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Google_images

Martina Martina

October 17th, 2012.

Google adwords: Image search ads

Google_images

Topic in question:
Google Adwords’ image search ads

Are these new?
Well yes and no. No technically, since they were originally launched at a Google Search event back in 2010, but to you – yes if you have never used them before, obviously.

What are they?
In short, they are ads that include images similar to the ones you see on the search network as part of a PPC campaign.

Where do you use them?
These can be used as part of your online advertising campaign in Google’s display network. Specifically, they will appear at the top of Google’s image search above the lines of images returned. Here is an example:

CLS
 

Why would you use them?
For many reasons. There is a huge untapped opportunity to be found via the images you have on your website than just through regular SEO. For instance, through the ALT-tags used in your images. These can lead people to the content on your website.

Also, often people are genuinely just looking for an image rather than actual text content – for instance when looking for new shoes, or any product they are interested in. This is a great chance to draw in prospective customers.

Hold on, don’t we already have image ads on the display network?
We sure do!

So, how are these different?
They’re completely different. Image ads are ads featured in Google’s display network. This network is different from Google’s search network. Instead, it is a large collection of websites that are in a partnership with Google that work to display graphical ads that have been built with the display ad builder.

Those ads look like this:

cooking_ad

Will these cost me more than usual search ads?
No, you can bid on relevant keywords as you usually would. So this will only cost you as much as you choose to bid.

Any tips for effectiveness?
Google advises you create a separate campaign for these kinds of ads. This way you can gauge quality scores much more accurately and hone the campaign in a way that works best.

Things to keep in mind?
Although a useful way to advertise, it is worth noting that there are no guarantees this will be a huge success in terms of conversions, and as with text ads, it is a process of constant tweaking until you find what works.

Some users have suggested that this is something that best works with tangible products (on e-commerce sites) where someone will search to get an idea of a product they will eventually wear, use or feel (i.e furniture, clothing or decoration).

If your product doesn’t fall into this band, then the outlook for image ads search might be branding; a way to advertising the visual aspects of your services. Low Cost Holidays [link redacted] does a good job of this. Here, I searched the term winter holidays:

winter_holidays
 

Okay where do I start?
You can explore this feature in Adwords by selecting a campaign on the left and then selecting ads from the top panel. From there, select new ad and then Specialised – Search from the drop down menu:

search_ad

Follow the instructions from there. – Good luck! ;-)

search_engine_relationship-th

Rob

July 10th, 2012.

Remember when..there was more than one search engine

I recently found this leaflet in the bottom of my draw.  It shows how all the different search engines used to relate to one another and how they got their results.

It bought back memories of how it used to be in the search engine game.  It also shows how long we’ve been in the SEO game compared with some of the other jonny come latelys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

penguin2

Adam Adam

May 22nd, 2012.

The Non-SEO Guide to The Penguin Update

There has been a lot of discussion around the search marketing industry over the past few weeks thanks to what many consider to be a pretty major update released by Google. There has been a lot of speculation that has followed with some good and not-so-good advice as a result.

With all of this information floating about it’s difficult for anyone without their ‘ear to the ground’ to get a concrete understanding of exactly what ‘Penguin’ is, and what the effects have been. I’ll put the speculation to one side for the moment and start with the facts:

What is it?

Google’s latest update aimed at rewarding high-quality sites in search results by targeting and demoting sites appearing ‘overly optimised’. Some sites that have used or are continuing to use outdated tactics (specifically tactics to get other websites to link to theirs for the purposes of improving rankings in search results) have been affected by this, however there are reports of websites that have never engaged in such tactics being affected by the update as well.

When did this happen?

Google released a blog post  stating that the update would roll out “in the next few days” back on 24th April- almost one month ago at time of writing. Most sites affected by this will have noticed changes around 24th onwards.

How to I tell if I was affected?

