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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Glimpses Of The Future: 10 Fringe SEO Predictions For 2015

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By Nate Dame

It’s that wonderful time of year when blogs and social media are cluttered with predictions of what the new year will bring. Whether it’s Social Media Predictions for 2015, How SEO Will Change in 2015, or the catch-all Digital Marketing Trends in 2015, it’s all been done – many times over.

After a while, the predictions start to run together as the same things we’ve heard all year – and even the best don’t always turn out to be very accurate. Everybody hits on most if not all of the common themes:

  • Mobile will continue to grow
  • Exact keyword use will/should diminish
  • Knowledge Graph will keep more users on Google.com
  • Stop the grey/black hat stuff already
  • Design a website people like
  • Fake links will be even less helpful, real links will be even harder to earn (and be even more valuable) — unless, of course, Google keeps getting links confused

I’m not knocking anybody here – we did the 2015 thing, too, and even tried a Halloween spin.

Instead, I want to dive into a handful of the fringe predictions that stick out from the rest.

These are some of the more provocative, contentious, borderline-crazy forecasts. Chances are that most of these are way off (and some we desperately hope are wrong). But it is here, on the edge of the predict-o-sphere, that we might uncover a hint of the big change just over the horizon that will catch everybody by surprise.

We Will See Google Test Search Results With No External, Organic Listings

From “6 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2014“:

As Google continues to get more and more aggressive with things like Knowledge Graph, visual ads, and instant answers, I suspect we’ll see some of the first result sets that have no traditional, external-pointing, organic links whatsoever. Side note: This will scare the poop out of many marketers, but it probably (hopefully?) won’t expand much beyond the experimental/limited release phase.

Rand Fishkin

“Scare the poop out” is a kind way of putting it. Given Google’s continued antitrust lawsuit woes in the EU, this test would likely take place in the U.S. — if anywhere.

The ramifications would be massive as marketers retaliate, and there’s a good chance users would revolt too: 86% of searchers trust organic listings more than paid listings.

Content-Driven Businesses Will Lose

From “The Experts Speak: Top 3 Changes Expected In The SEO Landscape in 2015“:

Further fall of information websites as Google gives more answers. If you’re in the business of providing answers to your audience, you’re about to have a bad time as you’re in direct competition with Google.

Dan Petrovic

To put it more bluntly: If you’re in the business of providing answers on your website, you’ve already given your most valuable assets (your content) to your competition (Google).

And the search giant seems to have no shame about its own double standards.

Smart Everything Will Evolve Search Marketing

From “IoT Calling On Search Engine Optimizers To Optimize Smart Devices“:

The IoT [Internet of Things] will redefine search marketing. The future of search resides in automatic identification through beacons, sensors, global positioning systems, and other types of technology that push information rather than pull.

Laurie Sullivan

The good news is, if Google and other search engines completely squash what we know as SEO today, at least SEO professionals have a shot at reinventing themselves in the IoT.

The Apple Watch Will Change SEO Tactics

From “How The Apple Watch Could Change The World Of Local SEO“:

The Apple Watch will mark the beginning of a new series of trends. Business owners and marketers will have to spend more time optimizing for Bing and Apple Maps specifically, and will have to be prepared for the onset of super-specific local searches.

Jayson DeMers

I have a hard time seeing a still unproven new product drive so much search activity to Bing that marketers will be making drastic changes anytime soon.

Remember those ultra portable laptops that didn’t quite live up to expectations — only to be eclipsed by their predecessor, the tablet? The Apple Watch and other wearables are way too young to call it.

Apple Watch could fail, Google Glass could overcome its perception and legal challenges to reign supreme. Or a yet-unseen personal computing device could be commonplace in a few years.

Whatever does take hold in the IoT world will have a big impact on marketing and search, but I’m not placing any bets yet.

Marketers Will Waste Time With HTTPS

Also from “The Experts Speak: Top 3 Changes Expected In The SEO Landscape in 2015″:

SEO providers will have to deal with more clients needlessly switching over to HTTPS (it doesn’t actually protect anything vital for either visitors or websites). Research shows that people on the Web don’t really care about HTTPS. They don’t even know what it is. SEOs who support HTTPS will have to explain why no miraculous increases in traffic occur.

Michael Martinez

Users may not care about HTTPS, but Google does — shouldn’t that be enough? The majority of users may never know what HTTPS is or what HTTPS does, but it sounds like Google wants to make a bigger deal out of it in the near future.

Google’s Stonewalling Gets Bigger

From Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link:

Google will continue to remove tools and cut back on analytics.

Debra Mastaler

Yep, this is going to happen. The less data Google makes available to SEOs, the less that SEOs can do to create and test quick-win black/grey hat gimmicks to game higher rankings.

That means Google can spend less time responding to spammy tactics, and more time increasing its own revenue. It’s a no brainer.

Fewer Google Updates

From “What Will Google be like in 2015? These 16 Experts May Know“:

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that we will actually see a slight decrease in algorithm changes in 2015 compared to 2014, which had more than ever.

Caleb Donegan

Well, I guess if you don’t count constant updates to the algo made by Panda’s machine-learning-driven systems, or the self-learning systems we can only imagine Google’s recently acquired/hired AI teams are developing, sure.

