Search Triggers: A Secret to More Powerful PPC Ads

An old joke that I first heard from my friend and colleague Ann Convery:

An elderly gentleman is rocking on the porch in the evening, next to his dog, who's lying down beside him and howling miserably. His neighbor finally can't stand it, so he walks over and asks, "Fred, what's with Gideon?"

Fred replies, "Gideon's lying on a rusty nail."

Neighbor wonders, "Well, why don't he git up, then?"

Fred explains, "It don't hurt enough yet."

Search Happens When It Hurts Enough Yet

That joke contains a significant AdWords secret: most people search for a solution to their problem only when it Hurts Enough Yet.

Meaning, they don't search until something triggers them to get up off the porch and do something about whatever pain or longing they've been passively suffering until now.

The thing about Hurts Enough Yet (for kicks, let's make up an acronym: HEY) keywords is that the searcher has actually been hurting for quite a while. They just weren't motivated enough to search for a solution until now.

For example, think about someone searching for "get out of debt." What are the chances that person woke up this morning, checked their account balance, and discovered that for the first time in their life, they don't have enough to cover all their bills?

Not real likely.

How about this scenario: person has been in debt for years, possibly decades, and that debt has been steadily increasing. Now it's at $25,000, and they've maxed out their very last credit card. At the supermarket checkout lane, trying to buy a bunch of peanut butter, store-brand Saltines, and ramen.

That's what I mean by a search trigger. Some experience, some realization, some new input has ratcheted up the stakes. And turned the deadly daily drip of denial into a massive, meaningful, motivating moment.

For fun, take a moment and think about possible search triggers that could have led to these HEY searches:

"lose weight""landscaping service"

Ready for my answers?

"lose weight"

Received an invitation to a spring wedding and class reunionPlanning a beach vacationStepped on the scale and reached a new milestone number (200, 250, 300, etc)Found that the "fat jeans" are now uncomfortably snugA friend with weight problems just had a heart attack

"Landscaping service"

Storm knocked down a tree that has been dead for seven yearsNeighbor gets their yard landscaped and now that brown lawn looks even worseWhy Does This Matter?

When you understand the common search triggers, you can write much more powerful ads. Because you're entering the specific conversation already going on in your prospects' heads.

This is a powerful way to cut through the clutter of a bunch of ads all saying pretty much the same thing. Check out the Google search results page for "get out of debt":

I've helpfully highlighted one repeated phrase to make the point that these ads are all saying pretty much the same thing. Not one ad is making the slightest effort to engage prospects where they are right now (and at a Google-estimated $16.16 per click, that's an expensive oversight).

So what might a HEY ad look like? For "get out of debt," let's use the supermarket checkout trigger. The trick in adapting an ad to a specific situation is to generalize the emotions caused by the situation.

Emotions like frustration, embarrassment, helplessness, and shame.

Debt Too Big to Ignore?
Cards maxed out-Scared. Now what?"
Get breathing space now. Free call.

The other advertisers are all focused on the details of the offer. For someone in emotional turmoil, this ad will offer the biggest hit of empathy and relief.

Special Case: Seasonally Triggered Searches

I'm writing this on April 11. Just a few days before U.S. income taxes are due. Do you think that someone searching for help with their taxes today has some urgency on their mind? And can you guess what the search trigger might be? Yup, the calendar.

You can see two spikes in 2012 search traffic for the keyword "get taxes done": the "responsible" searchers (end of January, when they start receiving their 1099s in the mail), and the "panic" searchers who waited until the very last minute, the week before April 15.

If I were writing ads for an accounting firm, I'd write two very different appeals in February and April.

Yet here's the Google search results page for "get taxes done" for today:

Not a word about "last minute – no worries." No mention of urgency. No "procrastinators pardon." Not a drop of empathy, not a smidgeon of comfort.

Why not a headline like: "Holy Cow – Taxes Due When?"

Because you want to be there, with a kind word, a band-aid, and a cure, when it finally Hurts Enough Yet.

Google Honors Maria Mitchell With Logo To Celebrate Her 195th Birthday

Today’s Google logo celebrates the first professional female astronomer in the US, Maria Mitchell. The animated logo depicts Mitchell atop a roof, staring at the stars with a handheld telescope.

Before becoming a professional astronomer, Mitchell discovered a comet in 1847 that was named Miss Mitchell’s Comet. In recognition of her discovery, she was awarded a gold medal prize from King Frederick VII of Denmark with the inscription, “Not in vain do we watch the setting and rising of the stars.”

Mitchell was the first librarian of the Nantucket Atheneum where she would remain employed for 18 years. Following her role at the Nantucket Atheneum, she accepted the position of Professor of Astronomy at the newly-founded Vassar College.

Mitchell’s long list of accomplishments includes co-founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Women, and first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1869, Mitchell was one of the first women elected to the American Philosophical Society. After her death, the famous astronomer was inducted into the US National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

Beyond her list of firsts, Mitchell had a World War II Liberty Ship named in her honor (the “SS Maria Mitchell“), as well as a crater on the Moon. Mitchell died June 28, 1889 and is buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery on the island of Nantucket, where the Maria Mitchell Observatory is named in her honor.

Rejoice! Safari Is Once Again Providing Google Referral Information In iOS

Since last September, people using Safari on iOS devices and searching on Google have appeared to publishers as if they came directly to their sites, not via Google. Now, the problem has ended, with iOS now apparently having been upgraded to support the “meta referrer” tag.

No, this doesn’t solve the “not provided” issue, where Google itself may strip search terms used to find a site from the referrer passed to publishers. However, at least people should now appear as if they came from Google Search generally, rather than as if they were “direct” visitors.

With iOS 7, Apple’s new iOS update expected to be released this fall, but currently in beta, Apple has begun to pass the referrer data to web sites from Google.

I’ve tested this using iOS 7 and iOS 6, on the iPad. Through iOS 6, the referrer data is not provided and hidden when you click from Google’s search results page to a web site. But with iOS 7, the referrer data is provided. Well, not all of it as discussed with the “not provided” issue but at least publishers and webmasters know the traffic is coming from Google and not from “direct sources.”

With iOS 7, the referrer data is passed virtually all the ways you search Google. Be it signed in or signed out, be it searching directly on or searching via the omni search box in mobile Safari.

When iOS 7 is released to the masses, expect major shifts in your analytics to account for the proper reporting of Google search traffic from iOS devices.

With iOS 6, we’re finding conflicting things. Some on the iPhone report full referrers being passed. Some get only a short referrer. Some get no referrer at all. And what you get can also vary depending on whether you search when signed-in, signed-out and via the Safari search box or from the home page.

Postscript: Two new stories with some more analysis came out from Adobe and Define Media Group.

Related StoriesMystery Solved: Why Mobile Safari Searchers Appear To Come �Direct� To Sites Rather Than Via GoogleThe Death Of Web Analytics? An Ode To The Threatened ReferrerHow A Google Change May Mistakenly Turn Search Traffic Into Referral TrafficGoogle To Begin Encrypting Searches & Outbound Clicks By Default With SSL SearchGoogle Puts A Price On Privacy2011: The Year Google & Bing Took Away From SEOs & PublishersFirefox 14 Now Encrypts Google Searches, But Search Terms Still Will �Leak� OutHow An iOS 6 Change Makes It Seem Like Google Traffic From Safari Has DisappearedGoogle�s (Not Provided) Impacting More Than Just SEO SitesHow �Not Provided� May Make BuzzFeed Think Google�s Search Traffic To News Sites Is DownDark Google: One Year Since Search Terms Went �Not Provided�Study: 39% Of Google Search Referrers Now �Not Provided�Will [Not Provided] Ever Reach 100% In Web Analytics?How To Turn (Not Provided) Into Useful, Actionable Data

Maria Mitchell Google Doodle Honors First Female Astronomer

American astronomer Maria Mitchell is celebrated in today's Google Doodle. Born 195 years ago today, she discovered a new comet in 1847, which later became known as Miss Mitchell's Comet.

The Doodle primarily depicts Mitchell the night she discovered the new comet bearing her name. Google's special logo forgoes the usual thick lettering for a thinner version of the Google font, in slightly faded colors.

Mitchell is shown on a rooftop, which partially eclipses the G and the two Google Os. She's peering into a telescope, representing the L in Google.

An observatory dome can be seen to the right of the house, slightly covering the Google E. A starry night with trails of comets appears throughout the background.

Mitchell periodically went up on her roof with the family's 2-inch telescope to "sweep the heavens," according to her journal entries. On October 1, 1847, she discovered a streak in her telescope. She continued to monitor its movement and two days later, its discovery was recorded to in a letter to Cambridge University.

While others around the world had observed the comet as well, her journal entries and tracking showed she was the first to notice it. Her journaling would later lead to determining the orbit of the comet.

At the time, only a handful of comets were known to mankind. But King Frederick VI of Denmark offered a prize every time a new comet was discovered. Her discovery earned her a gold medal from the king of Denmark and immediate international attention.

Mitchell marveled at the colors of the night sky. In a journal entry dated February 1855, she noted: "I amused myself with noticing the varieties of color. I wonder that I have so long been insensible to this charm in the skies, the tints of the different stars are so delicate in their variety.... What a pity that some of our manufacturers shouldn't be able to steal the secret of dyestuffs from the stars."

In 1865, Mitchell was appointed the Vassar College faculty, making her the first female astronomy professor in the United States and the first person ever appointed to their faculty. Additionally, she was appointed director of the Vassar College Observatory.