Sites affected by the update will probably notice a change in rankings and visits from organic search traffic (specifically visits from Google) around this time. If using Google Analytics you should be able to tell by navigating to ‘Traffic Sources’->’Sources’->’Search’->’Organic’, making sure you have a date range that spans a few weeks before and after this date. To be sure it’s best to limit the data you are viewing to Google only. Look for ‘Primary Dimenson’ and click ‘Source’ next to it to give you a list of organic search sources, and click on ‘google':

Google penguin visits graph

The example above shows a drop in visits from organic search (specifically from Google)- if you see a consistent increase in visits around this time it is likely that a competitor may have been affected and your site may have improved in rankings as a result.

OK it looks like my site has been affected- What else do I need to know?

1- You’re not alone-

thousands of sites have been affected by this update- some undeservingly so (to the point where Google has created a feedback form  for sites that don’t believe should have been affected by the update)

2- Penguin is an algorithmic update- it isn’t personal.

Google has identified your site as being within this ‘category’ based on the data it has, not due to a human reviewing your site personally.

3- Reconsideration requests won’t help-

SearchEngineLand.com reported:

“Because this is an algorithmic change, Google has no plans to make manual exceptions. Webmasters cannot ask for reconsideration of their site, but we’re happy to hear feedback about the change on our webmaster forum.”

4- Noone that has been affected by Penguin has recovered… yet-

There is a wealth of speculation and tips for recovering from the penguin update online, however noone can confirm what the best solution to recovering from this update is. Currently there has been no ‘refresh’ or ‘reevaluation’- sites that were affected are still in the same boat.

5- Penguin isn’t ‘real-time’-

Like the ‘Panda’ updates before, the Penguin update isn’t continually reevaluated in real-time, meaning any changes that are made now won’t have any impact until Google reevaluates their data at a later date.

How can I get my traffic and rankings back?

The only certain answer at this stage is no-one can be 100% sure (as with pretty much anything within the SEO sphere), but the potential signs of redemption lie in evaluating the existing links to your website and the methods used to attract links from external websites.

Microsite Masters released some interesting findings of sites they analysed that had been affected by the Penguin update:

“every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money keyword” as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links. On the other hand, the sites that were not hit by the update had much more random percentages.”

This suggests that sites with a higher percentage of links that use the keyword they are trying to rank for (‘money terms’) in the clickable part of the link to their website (‘anchor text’) are more likely to have been affected by this update. This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ issue, and I’m certain that Google would have considered several other factors rather than the percentage of keyword-rich links a site has, but suggests that Google are looking for more evidence of brand promotion rather than search engine manipulation when assessing the links to your website.

 

As with other large updates introduced by Google in the past, this re-emphasises the importance of diversifying the sources of income your business as a whole has. Depending on one revenue channel alone can be risky- even when times are good, so it’s important to remember that channels such as paid search, email marketing, online PR, affiliate marketing and social can be profitable.

 

img credit: opencage.info

i-find-you-interesting-but-facebook-thinks-your-dull

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

I like you but Facebook thinks you are dull

This post is to do with Facebook and how to get seen in people’s news feeds.

The problem is that every time you log into to Facebook it has about 500-800 possible items that it could show you in your newsfeed.  How on earth does it decide which are most relevant to you?

And how as a marketer on Facebook do you make sure that your company’s posts are getting in front of your so called fans?

 

Facebook’s Ranking Algorithm: EdgeRank

For anyone seeking to market a product or service on Facebook it’s essential you understand how this algorithm works.

In the olden days it was easy

Just like getting to the top of Google getting to appear in users’ news feed used to be a breeze.  That was when there were about 100m people on Facebook.  Now there are 900m.  Getting your company’s posts to appear in Facebook users’ feeds has meant that marketers have to really think on their feet.  No more easy money.

General rule of thumb is that if your posts are so dull that no one shares them or likes them then it’s unlikely Facebook is going to rate them as being of any interest either.

