier to say yes than no.

Calls to action often benefit from adding urgency, so don't hesitate to ask for a response within a certain time frame. If the supply is limited, use that to compel immediate action. For example:

Because of the personal attention I give my clients, I only take on 50 clients at a time. I currently have 45 slots filled, so I can perform the audit only for the next five clients who contact me.

The landing page has one job: to "sell" the free report. Use benefits and curiosity ("the number one mistake small businesses make when they choose a firewall – page 3") to create an open loop in your visitor's mind that can be closed only by registering for, downloading, and reading the report.

In a competitive market, positioning yourself as the helpful expert is often your most powerful advantage.

Image Credit: IntelFreePress/Flickr

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

How to Focus & Amplify Your Personal Brand

Before anyone hires you, they Google you (and Facebook you and Twitter you and Linkedin you, etc). So Google yourself first. Do you like the results that come up on the first two pages of search results? Are they expected and carefully planned or surprising or even unpleasant?

If you've completed all the SEO basics of personal branding and set up all your Google Authorship tags properly it's time to move on to some big hits that will really get you noticed. Here's some inspiration, strategies, and people you can learn from.

Basic Personal Branding RulesNiche it Down

The first rule of thumb when you consciously start to build your personal brand is: you have to know what you want to be known for.

In other words, you need to know what your personal SEO strategy will be. What keywords will define you? What phrases do you want inextricably linked with your personal brand? Think about it. Niche it down.

If you Google Kris Carr, the two personal branding phrases that jump out are "wellness activist" and "cancer thriver". Kris has sprinkled these phrases in all of her online properties – from websites to social profiles. She owns those terms! Now watch what happens when someone Googles "wellness activist". You guessed it! Kris is all over the SERPs for that phrase.

Amplify it Up

The second thing you have to do is: build a larger than life online persona.

Building such a persona is not about exaggerating your capabilities, or fibbing or even using the popular "fake it 'til you make it" philosophy – although I do admire the guts the latter one takes!

Instead, building a larger than life online persona is about amplifying your positive traits and reducing or eliminating your negative traits. Everyone gets knocked down more than once in life, but the people who appear larger than life are the ones who stand up again and again and again.

So how can you first niche it down, and then amplify it up? What are some things you can do that will put you on the map? Stuff that makes people sit up and take notice of you?

5 Ways to Focus your Personal Brand

Think about some of the better known personal brands out there. What words immediately come to your mind when you think of the following people? (In brackets are the phrases I associate them with):

Matt Cutts (Google, webspam) Jenna Lyons (J. Crew, androgynous fashion) Ekaterina Walter (Think like Zuck, Intel)* Michael Brenner (B2B marketing, SAP) Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook, Lean in)

*Note: Ekaterina has since left Intel and is now co-founder and CMO of Branderati

Here's the funny thing. These are not the people who started the company (founders obviously get a lot of limelight). These people are employees who have chosen to stand out. They are the people who represent their companies – or at least a significant part of their company.

Here are some of the paths they have taken to become known for doing one thing really, really well.

1. Write a Thought-Leadership Blog

Aside from his corporate responsibilities at SAP, Michael Brenner authors a widely-read blog on B2B marketing. A blog is one of the best ways to generate fresh content for search engines and keep traffic coming to your site.

It also helps to link your name with your chosen keyword. In Brenner's case, type in "B2B marketing" and you'll see that his blog is positioned on the first page of search results.

2. Author a Book

Lots of business owners consider authorship as the next frontier, but surprisingly very few employees set out to become non-fiction authors.

In 2012 Ekaterina Walter authored the WSJ best-seller "Think like Zuck" – a book about the leadership style of Mark Zuckerburg. Since then her numerous guest posts and interviews on the topic have made her name synonymous with being an author of a business book – a credential that gives her personal brand an uplift in other facets of business and life.

3. Start a Movement

Not many employees have the gumption to start a campaign alongside their regular job responsibilities but one COO who has been able to do this with the blessings of her boss has been Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

Sandberg started the new wave of feminism with her Lean In movement. True, not all of us have the media power to attract so many people to our cause, but a movement is only as powerful as the number of people who can relate to it. According to Derek Sivers' TED talk, starting a successful movement only takes two people!

4. Develop a Community

Shared and common interests are one of the most powerful ways to attract people to your personal brand. For example, an entire SEO community has sprung up along Matt Cutts and his brand-establishing videos as the face of Google.

Even though other Googlers are now in the media limelight, Matt Cutts continues to remain a blogger favorite for the way he brings all members of the search community together.