Throughout her career, she observed numerous sunspots, comets, nebulae, stars, and the moons for both Saturn and Jupiter. Believing observation was most important aspect of learning, she took her students across the U.S. to Colorado in 1878 to observe a total solar eclipse.

After realizing her pay was less than that of her male counterparts, she successfully demanded an increase in her salary. She co-founded the American Association for the Advancement of Women and was an avid protestor for the women's suffrage movement and anti-slavery movement. In 1994, she was posthumously inducted to the National Women's Hall of Fame.

In 1908, The Maria Mitchell Observatory was founded and named in her honor in her hometown of Nantucket. The Mitchell Crater on the moon is also named in her honor. Her telescope is on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.

How to Transform Text Ads Into Product Listing Ads Using Google Spreadsheets

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) can be daunting for small advertisers, but you don't need lots of technology to take advantage of the high quality traffic. Since Google launched Product Listing Ads we've seen many success stories, and most ecommerce advertisers have learned how this ad format can help get them additional qualified traffic.

Sound's great, right? It is.

The downside is that the barrier to entry is higher than for the rest of AdWords. Instead of choosing a set of keywords and writing ads, you need to create a feed of all the products in your inventory and send a daily update to Google.

If your CMS or ecommerce database supports it then the process can be easy: check the box, give it the address to upload to... done. You can get more clever by starting to give items specific markup just for your AdWords account to really optimize.

If your system doesn't allow you to do this, then you've got a difficulty. Typical reasons might be that the technology is outdated, or there will be a significant charge to add that feature, or that you sell a very limited range of products and don't use an ecommerce platform.

How Google Spreadsheets Can Help You

Google Spreadsheets is a simple spreadsheet that's well integrated into the Merchant Center. When you create a merchant center account you don't need to provide a feed that you upload daily, you are instead given the option to create a Google Spreadsheet that the system can take the data from. You still need all the same fields, but you can now manually create a system that will get your data into Merchant Center, and from there into Google Shopping via AdWords.

The one big limitation is that this is all done manually. You need to build out all of your items and you need to keep your prices up to date. Consider that an additional part of the cost of doing business with PLAs.

Google Spreadsheets are easy to share, so you can have multiple people work in the same document at the same time. If you need to share the load, go for it.

My recommendation is to choose your best 10-30 products and start with those. Getting them into PLAs when you previously couldn't can make all the difference.

Google Spreadsheets and AdWords scripts

There's more. Google Spreadsheets is available as a data source for AdWords scripts.

AdWords scripts allow you to write little Javascript-based functions to run in your AdWords account. They integrate with most features of AdWords, but the one of interest here is ad parameters.

You may not have come across ad parameters before, they're an API-only feature of AdWords. Every keyword can be associated with up to two ad parameters. These can then be inserted dynamically into ad texts, just like dynamic keyword insertion.

The Result?

By writing your ads to contain these parameters, and writing a script to pull the values from your PLA-specific Google Spreadsheets document, you can force your regular text ads (i.e. non-PLA) to pull through prices, discounts, previous prices... you name it.

By setting up Google Spreadsheets correctly and keeping them up to date, you can transform your AdWords activity from a static text ads campaign to one that includes dynamic content in your ads and PLAs on the same searches. That's worth it.

Revealed: The 17 Other Search Engines The FTC Warned Over Paid Ad Disclosures

In June, the US Federal Trade Commission warned seven “general purpose” search engines — including Google, Bing and Yahoo — about the need to ensure they were properly disclosing paid ads. But 17 other “specialty” search engines were also warned. Which ones? The FTC wouldn’t say. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Search Engine Land can now reveal the names.

Our story from June — FTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After �Decline In Compliance��– explains�the warnings that were sent in more detail.

At the time, the FTC said that�AOL, Ask, Bing, Blekko, Duck Duck Go, Google and Yahoo all received warning letters. It also said that 17 of the “most heavily trafficked” specialty search engines for shopping, travel and local information also got letters, but it refused to disclose which ones, when I asked.

I thought that was pretty odd. Why was it some big secret? But, that�was an opportunity for me to file my first-ever FOIA request, at the end of June. This week, by good, old-fashioned snail mail, I got the list.

Drum roll please:

BizrateCitysearchExpediaKayakNextagOrbitzPricelineProntoShopping.comShopzillaTheFindTravelocityTripAdvisorYellow PagesYelpYahoo LocalYahoo Travel

It’s odd that Yahoo, which already got a letter for being a “general purpose” search engine, also got two others for travel and local. It’s not like Google or Bing got similar letters for their travel, shopping or local search engines.

What’s all this mean? Not that much more than what we previously reported, in that all search engines — even those that didn’t get letters — are still subject to the FTC’s guidance and warnings. But at least we know which ones the FTC felt deserved special attention.

Whether those search engines are meeting those guidelines is still something I plan to revisit in the coming months. The difficulty is that the FTC’s guidelines are so broad and, at times conflicting, that some of these search engines might argue they’re meeting things just fine; yet still, to the consumer, not really make clear what’s paid or not.

For more about that, my letter to the FTC about problems with disclosure is good background reading. You’ll find it below, as well as our article about the FTC’s warnings that came a year after my letter was sent:

A Letter To The FTC Regarding Search Engine Disclosure ComplianceFTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After �Decline In Compliance�

What is 'Pure Spam'? 10 Examples From Google

Like a hot dog, one does not often associate the word "pure" with "spam". In fact, one is generally best not to think of what it's made of – unless you're Google, of course.

Since 0 AG (After Google), Google has had to contend with pesky webmasters and SEO practitioners looking for ways to rank sites as highly as possible as quickly as possible, often regardless of what that actually did to the search results.

Any decade-plus veteran of SEO will remember the "Wild West" days of SEO and, if they were trying to stick to pure white hat strategies, their frustration.

For years Google told the SEO community that buying links was bad, content scraping and spinning was trouble, blatant link schemes would get you penalized, and that you should focus on good content that people will want to link to naturally.

The problem? The algorithm they had couldn't compete with what are now deemed "unethical practices". Webmasters and SEO professionals who "cheated the system" tended to do well.

Fortunately, for those who want to actually create a good user experience (including Google), they've figured a lot out over the past few years.

To illustrate the point they launched a page earlier this year on fighting spam that actually shows real-time examples of pages they're kicking from the index for being "pure spam". I've got to admit, the first time I heard about this manual Google spam action I half chuckled and thought, "Well that's a pretty bold explanation."

The question then becomes, "What does this mean?" The this end let's take a look at a few of the real-time examples of pure spam that Google was displaying (as of the writing of this article) and think about what they might have seen there that qualified it as "pure spam".

10 Examples Of 'Pure Spam'

On the page Google notes of those listed, "These pages are examples of 'pure spam.' They appear to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking and scraping content from other websites."

Remember, this is a manual action and so a human actually looked at the following pages and deemed them to fit this criteria. Here is what they're seeing:

Example 1:

This page, with a copyright date of 2008, is a brief blurb of repetitive content at the top with a simple list of numbers below in hopes of ranking for queries for those numbers. For anyone who's ever looked up a phone number you'll know the frustration caused by such sites and why Google wants them gone.

The service isn't unique to this site and the site itself is a duplication of other sites that are likely to be hit soon. Simply substitute the words "north carolina" in the into text for any other state and run a search for it and you'll see what I mean.

Example 2:

One need only read the content to understand why this page was marked as "pure spam". The site is English but the writer clearly is not. In looking for other pages from the site in the index, this penalty extended across the whole domain. Thanks, Google.

Example 3:

I had to include this one simply because it was a bit of a head scratcher. The question isn't whether it's spam or not (one can't argue that it's thin on content) but rather how it even got to the point of a manual review. Sure it's got some spammy links but even the archives couldn't find content so one might think basic SEO factors would take care of it.

Example 4:

To determine why this site was classified as "pure spam" simply read the following sentence with me:

"Gru is a modified man. No more a super-villain who needs to be the baddest of the bad people, he's now trained, with his three lovely children, his very funny gobbledygook discussing, Tic-Tac-looking minions, a creepy dog and an wicked researcher associate (Russell Brand) whose concentrate is now creating jellies and jellies."

Enough said.

Example 5:

Aside from the only purpose of this site being to act as an affiliate site generating revenue by pushing people to eBay and Amazon, the content near the bottom of the page is copied word-for-word from Yahoo Answers.

Oh, and useless keyword stuffing such as:

"great north western telegraph company glass insulatororiental fish bowl tablesdresden lampsgeneral fireproofing co wood file cabinetart nouveau alabaster bustprimitive folk".

Example 6:

I'm not sure what's in the water they drink while building sites that sell illegal copies of movies or maybe more, what the people who would purchase from this site sprinkled on their morning oatmeal but let's read the following sentence together:

"Brendon has been displaying Off-shore Rim upset love on this computing machine relating to weeks currently. It's safe to mention this individual desires it."

Clearly not human written and if auto-translated and not spun, they're using the worst translation tool on the planet.

And it doesn't help their case that the site language setting is Spanish as is most of the navigation.

Example 7:

There are two very clear reasons why this page has been deemed "pure spam" and we're going to even ignore the fact that all the images are broken:

They've taken content directly from Facebook – and right in the first paragraph as well. The horrible spun content (for example: "Facebook password finder.The Stages of the of the certain stage. It is the smell rumour.").

"Pure spam"? Definitely.

Example 8:

Ah, coupon sites. Admittedly, my first instinct as I saw this site was that the "pure spam" classification was due tot he fact that pretty much every link on the page is an external link to an ad site.

