Bing Does Local Content Deal With Yelp

Bing has done a deal with Yelp in which the latter’s reviews and content will be heavily integrated into Bing Local pages. According to the press statement put out by Yelp this morning, “Yelp will surface content including, review snippets, photos, business attributes, and more, to Bing users in the U.S.”

The content appears on Bing Local pages with the branding “powered by Yelp.” It is a deeper integration and partnership than what’s generally available to third parties through the standard Yelp API. I suspect that Microsoft/Bing was feeling pressure given Google’s recent incorporation of Zagat ratings into its Google+ Local pages and Apple’s local search announcements on Monday (also involving Yelp).

I was unable to find a live example of the integration but Yelp provided the following screenshot.

This deal and the Apple affirmation of its relationship with Yelp should give the company (and its stock) a bit of a boost.

As an aside I saw the first live Bing “Snapshot” content this morning as I searched on Bing for examples of these new Yelp-powered pages. Snapshot is a rich content area (column) to the right of the main search results. Below is a screenshot, containing reviews, a map and a link to interior images of the restaurant.

Interestingly Microsoft is using the term “Street View” for its link to street-level imagery. The actual Microsoft product name is “StreetSide.” I wonder whether Google will try to claim a trademark or otherwise prevent Microsoft from turning the phrase into a generic term.

Bing Experiments With Social Search By Adding New Bing Boards To Search Results

Bing announced today that they are adding a new social element to their search results with the introduction of Bing Boards. Currently being created by, “…a small group of food and lifestyle bloggers, experts and social influencers,” the Bing Boards are a collection of images, videos and links focused on a specific topic pulled together by the board creator.

“It could be a hobby, a political or social issue, an area of pop culture: the topics are as varied as the people who are interested in them,” claims Bing. According to the announcement, the visual boards will appear in the middle column of a Bing search results page.

The Bing Boards are designed to help users find search results created by people who are passionate about specific topics, and not based on, “…companies or algorithms.” The goal is for more people to create and interact with the Bing Boards, helping Bing decide how they can enhance the social search offering.

Bing provided an example of a Bing Board created by Chelsea Costa, author of the Lovely Indeed blog. Costa’s Bing Board shows up when a user searches Bing for “photo booth backdrop” to help users find ideas for creating their own photo booth backdrops:

Bing confirmed that the Bing Boards were the first of several upcoming social and community experiments they will be announcing.

Mississippi Attorney General To Subpoena Google For Illegal Sale Of Prescription Drugs

Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music.

“Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk,” says Hood, “This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation.” The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead.

According to a report on Reuters, Hood was frustrated with Google’s refusal to block sites that sell illegal products. Google posted a response on their Public Policy blog, stating:

Search results reflect the web and what’s online – the good and the bad. Filtering a website from search results won’t remove it from the web, or block other websites that link to that website. It’s not Google’s place to determine what content should be censored – that responsibility belongs with the courts and the lawmakers.

Google did agree that “rogue pharmacies” are a matter of public concern, and that they will abide by any court ruling that determines web content to be illegal. “We have always removed from our search results any page found by a legitimate court to be unlawful, whether an online pharmacy or otherwise,” wrote legal director Adam Barea.

Hood was also concerned about Google’s autocomplete feature because it offered the words “no prescription” when a user searched for “buy oxycodone online.”

Google responded to the autocomplete concerns as well, stating, “Because the feature is algorithmic, some autocomplete entries may include phrases that potentially relate to rogue pharmacies. We’re evaluating how best to address this issue, have already started running tests on the subject, and always welcome feedback.”

Today, the same search did not result in “no prescription” as an autocomplete option, even though the first two search results included offers to buy the drug without a prescription.

According to Google’s Public Policy blog, the search giant worked with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies to take action against more than 4,100 Internet pharmacies worldwide during Operation Pangea last October. Also, Google claims it has blocked or removed more than 3 million ads by suspected rogue pharmacies during the last two years.

Google Warns SEO & Businesses to Avoid Fake Reviews

An update to Google’s spam detection algorithms will grow the number of reviews appearing on some Google+ Local pages. And Google has shared some advice with reviewers, business owners, and SEO professional on how to keep reviews from being deleted.

Google warns business owners that “fake glowing testimonies” written by SEO or reputation management companies will be taken down.

Also, “if a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and ‘digitize’ them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local,” Google says in its advice for SEOs. “We ask that all reviews come from first hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others.”

On a related note, Google advises against companies asking customers to write a review on a computer or tablet located on the business’s premises. Google said businesses should send reminder emails to customers encouraging them to review the business on their own time – just don't go so far as to give free gifts or discounts in exchange for encouraging them to leave positive reviews, Google warned.

Positive reviews on Google+ Local can help attract new customers. But when it comes to negative reviews, Google emphasized that it doesn’t take down negative reviews (unless they violate Google’s guidelines) or work with third-party reputation management companies. Google urged business owners to respond to such reviews and address the reviewer's concerns.

As for reviewers, they should:

Write reviews are about one specific location if a business has multiple locations.Not write reviews for a company they currently work for.Not include links in the text of reviews.

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Google’s Matt Cutts On Upcoming Penguin, Panda & Link Networks Updates

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced new updates with Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithms and new link network targets in 2013. Matt announced this during the SMX West panel,�The Search Police.

Significant Penguin Update

Matt said that there will be a large Penguin update in 2013 that he thinks will be one of the more talked about Google algorithm updates this year. Google’s search quality team is working on a major update to the Penguin algorithm, which Cutts called very significant.

The last Penguin update we have on record was Penguin 3 in October 2012. Before that, we had Penguin 2 in May 2012 and the initial release in April.

So, expect a major Penguin release that may send ripples through the SEO industry this year.

A Panda Update Coming This Friday Or Monday

Matt also announced there will be a Panda algorithm update this coming Friday (March 15th) or Monday (March 18th). The last Panda update was version 24 on January 22nd, which is one of the longer spans of time between Panda refreshes we’ve seen in a long time.

Another Link Network Targeted

Matt Cutts confirmed that Google targeted a link network a couple weeks ago, and said Google will go after more in 2013. In fact, Matt said that they will release another update in the next week or two that specifically targets another large link network.

Postscript: See our important follow-up story,�Google: Panda To Be Integrated Into The Search Algorithm (Panda Everflux).

The Penguin Update: Google’s Webspam Algorithm Gets Official Name

Move over Panda, there’s a new Google update in town: Penguin. That’s the official name Google has given to the webspam algorithm that it released on Tuesday.

What’s An Update?

For those unfamiliar with Google updates, I’d recommend reading my�Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update�post from last year. It explains how Google has a variety of algorithms used to rank pages.

Google periodically changes these algorithms. When this happens, that’s known as an “update,” which in turn has an impact on the search results we get. Sometimes the updates have a big impact; sometimes they’re hardly noticed.

Who Names Updates?

Google also periodically creates new algorithms. When this happens, sometimes they’re given names by Google itself, as with the Vince update in 2009. If Google doesn’t give a name, sometimes others such as Webmaster World may name them, as with the Mayday update in 2010.

With Penguin, history is repeating itself, where Google is belatedly granting a name to an update after-the-fact. The same thing happened with Panda last year.

When the Panda Update was first launched�in February 2011, Google didn’t initially�release the name it was using internally. I knew it, but I wasn’t allowed say what it was. Without an official name, I gave it an unofficial one of “Farmer,” since one of the reasons behind the update was to combat low-quality content that was often seen associated with content farms.

In the end, I suspect Google didn’t want the update to sound like it was especially aimed at content farms, so it eventually let the “Panda” name go public, in a Steven Levy interview for Wired�about the update about a week after it launched. Panda took its name from one of the key engineers involved.

Say Hello To Penguin

Since Panda, Google’s been avoiding names. The new algorithm in January designed to penalize pages with too many ads above the fold was called the “page layout algorithm.” When Penguin rolled out earlier this week, it was called the “webspam algorithm update.”

Without a name for the new webspam algorithm, Search Engine Land was asking people for their own ideas at�Google+�and�Facebook, with the final�vote�making “Titanic” the leading candidate. A last check with Google got it to release its own official name of “Penguin.”

Postscript: If you were hit and are trying to figure out what to do next, see our follow-up article,�Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice

Related ArticlesWhat Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking FactorsWhy Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm UpdatePages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google�s “Page Layout” AlgorithmGoogle Sending Warnings About “Artificial” Or “Unnatural” LinksDropped In Rankings? Google�s Mistake Over Parked Domains Might Be To BlamePanda Update 3.5 Is Live: Winners & LosersGoogle Launches Penguin Update Targeting Webspam In Search ResultsDid Penguin Make Google�s Search Results Better Or Worse?Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice

Google Releases Updated Keyword Tool, Explains New Volume Counts

Google says its new keyword tool — which should be referred to as “The Keyword Tool” going forward — is out of beta and ready to replace its two predecessors: the original keyword tool and the Search-based Keyword Tool.

