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Sitting On Top of the PPC World?

My, oh my has the search engine results page evolved over the past few years. Raise your hand if you miss the days of typing in a key phrase to be greeted with a crisp page that presented ten organized and relevant results. Don’t get me wrong, I think the evolution of search to include maps, videos, author pictures, etc. is great (occasionally).

While Pay-Per-Click advertising has gone through its fair share of changes in the past few years, I would argue that the rate of growth as compared to organic results is significantly less.  Let’s take a look at the results page that appears when I type in a search for the NBA’s Tim Tebow-like sensation, Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin Search

Notice the PPC ads include seller ratings, product (shopping feed) pictures, sitelinks and more. At a broader level, you will see the structure of the AdWords ads that appear at the top and side of the page appear differently. What is happening here?!

The actual advertisement text is still there, but Google is simply presenting it differently. The two typical ad formats for PPC advertisements at the top of the page are:

Ad Title – Description Line 1

Display URL

Description Line 2

Or

Ad Title | Domain Name

Display URL

Description Line 1 + Description Line 2

 

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends.

Typically the click-through-rate for these top advertisements is higher because they more closely resemble organic results, have a colored background that catches your eye and are typically the first item that draws your attention when the page loads.

When choosing the top ads, Google looks at three main factors:

1. Relevance of the advertisement.

2. Historical performance of the ad.

3. The amount of cash you are willing to bid to have your ad shown.

If you are determined to have your ad show in the top position, heed my warning: I have noticed an abundance of ads over the past couple of months where their syntax makes no sense whatsoever. Why would Google format the ads in a way that does not make sense to users?

Well…

As previously noted, Google will sometimes pull in all or some of your description line 1 to add to the title. Google states that this alteration will occur when they have “determined that your first description line is a complete phrase or sentence” in an attempt to create a “more noticeable headline”. The problem arises when Google mistakenly assumes that your first description line 1 is a complete phrase (i.e. you abbreviate a word that Google does not recognize). The result is an advertisement that makes almost no sense. This leaves users confused and unlikely to click on your ad.

The next issue occurs when description line 1 is written without any punctuation. We used to be able to get away with this because the line separation between description line 1 and description line 2 provided somewhat of a pause to the searcher. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore if your ad appears in the top ad section. Take some time to do some searches for some of your favorite products. Notice that a lot of top advertisements include run-on sentences in the description line because of the lack of punctuation separating description line 1 and 2. Google will sometimes combine these two lines into one without any punctuation to separate.

PPC Punctuation Example

From here on out, if you write your PPC ads in the AdWords interface, you should be fine since Google provides a live preview of what your ad will look like if it appears on the top or on the side. My advice is to go through your existing PPC ads and make sure that they are not being converted into an ambiguous babbling of words.

 

Adwords Ad Preview

Here is how you can use the top ad placement to your advantage:

  • For most ads, include a short, informative description line 1 that features a call to action so Google appends the description line 1 to the existing title.
  • If you own a new site and are looking to increase your brand awareness, aim to come close to the 35 character limit for both description line 1 & 2. This will enable Google to attach your domain name to the headline.
  • Include relevant keywords within the ad text so these words appear bolded when shown.
  • Be sure to include a punctuation mark at the end of description line 1 to avoid any run on sentence issues.

Lastly, to measure the performance of your PPC campaign, AdWords has an option to segment via the “Top vs. Other” category. Maybe bidding high for one of your medium-valued keywords in the campaign isn’t the best strategy. Perhaps being in position 4 will produce better results for you!

Top vs Other

Analyzing this information will provide you with the necessary information to make better informed campaign decisions.

 

 

 

Google’s Search plus Your World: 3 Changes Internet Marketers Will Care About

On January 10th, Google made a ground-breaking announcement that Google search will now be integrated with your social signals.  The name for this update is Google Search plus Your World which is only activated when the searcher is logged into their Google+ account and searching on Google’s secure search.  Google Search plus Your World marks a major shift toward increased social marketing and makes the use of Google+ necessary.  With Google’s new social search feature, there are 3 main changes that you will notice on your results page.

Personal Results

The first is that your personal interactions will now show up in the results for related terms.  For example, when I type in the term “technology” I see results from some of my co-workers.

