No official word yet from Google
A couple weeks ago, Google’s Matt Cutts talked about a new iteration of Google’s Panda update, which he said was already approved and would be hitting soon. The update has been commonly referred to throughout the search industry as “Panda 2.2″.
This version is expected to more heavily address the issue of scraped content, an issue that continues to plague the web and Google’s search results (the scraped content often ranks higher than the original) even post-Panda. Cutts is quoted as saying in a liveblog of an SMX Advanced session, “A guy on my team [is] working on that issue. A change has been approved that should help with that issue. We’re continuing to iterate on Panda. The algorithm change originated in search quality, not the web spam team.”
Google has not made any announcements or references indicating that the update has gone live yet, but webmasters are thinking it might have been released. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a WebmasterWorld thread, where there is a mix of webmasters claiming they have suffered from the alleged update and some that have recovered. One said, “I’ve recovered as of 36 hours ago. Day1 of recovery, traffic doubled, adsense tripled Day2 of recovered, 4 hours in, traffic has doubled again, back to my best levels of 18 months ago.”
Cutts said he didn’t know when Panda would be launched internationally (in other languages), and that Google has made no manual exceptions with the update, meaning all sites have been affected solely by algorithmic tweaks – none by hand. ”
It’s important to note that Google makes algorithmic adjustments every day, and sometimes even more than once a day. Obviously not all updates get the attention the Panda update has received, but you never know when some adjustment can impact your site’s rankings for better or for worse.
Posts Tagged ‘search trends’
Google is testing a new look for AdWords ad that features the inclusion of domain names next to the ad headline, separated by a vertical line. Here’s what it looks like:
AdWords has seen quite a few tweaks and tests this year. Back in January, Google began lowercasing display URLs and testing related PPC ads, then followed up in February by increasing the length of AdWords headlines, reverting ad backgrounds to yellow, and then in March we reported on spaces on display URLs.
It should go without saying, but SEOs, developers and designers must work together cohesively during the site redesign process.
Too often, companies look to refresh the look of their site, and in the end, destroy their search engine presence. How? This can come from a myriad of reasons from coding errors, SEO unfriendly design practices, to even more disastrous practices (e.g., content duplication, URL rewriting without redirection, information architecture changes away from search engine friendly techniques).
Starting the redesign process with a collaborative call between the SEO team, designer, developer, and company decision maker(s) is always the best first step.
Often there are two attitudes present. Either, “We are redesigning our site and are not open to your ideas…but don’t let us do anything wrong,” or the other attitude (and my favorite), “Let’s work together to achieve a refreshed look and functionality and instill any missing SEO opportunities if possible.”
To satisfy both scenarios, your information delivery as the SEO should be to inform designers and developers of the mistakes you shouldn’t make and also to announce to all parties what SEO revisions should be made to the site along with what search engines have recently been paying attention to.
Page Load Time
A site redesign gives you the opportunity to re-code, condense externally referenced files, and achieve faster load times.
Don’t let the designer use the word “Flash” during your call(s). In an attempt to make a new site look pretty, the reliance on multimedia usage can have a negative effect on site speed. Ignoring this is bad, as Google has stated in the last year that site speed is a ranking consideration – also, slower sites annoy users.
Ensure that your development environment or beta sections of the site are excluded from search engine’s view. Relaunching your site when these elements have been indexed by the engines means your cool new site is a duplicate and you will be in a mad dash trying to redirect the development environment that was leaked. Also, make sure there are no live copies on other servers that have visibility with the search engines.
Another form of content duplication is the creation of new URLs without properly redirecting old URLs via a 301 permanent redirect. This will leave search engines wondering which page should be ranked.
It’s also worth mentioning that 301s are a must and that 302 temporary redirects should not be used. Make it commonplace in the redesign process that no one used the word delete in reference to site content. You should never delete any pages, these should be permanently redirected to the most relevant launching page.
As we all know, the Google AdWords platform is an ever-changing machine that keeps all of us advertisers on our toes.
One area where there has been significant change in the last few years is with Google’s myriad of bidding options. There’s Max CPC, Enhanced CPC, and Conversion Optimizer.