Google recommends using the updated tool while logged in to your AdWords account, but says it can still be accessed without signing in. It’s available at the same URL as the original:

Meanwhile, Google also explains why users are seeing lower search volume counts when using the keyword tool:

“…we’ve also changed how we calculate Global Monthly Searches and Local Monthly Searches. Statistics in these columns are now based on search traffic only. Previously, they also included traffic from search partners.

AdWords Flexible Bid Strategies: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

This is a big year for changes at Google AdWords. Front and center is the pending rollover to enhanced campaigns. Along with the enhanced upgrade has come enhanced sitelinks, enhanced call extensions and new (and useful) bid multipliers. Another new feature is called flexible bid strategies.

To define, you have to break down the name. "Bid strategies" – also known as rules. And then the word "flexible." Is that flexible like Stretch Armstrong? Nope. It is flexible as in you can reuse the same strategy across multiple campaigns, ad groups or keywords.

At first blush this seems interesting, maybe even useful – but far from perfect.

What Are Flexible Bid Strategies?

Flexible bid strategies are rules set to optimize bids around a specified goal at the campaign, ad group or keyword level. There are four strategies:

Maximize Clicks: This strategy will adjust bids to get the most clicks within a given budget. Just like automatic bidding used to (and still does for many). This can be set for campaigns (governing all ad groups), specific ad groups, or specific keywords.Target Search Page Location: This strategy will adjust bids to help you achieve a desired average position. Sound familiar? Yeah, this is almost position preference back from the dead. This can be set for campaigns (governing all ad groups), specific ad groups or specific keywords.Target Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA): Bids are adjusted to get the most conversions possible within your CPA goal. Yes – this is the exact same thing as conversion optimizer. And it is still on applicable at the campaign or ad group level.Enhanced Cost-per-Click (eCPC): While still using manual CPCs, your bid can be adjusted up or down to based on the likelihood of conversion. Yes – this is the exact same thing as enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC) that is already available.What's the Big Deal?

As you may have noted, only one of these new flexible bid strategies is actually somewhat new. What Google has done is consolidated the management of these "strategies" at the account level so that a strategy can be used and reused across multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.

Is this a revolution in bidding for your AdWords campaigns? Simply put: No.

How Do You Set Flexible Bid Strategies?

Many advertisers have heard about these new bid types and logged into their campaigns – only to be stumped at how to set them up. Unlike any bidding functionality that has come before, flexible bid strategies live in the AdWords Shared Library. Start there – then find the Bid Strategies link:

After clicking through, you will be presented with a big green button to create a "New Bid Strategy":

Choose from the four types and follow the instructions that are specific and unique to each bid strategy. Once you have bid strategies created and living in your Shared Library – you can begin to implement at the campaign, ad group or keyword level (CPA and eCPC are not available at keyword level):

Are There Any Problems with Flexible Bid Strategies?


Flexible bid strategies aren't supported in AdWords Editor. Then again, what new feature is these days?Any keyword, ad group or campaign with an applied bid strategy won't be able to be edited in AdWords Editor.With flexible bid strategies, target CPA bidding is now tied down to a specific strategy. This means that cannot simply go through and make ad group level CPA bid adjustments (as you can with conversion optimizer). Any adjustments involve switching to a different target CPA bid strategy – or more frustratingly, creating a new one.All in all, setting up flexible bid strategies is an awkward, laborious process in the web interface.

The idea of flexible bid strategies is interesting on paper and has potentially useful implications in the long term. For now it is simply a perplexing addition in the midst of AdWords' massive upheaval with enhanced campaigns. Many advertisers are simply confused – and the rest of us are just finding our workflow being slowed.

Two steps forward, one step back.

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Animated Google Doodles Welcome First Day of Summer and Winter 2013

Whether you’re in the northern part of the earth’s hemisphere getting ready for swimsuit season or the southern part, where you’re cozying up with layers, today’s Google Doodle by guest artist Christoph Niemann has something for everyone in celebration of the summer and winter solstice.

The solstice marks the first day of summer or winter, depending on where in the world you live, and is also either the longest day or the shortest day of the year. After today’s summer solstice, the days get shorter as we move toward the fall.

Here's what those of us up north are seeing on the first day of summer:

And here's the Doodle our friends are seeing down south on the first day of winter:

Niemann, the artist behind the Doodle, is also known for his mobile app, “Petting Zoo,” where various animated animals react to a user’s touch on the screen. Here’s a peek into how the app works.

Google has celebrated the arrival of summer and winter in prior years, most recently in 2011 with the assistance of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

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Google’s Street View Gets OK To Launch In Israel

Google’s Street View service is headed to the Middle East. As expected, the Israeli government has given Google a green light to begin driving through the country and placing panoramic images online.

The Ministry of Justice’s decision comes after months of discussion with Google about how to allow Street View in the country while still protecting concerns related to individual privacy and the bigger issue of violence/terrorism. The government offered an online poll about Street View, and 70% of respondents voted in favor of allowing Street View to launch in Israel.

As reports, Google has agreed to four conditions:

1. Israel will be able to initiate any civil legal challenges against Google inside Israel, even though the Street View data will be hosted outside the country.

2. Google won’t challenge the authority of Israel’s Law, Information and Technology Authority to initiate criminal or administrative challenges if Google violates state law.

3. Google will give the public a way to request additional blurring of images (beyond Google’s normal level of blurring) after the images are published online.

4. Google must use online and offline channels to inform the public about the Street View service, the right to ask for additional blurring and its planned driving routes. Google’s Street View cars must also be clearly marked so the public can identify them.

What’s not mentioned in any of the articles I’ve seen so far is whether Google has been restricted from driving/photographing certain sensitive areas. When we wrote about Street View’s likely arrival in Israel back in March, government officials were talking about refusing to allow Street View to photograph “security installations” and other similar locations.

Mordechai Kedar, a retired Lt. Col. who served 25 years in Israeli intelligence, has been critical of the country’s interest in bringing Street View there. He tells the AP that military locations should be barred from Street View: “God forbid a country should need to reveal its secret facilities just because Google invented something. The lives of people are more important, and the security of countries is more important.”

Also not mentioned is where (and when) Street View will begin driving in Israel. In our first article, we mentioned that some reports had suggested only three cities would be included at first: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Google has typically been reluctant to give specifics about its Street View plans in other countries, and that’s also true where Israel is concerned. Contacted this morning with the above questions, a Google spokesperson provided this statement:

“We’re pleased that the DPA has approved the operation of the Street View service, and hope to update on our plans soon.”

Postscript, August 24: According to an article on, Google will begin driving in Israel in a month-and-a-half, and the first city will be Jerusalem. This has not been confirmed by Google.

Rise of the New School SEO Professional

SEO professionals are watching with a gleam in their eye as users move into a multi-device, multi-screen, and multi-context digital world.

Opportunities from content marketing to GPS, local, and mobile optimization beckon and promise high ROI for brands.

Rather than jettisoning their core competencies, SEOs should build upon their technical skills, result-orientation, and outsider status to define SEO for this new age.

The Watchdogs of Results

Brands rely on SEOs to keep their design and development partners aligned to business results. When they are doing their job correctly, SEOs are dedicated to driving measurable ROI.

Outside SEO firms have little stake in existing internal power structures or technical platforms or approaches. This outsider status gives SEOs legitimacy, and freedom of action. They are the children who can point out that the emperor has no clothes, or even worse that the fancy new parallax site is invisible to search engines.

SEO professionals can speak truth to power and impact the bottom line with tactics that actually work.

The Importance of Traditional SEO

Let’s face it, old-school SEO won't be going away anytime soon and continues to be a strong value driver. And that’s a good thing. There are too many web technologies and emerging standards that need evaluation from an SEO perspective.

Despite the shrinking number of plain old web pages showing in SERPs, this is still where the action is. Traditional SEO – coding, architecture, indexing, links, and on-page content – moves the needle now as much as ever.

Even in this age of quality content management systems, the need for technical SEO remains. Brands increasingly seek differentiation by going beyond the out-of-the-box functionality of their CMS platforms. And when they do, they need competent technical SEO counsel to make sure things stay on track.