Google search

Search plus Your World denotes searches that are specific to you with the blue person icon.  These results are ones that have been shared with you on Google+ or are public results.  Images will also appear in these results if related to the search term.  If you are not looking for results specific to you, click on the “See all results” link to be redirected to information not limited to just your personal search results.

Profiles in Search

The second change that you will notice is that personal profiles will appear in the results and autocomplete when you type in a name of a person in your circles on Google+.

Google search

When you select a predicted profile you will be shown results from that person’s Google+ profile and relevant results from the web.  However, because that person has a Google+ page, their Google+ results will outrank all other information related to them on the Internet.

People and Pages

The last major change that you will notice is the results for people and pages in the top-right of the browser for your search term.  For instance, if you type in “movies,” you will see a few Google+ profiles highlighted since they are related to “movies”.

Google search

This feature also allows you to quickly add these people to your circles.  As a result, this section will become vital for individuals and businesses to generate new traffic to their social profiles through Google.  With the People and Pages on Google+ results showing so prominently in the results, who wouldn’t want to be there?

How to De-activate Search plus Your World

Fortunately, if you do not like the changes that Google has made to the search feature when logged-in, you can opt-out of seeing personal results.  The first way to do this is with the convenient toggle that Google added to the top-right of your browser.

Google toggleWhen Search plus Your World is activated, the person icon will be darkened.  To view organic results without personalization, just click on the globe icon.

A second way to opt-out is to update your search settings.  You can do this by clicking the gear at the top-right of your browser and choosing “Search Settings” then under “Personal results” choose “Do not use personal results” and save your new settings.

Google settings

This will de-activate the personal results and profiles in search features, but the People and Pages on Google+ section is an addition to the results that will remain regardless of your settings or being logged into Google+.

What this Means for the Internet Marketer

With these changes being so significant, many of you Internet Marketers may wonder how they will affect you.  At this point, the extent to which Google’s Search plus Your World will affect Internet Marketing is still unknown, but one thing is certain; that it is time to focus on Google+ as a serious social engine.  So take all the posts you are sharing on Twitter and Facebook share them on Google+ too!

I mentioned earlier that the People and Pages on Google+ will be very important for individuals and businesses today.  This section now takes up a prominent place on the results page and appears above pay per click results, so it will most likely take some traffic away from organic and paid search results.  For example, look at the results for the term “seo.”

People and Pages

You will definitely want your page to show up on the People and Pages on Google+ section and Google provided some tips on how to accomplish this with the “Learn how you could appear here too” link.

In order to appear in this section, the first and most obvious step to take is to create a Google+ page.  Many people and businesses held out on creating Google+ pages because they figured their social media initiatives should be focused on Facebook and Twitter.  But they are now realizing how important Google+ pages are with Search plus Your World.

After creating a page, Google recommends adding a photo and filling your profile out completely.  Ensure that your Google+ page includes all the information for which you want to be ranked for.

Next, Google suggests sharing information on topics that are important to you.  The more content you provide related to the terms you want to rank for, the better you will rank for those terms.  Also, the content you shared will then be delivered to people who have added you to their circles when they search for similar queries.

Most importantly, make sure that you are getting added to circles!  All of your information will mean nothing if you don’t have people who are interested in it.  The more circles that you are in, the more likely it is that you will show up in the results for People and Places on Google+.  This is great for the early adopters of Google+, however many influential and relevant people did not embrace Google+ and will not appear in this section.   But not to worry, if you follow these steps to create a well optimized Google+ page you will be on your way to reaching out to the over 60 million users and growing on Google+.

Google Search Algorithm Change For Freshness

Google introduced a “freshness” algorithm update to its search results yesterday. This change will help users find pages relating to recent events, news and products much easier and more accurately.  This algorithmic update is based off of their caffeine infrastructure. Google claims this change will make results more relevant for its users, which they believe is what truly sets their company apart from that of their rivals.

The last big update to the Google algorithm, known as Panda, affected only 12% of searches, while this update is will affect 35% of search queries (what users typed in the search bar in Google).

At the moment, you can see these changes taking affect when you search for items involving Basketball, Microsoft and the Wall Street Journal, but eventually this will spread across the board.