5. Own Your Personal Style

From being an "assistant to an assistant to someone else's assistant", Jenna Lyons is now the President and Creative Director of cult fashion brand J. Crew and was recently named as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential Women for 2013. She got to this position by owning and projecting her personal style onto the brand.

But Lyons' approach isn't confined to the fashion world. You too can exude your personal style from all the communication channels open to you.

As Lisa Barone said: "We are officially beyond the days where you can have a distinct personal and corporate profile. You must decide who you are and bleed it. From all accounts."

Through the above tactics these people have become the face of their companies. The idea is to become known for doing something so well that you want your name inextricably linked to it.

Think about it. Niche it down. Just like the examples above, you want people to instantly associate a keyword with your personal brand.

3 Ways to Amplify your Brand

This is the second essential component to building your personal brand. Once you have your name associations set up, you must now engage with your audience and become larger than life.

Here are three tips on how to amplify your brand.

1. Celebrate Every Win No Matter How Small

The power of positivity plays a huge part in making someone appear accomplished and awe-inspiring.

I just love how Danielle LaPorte does this with her "life" tweets. Here's a sample: "Dear Life: For people who love what they do for a living, diners, clean air, and a body that serves me...and Ella Fitzgerald, thank you."

2. Choose Yourself vs Waiting To Get Picked

The era of waiting to get chosen, highlighted, picked or spotlighted by someone else is over. It's time to have the confidence to choose yourself.

Seth Godin says: "it's really difficult to get picked, and those doing the picking don't have nearly the power they used to". It's time to pick yourself.

Laura Roeder is the creator of LKR Social Media and in 2011, she was named as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 and invited to speak at the White House.

No one picked Laura for this list or this honor. She picked herself. According to Laura: "I applied for that top 100 entrepreneur list (yes, I pitched myself!) and then I made the list."

3. Believe in Yourself … Even When Yours is an Unpopular View

You know that you can't please all the people all the time. Taking an unpopular or au contraire stance sets you apart and makes you more visible from the me-too crowd.

Take the late great comedian George Carlin for instance and his unconventional views on the practice of voting. Most people say that you have no right to complain if you haven't voted right? Carlin twists this around to say the opposite! He says that the people who don't vote have the most right to complain since they are not responsible for anyone not elected by them.

The point is that people notice you more when you take a stance and stand strong behind your beliefs. Amplifying your brand and making it seem larger than life is all about exuding confidence.


The interesting thing is that the principles discussed here can be applied to various business models – from building your own business to being a standout employee to becoming a thought-leader in your field.

Dan Schwabel, bestselling author of the book Me 2.0 and publisher of the Personal Branding Blog, said it best: "If you want to be known for everything, you'll be known for nothing."

Share your best tips for branding yourself in the comments below!

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

Yandex: Queries Now Influence Search Results, Suggestions 'Within Seconds'

Yandex has now rolled out their second-generation personalized search program. According to Yandex, a person’s interests and preferences might clue them in to what they want to find.

“We used to look into a user’s search history as far as a few months back to choose the search results that would be most relevant to their scope of interests," Yandex said in a company blog post. "Now, we have added a search history of a few seconds to our search algorithm to deliver results and search suggestions based on the ‘full picture’ of the user’s search behavior. “

When Yandex updated the knowledge of users’ interests once per day, they started to understand the more-or-less stable interests, such as a love of books or sports, or that they spoke Russian and lived in Saint Petersburg. Yandex stated that more than half of all searches on Yandex are about something that interests the searcher "at this very moment."

In real time, search queries will begin to influence search results within seconds. The search engine can figure out whether a person is looking for a book or a film even if they haven’t finished typing [The Great Gatsby] in the search box, for example.

However, to go beyond queries autosuggesting keywords, Yandex stated:

With the new personalized search program, we can offer relevant results even to those who don’t have any search history on Yandex. To instantaneously react to changes in users’ search behavior, we created a real-time data processing system, which processes more than 10 terabytes of data a day, at up to 500 megabytes per second, continuously correcting its knowledge of users’ needs.

To make search results as personal as they can be, we first learnt to take into account users’ language preferences and permanent interests. Now, we have learnt how to tell current search intents of our users from their search footprint and give them what they are looking for. Personally.

See the diagram below:

I've always been very impressed with Yandex and its technology. When you start to think about why retargeting in search has become such a popular method of re-capturing when someone is back to being interested. Start thinking about the power of the user experience to assist us personally based on that retargeted data and I think Yandex is onto something.