Each bidding option carries a distinct set of pros and cons, but what is more important is that they all have unique effects on your account performance. When this is most obvious is when you switch from one bidding option to another. Here’s an overview of what you can expect when updating your AdWords bidding options.
Max CPC to Automatic Bidding for Budget
All AdWords campaigns are set to Max CPC bidding by default. From there you can begin to add on increasingly more complex features.
The first such option is one designed to get you as many clicks as possible within your budget. This is loosely referred to as “automatic bidding for budget.”
Other things you need to know:
- This bidding option is strictly designed to increase click traffic. It doesn’t take conversions into consideration.
- You set a CPC bid limit at the campaign level. This bypasses your ad group or keyword level max CPC in order to generate more clicks.
- Because this feature is dependent on your budget, make sure you double check your campaign budget before you switch to this bidding option. If your budget is set too high, you run a high chance of spending too much money.
Max CPC to Enhanced CPC
Enhanced CPC is the newest kid on the block, but is definitely an interesting feature. Enhanced CPC uses your conversion data to modify your bids to increase the likelihood of conversion.
Whether or not you heard of the Alexa Traffic Rank, you should know it is a very powerful tool used in order to rank website traffic. In other words, it shows how popular a website is. The Alexa Rank positions each site on a unique rank via the Internet, placing the most popular website on the 1st position, the 2nd most popular on the 2nd position and so. So the lower your Alexa Rank is, the more traffic your site has. It is free, powerful and really easy to use. So there’s really no reason you should not benefit from it.
Here are the top 3 sites on the Internet at this moment:
What is your Alexa Rank? What is the Alexa Rank for your competitors? Who gets more traffic?
There are several easy alternatives to find out the Alexa Rank for a site and answer the questions above:
1. Enter the url on the Alexa Site. It can be helpful to use in case you want to compare several sites (up to 5). Let’s say you want to check the Alexa rank for www.facebook.com:
2. Install Alexa Sparky, an add-on for Firefox. This extension accompanies you as you browse, providing you with Alexa data about the sites you visit without interrupting your browsing.
After installing Alexa Sparky, your browser will show up the Alexa icon in the left down corner. Sparky’s rank feature gives you a quick overview on how popular a site is. The more popular the site is, the bluer the bar will be. The number represents the actual Alexa rank.
There are other ways of finding out what Alexa Rank a site has, but these two are in hand for anybody. Use the one that suits you best and find out how popular other sites are compared to yours. Stay informed on your site’s traffic data and maybe more importantly – on your competitors’. Good luck!
Google has launched Instant Previews on AdWords ads.
You may recall when Google launched Instant Previews for search results. These let the user click the little magnifying glass to get a visual preview of what the site will look like before they click on the result itself. The whole thing really made it clear that having an attractive design could only benefit you in the Google user interface.
Now the same thing applies to your ads’ landing pages.
“Now, we’re bringing the same benefit to ads with Instant Previews for Ads,” writes Google’s Dan Friedman on the Inside AdWords blog. “Starting today [on the 25th, actually], the Instant Previews icon will appear next to ads on Google.com allowing users to preview the ad’s landing page. With Instant Previews, your customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for.”
“By allowing potential customers to preview your site before they arrive, Instant Previews helps you get even more highly-qualified traffic to your site,” he adds. “Even better, Instant Preview clicks are free of charge — you’re only charged if a user clicks through to your actual landing page.”
Landing pages are obviously very important to the conversion process, so if you didn’t have an effective landing page to begin with, you weren’t going to have much luck in your search marketing. The Instant Previews should only serve to emphasize that very fact.
You don’t have to look far to know that mobile usage is huge and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Of the more than 300 million people in the United States, 96 percent have mobile phones. This is staggering to think of when just 15 years ago only 13 percent of the American population had mobile devices, according to CTIA.
Pushing this growth even further is the penetration of smartphones, which now represent 43 percent of total mobile phones, according to comScore. As these web-enabled devices edge closer to becoming the norm, consumers’ habits are also changing when it comes to how they search for information online.
By 2013 the number of people using their mobile device to search on the Internet will overtake desktop Internet users for the first time, according to Morgan Stanley Research, and by 2012 more smartphones will ship than desktop computers.
Mobile Health Trends
Not surprisingly, how consumers and health care professionals search for health-related information online is also trending toward mobile. If you think about it, mobile Internet usage and health-related queries are a perfect match.