But then I realized that the copy on the page was taken directly from an Ezine article. How do we know it wasn't duplicated on Ezine after? The archives show us that on May 29, 2012 the site had different content and the article was posted on February 20, 2012.

So – thin, no value content, and even the content that is there is duplicated.

Example 9:

First look it seems that, while a little heavy-handed with the ads and footer links, not "pure spam". That is, until you read the content which contains such gems as:

"the benefits calorie burning is the only benefit of Pure Barre. According to Pure Barre, the technology to protect your joints, because it does not involve any rebound or jump. Each followed by stretching create long bulk, muscle exercise intensity part."

Thank you Google for removing this rubbish.

Example 10:

The note I've had to add to the picture probably says enough. Google isn't a fan of content that's difficult to read. And if you read the text you'll see it varies from Minecraft to pay stubs to pubic hair. Not exactly tied together by relevancy.

There is a full litany of issues ranging from missing images (and by images I mean all of them), text such as:

"... Minecraft Force Op 1.5.2 which is finally released today and using that you can. O maior servidor de Minecraft online do mundo.Mais de 15 servidores download media de 4 mil jogadores ..."

Switching from English to Portuguese mid-paragraph isn't particularly helpful outside of a language site.

On top of that the site's content is extremely poor quality (even outside of the mix of language) and there is no focus. In short, the site would be a disaster for users.

So What is "Pure Spam"?

We all have our own definition of "pure spam" but what's more important is understanding what Google means by it. At this time and after reviewing literally hundreds of example of what they consider it to be, the focus of this penalty seems to rest on content.

There doesn't appear to be a crossover into links in what they define "pure spam" to be. Websites with this penalty should focus their attention on their content and user experience.

With that said, websites prone to a penalty such as this one likely have serious issues in their backlink profiles as well. I'm not suggesting that webmasters ignore reviewing their links in the event of this penalty, simply that links don't appear to be a major tying factor in the sites receiving it or even how Google themselves define the penalty. Best not to wait for an "unnatural links" warning however.

Additional Reading

I pondered writing a section of this article on what to do if you receive this penalty. Heck, on the same page they list the sites being penalized they also list a number of spam strategies they're going after so it's pretty clear what's covered.

That said, I couldn't cover the subject better that fellow SEW writer Kristine Schachinger did in her article Pure Spam: What Are Google Penalties & What to Do to Recover. Well written and covers the recovery subject point-by-point.

Google Analytics Announces API for Real-Time Analytics Data

Building off content experiments API released earlier this year, Google Analytics has announced an API for Real-Time Analytics data. Google launched real-time analytics nearly two years ago to help users see campaign tracking and other real-time data because it isn't feasible to wait the typical next-day period for recognizing tagging problems and making adjustments.

While real-time reporting has made it easy to make adjustments to campaigns on-the-fly, it still requires human interaction to monitor and observe what's going on. With the real-time API, code can now be written to automate that kind of checking.

The implications are far-reaching, especially coupled with the released to the public in June. With the right automation development, a team could effectively have an A/B test monitor itself and report that back in real-time .

More practically, developers could combine the real-time API with the Google Charts API to make custom real-time dashboards. The API can also be used in-site to show how many people are viewing a given page or category at any given time.

This could be ideal for deal sites and similar sites with limited quantities that sell in a limited time window. The Google Analytics team cited a vacation rental company that tested the real-time API for its vacation rental properties. The site saw an 8 percent increase in conversions and 18 percent increase in revenue.

Like all the good Google features, this is also released in a limited, closed beta. In fact, you need to sign up to use the real-time API. For now, if you're accepted, there will not be any service-level agreement (SLA) enforced against the data. Which means you can code, experiment and play to your heart's content.

When the veil is lifted, developers will be able to take advantage of the Google Analytics superProxy. The GA superProxy allows you to write a query that you can access over and over again on a published and shareable URL. This means you can write the query, have it stored and be able to access it client-side in the browser. This service is available without the need for user authentication so any widget or browser plug-in could use it.

At this time, there's no information on when the API will go public or what the usage limits will be. But you can sign up for the Real Time API Beta now. Google requires your API Project Number and a usage case for how you'll use the API.

German Publishers Opt-In To Google News — For The Moment

Following the enactment of a controversial copyright law in Germany, Google said that it would require publishers to formally “opt-in” to Google News or be excluded from results. Accordingly major German publishers have decided to do so — for now.

The new law, which went into effect today and gives publishers almost total control over the use of their content, still allows news aggregators and search engines to show �single words� and modest �text excerpts� but creates legal uncertainty and potential liability for those who misinterpret the rules.

What qualifies as a “text excerpt”? That’s a potential decision for a German court.�Google’s new opt-in policy for Google News in Germany thus seeks to avoid any ambiguity about German publisher consent and thereby preclude any claim against Google under the new law.

According to the AP, German publishers have opted in as a matter of temporary expediency but intend to still “come after” Google for fees:

Axel Springer AG – publisher of the mass-circulation tabloid Bild and national daily Die Welt – said the decision to opt into Google News was a temporary measure while the company lays the legal and technical groundwork to charge aggregators for their use of its material.

The publisher’s approval to display snippets from its sites could be revoked at any time and occurred “without accepting Google’s one-sided conditions,” spokesman Hendrik Lange said.

Google believes that inclusion in Google News benefits publishers by sending them traffic. The publishers, who effectively sponsored the new, restrictive copyright law believe that Google steals their readership and turns them into commodity providers of content.

Among the major newspaper publishers the AP reports that�Rhein-Zeitung decided not to opt-in and so will no longer be included in Google News:

[O]ne Germany’s oldest online news sites said it was breaking with Google. Rhein-Zeitung, based in the western city of Koblenz, declined to opt in to Google News as the new law came into effect, saying it had decided to stop “giving away” its own material online for free.

This sets up a very interesting test case: will those who decline to be included in Google News see their metrics improve or fall? In addition, how will publishers such as�Axel Springer try to extract fees from Google when the company has set up what amounts to a “complete defense” (explicit consent) to any claim of liability under the new law?

Related Entries

German �Ancillary Copyright� Law To Go Into Effect, Imposes Limits On Search ResultsGoogle Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New �Ancillary Copyright� Law Sets Up Legal Battle To ComeNew German Law Will Allow Free �Snippets� By Search Engines, But Uncertainty RemainsGerman Parliament Hears Experts On Proposed Law To Limit Search Engines From Using News ContentGermany Wants To Force Google To Pay License Fees For Links

SEO in the Age of Apps: Diversifying Your Mobile SEO Strategy

The increasing adoption of responsive design is paving an easier path for mobile SEO within browsers; it's not always the ultimate silver bullet, but it's a welcome relief to brands looking for a single-site solution to cross platform content. But mobile devices have ushered in a whole new set of search challenges in the form of apps, forcing SEO professionals to diversify their search strategy beyond the browser.

Search is widely acknowledged to be the number one mobile browser activity – actually, it's the number one mobile activity overall. The browser factor is no surprise – it's logical that most of us would automatically transfer our desktop search behaviors to our mobile devices.

But an increasing number of us seem to prefer apps for many mobile activities, search included. The top 10 U.S. mobile smartphone apps are either directly search-focused (e.g. the Google Search and Maps apps) or search-oriented in nature (e.g. Google Play, iTunes), according to comScore.

The reasons we're gravitating toward apps are fairly obvious – the interfaces tend to be more user-friendly, the content and results more streamlined. The reasons why this shift in behavior matters are less readily apparent but rest assured that the move toward app-based search is a game-changer for search marketers.


As users gravitate more and more towards apps for search, the types of content a search leads to will diversify – it's not just about browser-based content anymore.Search destinations will diversify as well – most brands must focus on apps from the major engines while also striving for visibility within niche engine apps and directories.The old SEO rules still apply, but new SEO best practices are evolving as apps become more and more popular and the search ecosystem splinters into myriad proprietary indexes and directories.Mobile SEO: Browser Basics

To succeed as this app-based search ecosystem evolves, brands need to understand the relevant apps on the market, the value proposition of each, and how to build rank and findability.

Desktop preferences seem to translate to mobile search in a big way – if you're a Google person on the desktop, you'll be using Google your mobile device as well. Or Bing, or Yahoo, and so forth.

The important thing to keep in mind about these app-based iterations of the big engines is that for the most part, they are simply app UI "windows" that deliver you pretty much the same results as the browser.

Most big engine mobile apps source results from their web index – hence, applying mobile SEO best practices is essential to visibility in both web and apps. With that in mind, a brief review of mobile SEO basics is probably in order:

URL structure: According to Google, a single URL strategy, courtesy of responsive design, is the ideal way to go but a responsive approach isn't always possible in the near-term since a great deal of planning and redesigning and re-engineering are required to do it correctly. So be aware that a subdomain or subdirectory are equally acceptable providing you adhere to these additional best practices, namely:Crawler Access: Allow access for all crawlers to both desktop and mobile websites to fully understand page structure and to consolidate signals.Page Load Speed: Ensure quick page load speeds, as mobile users are typically on slower connections.User Experience: Ensure visitors can find the information they are looking for and interact with the website suitably.Content Optimization: Optimize important page elements and content to identified keywords.Crawlability Obstacles: Code the website free from obstacles such as Flash and excessive or obtrusive Javascript.The Big EnginesGoogle

Google's hegemony in the browser extends here as well – in addition to the main search app, Google owns an additional four out of the top 10 mobile apps on the market (Maps, Play, Gmail, and YouTube) and is taking the lead in moving away from a solely browser-based system of results.