Let’s look at Edge Rank more closely

What is it: EdgeRank is Facebook’s equivalent to Google’s algorithm for ranking news feeds.

Every time you click, like, share, RSVP something on Facebook EdgeRank gives yoru behaviour a score.  The higher the score the more popular the post, the more likely it is to appear in other people’s news feeds.

If only it was that simple!  How does it really work?

Well it’s a secret for a start.

But we know there are 3 ingredients:

  • Affinity Score
  • Edge Weight ( an edge is any interaction a user has with the site such as clicking on “Like”)
  • Time Decay

 

Affinity score

Affinity score means how connected a user is with someone else. The more you write on someone’s wall the more affinity you have with them. Each interaction has a different weight: commenting on something is more valuable than just liking.  The more mutual friends you have with someone then the more affinity you have with them adn the more likely you are to receives their posts.

If you stop interacting with someone then your affinity score declines and you will stop hearing so much from them! Phew in some cases.

 

Edge Weight

Each edge has a different weight.  In order of decreasing importance you have commenting, sharing, liking.  Photos have higher value than links.

Every action that a user takes creates an edge, and each of those edges, except for clicks, creates a potential story. By default, you are more likely to see a story in your newsfeed about me commenting on a fan page than a story about me liking a fan page.  This is what Facebook marketers must understand

There is even a theory that actively searching for a page/person and Fanning it is more important than just Fanning it as someone else has posted it.  This and may other twists and turns to the Edge weight make it very clever but at the end of the day it’s quite simple:

The more interesting you are the more Facebook will rate your posts.

 

Time Decay

Old stories are old news. So when someone logs on the newsfeed is populated with the most recent stories with the highest score at that time.  Your story will not appear unless it has a higher score at that moment in time than all the other possible newsfeeds.

Time decay is also affected by how long since the user last logged into Facebook and how frequently they log in.

 

How can I optimise the my Fan page for Edgerank?

It’s the same advice as with search engine ranking.  Don’t try to trick the search engines, just make your content interesting and informative, or funny. Funny is best!

Take your turgid press releases, turn them inside out so that they ask opinion rather than give it:

eg

  • “Click ‘like’ if you think our new product will be useful”
  • “Fill-in-the-blank: I can see myself using this product in ______.”
  • “Would you recommend this product if it was _____  ______.”
  • “On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate the design of our new product X.”

 

Here are some real world examples

Here is a great example from Luv me Buddies.  Funny how’s it often the small companies that get it right! 

Though beware these sorts of give aways that tend to attract unengaged, professional competition enterers

The BBC Good Food Show have great content and potential to engender interactions but this post is too passive and does not engage.

Easy Jet are having a good go.  Their question gets you thinking of Italy and sharing your experiences.  It’s still quite a big jump to think that this might make you suddenly book a holiday but it’s all good branding  I guess.

 

Businesses are still struggling to really derive any revenue from Facebook and personally I doubt they will unless they are big brands.  But that should not stop everyone from trying.   BUT whoever you please think of something interesting to post before you post it!

 

fawltytowers

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Fawlty Towers and Trolls SEO strategy – have you got the balls?

 

We all know that if a customer is unhappy that they are 10 times more likely to complain than if they are happy. Well poor service could be a fantastic opportunity to improve your SEO.

Let’s say you run a restaurant.  Consider a situation where for a day you deliberately gave all your clients appalling customer service – picture a day at Fawlty Towers.  In the past your clients would have just grumbled and not come back, nowadays they’ll be straight online on Facebook, twitter, mumsnet, forums, tripadvisor, restaurant review sites etc. and anywhere else to vent their spleen and to take revenge on your appalling rudeness.

They’ll be so agitated that they’ll post a link back to your site just so that your readers are in no doubt as to where you are and so that they can avoid you.

What a great result!   Fantastic.  Go out into the streets and rejoice.   Think of all those juicy, natural, organic links pointing back to your site. Clever though the poor old Google bot is it cannot determine sentiment very well (or may not even want to) and will treat those links as a good reason to boost your site’s rankings.