The New School Site Audit – Identifying Areas for Growth

SEOs need to stay technically minded and data-driven. Thus, expansion into adjacent and related areas makes sense. Here are the nearby greenfields that should be added to the traditional SEO audit:

Local Search: Ad spend on local search is projected to grow from $1.2 billion to $9 billion by 2017. Where ad spend goes, optimization spend will follow. Every site audit should include a look at the client’s local, GPS, and business listing presence. Vendors like UBL can be a real help here by providing bulk management and verification of local data.Mobile optimization: Going hand in hand with local, optimized mobile landing pages are no longer optional. SEO audits need a mobile optimization component.Social optimization and authority building: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook all have optimization strategies that work and can be employed synergistically. Every SEO engagement should include a metrics-driven analysis of social performance and guidelines for social media promotion budgeting.Content Strategy and Production: Armed with site crawls and a background in content strategy, SEOs can help drive decisions around content creation, consolidation, and production. Site audits should address the underlying content structures (meta data, value lists, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies) that support dynamic content sites and great SEO.Apps integration: Including a review of emerging app-based traffic sources relevant to the line of business shows strategic thinking. Developing an API or reaching out to app developers may not generate a lot of revenue, but it moves you up the value chain.Moving Into Storytelling and Content Production

The emerging content marketing philosophy is a marriage of data-driven SEO and the more distant skillset of creative storytelling.

While writing and producing compelling stories is a long way from where SEO started, there is now a wealth of vendors that can make the transition easier. A new school site audit will point the way to content needs that can be solved. Some content solutions to consider:

Skyword: With an end-to-end workflow and a roster of writers for all budgets and industries, Skyword can plug right into your existing relationships to supply the optimized narrative content you need from authoritative sources.Textbroker: An established player in the content creation space, Textbroker has a huge stable of writers that produce all the content you need.Building on Existing Relationships

SEOs can expand into these services because they occupy a valuable, though fragile, niche in the perceptions of the rest of the enterprise. Good SEOs are perceived as being high-ROI, technically capable partners that can be counted on to drive tangible results. Expanding into other results-oriented categories like content marketing or local search just makes sense.

If you're an SEO firm, getting there may be a matter of upskilling your client service, sales, and service delivery teams. It may also be a matter of upgrading your deliverables and audits as shown above to plant the seeds of local, social, mobile, and content marketing opportunities into the minds of clients.

If you're an in-house SEO, who better to raise the standard of local listing optimization and building social authority than you? Armed with proof of ROI and a short payback period, in-house SEOs have the cognitive frameworks to recognize the problem and map out solutions.

SEO agencies are result-oriented, technical, and data-driven marketers - a great foundation for expansion into emerging areas of local, mobile and social media optimization.

The Names May Change, but the Game Remains the Same

The exciting thing about SEO is that is never stands still. Tactics emerge, spread, and then die or get banned. Brands need SEO firms to keep them abreast of the changing landscape, to drive results, and to give them the unbiased advice they need. Traditional SEO provides a proven and stable foundation from which to move deeper into enterprise digital strategy.

New-school SEOs are emerging now– created by smart marketers that know how to grow while preserving key core competencies. After all, there will always be something that needs to be fixed. Keep on optimizing.

"Gold Rush" Image Credit: BartEverts/Flickr

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Greasing the Purchase Funnel With Consumer Research

Conventional wisdom suggests that a decade ago, digital agencies emerging from the ashes of the dot-com bust had a tough road ahead. The exuberance at the turn of the millennium was a distant memory, and going forward, transparency and accountability would be the law of the land. The biggest shops with the swankiest offices would still get by on their agency brands and long-standing relationships, but in the first decade of the 21st century, big changes were afoot.

Notable technology titans were bringing to market solutions that would level the playing field for everyone, for example:

Google AdWords picks up steam as a key adoption platform.Yahoo and Microsoft offer scale via their own search offerings.YouTube spawns a brand new experience of online video consumption.Google Analytics brings website traffic analysis to the masses, free of charge.Wordpress offers the public an open-source solution for limitless self-expression.Facebook offers an advertising platform with unprecedented consumer targeting.

Last month, with all of the industry focus on Google’s quarterly earnings, an announcement from Mountain View slipped by with limited fanfare – one which should indeed be profoundly interesting to agencies, brands, and Wall Street alike.

With its launch of Consumer Surveys, Google has in fact added a whole new dimension to the self-service model of audience engagement, customer acquisition and brand building.

Traditionally only accessible via high-powered consumer research technologies like Dynamic Logic, Google's solution allows for tailored outreach based on standard demographic targets (age/gender/geographic), as well as “custom audiences” built around threshold questions (e.g. “do you drive a hybrid or electric car?”).

Google's alternative, low-cost option canvases a statistically representative sample of the U.S. population. This in effect parlays the scale of Google’s partner network into yet another game-breaking solution for marketers. Only instead of turning the page with another incremental innovation, this indeed is opening an entirely new book.

Big brands maintain relationships with research companies of all shapes and sizes, from the heavyweights like Nielsen, IRI and NPD, to smaller specialized outfits with a unique angle on a particular industry, category or audience. They do it for one overarching reason: because an investment in consumer intelligence will almost always cost less than the risk of learning from their mistakes.

Why waste a million dollars reaching out to the wrong target audience, when a small fraction of that sum could be spent identifying the right audience at the outset? Now, with a low-cost technology allowing virtually anyone to deploy consumer surveys, it’s harder than ever to argue with this logic.

No matter how advanced our industry becomes, media management continues to be permeated in customer attrition. You cast out to a large group, collect a bunch of costly data, hack off certain audience segments, push harder to grow others, rinse and repeat.

We’re already far more advanced that our counterparts of the 20th century, whose media measurement capabilities were a far cry from the technologies of today – but we needn’t stop there. With a foundation built on solid market research, we can engage consumers at all points in the purchase funnel, and act on a variety of digital marketing objectives.

So what kinds of questions should researchers and marketers ask via consumer surveys, to improve media performance and engage, acquire, and build?

Driving EngagementWhich offer would be more appealing to you, “Free Shipping” or “Buy One Get One Free”?If we offered a mobile app designed to enhance your in-store experience, would you download it?What is the #1 reason you clicked "Like" on our Facebook page? Acquiring CustomersWhere do you most frequently purchase this product or service? Check all that apply.When was the last time you were in the market for this product or service?Of the following product features, which ones are most relevant to you? (Acquisition based media delivery can then be tailored to demographic profiles of respondents.)Building BrandsFrom the following list, please choose the brand that you believe offers the best product/service, and specify why you chose it.Which of the following is the most likely reason you would recommend us to friends and family?If you’ve purchased our brand more than once, what prompted you to come back to us?

We’re just scratching the surface here. With more detail around your brand, category and marketing objectives, there are infinite opportunities to put this type of consumer research to use.

The formula is simple: with pre-emptive research, you acquire the insights that grease the purchase funnel, minimizing the drag that is encountered in the delivery of media. And you don’t have to stop there: this type of research methodology can also be used for applications like sales, customer service, and product development.

This amounts to a big win for stakeholders across the board: brands get closer to their roots, agencies look like rockstars, and Wall Street licks their chops as Google adds yet another complementary technology to keep marketers fixated on AdWords.

There are already some good case studies available; has anyone else rolled this out with success?

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Blekko Brings Izik Search to iPhone, Android With New 'What's Nearby' Feature

You may remember the launch of Izik in January, which brought users tablet-friendly search courtesy of Blekko that's geared toward gesture-controlled navigation and image-focused results. Now the Izik experience is tailored to and available for all smartphone users.

Blekko's Izik app organizes useful information tailored to those on the go. In its announcement, Blekko illustrated a scenario where Izik search would be ideal: looking for movie information.

"You want to know a movie's plot, its cast, critical reviews, pictures, video clips, recent news about the movie and more. You're looking for multiple pieces of information on the movie and need a tool that organizes search results into categories to help you find what you need quickly and painlessly, and without clicking through multiple tiny blue links."

Blekko says many of the features on the tablet app are available for iPhone and Android smartphone users, but recognizes that the intent behind mobile and tablet usage varies.

"While tablets are more focused on media consumption around the home and office, mobile phones serve more as a tool to help you on the go, while also helping pass the time in line at the supermarket and post office," Blekko said.

Keeping that in mind, Blekko added the "what's nearby" feature for mobile. This feature helps users find popular local establishments close to them if the user's location is shared with the app.

This release is just one of many recent moves that shows Blekko is continuing to re-imagine the search experience. Not too long ago, Blekko announced a new look and feel for its search engine results that redefined the SERP "norm."

For a demonstration of what the Izik tablet app looks like in action, check out this video:

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Enhanced Campaigns Countdown: Latest CPC Trends & Mobile Bid Test Results From Adobe

With the July 22nd mandatory migration to Google AdWords enhanced campaigns looming, we will be checking in with marketers over the next several weeks to get their perspective on the transition process, hear what they’ve learned so far and what advice they have to share.

Today, Sid Shah, Adobe’s Director of Business Analytics for Advertising Solutions, released new findings and predictions for enhanced campaigns based on nearly 100 major U.S. advertisers representing over $100 million in ad spend from March through May 2013.

I spoke with Kohki Yamaguchi, Senior Business Analyst for Adobe Advertising Solutions, about the new report.

CPCs Are Already Rising

“Over the next six months, Google CPCs will rise for the first time in almost two years,” Yamaguchi told me. Tablet CPCs are already rising to reflect desktop CPCs, now that the two are inextricably entwined in enhanced campaigns.