Maybe Google will start to realize that beyond digital socialization and uniquely related authoritive links (which matter and are helpful), incorporating true personalization will result in much better results for all of us.

Register for SES San Francisco
September 10-13, 2013: SES San Francisco could be the most valuable online marketing conference you attend this year! Save up to $700 with the pre-agenda rate, but hurry - this offer is only available for a limited time.
Complete your registration today!

Bing Ads Redesigns Hub For Ad Manager Resources

Bing Ads has launched a redesign of its search advertising site. The site is designed to provide a single access point for content and resources about Bing Ads and search advertising on the Yahoo! Bing Network.

It consolidates materials from�the Bing Ads Community site, the�Bing Ads search advertising support center�and the help files found within the Bing Ads platform itself.� The Bing Ads blog, forum and training materials� as well as vertical insights (which covers the finance, health & fitness, home & garden and travel industries) and tool downloads like Bing Ads Editor are all accessible from the search advertising site.

A screenshot of the redesigned home page is below.


The Truth About Content Marketing & SEO

Over the past few years, there’s been a tremendous focus on content creation in the search and overall digital marketing world. Once you get past the hype, there are plenty of well documented case studies showing the ROI of a content marketing approach.

Unfortunately, content marketing campaigns are often guilty of paying little more than cursory attention to the optimization of digital assets for search. There might be a “keywords” or “SEO” check box on a task list, but it’s not anything that takes full advantage of search based discovery. The content might be engaging and inspire action, but good luck finding it on a search engine.

Why is this? It can be a mix of factors ranging from the ambiguity of SEO cause and effect to prioritizing tactics according to the ability to implement and understand how to measure their impact.

The flip side is when SEO and popular keywords drive the entirety of a content creation effort. When the focus is on aligning all assets and tactics for attracting buyers via search – it can be at the expense of content quality and the customer experience.

This debate is not new at all:

What good is great content if no one can find it? How useful is findable content when it doesn’t engage and persuade?

For whatever reason, many marketers tend to gravitate towards extremes: “All SEO All the Time” or “Content: More, More, More”. One of the biggest myths�propagated�by the SEO world’s definition of content marketing is that it simply means creating more content. This flawed approach has gained momentum due to hyper-promotion by SEO consultants trying to differentiate themselves. Attention and budget are being taken away from core SEO programs, creating more than a little hostility towards the “more” definition of content marketing.

The thing is, most Digital Marketers do not see content marketing as simply creating more content.

Here’s my definition: Content Marketing is the thoughtful creation of content designed for a specific audience to inspire a particular outcome. It is often mapped to the information needs of a target audience segment during the customer journey from Awareness, to Purchase to Advocacy.

Content Marketing is infinitely more than just creating more blog posts, videos and infographics. Content Marketing is not a “subset” of SEO either. A strategic approach integrates content marketing and SEO as appropriate to the audience and objectives, not according to the capabilities of the agency.

For brand marketers that are tasked with month over month increases in web sourced customer acquisition and revenue, prioritization of resources is the reality. It’s not just about the tactics, but about the things that can actually be implemented and move the needle.

Content Marketing Strategy has to factor in all digital channels as well as offline where appropriate because the focus isn’t solely on a search engine. It’s on the customer. Customers don’t just use search for finding solutions. Search is hugely important during the customer journey, of course. But it’s not the only touchpoint.

The only thing worse than no SEO at all, is ALL SEO.

Ignoring the contribution of search for attracting visitors that are actively looking for your information is a huge mistake. At the same time, ignoring content marketing simply defined as “more content” and focusing only on SEO is also a mistake. Search engines don’t buy products, people do. Market to the people!

There’s no arguing that Search Engine Optimization can be a specialist’s game, especially when dealing with technical SEO or issues related to having been delisted and requiring link cleanup and re-inclusion work. Speaking of which, there is no better indictment of the SEO industry and its reputation than having to pay a SEO agency to clean up the consequences of previous SEO work – especially when Google has been pretty clear about webspam and SEO tactics that violate Google guidelines.

I’d like to think those times are past us and that modern SEO is more aligned with a holistic approach to digital marketing than risky shortcuts.

More content isn’t better unless it’s meaningful and findable.

Most companies have minimal content creation in their marketing mix, so creating more content will always be a part of improving their online marketing. SEO can play an important role in content marketing strategy by informing topics, content organization, message and promotion to achieve the findability objective. Of course the broader notion of optimization means furthering the goal to conversions as well – i.e. the performance of the content as a marketing asset.