Of course, with the introduction of Google Now, it's clear that the ultimate goal is to negate the need for proactive search altogether on the part of the user. However, a complex and interdependent suite of applications are developing to feed this ultimate holy grail of user experience and for brands, it's important to understand the nuances of each since there are subtle differences from optimizing for the desktop.

Google Search App: As discussed, the basics of browser-based mobile SEO are what counts here. Well-formatted content (whether Responsive or mobile-specific) that loads easily, is accessible to all crawlers, free of obstacles, and well-organized for mobile navigation and information retrieval is the key the to visibility within the main Google Search App. However, the app's UI contains prominent prompts that nudge the user away from browser results to app-based discovery paths, including:Google Voice Search: Voice search sources results primarily from the main Google index and while SEO professionals may feel more pressure to optimize for natural language queries vs. keywords, at this point, it's still not quite semantic, utilizing speech-to-text and text-to-speech. Thus the focus here is on well-optimized mobile web pages with an emphasis on local content and keeping an eye towards future optimization for longer queries and more slang and colloquial terms.Google Goggles: The Goggles experience is improving rapidly in the wake of Glass and it's obvious that as image recognition becomes more refined and wearable technology more readily available, users are bound to become more reliant on visual search. Our best recommendation here (at least at this point in time) is to pay specific attention to image tagging with keywords and geo-spatial information.Google Apps: The Apps link on the Google Search app homepage routes users to the full suite of Google applications, increasing the possibility that one might search for results via Google+, Google+Local, News, Offers, Voice, YouTube or one of many other Google app channels. The key here is to understand the likelihood of your particular customers veering off into one of these niche Google Apps and then optimizing accordingly for the nuances of that particular app. While many source their results from the main Google index, there are subtle differences and divergent best practices for some.Google+ Local: Smartphone search is heavily oriented towards actionable, real-world activity – approximately 74 percent of local search volume is mobile and mobile local search volume is predicted to outpace the desktop by 2015. Hence, Google+ Local is a key discovery pathway and deserves special mobile SEO consideration. The Google+ Local App sources results from Google+ Local on the web so optimization carries over, assuming of course that you are indeed well-optimized; Google Places is the thing of the past and while many listings carried over to Google+ many did not. Ensuring that you're well-optimized for Google+ Local in general is the main concern and you can get started via the Google Places for Businesses site. Business details such as phone numbers, store hours, payment options, and video are especially relevant to mobile users.Google Maps: Destination search frequently starts – and almost always ends – with the maps app. Visibility within it is indispensable for brick and mortar businesses. According to a 2012 study from Google and Ipsos, 94 percent of smartphone owners look for local information, 90 percent take action, and 59 percent have visited a local business as a result of a mobile search. The key here once again is Google+Local optimization since Maps info is fed by Google+ Local listings. To ensure optimal visibility within Maps, strive for a complete listing with special emphasis on hours, photos, videos, and other locally relevant content. Citations from third-party apps like Yelp also help boost rank so your social strategy for your local business is critical here as well.YouTube: Smartphone and tablet users alike are active video consumers so YouTube presents a significant opportunity to create mobile search visibility. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and one of the most mobile centric with 25 percent of global YouTube views coming from mobile devices. The minutiae of YouTube optimization deserves its own post but a few special caveats for mobile include adding keywords in the video file name and video headline as well as adding a video script in the description and uploading a script for closed captioning, to boost relevance for voice search.Google Now: As discussed in my post from June, it's still early days for Google Now and SEO best practices have yet to surface. It is rumored there will be elements that brands can insert into content to flag it for Now but exactly how the value of content will be measured for Now cards remains to be seen.Bing

Native to all Windows Mobile devices as well as Blackberry, Nokia, and Kindle, and available as a third party app on iOS and Android, Bing remains a smaller but still significant mobile search application.

Like Google, Bing sources app search results from its main index – mobile optimization of your .com site will create a halo effect of visibility for the Bing app.

Despite a slow start in mobile, Bing’s foothold on Windows and Kindle devices and the fact that it still powers mobile search for Yahoo, earn it a certain amount of consideration and increase emphasis on implementing the aforementioned mobile SEO best practices for your browser-based content.


While Android devices outnumber iOS in circulation and shipment, iOS users continue to be the most avid consumers of mobile web and app data and are likely to have a certain affinity for the Apple search tools that are preinstalled on their devices.

Apple Maps: Despite a shaky start, Apple Maps is still native to iOS6 which accounts for over 90 percent of iOS, iPad, and iPod touch devices. The app sources results from a proprietary Apple database, the core data provider for which is Localeze. If your listing isn’t appearing in Apple Maps, you can (and should) proactively create a free listing with Localeze (note that they also offer a premium option which speeds submission for $297 per year). Reviews and additional content are syndicated from Yelp, so Yelp optimization boosts Apple Maps visibility.Siri: Though it is positioned as less of a search engine and more of a “mobile assistant", 67 percent of Siri users actually use the search functionality. The interesting twist here is that while Siri sources results from Localeze, Wolfram|Alpha and myriad other sources, it often bypasses traditional search altogether, skipping right to social results like Yelp – so ranking in Siri requires attention to curating your presence in social spaces. What's more, Siri totally disregards PPC so if your strategy up until now was heavily paid, you’ll need to relegate more resources to SEO.Social, Vertical, and Meta Search Apps

There's a whole other search ecosystem evolving, composed of social and topical search applications that help a user find more personally meaningful and topically relevant content faster and more efficiently than they ever did with the big engine apps.

It's increasingly common behavior for a user to bypass Google in favor of Yelp to figure out where to shop, or to head right to Foursquare for local deals.

There are apps to find real estate, apps to find restaurants – even apps to find apps. It's a shift in user behavior that provides a potentially faster path for brands to connect with the right customer.

The challenge for brand-side marketers, most of whom are still figuring out the Google mobile formula (and probably will be for some time to come) is to figure of exactly which apps matter for their particular purposes. That, of course, is a case-by-case process for which there is no specific formula, but we can offer small amount of advice on a few standout social apps which feed and influence the search results presented by big engine apps as well as offering their own unique mobile search opportunities.


Facebook is the most popular mobile app in the U.S., used actively by 76 percent of smartphone owners so from a mobile perspective, it's arguably as important as Google.

All the SEO basics matter here in terms of getting your branded content indexed by Google and other engines (e.g., special attention to keyword strategy, category selection, page name/URL, and About page description will all serve to not only boost your visibility within the network but will have the added benefit of increasing your rank within other apps that rely on social networks to inform their results).

But overall, it's consistency and engagement that will influence the success of your content via Facebook mobile and all the other apps it feeds – publishing regular posts, encouraging likes, and maintaining a consistent and positive level of engagement with your audience.


For all its popularity with the digerati, Foursquare has been slow to gain traction with the general populace. The audience is relatively small with an estimated 1 million businesses, 10.4 million monthly users, and 25 million users overall, but its specifically mobile and local nature gives Foursquare special importance as a search channel for brick and mortar brands.

The challenge here is that Foursquare content is difficult for bots to crawl – SEO is reliant on submitted XML sitemaps to enable search engine visibility. However, true visibility within the app is contingent on proximity, ratings, and reviews so much like Facebook, it's the quality of your brand, your content, and your interaction with your community that will count most.


Yelp is also highly mobile – the application was used on 9.2 million unique mobile devices on a monthly average basis during Q4 2012 and approximately 40 percent of all searches on Yelp overall come from their mobile app. But the importance here isn't so much the volume as the influence Yelp has on other search apps.

Yelp is a key feeder of results for many big engines and is particularly influential for local results. Yelp does license content from third-party data providers but much of its data comes from users and business owners so proactive content development and curation are essential.

Much like Google+Local, locally oriented content such as store hours, photos, and service offerings are key. Ratings and reviews also figure heavily in rank as well.

Basically, the same rules apply here as they do for Facebook – set up and maintain your presence, carefully curate your informational and local content and cultivate as positive a relationship as possible with users of the application. So it's not just about the browser anymore!

We'd need a whole new post to cover the minutiae of niche and vertical search apps but the same essential best practices are applicable across the board from Google Goggles to Kayak – practice the essentials of basic SEO, submit, create, and curate content whenever and wherever possible, cultivate positive sentiment and sharing, and above all understand the apps most relevant to your business and your consumers.

Image Credit: Smashing Apps

Learn MoreAugmented Reality: SEO and Search in an Annotated WorldGoogle Now: Taking the Search Out of Search

Google AdWords Support Launches Screen Sharing Functionality

AdWords users can now share their screens with AdWords support staff. Yesterday, AdWords Community manager, Zee announced the launch of Google Screensharing.

Now an AdWords support team member can invite you to share your screen while you’re on the phone with them and signed into your AdWords account.

There are set-up instructions here. Once you finish the Screensharing acceptance process, the AdWords rep will only be able to see the screen you chose to share, and won’t have access to your computer.

Google Screensharing actually uses Google+ Hangout technology, and the install is Google Talk. However, you don’t need a Google+ account to use Google Screensharing� with an AdWords account rep.

LinkedIn Is Getting Smarter With Enhanced Search Features & Improved Query Results

Starting today, LinkedIn members will begin seeing a number of enhancements to the professional networking site, including a new unified search feature and a smarter query intent algorithm that continuously serve up more relevant results.