This is obviously a very dangerous tactic and not one to be approached lightly but you do see instances of it happening if not deliberately then definitely inadvertently.

Ryan Air are exemplars of deliberate bad PR to attract venom and spite from their clients, who keep coming back, and who presumably keep posting links to their site.

Mothercare were in the spot light last month for its appalling customer service, this was all over Mumsnet for days and other forums just clicking up the inbound links.  What a gift!

Also see here for a case study from american company My Decor Eyes whose poor customer service has catapulted them  up Googles Rankings. Here is an excerpt with a comment from the owner:

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

 

For the ultimate SEO buzz and getting attention online why not try Troll SEO.

It’s dangerous but could be fun

 credit

Indeed it is not all about links on the Internet it’s all about getting attention and this is where Trolls come in.

Online a Troll is someone who deliberately stirs up forum discussion by posting extreme, controversial, rude, occasionally funny, comments just to annoy and cajole other readers.  He is the firestarter, the poker of ants nests.

Get it right and and everyone gets on their high horse and attacks the troll, the number of contributors increases, attention and eyeballs gather and hey presto suddenly everyone’s on your site.

This is maybe how we know about Liam Stacey who used twitter to launch a stream of racist abuse against footballer Fabrice Muamba as he fought for his life.  Is he really such a racist?  Maybe, maybe not but now we all know who he is and he’s got our attention.

Why did I find myself reading Louise Mensch’s (Tory MP) Twitter the other day?  Well she had decided to promote all the sexist abuse she gets on Twitter in her favourites.  Too disgusting to broadcast on the radio I had to see it for myself when I heard about it!  As did thousands of others neatly promoting her profile, her number of followers etc.

But who were these people posting all this sexist abuse?  If you were to meet them face to face would they be so bold?  I suspect not, but online they are Trolls, operating unseen, below the fold of the page, viley expurgating their venom and inadvertently promoting their hosts’ blogs and websites.  Everyone should have a pet Troll.

 

 

whathasfacebookeverdone-for-you

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Social media: a fool’s paradise

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calling all Marketing managers, Social Media agencies

Can anyone send me a small business social media case study where they can definitively show a positive return on investment?

Please include time spent promoting as well as other expenses and the revenue generated.

Do not include SEO/PPC revenue.

Whilst “social media,” whatever that may be, may be useful for some large brands I suspect that it is an unnecessary diversion for 85% of smaller companies when used in the wrong way. I suspect that very few can actually attribute a decent if any ROI to it.

But I remain to be convinced.

 

seo

Martina Martina

April 20th, 2012.

Over-optimisation: too much of a “good” thing?

Over-optimisation

So, what’s the problem?

Nothing, if you haven’t been massively over-zealous about how well optimised your website is. Being vigilant and up to date isn’t a problem, the issue Google is trying to fix relates to those link-fiends who have over-used their ‘white hat’ so much so, that is has turned a miserable shade of grey (In case you’re confused, I refer to this post).

Okay, so what is ‘over-opimisation’?

In a nutshell, it’s the act of doing everything that is possible to optimise your website, in a non-human and bot-like way.

Examples?

Sure, over optimisation can include (and will probably be identified by inclusion of ) any of the following:

  • Scraped, copied web content
  • Too many ads on the page & not enough original content and copy
  • That fact that your website loads faster than the speed of light
  • When all links that are inbound and have identical anchor text
  • Infinite forum links
  • Hidden text (in a colour that matches the background, so it can’t be seen)
  • Sites linking to you that are dodgy or malicious in any way

This list is not exhaustive as there are many more examples of things Google might suspect & then penalize you for.

Below, I’ve included a helpful video from SEOMoz’s very own Rand Fishkin that does well to explain what changes should be made to save your site from dropping in the ranks and possibly fading into obscurity online after Google’s next update:

Parting words?