For example, when a curious or concerning symptom arises nobody wants to wait to find out what it is. They want accurate information and they want it now. And they’re increasingly getting this information on their phones.
The Pew Internet Project found that 17 percent of cell phone users have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 9 percent have apps on their phones to track or manage their health. It also found that younger people, 18-29, are more likely to search for health-related information on their phones with 29 percent of this group acknowledging this practice.
The mobile trend is growing at an explosive rate. According to Google, current mobile health queries represent 18 percent of total search traffic, compared to 10 percent a year ago.
Health Apps, Mobile-Optimized Information
With more health-focused organizations offering apps and mobile-optimized information the choices for consumers are abundant. Most online health media companies have entered the market by offering downloadable apps.
As of 24th Feb 2011, a major update by Google on how it ranks sites has affected 12% of search results and halved many sites’ visitor numbers. Named the Farmer or Panda Update it’s only affecting US Google results as I write but if you’re outside the US it is coming to you soon. Here’s how to find out if you have already been hit, are going to be and what to do about it.
Can your business handle a 50% drop in organic (non-paid) visits from Google? That’s what might be coming your way courtesy of Google’s Panda algorithm update.
Before we get into the whys and wherefores, find out if you’ve been hit by Panda …
Has your site been Panda slapped?
At the time of writing, Panda is only hitting US results. Here’s how to use Google Analytics (GA) to find out if your site is affected.
If your site gets most of its search engine traffic from the US then you probably already know if you’ve been affected by Panda or not. With this guide you can see the details of the damage and learn how to analyze where problems might be.
If your site is not US-centric then follow the steps below to see if you will be affected when Panda rolls out across the world.
First go to your GA dashboard.
If your site is not US-centered then you might see something like the graph below and think all is well:
But dig deeper. Go to the Search Engines report in the Traffic Sources menu (and choose ‘non-paid’):
Then click ‘Google’ to see Google-only traffic (see below):
Click the ‘Keyword’ column heading above the list of keywords (See this highlighted in green in the image below). This reveals a large sub menu (again see below) on which you click ‘Country/Territory’.
Earlier this week, Microsoft shared some numbers from the Microsoft-Yahoo Search Alliance (search and advertising deal), which saw Bing powering the back-end of Yahoo Search, and the merger of Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter.
“The data showed that from August 2010 to December 2010 Search Market Query Share for Bing rose 7.25%,” wrote Microsoft’s Paul Greenwood. “During this same period Google gained .61%. Impressions for adCenter advertisers was up 4%, clicks up 2%, and costs roughly flat. CPC was consistently below Google.”
Microsoft has now posted the following bullet points from a Search Engine Strategies NY session led by Dr. Niraj Shah on the Microsoft Advertising Blog:
Stats of Paid Search Performance Relative to Google
- CTR was roughly equivalent to Google but declined from November
- CPC was consistency below Google; trending downward trend post-transition
Stats Search Conversion Rate and CPA
- Conversion rates dipped during transition but ended 2010 13% higher
- Cost per action (CPA) increased during transition but finished 17% lower
How do we wrap this up? Where do advertisers go with this information?
- Early movers can gain an edge.
- Instead of now having to manage across three engines you can narrow down. – Saving time and becoming more efficient.
- Favorable CPC’s and cheaper clicks and conversions.
- Improved reach and volume drivers greater consistency and manageability
- Favorable CPC and conversion environment (for now)
- Strong performance characteristics imply a higher ROAS than before
Best practices for search alliance success
- Identify coverage gaps between Microsoft Advertising adCenter and Adwords
- Pay attention to geo-targeting and match type settings when transitioning campaigns
- Bid adCenter keywords at the Match-type Level
- Adjust budgets to account for increased volumes
- Set alerts to identify and expand high performing terms
Bing Director Stefan Weitz said, “Because we’re actually powering Yahoo, and not necessarily being Yahoo, Yahoo has the ability (and are doing a great job) innovating on the front-end user experience. So they take our great core results, and on top they can apply their secret sauce…For consumers, what it gives them, is two really different experiences, and depending on which one you like for a particular query, you get to have those experiences. It’s great for consumers.”