With over 5.7 billion searches performed on LinkedIn last year, the new unified search experience is one of the most anticipated upgrades to the site. During a product overview last week, LinkedIn’s Brad Mauney, Product Lead, and Asif Makhani, Engineering Lead, demonstrated how the new unified search feature serves up a list of people, companies, jobs and groups all in one comprehensive page of results. Members can then narrow their search results by modifying their filter selections.

LinkedIn’s new unified search results page

In addition to the unified search experience that pulls content from across the site, LinkedIn is upgrading back-end functions with the roll-out of a smarter query intent algorithm that learns and understands a user’s intent over time, serving up more relevant results with every search performed.

Other LinkedIn upgrades include a new look to the advanced search page with additional filters that let members search by location, company and school. The new auto-complete feature prompts a list of search options as members type their search terms. The more searches a member performs, the more relevant their auto-complete options will become at predicting the type of content the member wants.

Along with the auto-complete upgrade, a suggested search feature will help members quickly find content by offering people or jobs related to their search terms as well as a preview of top results.

Members will also have access to automated alerts that send notifications when saved search results have changed.

LinkedIn’s new upgrades will start rolling out today and be available to all global members in the coming weeks.

Report: Building Contractors Number 1 Local Ad Category

Restaurants is still the most widely searched local business category according to YP’s Q2 Local Insights report. However restaurants doesn’t even show up in the top 10 when it comes to advertising spend.

According to YP data, the following list represents the most searched local categories overall. The list is a blended average of both online and mobile searches. The associated percentage figure reflects search query growth vs. Q1:

Restaurants (3%)Physicians & Surgeons (57%)Financial Services (6%)Real Estate (30%)Beauty Services (34%)Auto Parts & Supplies (11%)Auto Repair (10%)Legal Services (68%)Materials, Equipment & Supplies (12%)Building Contractors (12%)

The data were gathered from “600 million searches and over�10.6 billion impressions in Q1 2013 across the YP Local Ad Network�s 300+ online, mobile and tablet publishers.”�The report compares the top five categories in mobile (left) vs. online (right). Restaurants and real estate are present on both lists, though in different order:

Beyond the most searched categories, the fastest-growing local search headings are weddings, air travel and legal. That appears to be generally consistent across both online and mobile platforms.

In terms of overall ad revenue, however, the list is quite different than the most-searched categories lists above. The following are the local business headings spending the most money on advertising (blending traditional and digital):

Building ContractorsLegal ServicesDentistsPhysicians & SurgeonsAuto Repair & ServiceMaterials, Equipment, & SuppliesAuto Parts & SuppliesHeating & Air Conditioning ContractorsFinancial ServicesMaintenance & Cleaning Services

Overall YP said that 35 percent of the queries across its ad network are now coming from mobile devices.

Google Doesn't Care if it Ranks Your Site Properly

It's true. Google doesn't care if it ranks your site properly.

Well, if you are Amazon, eBay,,, or some other site like that they do care. But, if you aren't, they don't.

OK, maybe Google cares a little, but their focus and priority comes from an entirely different direction. This is one of the hardest things for many publishers to grasp.

How often have you heard a publisher complain about Google whacking their rankings even though they are a quality site? That they never spammed anyone or anything. Have you ever been the one doing this complaining? I have spent countless hours listening to people complain about these things to me, and trying to help find ways to understand what the issues are for their sites.

Google is a company that produces a service. It is a search engine called "Google" and they work hard to make their product better.

Google has a rigorous process for measuring the quality of their service, and for measuring improvements in that quality when they make algorithm changes or updates. In December of 2011 Google released a video of a Search Quality Team Meeting. Watch it for more information on their processes.

How the Process Starts

Google collects data on search quality problems on an ongoing basis. They have many sources for this, including spam reports from publishers, articles published about search quality problems, and their own search quality raters.

Google continuously collects this data. While I'm not sure how they manage the details, at some point they get a collection of problems that they decide they want to address.

Once the pick a potential project, they assemble a known set of problem results, or test cases, and some ideas on how to fix them. Once a proposed fix is implemented, the test cases are used to see if the algorithm indeed addresses the problems. This is only the start of the process, as Google also does rigorous testing to make sure that other results are not made worse at the same time.

Google also does live data testing with a small sample of the overall search population. This testing gives Google real world metrics that show whether search quality was improved as a whole.

From conversations I have had with various Googlers, I have reason to believe that they also watch for an acceptable amount of errors. For an extreme example, if a new algo improved overall search quality a lot, but Amazon fell out of the search results, they would still adjust the algorithm before release. If you spend some time and think carefully about the general process, you can make the following observations:

Some or all of the test cases are explicitly addressed.Overall search quality went up.Any measured errors are within acceptable norms.Nowhere in that conversation is your site included (unless you are in one of the test cases). This means that the impact on your site is simply a byproduct of the algo change. To Google, how your site fared does not matter, because their overall search quality went up.

Your site may be an unintended casualty of the entire process. Your site was (hopefully) not one of the test cases. Your site was not individually examined. All Google knows is that they made their service better.

Algorithms and Signatures

If your site has been hit be an algorithm, or is hit by one in the future, it means that it shares some characteristics with the types of sites that Google was targeting. Google targeted a specific set of test case sites, and overall search quality went up. Therefore, all the impacted sites have something in common with the test case sites.

I refer to this as having a signature that Google associates with poor quality sites. It doesn't mean you have a poor quality site, just that you have something in common with them.

Let me illustrate with an example. I know a site that was hit by Penguin 1.0. The site had all original articles, and these articles covered topics in depth that are not covered by many other sites (if any). The site has never done any spammy link building, or anything of that kind.

However, as the sole exception to the preceding statements, the website had submitted articles to three different article directories. Zero money changed hands, the articles submitted to the directories were actually well-written, and no small animals were hurt in the process.

An innocent webmaster thought that they might get some exposure through article directories, and got whacked. Why? Because submitting to article directories fit a signature of poor quality sites that Penguin 1.0 identified and targeted.

The site has addressed those problems and has made a 100 percent recovery. The only link cleanup that was done was specific to the article directories. The publisher now knows to avoid that behavior, and the site is doing great.

Check Your Signatures

If you do get negatively impacted by an algo update, try to figure out what your site has in common with other sites that were targeted. You can find data from sites such as Searchmetrics on winners and losers after algo updates. Even though you may have a great site and the identified losers may be crappy sites, you have something in common with them.

This may be a very difficult exercise, and it's a bummer to have to do this work. But finding the bad signature and fixing it is the key to your recovery.

Higher Education Searches Rise on Google, Reveal Marketing Opportunity [Study]

Attention marketers: demand is high on mobile devices for higher education info, and online programs from traditional universities are highly sought after, according to new Google research that was revealed during the first Hangout on Air for Google's education team.

The demand for education info in Google's search engine shot up 4 percent, year over year (YOY). Brand-related terms that have the school's name within the query were a key player in the growth:

What's interesting to note, said Google's Jennifer Howard, was brand searches on for-profit schools was flat YOY, while searches for traditional universities grew. Specifically, searches for traditional universities and their online programs are on the rise.

Howard said these types of queries show a shift in mindset that means students could be more interested in traditional universities with online programs versus the types of schools that historically have offered online education.

Also of interest was the 142 percent growth YOY in terms related to MOOCs (massive open online courses). Howard said that while there's still a hefty debate about the validity of MOOCs, data shows students are considering it as they're going through the research process.

Terms related to specific degrees saw an 8 percent YOY growth. Of these types of searches, MBAs consistently top the charts:

Education Trends in Paid Search, Mobile, Local

So how these education queries affect the paid side of search in Q2? Even though demand was up, clicks were down 7 percent. This drove CPC of education-related terms up 12 percent.

Howard said marketers need to focus on relevancy. "We think there's an opportunity to think about what messaging we are putting into the paid search ads … think about differentiation."

Mobile is another area educational marketers should be mindful of. Mobile education queries were up 49 percent YoY according to Q2 data:

Geo-focused terms are also on the rise. "Terms that have a geolocater in them, and that are using that as a modifier have grown 11 percent year-over-year, while terms specifically indicating ‘online' as a qualifier have declined 10 percent year-over-year," Howard said.

"The hypothesis here is that students are more interested in potentially staying closer to home, are more interested in offerings where they have either a campus or they have some other way of interacting with the community or teachers or the classroom itself, versus some of the trends we've seen in the past regarding distance learning."

Howard said educational institutes without a physical location should think about how to stress any community-related activities that surround its educational offering, whether it's forums, student organizations, or something else.

Alternatively, if you do also have a campus, think about how you can maximize on this trend for geofocused educational searches.

You can watch the full Hangout here, including commentary from guests in the educational space:

Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and PR

It can be difficult sometimes.

Breaking down silos and pushing teams to work together.

Encouraging departments to ignore comfort zones in favor of new ideas.

The tightrope balancing act of utilizing new platforms, while not abandoning the tried and the true.

But it has to be done. And nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in bridging the gap that can exist between your agency's public relation initiatives and its actions in social media. Instead of working in silos and repeating work, why not use one to strengthen the other?

Where can you integrate PR and social media to increase mentions, awareness and overall brand kickass-ness?

Media Relations

Media relations may not be the only component of a successful public relations campaign, but it's certainly an important one. It's also one most rocked by this social media train.

Where reporters were once confined to the depth of their Rolodex, today we have new ways of reaching out to the eyes we want to catch. By following reporters and media outlets on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites, we get in their line of sight.

We can spark up conversations about our favorite chocolate chip recipe and the best car seat for our kids, before circling back at a more appropriate time to mention a client relevant to their audience. We're able to form personal relationships and a rapport with people who also happen to be important to us from a business standpoint.