Yamaguchi says, “In the past three months we’ve seen a six percent increase in CPCs across all devices. Tablets had had lower CPCs than desktops, but now the combination is forcing an increase”.

Adobe has tracked a three percent increase in tablet CPCs against desktops, and a one percent increase in mobile CPCs. Shah writes that they expect the percentages to grow as advertisers holding out until the July 22 deadline are forced into enhanced campaigns.

After watching Google CPCs fall year-over-year the past two years, because of the “increase in mobile and tablet traffic where CPCs were lower”, Adobe saw CPCs stabilize YoY. Shah predicts they will start rising YoY next quarter.

Testing Mobile Bid Adjustments

Advertisers who have already made the switch to enhanced campaigns and set their mobile bid adjustments (MBAs) to the level suggested by Google during the transition process may be surprised to learn that their campaigns likely had the same recommended MBAs that nearly all other advertiser campaigns received.

Adobe found that more than 90 percent of all Google mobile bid adjustments were set at either -20 percent or 0 percent.

Google�s MBA suggestions are based on how ‘similar advertisers’ bid on mobile compared to other�devices, but we have found that these numbers tend to not reflect the performance of individual�campaigns and ad groups. The mobile bid suggestions are not tailored to an advertiser and the�performance of a specific campaign.

The company ran a four-week test�on a sample set of four major U.S. campaigns to compare Google’s MBA distribution to Adobe’s own algorithmic-ally set MBAs. The test ran for two weeks with Google suggested MBAs and then for two weeks�on the Adobe system to see if there were differences in mobile bid distribution and ROI.

From their test, Adobe found mobile ROIs were lower on average than desktop/tablet when using�Google’s MBAs, suggesting to them that the MBA recommendations tend to be too high and that mobile bids should be lowered further.

“MBAs can have significant effect on overall ROI,” says Yamaguchi. “You want to see a nearly 100 percent ROI ratio between mobile and desktop and tablet.”

Rather than simplifying bidding for advertisers, Shah writes that bid adjustments “complicates matters for the advertiser. Not only does one have to consider the bid but also the mobile adjustment factor to get the most out of a search campaign”.

Yamaguchi foresees a “war of who can build the best algorithm,” saying, “Advertisers need to calculate how the MBAs will interact with the base bids, and we see algorithms becoming more important” to be able to optimize at scale.

Yes, the call for automated algorithmic bidding platforms is coming from the algo guys, but it does beg the question of whether some advertisers will find enhanced campaigns harder to manage, or less efficient, rather than easier with better ROI, because of the layer of complexity mobile bid modifiers — as well as other targeting options like geo and day-parting — add to bid management.

Still, Adobe expects the rising CPCs to push spending on Google beyond the current 15 percent YoY growth that has thus far been driven by volume.

Update: A�Google spokesperson responded,�“There have been many speculative reports, but it’s far too early for any of them to be reliable. Advertisers will choose their bids�and adjust their spend�based on the value they see in their campaigns.”�

Optimize Your Site For Tablets

In a point that often gets overshadowed by the focus on optimizing for smartphones, Shah notes that all advertisers — whether they’ve been running smartphone-only campaigns or have been targeting tablets specifically already — will have to focus on optimizing their sites for tablets. Shah concludes that with the forced inclusion of all advertisers on these devices, and as “the CPC advantage goes away, marketers have to focus on better user experiences to increase the conversion rate on tablets.”

Note: �This is part of an ongoing, occasional series about how marketers are prepping for the migration to enhanced campaigns.

AdWords Advertisers Can Now Control Sitelink Details In Enhanced Campaigns

When Google introduced sitelink details in February as a new feature in enhanced campaigns, the sitelink details were pulled from other ads in the campaign. Now, Google has�announced that advertisers will be able to control the copy in sitelink details.

New description fields have been added to both the pop-up window to set-up new sitelinks and to edit existing sitelinks in the Web interface.

Sitelink descriptions haven’t been spotted in the wild very often, yet. There is a four sitelink view, as shown above, as well as a two sitelink view.

Key sitelink guidelines remain the same:

Sitelinks cannot violate the�duplicate sitelink URL policySitelink text cannot use keyword insertionSitelink text cannot be the same as other sitelinks in the same ad group/campaign or the main ad that�s serving

Google Cuts Maps API Prices by 88%

Google has slashed the price of its Maps application programming interface (API), according to a post on the Geo Developers blog.

In a move to attract more enterprise use of the system, U.S. companies will now pay 50 cents instead of $4 for every thousand map loads, an 88 percent lower rate.

With the plunge in API costs, Google also introduced simplified usage limitations, saying that the same usage limits and pricing will now apply to applications using Styled Maps and the default Google Maps.

"We're beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35 [percent] of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days," Google Maps API project manager Thor Mitchell said in the post.

Mitchell also insisted that companies using the software will not see a break in the Maps service if they see a sudden surge in popularity. Instead, Google will contact them to discuss payment options.

The move comes six months after Google began charging for Maps use in January, and just days after Apple removed Google's Maps API for its own mapping service.

This story originally appeared on The Inquirer:Lee Bell wrote Google cuts the price of its Maps API for enterprises

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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Google Officially Launches Local Results Carousel

The Google Local Carousel beta test that we saw last month is now rolling out to all U.S. users, Google announced. While the carousel has been used on tablet devices since December 2012, the carousel style results being available on a desktop is a much newer change.

With the new style of carousel listings, when a user searches for a local results, such as a restaurant or hotel, instead of the traditional vertical listings most users associate with Google search, there is now a horizontal carousel which features thumbnails, ratings, as well as the number of Google+ reviews. Users can then scroll sideways through the listings to see more results.

One of the positive things to this new carousel style for local results is that businesses who might not rank in the top two or three required to see the results above the fold, can now see their business featured very prominently, complete with an image. However, there is no guarantee that your business will be one of the ones chosen to show in the carousel. Google search ranking algorithms also apply to the listings in Google Maps in determining which businesses are featured in the carousel.

This will also mean it is that much more important for a local business to ensure that the thumbnail used for their local business listing is one that not only represents their business, but is eye-catching enough to draw searchers to their listing. Interestingly, Google’s algorithms will also decide which photo is used, although exactly what algorithms are used as unknown at this time, but they do suggest using high quality images on your Google business listing.

Google's local carousel is only available in limited verticals at this time, with hotels, restaurants, and bars being amongst the verticals included. They do say that they are looking to expand this by experimenting with different designs and interfaces.

This is currently being rolled out in the U.S. only at this time and is only available in English.

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Yahoo Launches Localworks, a Listing Management Tool for Small Business

Yahoo has announced the release of Localworks, a product that it says will help small businesses recapture sales they may be losing due to incorrect or outdated online listings.

The new product, which Yahoo is launching in connection with location software company Yext, is designed to help companies easily update their online listings across more than 40 online platforms designed to reach 150 million local searchers, according to Tom Byun, VP, Yahoo Small Business.

"We saw the need to provide an offering that helps small businesses easily provide the correct information for online listings, as this is a lost opportunity for them," Byun said.

He cited a 2012 study conducted for Yext by analysts Greg Sterling and Andrew Shotland estimating that local merchants lose $10.3 billion in sales each year due to inaccurate local listings. The analysis of 40,000 listings found that 43 percent of local listings had missing or incorrect addresses. It also found a negative consumer reaction to the discovery of wrong information with 22 percent of those polled saying they wouldn't trust the source again and about 15 percent saying they would look for another merchant.

While Yext offers its own set of products in the area of listings management, Localworks is specifically targeted to reach Yahoo's base of more than 1 million small business subscribers, according to Virginia Hines, senior product manager at Yahoo.

The new offering integrates Yahoo Local, which enables business owners to submit basic or enhanced listing information that is displayed in Yahoo's local search results, with location data provided by Yext. Yahoo Local's business directories, offered for numerous cities, offer local searchers ratings and reviews, maps, and events where users can look up things such as hours of operation, photos, and driving directions.

"We added proprietary local data around performance of the listing on Yahoo Local and we do our own moderation to ensure listing quality," Hines said.

Besides being able to easily locate inaccuracies or deficits in their online listings and correct them in one place, Localworks also allows users to monitor whether their entry has been updated by a site or is still pending.

Other features include a reputation management page where business owners can follow reviews and blog ratings and respond to them, as well as a page that shows listing performance, with data on impressions, profile views, and click-through rates on special offers. It also enables companies to add photos, videos, and other content to their business listings.

The introductory price for Localworks is $30 per month and eventually Yahoo plans to bundle it with other services for small businesses designed to help them "amplify their business information," according to Hines. She says it is the first product in a line of targeted advertising solutions for small business owners to be released later this year.