Read more about it:

Here is a White Board Friday video from SEOMoz I recommend watching:

Steps You Can Take:

  • Add a blog, news and/or articles section to your website (if you haven’t already).
  • Have an effective presence on Social Media channels. Communicate with your followers/fans directly rather than automating your Tweets/messages.
  • Facilitate product reviews from the general public on your website. Take Amazon for example. With millions of reviews from real people who have actually used the products, not only do more users trust the products they purchase from Amazon, Google trusts their content more. There is no other particular type of content that has the same impact on the search results; and with the freshness update to Google’s algorithm, this content is a great way to ensure your website is updated on a regular basis.

Note: When you bring together your Twitter followers, blog followers and Facebook fans, you create a community. It is important to enhance that community and continually provide fresh content through reviews, debates, chats, etc.

An example of creating a community:

  • Pick a product – (i.e. ceramic cookware)
  • Create a target audience – Moms (target blogs made specifically for moms)
  • Get in touch with the bloggers of said blogs about your product
  • Offer free products to the bloggers in return for a blog post dedicated to a review surrounding your product

Return you will experience:

  • Links from each blog
  • User generated content
  • Word of mouth to other mothers and their followers
  • “Domino effect” links
  • Tweets and Facebook “Likes”, translated: social signals, (read: even more links)
  • Example: Type in “ceramic cookware” in Google and you will see “Xtrema” as a result of doing just this!

How to create dynamic content with the tactics outlined above

Blogs:

Let’s say I write a blog post on SEO for the WebFX blog. I then make sure to tag the blog post for ‘SEO’. This subsequently creates a snippet on the SEO category page, which brings in the top 3 latest blog posts written for SEO. This in turn not only keeps the blog fresh, but also the SEO category page fresh.

Social Media:

Like Blogs, you can create snippets and ensure continual fresh content in this way. In fact, this will even add to the conversation you are currently having with your followers. All the better, is it not?

Links:

I am not certain whether Google considers brand new links coming into a website to be “fresh content”, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t either. Links have always been an important factor for SEO and will most likely remain one of the most important factors in the future.

Reviews:

Once again you can create a snippet for this type of content. For example, if someone writes a review about WebFX’s SEO services, the snippet would automatically pull the review and subsequently place it on the SEO page.

Actual car review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snippet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s as simple as that, well for the developers I mean :).

Google is certainly rolling these changes sooner than later. Let me know what your thoughts are about this change.

Is Google A Search Engine or A Sales Engine?

There’s a disturbing trend forming in the Internet marketing world. For the last few years, Google has been building a path to help big brands and to crush medium to small businesses out of the search results.

February 2009 saw the Vince update – Big brands started getting a boost in search results. Vince helped big brands to rank very well, which no doubt improved their revenue while small to medium businesses lost a lot of business. Could this update have been the start of the job losses or did this change just increase the jobs for big brands? Well, we will never know.

September 2010 saw the Brand Update – Google allowed the same domain to appear multiple times on a SERP. Meaning if you want to target your competitor’s brand name as a keyword, using Adwords would be far more successful than doing it organically. Google = money making machine, I tell ya!

These changes meant medium to small businesses needed to build their brand name in Google to be able to challenge the big brands.

How would someone do that?

Here are some examples:

  • Link Building (brand terms)
  • Social Buzz
  • Link Bait Activities
  • Building A Community
  • User Generated Content/Product Reviews
  • Google Adwords? Trust me it works well and you don’t even require a big budget. Eventually you pay Google (I am not saying they had it all planned…well, yes, actually I am!)

October 2011 Google announced the SSL encryption.

What does this mean?

In simple terms it means that SEOs won’t be provided with any encrypted analytical data and maybe PPC experts will be provided with everything they wish!

So it will look something like this:

Google SSL SEO Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first 7 keywords generated through PPC and at 8 we have traffic generated through SEO but no idea which keyword was used.

Maybe Google is saying if an SEO company desires to view that data, they will need to sign up for Google Analytics premium, which will cost around $150,000 (USD), £90,000 (UK) or $150,000 (CAN) per year.

Another option would be that an SEO company changes their focus from just being an SEO company to a full-service Internet marketing company and offer PPC to help Google make more money!

Image: Google’s stock share price

Google's Stock Share Price

All SEOs rely on the organic keyword data to evaluate which keywords are performing against the keywords that aren’t. If you take that away from them, the campaign won’t be an effective one as they won’t know which keyword will bring the greatest ROI for the client.

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