Social media allows us to build realrelationships over time, not the fake smiles we put on during trade shows and events. It's what PR professionals have always done, wrapped in a more accessible format.

Another way social media aligns with media relations is with vetting potential contacts. Just because John vouches for Jane doesn't mean Jane has the audience we're looking for. Or that she knows what she's doing.

We're able to use tools like Journalist Tweet, Technorati, and MuckRack to identify bloggers and reporters who are influential in our clients' verticals and who have an audience interested in our stories. We can visualize the size of their net and who is in it before making contact, making pitches both more relevant and less of a time suck.

Advanced LinkedIn Searches allow us to find influentials who are just a connection or two outside our network. We can do our homework on that reporter to verify the size of their audience, how much traffic their site gets, and the influence they appear over their readers.

Social media allows us to earn our introductions instead of fighting for them over spilled drinks and sticky tables.

Consumer Outreach

Through social media, we removed the need for the ever-present middle man. Brands (and their PR departments) can talk to consumers directly without always having to go through a reporter or a blog outlet. Through social media searches and proactive monitoring we can identify the users who would be interested in our product or service and reach out to them. And when we do, we do it through more personal connection.

We don't have to send a cold email they'll ignore or resent. We have person-to-person contact and can be a friend, instead of a salesman. [Of course, this only works if you act like a friend and not a salesman, but that's on you.] This two-way interaction between brand and customer has broken down that outside wall and changed the way consumers find products.

Use Pitchable Assets as Conversation Starters

As mentioned, the social nature of the web has changed how consumers research and discover brands. Instead of looking to the brand to sell us, we look to our friends and what the web tells us for recommendations and insight.

This is great for consumers who can now use videos, blogs, ebooks, contributed articles, infographics, published research, and animations to help in making buying decisions. But it's also great for PR professionals who now have a steady stream of pitchable assets to tell a story, grab someone's attention or validate the argument they're making.

If you work on the PR side, seek out these assets. Take a walk through your halls to find out what the marketing and content teams are doing and how you can work together.

If you're on the content and marketing side, get up and head into the PR lair. What are they pitching and how can you support that? You're both tasked with telling great stories. Make sure you're telling the same one by using a shared social editorial calendar so no one is surprised by next week's storylines.

More Measurement

In my earlier post on freeing analytics from your digital agency's closet, I spoke about how public relations professionals can tap into analytics to measure the success of media placements. Tying social into the PR equation can also offer additional analytics helping PR professionals understand overall conversation values, share of voice among competitors, how time of day impacts pitches and discussions, the placements that generate the most social conversation, and which reporters have the strongest influence over readers.

Even noting things like sudden rises in Twitter followers or Facebook fans can cause for a PR professional to take note. If 50 Twitter users have followed your brand's account in the past half hour, there's a good chance something happened. Whether it was a major media hit, an interview gone live, or a mention from a key influencer. But if you're not watching those social signals, you might miss it.

As the web puts an increasing influence on trust and authority, merging social media into PR initiatives becomes even more important, taking PR pros from a voice on the phone to a friend in their inbox. By sharing information, both PR and social are able to grow their networks and surpass client expectations.

Report: Building Contractors Number 1 Local Ad Category

Restaurants is still the most widely searched local business category according to YP’s Q2 Local Insights report. However restaurants doesn’t even show up in the top 10 when it comes to advertising spend.

According to YP data, the following list represents the most searched local categories overall. The list is a blended average of both online and mobile searches. The associated percentage figure reflects search query growth vs. Q1:

Restaurants (3%)Physicians & Surgeons (57%)Financial Services (6%)Real Estate (30%)Beauty Services (34%)Auto Parts & Supplies (11%)Auto Repair (10%)Legal Services (68%)Materials, Equipment & Supplies (12%)Building Contractors (12%)

The data were gathered from “600 million searches and over�10.6 billion impressions in Q1 2013 across the YP Local Ad Network�s 300+ online, mobile and tablet publishers.”�The report compares the top five categories in mobile (left) vs. online (right). Restaurants and real estate are present on both lists, though in different order:

Beyond the most searched categories, the fastest-growing local search headings are weddings, air travel and legal. That appears to be generally consistent across both online and mobile platforms.

In terms of overall ad revenue, however, the list is quite different than the most-searched categories lists above. The following are the local business headings spending the most money on advertising (blending traditional and digital):

Building ContractorsLegal ServicesDentistsPhysicians & SurgeonsAuto Repair & ServiceMaterials, Equipment, & SuppliesAuto Parts & SuppliesHeating & Air Conditioning ContractorsFinancial ServicesMaintenance & Cleaning Services

Overall YP said that 35 percent of the queries across its ad network are now coming from mobile devices.

Report: Building Contractors Number 1 Local Ad Category

Restaurants is still the most widely searched local business category according to YP’s Q2 Local Insights report. However restaurants doesn’t even show up in the top 10 when it comes to advertising spend.

According to YP data, the following list represents the most searched local categories overall. The list is a blended average of both online and mobile searches. The associated percentage figure reflects search query growth vs. Q1:

Restaurants (3%)Physicians & Surgeons (57%)Financial Services (6%)Real Estate (30%)Beauty Services (34%)Auto Parts & Supplies (11%)Auto Repair (10%)Legal Services (68%)Materials, Equipment & Supplies (12%)Building Contractors (12%)

The data were gathered from “600 million searches and over�10.6 billion impressions in Q1 2013 across the YP Local Ad Network�s 300+ online, mobile and tablet publishers.”�The report compares the top five categories in mobile (left) vs. online (right). Restaurants and real estate are present on both lists, though in different order:

Beyond the most searched categories, the fastest-growing local search headings are weddings, air travel and legal. That appears to be generally consistent across both online and mobile platforms.

In terms of overall ad revenue, however, the list is quite different than the most-searched categories lists above. The following are the local business headings spending the most money on advertising (blending traditional and digital):

Building ContractorsLegal ServicesDentistsPhysicians & SurgeonsAuto Repair & ServiceMaterials, Equipment, & SuppliesAuto Parts & SuppliesHeating & Air Conditioning ContractorsFinancial ServicesMaintenance & Cleaning Services

Overall YP said that 35 percent of the queries across its ad network are now coming from mobile devices.

Google Reportedly Testing Local News Card For Google Now

Google is reportedly testing a local news “card” for its Google Now predictive search product.

Quartz first reported on the project, and says it’s currently only being tested internally by Google employees. The revelation came from an interview last week that Quartz did with Google VP Johanna Wright:

“One thing we’re testing right now is a very local hyper-local news card,” says Wright. “Which is really useful�it teaches me things about my neighborhood. For example, I found out Miss Mexico came to my son’s school, I saw that [the local] Chipotle was giving out burritos, and someone was stabbed in the park near my house. It’s very, very targeted to you and your interests.”

Hyperlocal news is an extremely difficult space to solve, and there’s more than one company that’s tried it — and failed or given up — over the years. EveryBlock and are probably two of the more well known, past players in that space. The latter was acquired by AOL’s Patch, which is still trying to do hyperlocal news, but struggling with employee defections.

Google Now’s promise is to deliver information to users without first requiring a search. It already features information such as local weather, local businesses and local events. And we may have seen a preview of its plans for local news with the recent Google News Onebox card test earlier this month.

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor Resigns

Facebook's Chief Technology Officer has announced his resignation from the company. Bret Taylor said that he would be leaving the company in order to pursue a new business venture with a friend.

Taylor joined the company in 2009 when Facebook acquired content aggregation service FriendFeed.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Bret and getting to know him as a friend and teammate," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement. "I’m grateful for all he has done for Facebook and I’m proud of what he and his teams have built. I’m also proud that we have a culture where great entrepreneurs like Bret join us and have such a big impact.”

Prior to starting FriendFeed, Taylor had worked at Google for four years, where he helped create Google Maps.

"While a transition like this is never easy, I'm extremely confident in the teams and leadership we have in place," Taylor said. "I'm very proud of our recent accomplishments in our platform and mobile products, from Open Graph and App Center to Facebook Camera and our iOS integration."

Taylor's departure comes as Facebook looks to rebound from a disappointing initial public offering, which saw the company's stock fall flat in the midst of technical difficulties and allegations of mismanagement by executives and early investors.

Recently-filed documents show that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had questioned Facebook over details in its IPO prospectus regarding its business model and possible mobile investment earlier in the year.

In the documents, which date as far back as February 28, SEC officials ask Facebook to clarify or describe a number of its strategic decisions and risk factors, including a possible succession plan for founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and the level of control the company gives users over their personal data.

This article was originally published on V3.

Google Offers Free WiFi in New York City

Google Offers is teaming up with Boingo Wireless to offer free WiFi in more than 200 locations in New York City, the companies have announced. The partnership kicked off yesterday and is set to last through September 7.

The new WiFi service will be available in several MTA subway stations:

A, C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th StreetL station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th StreetC, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street1, 2, 3 station at Seventh Avenue and West 14th StreetF, M station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th StreetL station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street

In addition to this there will be over 200 Hotzone hotspot locations all around New York City. Those who tweet about connecting for free with the hashtag #FreeNYCWiFi can receive rewards, Boingo announced.

This is just the first of a massive rollout by Boingo. Boingo plans to roll out WiFi to approximately 36 different subway stations. The 36 different subway stations include Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle.

Boingo reports "The plan outlines that in the next five years, Boingo WiFi will be available across all 270 train stations, tapping into a network of 1.6 billion annual passengers."