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

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YouTube Now Gets More Than 1 Billion Unique Visitors Every Month

YouTube is new getting more than 1 billion unique visitors every month. The YouTube team shared the news in a post on the YouTube Blog. Google hit the billion unique visitors mark in June 2011.

"YouTube announced it had reached the milestone in a preview of the presentation it plans to make to advertisers May 1 in New York City, during the digital upfront," according to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the LA Times. "It hit 800 million monthly viewers in October 2011."

YouTube's milestone is important to more than 1 million content creators from over 30 countries around the world who are earning money from their YouTube videos as well as more than a million advertisers. Tens of thousands of YouTube partners have created channels and built businesses for passionate, engaged audiences. And all of the Ad Age Top 100 brands are now running campaigns on YouTube.

So, what does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like? According to YouTube:

Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.YouTube's monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences.If YouTube were a country, it would be the third largest in the world after China and India.PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times in order to reach an audience the same size.Generation C is Powering YouTube's Growth

Gunnard Johnson, Google's Advertising Research Director, posted a related story on the AdWords Agency Blog to explain what's powering YouTube's growth.

"The way people consume content is changing," Johnson said. "For the first time, an entire generation has grown up watching content on their own terms. This generation is defined by the Internet, mobile, and social – consuming content when and where they want. Nielsen calls this group Generation C because they are not just defined by their age group, but by their connected behavior."

According to Johnson, Gen C, which has also been called the Millennial Generation, thrives on:

Connection: Gen C watches YouTube on all screens, constantly switching between devices.Creation: Gen C is deeply engaged with online video, watching, creating and uploading videos on YouTube.Community: Gen C thrive on community, defining what's popular on YouTube by sharing videos with friends and family.Curation: Gen C is made up of expert curators who care about finding content that matters to them.

According to The Millennial Generation Research Review by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Gen C is a powerful demographic – not only are they cultural tastemakers, they influence $500 billion of spending a year in the U.S. Yet they can be a hard to reach audience for brands. According to GfK MRI Fall 2012 data, members of Gen C are 45 percent more likely to be light TV viewers, choosing instead to consume many forms of content across many screens.

"Over the next few months, we'll take a deeper look at Gen C, sharing insights and trends about our audience on YouTube," Johnson added. "To start, we're focusing on how Gen C watches YouTube across devices."

Multiscreen Marketing is Essential to Reaching Gen C

According to Nielsen Mobile Insights Survey, Q4 2012, young adults are leading the growth in smartphone ownership in the U.S. For example, 76 percent of 18-34 year olds now own smartphones, versus 60 percent of the general population. To better understand how Gen C connects with YouTube across screens, Johnson worked with Nielsen to take a look at viewing patterns on smartphones.

They found that that the amount of time Gen C spends watching YouTube on their smartphones is up 74 percent from last year. In fact, in 2012 the number of Gen C viewers who regularly watch YouTube on smartphones caught up to the number of viewers tuning in on their PCs. 67 percent of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, compared to 53 percent of the general population.

How Does Gen C Watch YouTube on Smartphones?

Gen C tunes in to YouTube throughout every part of their day. YouTube usage by Gen C on smartphones mirrors usage on PCs and peaks during prime time hours.

Gen C watches YouTube on their smartphones as a complementary activity to their lives. For example, 41 percent tune in to YouTube on their smartphone while waiting for something/someone, 18 percent while commuting from work or school, and 15 percent tune in while commercials are running on TV.

On smartphones, most members of Gen C engage with YouTube as a destination by actively searching for videos on YouTube (47 percent). Viewers are also discovering videos socially – 9 percent of respondents said they watched a video on their smartphone because it was shared by friends in an email, while 18% watched a video because it was shared on a social network.

YouTube Searches Now Available on Google Trends

In related news, Kevin Allocca announced on YouTube Trends that YouTube search has been added to Google Trends.

"Google Trends enables you to take popular search queries and explore traffic patterns over time and geography. Now we've added YouTube search data going back to 2008, making it another great tool to look at video trends," Allocca wrote. "Visit Google Trends and enter any search you'd like and then, on the left, choose "limit to" for YouTube. You can slice by region or category as well."

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Google’s New Privacy Policy May Violate HIPAA, Congresswoman Says

Several members of Congress continued to express reservations about Google’s new privacy policy after a closed-door meeting on Thursday, with one House member saying that Google’s handling of sensitive medical searches may violate HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee grilled Pablo Chavez, Google’s director of public policy, and Google attorney Michael Yang for about two hours. After the meeting, several of the Representatives expressed their unhappiness with Google’s answers on a variety of privacy issues — questions brought on by Google’s recent announcement that it will combine all of its privacy policies into one, which will allow the company to share user information across its services.

That last point, according to Representative Mary Bono Mack, may leave Google in violation of HIPAA, a law that protects how personal health information may be shared. Bono Mack explained her concerns to USA Today:

“…say you do a Google search for cervical cancer and you forget to sign out. Are you being tracked across all of the other products, and if so, that’s a violation of HIPPA. We’ve gone to great lengths in our society to protect people’s medical information. That question was raised.”

Bono Mack is suggesting that Google might be violating HIPAA if it remembers the “cervical cancer” search after the user moves on from search to another Google product, like Gmail or YouTube (or any other).

But is Google actually compelled to follow the HIPAA requirements? According to the Health & Human Services website, the law applies to groups that meet the definition of a “covered entity” — health care providers (like doctors and nurses), health plans (like insurance companies and HMOs) and health care clearinghouses.

Google is certainly not a health care provider or a health plan, but is it a clearinghouse? My non-expert reading of the definition suggests the answer is “no.”

Google has been involved in health information via its Google Health product, but that just shut down on January 1st. Even when it was active, Google said it wasn’t bound by HIPAA. Here’s the opening sentence of the old/current Google Health privacy policy:

Unlike a doctor or health plan, Google Health is not regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law that establishes data confidentiality standards for patient health information.

Furthermore, Google’s new privacy policy, which takes effect on March 1st, includes language that seems to say ads won’t be personalized based on health-related activity:

When showing you tailored ads, we will not associate a cookie or anonymous identifier with sensitive categories, such as those based on race, religion, sexual orientation or health.

Bono Mack tells USA Today that there will be more Congressional hearings about online privacy and that she “pressed” Google to be there. But, based on my non-expert reading of the law, the HIPAA angle may not get very far in those hearings.

We’ve been covering the non-search elements of Google’s new privacy policy on our sister site, Marketing Land. See below for several related articles offering background and other angles.

Related EntriesNo, You Don’t Need To Fear The Google Privacy Changes: A Reality CheckGoogle “Myth Busts” Microsoft’s Privacy ClaimsMicrosoft Slams Google Privacy Changes With “Putting People First” Ad CampaignGoogle Tells Congress: Users Can Opt-Out Of New Privacy Policy By Not Logging InHouse Committee Has Privacy Questions For Google; Google Says Bring It OnGoogle’s New Terms Of Service & Privacy Policy: Anything You Do May Be Used To Target You?(Stock image via Used under license.)

5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog

The tendency for corporate marketers and their agencies to chase shiny social objects seems to be manifesting as conflicting trends in the usefulness of social media for business. Companies that execute their social media marketing tactics poorly often conclude the channel doesn’t work. A good example is the “corporate blogging is dying” story which contrasts with a study that shows blogging is the second most effective B2B lead generation tactic.

I’ve always said that tools are only as good as the skills of the people using them and the moving target of social savvy customers along with a rapidly evolving social web make social media marketing skills acquisition a bit tricky. I think part of the answer to the distracted approach to social media marketing efforts like corporate blogging could be arrested by mastering these basics.

If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give:

1. Customer. Problem. Solution.�
Gather information related to what your target audience wants, likes and needs related to your industry, company, products and services. �Develop key value propositions about what your blog will stand for and the things your blog will solve for those people the business is trying to reach.

The mistake many companies make is to either talk solely about themselves, their products and services or worse: to never talk about themselves, their own products and services. A balance is the key and the trick is to find that balance for your own situation.

The “customer” for your blog need not be limited to people who buy. Other audience considerations include the people who influence buyers but may never be buyers themselves, journalists, other bloggers, industry analysts, business and marketing partners, existing customers, current employees and potential employees. What problems will content published on a blogging platform solve for them that will also help advance your business?

2. Define the Topics.
Once you’ve decided on goals, audience and key value propospitions the blog will communicate, the next step towards constructing a great corporate blogging plan is to identify the topics. The outcome of this exercise is the start of your blog editorial plan. Some inspiration and long tail definition for topics can come from a SEO Keyword Glossary and the Social Media Topics Glossary.

In fact, any content or media produced and promoted through a business blog should be leveraging SEO best practices. Being visible through search as well as sharable through social networks is a powerful combination. Download a free XLS file for keyword glossary and editorial plan here.

As a company gets more advanced in their content marketing, an editorial approach for specific customer segments and their sales cycle can be developed as outlined in this workshop from my presentation at Fusion Marketing Experience.