Good luck! ;-)

google

Adam Adam

March 7th, 2012.

Does Google Places Trust Their Citation Sources Too Much?

Barry from Search Engine Roundtable posted an interesting find from a Google Webmaster Central forums post. The OP pointed out that PC World (a leading electronics chain in the UK) is ranking with “Mothercare” (a leading baby/parenting chain in the UK) as it’s title in search results for the term ‘PC World teeside park':

PC World teeside park serps

 

I’m still very intrigued as to how this happened, but after some digging around I think I’ve found a reason why (which I posted on Barry’s post).

1- It’s showing up for ‘mothercare teeside park’ as well (suggesting it’s not ‘one way’). Both results show a Google Places result with the same address and a phone number: 01642 618325

2- A quick search for ‘01642 618325 pc world’ returns http://uk.wowcity.com/hartlepool/?what=digital+camera+consumer+products

3- On this page the first result for Mothercare links through to PC World’s homepage (although the details are correct for Mothercare). Note this passes through an internal tracking script and isn’t a direct link.

This looks to me like an error in Wowcity’s listing as the cause of the problem, and probably isn’t anything to do with the folks at PC World or Mothercare (or the agencies they may be working with), but is an interesting fine nonetheless.

If my theory is correct it begs the question- Does Google Places trust it’s citation sources too much? Would love to hear your comments (particularly if you work for PC World, Mothercare and Wowcity!) below.

cookies

Martina Martina

February 29th, 2012.

New EU cookie laws – Will you be breaking them?

Those rascals in Europe have really done it this time.  They have dreamt up the most insane law that will render any complicated website practically unworkable.

Their intentions were probably honourable but as the law is a mess but they are happening and YOU DO NEED TO TAKE NOTICE.

The law comes in on May 26th 2012.

There is a £500,000 max fine for non compliance.


Caught with hand in cookie jar
                                                                                                     Image source


It”s all about cookies

Why do cookies always come with consequences? If it isn’t calories you’re trying to avoid it’s breaching someones privacy – you just can’t win!

What are cookies? In short they are a method for tracking what you “do” on a website and where you go afterwards, how you got there etc.   Most cookies are essential for a website to work.  Some admittedly are a bit suspect and it’s not entirely wrong to be doing something about them but the sledgehammer approachby the EU is not the solution we feel.

The new shiny piece of legislation is being enforced as a solution; a way to protect you from the prying eyes of the web owners.

We’re not going to rewrite all the great articles out there already so here are pointers to finding out more about the Cookie Law

Biting off more than they can chew?

Before you get collared by the EU police you can refer them to their own website which is used to announce the legislation and has been criticised for breaking the very same laws they intend to enforce as pointed out (and illustrated with pretty pictures) by the good folks at Code Blog here: “UK Government ‘break’ the law they imposed“.

So, to summarise: This legislation will apply to nearly everything on the web, will probably reinforce the much dreaded “pop-up” and seems to be an overall nuisance.

Undoubtledly it will affect the big boys first.  They, at the moment, are just playing a waiting game to see what everyone else does.  Noone it seems is going to voluntarily prevent people using their website until the user agrees to their cookie policy.

In conclusion, you can choose to do the following:

  • Implement the new functionality to comply with the law ASAP
  • Delay the implementation as long as possible
  • Ignore the law

What do you think?

 

 

google-demographics

Adam Adam

February 22nd, 2012.

Google+ Demographics: A Look at the Top 5 Countries Using Google Plus

There’s been a lot of debate recently about the possible success (or failure?) of Google+. Google themselves have been a little cagey when it comes to giving information on their userbase, and whilst Larry Page boasted 90 million users globally, Larry didn’t quite explain their metrics in their entirety, as this post from Forbes showed.