Google: We Didn't Mess With Texas Attorney General

Google is being sued by the Texas attorney general, who alleges that the search giant is withholding documents from the state.

The tribulation started two years ago as an antitrust lawsuit but has since expanded into an investigation that sees Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seeking a court order to get Google to turn over documentation not subject to attorney-client privilege.

Abbott's court filing reads, "While Google has produced a significant volume of documents [it] has withheld a large volume...based on assertion of the attorney-client privilege and has claimed that certain documents that were produced are, in fact, privileged, and should be destroyed or returned to Google."

Abbott said that some of the documents are indeed protected, however he claimed many others are not and he wants to see them.

"We have shared hundreds of thousands of documents with the Texas attorney general, and we are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business," said a Google spokesperson.

The antitrust lawsuit was brought against Google by the state of Texas in 2010 and claims that the company manipulated search results in the areas of shopping, travel, and local businesses.

"The Attorney General's Office is investigating whether Google has used its monopoly power in general Internet search to foreclose competition from rival 'vertical search' websites," Texas said in the court filing.

In February 2011, Abbott demanded that Google turn over documents for the case, and the court order he requested this week relates to these same documents. He said that the state needs the documents in order to complete its investigation.

This story originally appeared on The Inquirer:Lee Bell wrote Texas sues Google for withholding documents in antitrust lawsuit

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

Search Marketing Blogs Update 060107

Nothing slowed down this week as far as finding and adding blogs to our BIGLIST of search marketing blogs. No runner ups this week.

Create Business Growth – Christine O’Kelly writes about blogging, copywriting and small business marketing online.Hybrid SEM Blog – Joe Whyte writes about old school and new school SEO.WebMama’s Look at the Web – I’ve been watching Barbara Coll’s blogspot blog for a while now and recently noticed she’s publishing more consistently, qualifying her inclusion on the BIGLIST. Barbara writes about her observations on search marketing industry.SEOish – Insight into the world of learning search marketing with a sense of humor by Patrick Sexton, aka "feedthebot.Beginning SEO Podcast – David Brown and Brian Mark do a podcast talking about the fundamentals of search engine optimization.Getting Granular – Digital Grit’s company blog written mostly by Aimee Kessler Evans with observations on the search marketing industry.

Feel free to add the BIGLIST logo to your blog if you like.

How to Measure SEO Success

Correctly measuring the success of an SEO campaign can vary greatly depending on the type of business you're in and your objectives.

However, there are three key performance indicators (KPIs) that should always be considered when measuring an SEO campaign's effectiveness:

Rankings TrafficConversions

Not only can the information gathered from these three KPIs enable you to accurately measure your campaign's performance, they can also provide you with actionable data to improve your campaign over time.


Keyword rankings are the most common and obvious KPI, especially when studies show that websites listed on the first page of Google receive up to 92 percent of traffic share. Tracking keyword rankings over time gives you the ability to craft your SEO strategy around the keywords that require the most attention and provide the most benefit.

For example, let's say you're tracking 20 keywords, and all but five of these are on the first page of Google. You know that in order to get these five keywords on the first page, you will have to invest more optimization efforts into them.

On the other hand, you may discover that these keywords are simply too competitive, and based on your research, would not provide enough benefit to warrant the effort. It would be more beneficial to focus efforts on the other 15 keywords in order to get them into the top three positions, where they'll really pay off. Without keyword ranking data, making informed strategic decisions such as this would be very difficult.

While keeping track of rankings is crucial, it isn't enough. You must also understand how these keywords translate into increased quality traffic.


Measuring the volume and quality of traffic that first page rankings deliver is essential. First page rankings are useless if they don't deliver enough of the right kind of traffic.

Traffic Volume

Traffic volume should be measured based on the number of visits that come from organic search. With a successful SEO strategy, you should see a significant increase in organic search traffic over time.

How much traffic you should expect depends on the size of your target audience. For example, a successful SEO campaign that targets people who are looking for online business card printing nationwide will deliver significantly more organic search traffic than a successful campaign targeting people who are looking for a local dentist.

Traffic Quality

Measuring the quality of traffic is a bit trickier as it requires more careful analysis. Some metrics that can be used to determine the quality of traffic include:

Pages Per VisitAverage Visit DurationBounce Rate

When reviewing these metrics, if you find that the average number of pages viewed per visit is low, the average time visitors spend on the site is also low, and the site's bounce rate is high, you may have discovered there is either an issue with your website or with the type of traffic your keywords are delivering.

We'll focus on the latter issue, which requires understanding the relationship between the keywords your campaign is targeting, and the traffic they're delivering. Let's take a foreclosure defense lawyer for example whose target audience is a person that is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home, and is looking specifically for a good foreclosure defense lawyer.

It may make sense to the lawyer that they should optimize for the keyword term, "avoid foreclosure." However, this keyword presents two issues:

The person searching with this keyword isn't necessarily looking for a foreclosure defense lawyer. They could be researching ways to avoid foreclosure without having to hire a lawyer. Even if this person is open to hiring a foreclosure defense lawyer, they are still in the research phase and are therefore open to other options as well.

Conversely, the person that searches with the keyword, "foreclosure defense lawyer" is most likely looking for exactly that, a foreclosure defense lawyer. They are also past the research phase, as they've decided that hiring a lawyer is the best way to avoid foreclosure, and are simply searching for the right one.

For these reasons, this person will be more inclined to invest time on the foreclosure defense lawyer's website, researching the lawyer's credentials, reading articles written on the lawyer's blog, and so on. There is also greater likelihood that this person will convert into an appointment and possibly a new client, which leads to the next KPI.


Perhaps the ultimate measure of success for an SEO campaign is conversions, but how are conversions defined?

Defining Conversions

Conversions should be defined based on your specific goals.

Let's say your goal is to increase leads. With this in mind, conversion tracking may include contact requests, quote requests, appointment requests, or phone calls to name a few. It's also essential to distinguish between conversions from organic search, and conversions from other sources.

It's important to note that not all visitors are ready to buy, and neglecting to measure the actions of those visitors is a mistake. These conversions can be defined as newsletter subscriptions, social shares, whitepaper downloads, and other actions visitors take that indicate they are interested in what you offer. These types of conversions also serve as a great traffic quality indicator.

With conversion tracking in place, you can take the campaign full circle by knowing which keywords are generating these conversions, and why.

Determining ROI

Having a system in place to track the monetary value of conversions gives you the ability to determine the ROI of your SEO campaign.

You can take this a step further and determine your ROI based on a customer's lifetime value (the expected revenue or profit you will receive from that customer over their lifetime). Only measuring a new customer's initial purchase, and not taking into account future repeat purchases can result in an inaccurate depiction of the true return you are receiving on your investment.


Tracking these KPIs not only allows you to measure your SEO campaign's current performance, but also provides actionable data to help you make the right decisions to ensure its future success.

Yahoo In A Fight For Its Life

According to Reuters on Tuesday next week the already embattled new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson will lay out his vision for the company. The pressure will be on to deliver a coherent and convincing plan — emphasis on convincing.

Following the announcement of 2,000 layoffs earlier this week Thompson sought to reassure Yahoo employees in a company memo. A streamlined organizational structure will better enable Yahoo to compete in the future, he reportedly said.

That new structure will apparently not include Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving, who has resigned. His organization took a disproportionate hit in the layoffs and is being “blown up” according to AllThingsD.

Reuters reports that Thompson’s plan will focus on three areas: “core media and communications,” “platforms” and “data.” We’ll see how that impacts what remains of Yahoo search and other products. Notwithstanding the search outsourcing deal with Microsoft, apparently there are still a remarkable “1,800 staffers for search,” according to an anonymous Yahoo executive quoted in the article:

The fate of several Yahoo businesses remains uncertain, particularly the search business, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous because the comments involved company matters. While Yahoo struck a deal with Microsoft Corp in 2009 to outsource much of its search operations, Yahoo still employs roughly 1,800 staffers for search, the executive said.

My view has been that Yahoo made a strategic mistake in doing the search deal with Microsoft and has “paid” for it ever since it in lost talent and revenue.

Earlier this year the company shuttered a bunch of mobile apps that were underperforming. The Next Web said that Yahoo’s Asian Foursquare lookalike service Koprol is one that may also be in jeopardy. Undoubtedly there will be other Yahoo products that suffer or are entirely shuttered in the forthcoming reorg.

Whatever Thompson says next Tuesday it will be met with skepticism by the tech community, unless or until the attempted turnaround demonstrates real results. There have been too many Yahoo CEOs announcing too many comeback strategies over the past several years.

While Yahoo still has three of the top 10 US websites according to Hitwise, it has entered a kind of negative spiral that it may not be able to escape. Its value as a company and a brand has steadily eroded.

The recent layoff notices have no doubt created a kind of numbness internally among the employees that remain. They’ll be working under conditions of stress and uncertainty — not the kind of upbeat atmosphere that fosters creativity and innovation.

Stock image from Shutterstock, used under license.

Google Updates How AdWords Quality Score is Reported

Google AdWords is making some updates to how the AdWords quality score is reported within your Google AdWords account.

Google said is making these changes to make it easier for advertisers to adjust and revise any ads based on the quality score, and to get a better idea of what is and isn't working, especially when making changes to ads.

As part of our ongoing efforts to help improve the quality of our ads, we're announcing an update that changes how each keyword's 1-10 numeric Quality Score is reported in AdWords. Under the hood, this reporting update will tie your 1-10 numeric Quality Score more closely to its three key sub factors -- expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. We expect this update to reach all advertisers globally within the next several days.