As competitive and dynamic as the web is today, I can’t imagine how anything but a collaborative and integrated approach to content marketing and search engine�optimization�can win. That’s the truth.

Image: Shutterstock

Google Maps Expands European Biking Directions, Adding Hundreds Of Kilometers Worth Of Bike Paths

Originally launched in beta mode for a number of European countries last year, Google Maps has enabled biking directions for Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. By working with partner organizations, as well as adding hundreds of kilometers of bike paths via Google Map Maker, Google Maps offers European cyclist a number of biking trails, lanes and recommended roads.

A simple search for directions in Google Maps provides users with suitable bike routes along with time estimates that account for the type of road, terrain and course turns. Users can also switch over to Navigation from their Android device and listen to guided directions from their earplugs while on their bike.

Google’s Europe blog recommends cyclist try suggested paths, like the historical stage of the Tour de France, a 206-kilometer path from Biarritz to Bordeaux that Google claims is, “…often car-free kilometers close to the Atlantic Ocean, compared to the rather boring 206 kilometers on the N10/A63 which is suggested for cars.”

By clicking on the widget at the top right of the screen, users can turn on the “Bicycling” layer in Google Maps to select trails, dedicated lanes or bicycle friendly roads. Cyclist can also suggest new trails using the “Report a problem” link at the bottom of the maps screen or add new routes to Google Maps using Google Map Maker.

EU Says More Google “Concessions” Needed Before Antitrust Settlement

The vigorous lobbying efforts of Google critics and Foundem’s seem to be paying off. Earlier today EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told members of the European Parliament that additional “concessions” would probably be required of Google to settle the antitrust investigation against the company and avoid litigation and potential financial penalties.

According to Reuters, Almunia said the following:

After [all the settlement proposal feedback is received] we will analyze the responses we have received, we will ask Google, probably, I cannot anticipate this formally, almost 100 percent we will ask Google: you should improve your proposals

Immediately upon release of the formal EU-Google negotiated antitrust settlement proposal roughly a month ago, Google’s critics decried it as insufficient (in some cases before it was released). For example, last week UK-based vertical search rival Foundem released a white paper that offers a point-by-point rebuttal of the settlement.

The EU exposed the settlement as part of a “market test” (comment period) that was supposed to last roughly a month, but has been extended to June 27.

My understanding is that Almunia and his team carefully negotiated the settlement provisions with Google. They were not seeing Google’s proposal for the first time last month. For that reason I had the impression that the “market test” was something of a formality to socialize the settlement terms among Google’s competitors and legislators in Europe more broadly.

It seems unlikely that Almunia wouldn’t have anticipated the negative reaction to the settlement proposal, given the very public history of rivals’ complaints against Google. (Some of Google’s critics aren’t interested in settlement but want to see litigation and fines.) It’s strange therefore that�Almunia would be acting as though the negative reaction to the settlement is a surprise.

The current Google-EU settlement proposal looks very much like the US version that was approved by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this year. The major difference, where search is concerned, involves the inclusion of links to rival sites in Google search results. That’s intended to address the alleged “search bias” and “traffic diversion” issue (Google’s ability to place vertical content at or near the top of results). This “search bias” question was something the FTC chose to entirely avoid because the issue was a shaky one, legally, for the agency.

The “rival links” provision of the settlement proposal, expected to mollify Google’s search-bias critics, has instead created new controversy. It’s a highly problematic “solution” and one that has drawn fire accordingly. Yet it’s really not clear what search results modifications would satisfy “the market” except fairly radical ones (e.g., eliminating Universal Search entirely), which would be fundamentally unacceptable to Google.

If Almunia’s primary concern is to appease or please Google’s rivals we may see the breakdown of the settlement process. That would likely result in eventual litigation, which would be wasteful and do little to increase search competition in Europe. And I suspect the EU would be probably be on the losing end of that battle.

Related Entries

EU-Google �Rival Links� Antitrust Settlement Provision Creates New ControversyEU Goes Public With Google Antitrust Proposals, “Market Test” FAQsGoogle’s EU Antitrust Settlement Includes Labeling, Mandatory Competitive Links And Third Party EnforcementGoogle (Finally) Gives EU A Formal Settlement Proposal As UK Mapping Rival Files Anti-Competitive SuitAfter Years Of Anti-Competitive Complaints Foundem Sues Google In UK CourtFTC Closes Google Antitrust Case: “Law Protects Competition Not Competitors,” Not Enough Evidence To Prove “Search Bias”From Praise To Outrage: Reactions To Google’s Antitrust Settlement