3. What’s the Story?�Plan the Narrative.
Storytelling is one of the things that’s most often missing in many SEO-centric efforts towards blogging. Without an underlying story that connects what the business stands for with satisfying target audience information needs, the business blogging effort becomes more mechanical than meaningful.

Planning topics for specific audiences is great, but tying them together through a themed content plan, topics and keywords is even better. That means a story expressed through text, images, audio, video, interactive applications and any other content or media that can deliver the customer/brand experience in a meaningful way.

4. Attract & Grow Your Audience.
One of the most effective models for business blogging and community development uses a hub. We like a hub and spoke model of content marketing and social network engagement which allows for a deep, topical repository of knowledge to be supported by a constellation of social networks and other channels of content sharing.

As part of the ongoing business blogging effort, it’s important to factor in time to participate on other blogs and social networks with resources and links that point back to useful information on the brand’s blog. Many online versions of business publications also publish blogs, so it’s worth monitoring for articles on relevant topics and providing useful insight in the comments or even linking back to those articles from the business blog. The combination of links and off site engagement can expose the brand’s expertise to the media as well as new audiences that are not currently aware of the brand’s blog.

5. Set Goals, Monitor Progress, Measure Results, Refine. Repeat.�
With any content marketing, it’s important to engage in an adaptable cycle designed to make iterative improvements to content�effectiveness. That means based on goals, monitor progress through key�performance�indicators like on and off blog comments, links, mentions, sentiment, referred social network traffic, referred search engine traffic and the behaviors of visitors one they arrive on the blog. Analysis of KPIs should reveal opportunities for improvement in SEO, messaging and interaction to result in more desirable business outcomes for the blog. �It’s an ongoing process and like the tasks of content creation and promotion, should be expected for as long as the blog is intended to be a communications tool to attract and engage.

Business blogging is a journey, not a destination. As a communications tool, it has the ability to contribute to thought leadership, lead generation, customer service, recruiting and many other business goals. �The question is, do you have a plan and are you working that plan as an ongoing, adaptable process?

DuckDuckGo Sees Record Traffic After NSA PRISM Scandal

Ever since the news hit about the NSA PRISM surveillance program in the United States, many people have become much more concerned about what exactly search engines are tracking about them.

Although Google, Bing, and Yahoo have stringent privacy policies, there have been enough people worried that they have begun looking at alternative search engines, particularly so-called “private search engines.”

DuckDuckGo is probably the best-known of the private search engines, and as a result it has recorded record traffic and shows no sign of stopping. In fact, since the PRISM news broke, nearly every day has been a record search day for DuckDuckGo, including yesterday where it broke 3 million searches for the first time. That is nearly double its pre-PRISM daily search totals.

DuckDuckGo updates their search traffic daily here.

It is worth noting, however, that DuckDuckGo earns revenue through contextual advertising on their search results. Their ads are currently served through Bing Ads, however they state the use of these ads does adhere to their privacy policy.

DuckDuckGo launched in 2008 and gained popularity by not tracking what individuals are searching. As of its 4th birthday in September, DuckDuckGo was seeing between 1.3 million and 1.5 million direct queries per day, on average.

PPC and SEO: Higher Conversion Rates Fuel the Need for Better Integration

Many paid search marketers often go about their business of optimizing their accounts without really caring about what else might be happening in the digital space around them. This is something that is starting to change for a couple of reasons:

Consumers have changed the way they navigate the web along their customer journey.The power of integration from other channels is more easily measured and shown via attribution or other data points.

The most obvious of these integration points is between paid and organic search. These two, while very different in optimization tactics, are fighting for the same customer and keyword term. This ability to maximize share of voice is critical, especially when you start to understand the multiplication power of having multiple listings.

The question I’ve been watching closely is how many brands out there have both paid and organic listings for a given keyword? I’ve been monitoring the same keyword set for 4 years now to better understand the changes in integration. The year marked the highest paid and organic overlap we’ve ever seen – at 22 percent.

Some key takeaways:

Big jumps in travel and technology verticals. Some key brands seem to have really tried to won the space including Amazon and Best Buy in tech, and Princess Cruise and Disney Travel.Financial services was the only vertical to see a decline. There has been a continual movement toward more aggregator sites who are monetizing their traffic via arbitrage and lead generation. They are also generating content at a pace that larger financial institutions struggle to keep up with.These same figures when you consider brands that have multiple organic listings jumps to 25 percent overall and jumps to 41 percent overlap (from 33 percent) with so many SKUs for their products getting listed for various keywords.

So how can you be better integrated?

My agency recently completed a co-exposure test to better understand the impact on keyword synergies. The test revealed a 200 percent increase in conversions when we had both paid and organic listings on the page. These business results help fuel the need for better integration.

To help our teams and our clients consider points of natural integration, we created the below “Integration Matrix.”

This matrix is used to help remind us as we create deliverables to be mindful of these integration points across search, social, e-mail, and display.

When you're optimizing, stop and think about these points of integration. Have you maximized them? What more could you do to test and measure the impact of integration to improve to your business?

Google, Bing Both Win More Search Market Share

Another month and another new release of comScore search engine rankings for the U.S. for May 2013. Google and Bing are both up, while the other top search engines comScore tracks (Yahoo, Ask, AOL) were flat or saw declines.

Not surprisingly, Google led the way for search share in May, and grew its search market share to 66.7 percent, up from 66.5 percent in April. Google has the identical search share of 66.7 percent when comparing May 2012 and May 2013.

Bing grew to 17.4 percent in May, up from 17.3 percent in April. This is a significant increase from its 15.4 percent search market share in May 2012.

Meanwhile, Yahoo dropped slightly from 12 percent in April to 11.9 percent in May. Yahoo is down considerably from May 2012, when it had a 13.4 percent search market share.

This continues the trend of Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo simply swapping search share rather than making inroads on Google’s massive search share.

Ask held steady at 2.7 percent from April to May, but AOL's search market share fell to 1.3 percent, down from 1.5 percent. AOL's search market share has only been this low one other time, when it previously hit this record low in August 2011.

When looking at the 20 billion search queries conducted in May specifically, Google remained static with 13.4 billion, while again Microsoft gained 1 percent to 3.5 billion searches, while Yahoo lost 1 percent to 2.4 billion. Interestingly, AOL lost 8 percent of search queries over the previous month.

Meaningful SEO Metrics: Moving Beyond PageRank

At SES London 2013, Marcus Tober, the founder and CTO of Searchmetrics, and Will Critchlow, the Founder and Chief Strategist of Distilled, tackled some thorny topics during the session on “Meaningful SEO Metrics.”

Tober kicked off with some new technical data.

He said “SEO visibility” was one of his most important metrics. He acknowledged that ranking on single keywords are worth less because of personalization, localization, and search history.

However, he said that the cumulative number of all relevant keyword rankings for your market or industry will show you important trends – especially after updates, re-launches, and technical re-brushes. These issues are independent from seasonal effects or traffic spikes that are based on temporary events.

As an example, he showed what happened to the SEO visibility of last year after Google’s Penguin update on April 24, 2012. He also showed that rebranding the site hadn’t fixed site’s link profile, so its SEO visibility hadn’t recovered.

Tober also shared the results of several experiments conducted last year in the Searchmetrics Labs on social signals. The results showed:

Google Chrome “sees” traffic, but does NOT index postings.However, Google+ triggers instant indexation.Many Facebook shares also trigger instant indexation.Pinterest and Twitter don’t have any impact on indexation.

This led Tober to dispute a statement by Matt Cutts, Google's Distinguished Engineer. In a Google Hangout, Cutts was asked, “Do Google +1’s affect a website ranking?” He answered, “Not really a direct effect, but … we have an authorship proposal.”

Tober said, “+1 influences search!” Based on an analysis with different unique postings, “URLs with a +1 are being indexed instantly and rank for the title as well as some longtail queries.” They also influence Google News search results if you’re logged in.

Tober then took a look at Author Rank. Do you get higher rankings with an author profile? He quoted Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, who writes in his book that, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Critchlow followed with an analysis of some of the meaningless SEO metrics being demanded by many C-level executives.

As knowledge of SEO practices moves from the cubicles of search engine optimizers to the boardroom, the standard metrics used by a group of very talented techies called webmasters are straining under the weight of the all-powerful bottom line. The days when upper management was impressed by subtle changes in PageRank have been replaced by questions about Lifetime Value (LTV), Return on Investment (ROI), and Cost per Acquisition (CPA).

But Critchlow said, “They are all broken or hard to measure for SEO.”

As for LTV, it’s easy to double-count because “analytics packages don’t track people, they track cookies.”

As for ROI, it assumes costs scale with success. But, he asked, “Would you rather spend $1 and make $1,000 or spend $100 and make $2,000?”

As for CPA, it’s hard to get fully-loaded costs. For SEO, should development costs be included? And it also assumes that costs scale with success.