We're making this change so that the Quality Score in your reports more closely reflects the factors that influence the visibility and expected performance of your ads. We hope that providing you more transparency into your 1-10 Quality Score will help you improve the quality of your ads.

It's important to note that how Google is calculating your quality score is not changing. So you don't need to worry about having to change any of your ads with a great quality score because of how it is calculated is different.

If you're using quality score as part of your automated rules, you will need to adjust or correct how those rules are interacting with the new displayed quality score, or turn off those rules temporarily. Many highly active advertisers will often use rules to tie high quality score to a higher CPC to gain the top spot, or will reduce CPC spend on ads with a low quality score.

These new changes will be rolling out to all advertisers worldwide within the next few days.

Global Social Media Trends in 2013

As former advocates of the Mayan Apocalypse could no doubt tell you, predicting the future isn’t an exact science. We made it through 2012 without facing an apocalypse, and now thoughts are turning to what might happen throughout the rest of 2013.

In social media terms, the future is rarely predictable. Many people were caught unaware by Pinterest’s explosive growth over the last year. There will always be surprises, but there are also some emerging and continuing social media trends that we can both track and predict with a certain degree of confidence.

Emerging Markets

Social media usage is set to rise everywhere over the next couple of years but growth will continue to be far higher in emerging markets, as Internet penetration and more sophisticated forms of online engagement continue to catch up with those in more established markets.

The two single biggest emerging markets in 2011 and 2012 were India and Indonesia according to eMarketer figures. In 2011 the two countries experienced a massive social network user growth of 51.5 percent and 51.4 percent respectively. Compare this to the US and UK markets, which grew by only 9.8 percent and 9.9 percent.

In 2013 India and Indonesia are still expected to see the biggest growth, at 37.9 percent and 28.8 percent respectively. The established markets will pretty much plateau, with usage in the UK predicted to rise by 7 percent and the U.S. by just 4.1 percent.

By region the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America will see the largest growth rates. The implications for social media marketers are pretty clear: get into emerging markets before they catch up with the rest of us.

Mobile Growth

In its September 2012 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Facebook said: “While most of our mobile users also access Facebook through personal computers, we anticipate that the rate of growth in mobile usage will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future and that the usage through personal computers may be flat or continue to decline in certain markets.”

Many commentators have marked 2015 as the year when mobile search and online activity will overtake overall static usage worldwide. For social media the tipping point might arrive sooner than that.

Nielsen's Social Media Report 2012 found that 43 percent of U.S. users said they now use smartphones to access social media, with 16 percent connecting via a tablet. Apps were particularly prevalent, with users having increased their social app time by 76 percent compared to 2011. This meant they were now spending seven times more minutes on apps than on the mobile web.

Mobile engagement only looks set to soar even higher this year. The International Telecommunications Union 2012 report found there was still a “huge divide” between broadband penetration rates in developed and developing countries.

In emerging markets mobile access is still often more affordable and more reliable than static connections, meaning mobile social media is often the norm. And, once these usage habits are formed, they're unlikely to change radically as broadband infrastructure catches up.

In developed markets, meanwhile, the advent of 4G will make mobile Internet faster and more versatile than ever before.

Multimedia Engagement

According to the Nielsen report, more people are engaging with social media while watching TV. This can spike during events with a global appeal, such as the London 2012 Olympics.

Sixty-three percent of users in the Middle East and Africa use social media while watching TV and 52 percent in Latin America do the same. People aren't just chatting while they do so. They're also shopping and looking up relevant program and product information.

Established Giants vs. Niche and Local Networks

Back in 2009 there were 17 social networks that were the market leaders in at least one country. Last year it was a much more homogeneous picture according to this map (based on figures from Alexa) by Italian blogger Vincenzo Cosenza.

Not only were there just five market leaders in 2012, social media giant Facebook now dominates in all but 10 countries. In the past year, it has overtaken the likes of Mixi in Japan, Zing in Vietnam and other local competitors in markets as diverse as Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Latvia.

China, where Facebook remains officially banned, represents one obvious stumbling block in Facebook's quest for complete worldwide domination, while VKontakte and Odnoklassniki remain popular in Russia.

Twitter and LinkedIn held the second spot in many countries but the huge rise of Pinterest and Instagram demonstrated that there's still room for new niche players, especially ones with a unique and innovative hook.

A lot can change in the next 11 months, but the continued overall growth of social media on a global scale shows no sign of slowing down just yet.

Twitter Advertising Guide

Twitter has grown to over 500 million users and is expected to see ad revenues grow as well. Making most of its money from advertising, Twitter is expected to post ad revenues of $259.9 million this year, according to researcher eMarketer.

Twitter advertising is different from most of the online advertising options out there, with elements of cost-per-click, display, and social media ads all wrapped up in 140 characters or less.

Like other social ads, advertisers can form a relationship with consumers directly where they can engage with and share marketing messages.

Ads become part of the discovery process on Twitter with ads appearing in content and integrated into the users experience. They appear to be more relevant since they are shown partially based similarity of the followers the accounts have in common.

A unique feature to Twitter ads is that users can engage on multiple levels with the ads. For example, users can click on links, @reply to the ad message, retweet to share with followers, or favorite it in their public list. All of these social options are a nice bonus and differentiate it within the online advertising landscape.

Why Advertise on Twitter?

Twitter ads are best for a few common marketing objectives, including:

Promotions: Recommended for time sensitive eventsBrand awareness: Allow advertisers exposure to potentially new audienceFollowers: Pay-per-follow to grow the follower base and leverage this audience for future promotions and dialogue.

Twitter has three ad products. Let's look at each.

1. Promoted Account

The Promoted Account is featured in Twitter search results and within the Who To Follow section. Promoted Accounts are suggested to a users based on their public list of who they follow.

When an advertiser promotes an account, Twitter identifies accounts that are similar to the advertiser’s account. Twitter may recommend the advertiser’s Promoted Account to users who follow those similar accounts. Similarity is determined by a variety of factors, including the followers that accounts share.

2. Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets appear directly in the timeline among non-paid tweets. Twitter regularly analyzes the engagement rate of the advertisers tweets to identify five of the most engaging to create an ad to serve to users automatically.

While a specific tweet can’t be selected, it's possible to remove the tweets that you don’t want to promote. Also, replies and retweets will not be considered for promotion.

3. Promoted Trends

Promoted trends are featured next to the users timeline on among the organic Twitter trends and are tailored for users based on location and who they follow.

Ads appear at the top of the trending topics list. These ads also appear on Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for Android, and Tweetdeck. Promoted Trends are currently in beta with a small selection of advertisers.

Ad Targeting

Targeting ads is not complicated as Twitter’s algorithm automatically selects which tweets to promote and which users will see them. Geo-targeting to country and DMA level is possible, as is mobile platforms.

Budgets and Bids

Budgets and bid settings on Twitter are nothing new to online advertising. Budgets are set at the promoted product (ad) level.

Daily Budget determines how budget will be managed and once the daily budget is reached the ad will no longer show.

Promoted Account ads are priced on a cost-per-follower basis with advertisers only paying for new followers gained. The recommended bid to start is $.50 to at least max of $2.50.

Promoted tweets use cost-per-click pricing and Twitter recommends $.50 to at least max of $1.50.

Twitter isn't shy about noting that a higher bid will increase the likelihood of ads appearing. Recommended bid is suggested based on averages across all advertisers on Twitter. With continued advertising, bids are adjusted based on the historical performance of campaigns.

No CEO News Emerges From Yahoo Shareholder Meeting

Is Ross Levinsohn's Yahoo's Future (Non-Interim) CEO?

You can’t blame Yahoo’s board for being a little bit gun shy. After all, eight out of 11 directors are new this year — three of them were appointed in the wake of the highly-public resume scandal that ousted CEO Scott Thompson.

With the Thompson debacle, the departure of co-founder Jerry Yang, and the ill-fit of Carol Bartz, Yahoo is under pressure to get it right this time.

That’s seems to be why today’s shareholder meeting in Santa Clara, Calif. ended without an announcement about a new CEO, as interim CEO Ross Levinsohn — a prime candidate for the role — continues to labor with that pesky “interim” title.

But, according to a report in AllThingsD, Yahoo better act quickly if it wants Levinsohn, as he is under consideration for top jobs at other major media companies, including Hulu and Comcast. He’s had a positive impact so far as head of Yahoo, negotiating an end to a patent battle with Facebook and hiring Michael Barrett as executive vice president and chief revenue officer. Barrett previously was at Google helping it to integrate Admeld, and worked closely with Levinsohn at Fox Interactive Media before that.

But Yahoo’s board is skittish about making another mistake in choosing a CEO, and wants to take its time and thoroughly vet candidates. As a long-time Yahoo exec, Levinsohn has both the baggage and the background — a con and a pro, respectively — to bring to the role. He also has more media chops than the company’s past couple of CEOs, which could be a pro. But it could also be a con, if the board sought someone with more corporate or CEO experience.

Whoever takes over will do so at a very tricky time, as Yahoo continues its decline and once-strong products like Mail and Flickr seem to languish for lack of innovative development. Still Yahoo remains among the top internet properties, traffic-wise. In Comscore’s most recent rankings, for May, Yahoo’s sites ranked second to Google in terms of web traffic, with 167 million unique visitors. Its advertising network came in 13th with 177 million unique visitors.

Postscript: See�Confirmed: Marissa Mayer Leaving Google For Yahoo CEO Role.