Last week Website Monitoring shared some interesting research showing the overall demographics for Google+ users, and whilst the findings are fascinating I wanted to find out how these averages differed by country. Having identified the US, India, Brazil, UK and Canada as being the top five countries based on the estimated number of users, I’ve looked at the relationship status, interests, sex and age of Google Plus users based on the locations stated in their profiles.

This has produced some interesting statistics, such as:

  • There are almost as many Indian men as there are Female Americans
  • 76.02% of sampled Indian Google+ users are single, and are more interested in forming relationships and dating combined than networking
  • Brazilian Google+ users have far more ‘it’s complicated’ relationships than the other four countries sampled
  • The trend of 18 – 24 year old users being the most popular age group within Google Plus’ userbase appears to be true across the top five countries sampled, however there is a larger percentage of 18 – 24 year old users in Brazil (69.90%)
  • Plus a whole number of other interesting nuggets!

Thus I present:

Google Plus Infographic

Embed this- Sharing is Caring!

Google Plus Demographics InfographicDatadial

Matt

February 15th, 2012.

PPC And Seller Extensions Cannibalising Your Brand Traffic

The star ratings that you often see in Google ads are known as seller extensions. These are now likely to appear in the paid, organic and shopping results.  These ratings are generated when product reviews are submitted either on 3rd party sites such as ReeVoo or TrustPilot, or when Schema.org mark-up is used to tag internal/on-site reviews.

It is often cited that these star ratings can improve click-through rates by as much as 30%, which will not only increase both organic and paid visitors, but an increase in PPC click-through rate is also likely to reduce your overall cost per click.

Now, while the effects of these are obviously positive when dealing with generic searches, consider the impact on organic brand traffic when seller extensions appeared for one of our clients brand searches.

As you can see, organic brand traffic fell by around 49%. Overall brand traffic remained around the same level, the client was now just paying for a much larger proportion of it via their own PPC ads.

The obvious solution in this case is to turn-off the PPC ads for brand search terms. However in this specific case the situation is compounded by other (legitimate and non-legitimate) companies bidding on their brand term, this includes Amazon, an approved distributor who also benefit from seller extensions  in their own PPC ad, so turning-off the client brand ads would probably result in a large share of their own brand traffic diverting to the Amazon result.

 

So what can be learnt from this?

  • Seller extensions have a dramatic uplift in click-through rate
  • Protect your brand/trademark results from unauthorised bidders
  • Prevent affiliates from bidding on your trademarked terms
  • Google are making a lot of money from selling companies their own brand traffic

 

Adam Adam

December 6th, 2011.

SEO Industry Survey Results [Infographic]

A few weeks ago we asked a few folks on Twitter to complete a short (okay, maybe not that short) 22 question survey, looking specifically at the business side to working in SEO. We asked the all important questions, including:

  1. Where are you based?
  2. What kind of business are you?
  3. How many people work in the business?
  4. What other services do you offer besides SEO?
  5. How many clients do you currently manage?
  6. Do you contract your clients for a set period of time?
  7. What is your usual client contract arrangement (i.e. how do you charge for your work)?
  8. Your average charge per month for SEO services?
  9. Typical client retention period?
  10. Biggest issues facing your business today?
  11. Biggest barrier to sales?
  12. Biggest source of leads?
  13. What activities are included in a typical campaign?
  14. Link building tactics- what tactics do you employ for the majority of your campaigns?
  15. Do you buy links? (what SEO survey would be complete without this question? ;))
  16. What 3rd party tools do you subscribe to?
  17. What keyword tools do you use primarily?
  18. How long on average do you spend reporting to a single client?
  19. What metrics do you include in your standard reports?
  20. How did you get into SEO?
  21. What skills do you consider to be the most important skills for an SEO?
  22. Have you ever had a site penalised?

The results of the survey are pretty interesting- take a look for yourself below:

SEO Industry Survey

Click to enlarge

Embed this:

We’ll be releasing the source data as promised in the next few days. Let us know how your company compares to these averages in the comments below!

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