Critchlow concluded, “There is no one metric.”

Instead, he urged SEOs to “understand how the business makes money. Build a simple model. And remember, the best metrics guide behavior.” He added that key performance indicators (KPIs) should also guide executive behavior: “This is doing fine – go think about something else.”

Critchlow recommended that SEOs “measure activity and outcomes.” He added, “Campaigns have two failure modes. We don’t do what we wanted to: blog posts shipped, contacts made, pages updated, development tickets completed. Or what we do doesn’t work well: not enough people read our posts, too many people ignore our emails, and bug fixes don’t move the needle.”

He concluded, “Only worry about costs sometimes. Always consider the margin on an incremental sale.”

Critchlow than provided an example from the launch of DistilledU, which provides online SEO training. He focused on cohorts, a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum. When Distilled announced the inclusion of all its video content in DistelledU, the percentage of signups who upgraded to paid and engaged users almost doubled.

These are the kind of meaningful SEO metrics that you can take to the bank.

How to Increase Social Influence Scores on Klout & More

Klout, PeerIndex, Kred, and Percollate are today's social influence reporters. Like it or not, marketers, brands and individuals are getting scored, ranked and labeled as a specialist, a celebrity, a curator, or even a taste-maker.

Facebook is a Tastemaker and has a Klout score of 80. Mashable scores an 88 and Google is an 80, both tagged Celebrity.

Cathay Pacific is a Specialist with a 58 Klout score. American Express comes in with a 78 and is a thought leader. As for Search Engine Watch:

Klout, the San Francisco-based startup, measures social media users' "influence" in the online world and is one of a handful of companies offering personal and brand analytics on the topic of social influence. Though it started as a result of Twitter, today Klout pulls data from as many as 12 social media platforms, depending on the user’s preference. But take note – Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have the most impact according to unofficial sources.

How Klout Works

The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:

True Reach: How many people you influenceAmplification: How much you influence themNetwork Impact: The influence of your network

Brian Solis defines influence as the ability to cause, affect, or change behavior. But what exactly does a good Klout score mean to a marketer, a brand or an individual? The power of social influence is getting serious and perky! The question is: does your brand embrace the power of online influence?

Ego Power or Brand Strategy?

Internet marketing experts say brands should pay attention to Klout and individuals should forget about it.

In the book "Return of Influence" by Mark W. Schaefer marketers gain insight into the rise of social influence, what it means to a brand, and how to play the game. Schaefer reminds readers social media popularity in terms of number of friends and followers doesn't equate to influence. It's more about having the ability to move content through an engaged network.

Whether it is Klout, Kred, PeerIndex, or the offline world, building a social network that delivers a strong ROI has some common foundational elements. In Chapter 10 of "Return of Influence", Schaefer outlines the necessary DNA to gaming the Klout system that resulted in increasing a Klout score by 30 points in 45 days.

How to Increase Your Klout Score - The BasicsBuild a relevant network.Have a compelling content strategy.Systematically engage influencers who can push your content virally.Klout Score InfluencersTwitter and Facebook carry the most weight.LinkedIn and Foursquare don't seem to pull much rank.Google+ matters.There is some correlation between number of +K's earned and high Klout scores.What Can You Do Right Now?Check your Klout Score.Make sure it accurately portrays your brand profile, persona, and influences.See how Klout can fit into your business model. If it makes sense, spend more time with a strategy, if it isn't a fit, don't waste time worrying about it.Not sure? Try it out for 30 days and see what happens.Don't obsess over it.Check your score in real time with iPhone app.How to Improve Your Klout ScoreStay active 5-7 days a week (reminder: social media is more than a full time job).Keep visibility on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ steady and flowing on a daily basis.Facebook seems to be the favored network.Interact with other influencers.Post engaging and electrifying photos with visual impact and messaging.Find more friends and followers = larger network of opportunity.Participate in Twitter chats to build reach.Stay on topic with content, content you want to be associated with.Optimize your Twitter schedules with tools like Buffer.Why do Marketers Think About Klout?

Brett Tabke, founder of PubCon and WebmasterWorld, said he used to closely follow Klout (several times a day) when it was entirely about Twitter, which was important to his marketing model. Then Klout started adding other social networks and the Klout scores became "watered down" and less relevant to his business, he said.

“It slowly became apparent late last year, that Klout was no longer a metric we felt held enough value for our clients,” Tabke said. “We dropped our Klout data feed earlier this year and no longer check Klout scores of speakers or attendees."

Alan K'necht, co-host of #SocialChat, said that on the surface marketers shouldn't care about an individual's Klout score in isolation, what they should focus on is what they intend to achieve with the individual.

“If planning a Klout Perk give away, look at topics the person is influential on and their score within the topic (not publicly available),” K’necht said. “If deciding whose complaints to respond to, never assume a low Klout score is indicator of ‘so what.’ It only takes that person with a Klout score of 5 to be best friends with a person with a Klout Score of 85 and you have a social marketing disaster on your hands. All customers must be treated equally regardless of their Klout score.”

Rand Fishkin, CEO and founder of SEOmoz, said marketers shouldn't necessarily care about their own Klout scores, but they should care about public and brand perception of Klout, PeerIndex, FollowerWonk or whatever other scores are being used and cited by the press or other institutions (including big brands).

“I don't regularly follow my Klout score personally, but I am constantly interested in how the marketing world, online and off, leverages data,” Fishkin said. “My hope is that someday, Klout more accurately correlates to some important metrics (such as traffic driven by shared links). Today, it's hard to find a use case apart from those that are ego-driven."

Michelle Marie, social media strategist, says she keeps an eye on her Klout score but doesn’t put a lot of weight in it other than being a perk-filled competitive game not much different than gaining a multitude of mayorships on Foursquare.

“Most people seem to take Klout much too seriously. Improving your score can be a bit tricky especially if your score is already on the higher end,” Marie said. “Staying very active is essential, two or three days of low activity can really impact your score and drop you down rather quickly but being hyperactive won’t necessarily have the opposite effect either. Getting people to engage with your posts via reshares, retweets, and mentions will give you a good boost but you have to maintain that same level of engagement or your score will go back down."

Marie offers these tips to improve social scores of influence:

Start conversations on Twitter.find great content to post on Google+.Routinely get people to follow you if you want to see your score increase.

Raising your score isn’t hard, it’s just time consuming since you have to be persistent.

The Perks of Klout

Last year Klout introduced Klout Perks, exclusive products or experiences individuals earn based on their score of influence. Brands can now recognize the impact of social media and virility, as well as the power of the individual voice on social media channels. Klout Perks allows brands to connect with social media influencers and spark conversations about the brand.

So what's Klout got to do with it? Everything…and nothing. If you fall into the category of those who "love to hate Klout" it might be hard to pass up this recent Klout perk launched this month: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) visitors using the Klout for iPhone app showing a Klout Score of 40 or higher get access to the Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge. Not a bad perk.

If you're attending SES San Francisco,, this might be a Klout Perk worth downloading!

Which Metric Would You Measure if You Could Choose Only One?

In this era of marketing metrics and measurement abundance, it’s easy to get lost in the data. Most marketing teams track and report on every possible customer interaction. But what if software only allowed you to measure one thing...

One Metric to Measure

If you could only measure only one thing, what would that be? On the surface, it’s a simple question that warrants a simple answer. But think about it for a moment. Do you really have a simple answer? More important than answering what you would measure, can you say what metrics you would be willing to give up?

You may find that this exercise helps you distil what’s really important, while also uncovering issues to determine your organization’s goals and focus.

Therefore, I took the liberty of outlining what I think is the magic metric for B2B marketers and their sales teams based on the different roles within an organization.

This is a simplistic view of the marketing-sales structure in a B2B company, but simplicity helps with clarity. The rule of thumb for answering the one metric question is that your primary metric is what you need to deliver – your goal. If you’re tasked with delivering qualified leads, then your one-metric should be qualified leads, the rest should be considered KPIs that aren’t worth keeping on your lifeboat.

Direct Sales – Revenue

As the unit tasked with driving the revenue engine of a company, direct sales needs to worry about only one thing – revenue. Whether you’re the VP of sales or just a sales rep, revenue is the single most important measure of your performance. All other metrics are KPIs you should probably know and worry about, but definitely not focus on.

Inside Sales – Opportunities

The inside sales team is the connection between marketing and sales and therefore one of the most important (if not the most important) units in the organization. It’s ironic then, that this is usually the most inexperienced, short-lived team in the company.

The one, tell-all metric for this team is number of opportunities. In data-driven companies, this team will measure a long list of KPIs to make sure that the math supports the plan (dials, calls, time on the phone, lead age, number of touches, etc.), but the bottom line is that this team is measured by opportunities.

VP of Marketing – ROI

Since marketing spends most of a company’s discretionary budget, focusing on ROI will help with decision making and rationalizing spend. If you are ROI negative, something is off. This holds true for every part of a marketing organization, regardless of your immediate role.

You should measure everything, but focus on ROI. Now, ROI can be manipulated with slight changes to the definitions of the elements that go into calculating ROI. For example, Return will be based LTV (life time value) measured on a 5-year horizon, a definition that will make almost any marketing tactic into a positive ROI endeavor. So make sure you have clear definitions of how ROI is calculated in your organization, and stick to it.

Direct Marketing (Demand Gen) – Qualified Leads

Lead generation is no longer a real challenge for most sophisticated marketers. If you have the budget and a little bit of drive, you can get as many leads as you want. The real challenge is getting qualified leads – leads that show real interest in what you have to sell.

Direct marketing, and almost every other marketing unit directly responsible for feeding the sales team, should measure qualified leads as its primary success metric. And if you can only measure one thing, measure qualified leads.

Search Marketing – Qualified Leads

Some would say impressions, or visits or even rank, but the bottom line is that no one really cares about these metrics if they don’t lead to an increase in number of qualified leads (which leads to opportunities, which then leads to deals). If you are an SEO professional and you don’t know how your work resulted in number of qualified leads, you’re not doing your job, and you probably will be out of one soon.

Social Marketing – Qualified Leads

Followers, klout score, fans, likes, shares? Those are great metrics to share on a presentation, but just like search marketing, if these don’t lead to a real business impact, in this case qualified leads, when the next budget cut will happen (and it will happen), you will have to find a very good reason why you need to keep your budget, and team, and role.

Email Marketing – Response Rate

Unlike the other direct marketing teams, email marketing isn’t just about lead generation, it’s about demand generation. So while qualified leads should be the one metric all marketing units should care about, for email marketing response rate is the best proxy to know if your email marketing is actually generating demand. This obviously cannot operate outside the definitions of qualified leads, but since email marketing is not a lead generation tactic (purely because in order to send emails you already have to have the names), it has to be measured by how well it helped generate demand.

It’s Not (All) About One Metric

The hypothetical one-metric software idea wouldn’t be realistic in today’s marketplace, but as an exercise in focus and prioritization, it makes a lot of sense. Once you think in terms of eliminating all the noise, you focus on what metrics are really important to your bottom line. With that being said, marketers really want to be able to track and measure everything, the challenge then becomes how do you make sense out of all the data and what actions do you take.

What one metric would you measure, if you had to choose only one?

How to Report Organic Search Traffic Gains After Filtering 'Bad' Traffic

As I'm sitting here, I am awaiting a response from a client on renewal of their SEO efforts.

This particular client is a bit of a "dream client." Not because they are a big name or spending a ton of dough…it's because their project has been incredibly unique, ripe with all kinds of interesting challenges.


This client came to us after having "tested the waters" with various SEO firms. They were pretty convinced that "nothing could be done" to change their course. Sales were dropping, and they were so convinced of "penalties" (though they've really done nothing overtly aggressive with their past SEO efforts) that they also thought AdWords had penalized them.

This client is mid-sized with revenues around $20 million per year, selling mostly online, but also has a sales staff working both inbound and outbound leads. They add a lot of content to their site on a monthly basis (10,000-20,000 pages per month). Needless to say, it's a very dynamic environment to work within.

Though this client had worked with many SEO firms in the past, there was a lot of standard "blocking and tackling" that hadn't been performed.


Increased sales. Increase in "good" organic search traffic. No focus on "head" keywords. The site is so incredibly big that it's absolutely the "very long tail" that drives the business.


About 80 percent of the time, we follow a similar SEO process that includes keyword research, competitive analysis, site structure analysis, link analysis, recommendations, etc.

This was far from a "typical" engagement.

First things first, we needed a baseline. Believe it or not, this company had never set up ecommerce tracking for the website. And, the "goals" that had been set up in Google Analytics did little to provide actionable information to really know what's going on, or whether things were "good".

All we knew was that "sales were down". There were certainly feelings that "SEO didn't work" or "we're penalized in AdWords", but it was all "feelings". We needed to get to a point where we were making intelligent business decisions based upon "factual" information, rather than feelings.

Rather than stepping into the usual SEO process, this one began by ensuring analytics was set-up correctly, ecommerce tracking was enabled to develop a baseline.

Website Analysis

With a site of this size, it's important to find any possible structural issues that might have a larger impact than any recommendations for any "one page", or even a handful of pages. An analysis uncovered issues of duplicate content (same page on two different URLs) for many (thousands of) pages.

Numerous "search results" pages were indexed and driving loads of traffic but no sales. Sometimes there is cause to remove "bad content" from the search engines' indexes.

There was little standardization to naming conventions of URLs and incorporated a URL rewrite to ensure consistency (which went along with our correcting the duplicate content concerns). But I still had a "feeling" that something wasn't quite right.

With a website of this size, it's sometimes difficult to dig deeply into Analytics, but it can be done. Doing so revealed an interesting pattern of visits for obscure keywords with 0 percent "unique" and very little to "no" time on site. Performing a log file analysis identified 20 "rogue" bots hitting the site, and had some concerns about the possibility of people scraping the client's content, so these "bad" bots had their access removed.

Shopping Path Analysis

With analytics now "in place" (correctly), we realized that conversion rates, well….sucked.

We spent considerable time analyzing the shopping path of a visitor to determine that they had created roadblocks to making the purchase process as simple as possible. Guest check-out was not an option (and, at the time of this writing, is still something that the client is debating, internally). Every other competitor offers this. Every major ecommerce site that we believe "does well" seems to offer this.

This client requires a registration prior to check-out. Even though the registration process isn't arduous, you are presented with a giant button, prior to check out, that states "create an account". While analytics shows us a large number of folks dropping off at this point, to date the client has not made the modification.

Note: What's noted here is not "all inclusive" of what we did for this project. We did perform keyword research/competitive analysis, etc. But, what is very interesting about this engagement is we've done little "page-based" recommendations, including titles, etc., because we needed to focus on more enterprise/scalable initiatives. Rules-based recommendations that would impact literally thousands of pages were implemented.

How to Prove SEO Success

With all of the "large scale" changes that we had made, structurally, with the website, I anticipated strong gains in organic presence/traffic.

But how to prove this?

A lot of bad traffic coming to the site (bots/"search" pages de-indexed) had been removed, so year-over-year organic traffic was going to show a decline.

'Good' Traffic vs. 'Bad' Traffic

What were this clients original goals?

Sales. Increase in "good" organic search traffic.

Getting back into this mind-set, we filtered out all "bad" organic search traffic (0 percent uniques, to account for the bots and anything with "0" (zero) TOS (Time on Site), and then reviewed sales, during the course of our (short) engagement.

But there was another challenge. The client had inadvertently "messed up" and – for a period of time – sales were being registered as "$1.00" when they should have been "$1,000" (client used a faulty conversion code; wasn't discovered for 6 weeks), so reporting on sales figures wasn't going to provide an accurate depiction of what was going on. We also don't have any sales via phone calls that we can report against (yet this we site prominently displays its 800 number on the top/right of every page).

But reporting on traffic – that's another story.

By filtering out this "bad traffic", things didn't look too bad.

Interestingly enough, "good" organic traffic had increased 10.5 percent in the past month, and 30 percent the month before (year-over-year), even though organic traffic overall was in decline.


There are so many things that we need to account for when we're trying to report on "success" in an SEO effort. If not for some filtering, things might not have looked so good.

We've asked this client to invest in call-tracking (yet another measurement that is all too often overlooked), and – had it not been for the issue with revenue tracking, I'm pretty certain that there would be a pretty compelling story there, too. In fact, with the filtering, we can see significant revenue increases from organic (30.5 percent lift in revenues for the past 2 months).

As we know, SEO reporting nowadays has little to do with ranking reports. Ensuring strong analytical measurements is key to gaining trust with your clients/company executives, because that transparency is what shows what is truly working, rather than managing your marketing based on "feelings".

#Facebook #Hashtags #FTW?

Facebook announced hashtags last week, giving validation to everyone who used the original Twitter function to drive home their point in a Facebook status update.

What was once unnecessary is now helpful in discovering new content in Facebook, and potentially annoying your friends even more.

With hashtags, you can:

Search for a specific hashtag from your search bar.Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram.Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

Hashtags are being received with both skepticism and enthusiasm. A quick hashtag search for #Facebook pulled up the following:

Facebook says hashtags fulfill a critical need to organize the public discussions happening in the social network:

During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook - roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year's Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts. To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about.

Over at, they recommend looking at Facebook hashtags as an extension of the marketing campaigns you’re running in other platforms that use hashtags:

If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your hashtags in Facebook advertising. The same creative best practices on Facebook still apply – compelling copy and photography that is in the brand voice works best. Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook Page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.

So what do you think – are Facebook hashtags friend or foe?