There will be fewer “updates,” but ever-increasing “changes.”

Google+ Will Finally Die

Also from “What Will Google be like in 2015? These 16 Experts May Know”:

In 2015 Google+ will die a slow death. Integrations with existing Google products will be removed or made optional. The most popular components of Google+ like photo sharing and hangouts will be de-bundled and made available separately. G+ engagement will fade over time.

Larry Kim

Google+ may be on its last leg, but it will probably stick around for a few more years at least. If Google execs do in fact want to kill it, the process of decoupling it from, well, nearly every Google entity will take some time.

Personally I just need to know, what’s going to happen with what used to be Google Voice?

In Next 10 Years: Predictive Search Answers

From “3 SEO Predictions I made in 2005 – Was I Right? What About Search in 2025?“:

The future of search won’t just be about asking a Siri-like entity for information or thinking about questions and receiving answers in a micro heads up display (more contact lens than Google Glass), but the application of predictive search answers. In other words, a big data sourced understanding of individuals and situations so specific, that technologies will deliver information with amazing accuracy and relevancy before we need it.

Lee Odden

Rand Fishkin may have put it better with “Invisible Mind-Reading Drones that Know Your Every Thought.” The far-flung future of search is: [insert your own adjective here].

Apples Launches Its Own Search Engine

This is just wild speculation for now, but the competition between Google and Apple is only heating up, on all fronts — and it has been for some time.

Matt Cutts Never Comes Back

This is also just wild speculation, but who knows? Maybe Matt’s had enough and is just performing one more A/B test to see if Google can survive without him.

And now the obligatory closing question: What’s the edgiest prediction you’ve seen for the new year?

The post Glimpses Of The Future: 10 Fringe SEO Predictions For 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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New Facebook Search: Local Ignored Again — Big Mistake

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By Greg Sterling

Facebook just launched its successor to Graph Search: Facebook Search. Facebook Search is the evolution of Graph Search and benefits from lots of user feedback since the launch of Graph Search in early 2013.

It’s available in US English for the PC and mobile app for the time being. Users can now search Facebook for posts by friends or people/entities that they follow. The results are personalized.

Users can only search for what they can already see anyway on the site. The exception is hashtags. Facebook Search will allow anyone to search for particular hashtags and see results from outside their networks.

For more on the mechanics of Facebook Search see Martin Beck’s posts on Marketing Land or Search Engine Land.

Facebook told us that that people on the site currently search for “people, photos and places.” Therefore it’s confounding and completely mysterious why the company hasn’t put a bigger emphasis on local search — or any emphasis for that matter. Facebook Search, at launch, emphases “people and posts” but not places.

Places was allegedly a primary category for Graph Search. But places have not been prioritized in this release of the new Facebook Search. You can still search for places as in the past. There’s just no local search upgrade.

Nearby restaurant search

Above is a screenshot of a Nearby Restaurants search under the previous Graph Search functionality. The new results (if I’m seeing them now) look pretty similar. I haven’t yet tested mobile.

Facebook has an enormous opportunity in local search. It has more than 20 million business pages and tons of ratings and review-like content on the site. People currently use it to validate businesses and to help them make decisions about where to spend. One can argue that Facebook has more “reviews” (defined to include ratings) than anyone else online.

Therefore it’s kind of inconceivable that the company doesn’t seem to be pursuing local more aggressively.

I’ve been waiting for a “Places app” for a couple of years and have had numerous conversations with people at Facebook about this and the corresponding opportunity. In fact, I don’t believe that Facebook can truly realize its small business advertising ambitions without developing a local search consumer experience.

It’s clear to me and others that were Facebook to create a more functional and user-friendly local search experience that the site/app would see massive, immediate usage — and all that implies for local and paid-search advertising.

Yet Facebook doesn’t seem to be fully attuned — dare I say “clued in” — to this. They’re not making local search a priority. However the recent launch (in July, 2014) of an upgraded Places Directory indicates that they’re not totally clueless about the opportunity. But the company needs to prioritize and push it further.

It won’t be able to compete successfully with the current, tepid Places search capability.

Especially in mobile, local search is a primary use case. Google and Bing have previously indicated that up to half of all mobile queries carry a local intent. Facebook could thus put itself right in the epicenter of this critical market with an new and more visible local search feature of the existing app or a stand-alone Places app — or both.

After listening to me rant for 20 minutes Facebook didn’t rule this out. However they seem to be considering local to be part of the longer-term opportunity. Yet opportunities don’t last forever.

The post New Facebook Search: Local Ignored Again — Big Mistake appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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German Legislator Calling For Google Breakup Has Serious Conflict Of Interest

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By Greg Sterling

The German member of the European Parliament behind the call to break up Google, Andreas Schwab, has a conflict of interest. According to the NY Times, he has ties to and earns money from a German law firm that represents anti-Google publishing interests in Germany.

German publishers lobbied for the passage of the “ancillary copyright” law intended to exact licensing revenue from Google for indexing their content. So far, however, it has totally backfired.

Under European rules, apparently, Mr. Schwab only has a duty to disclose the law firm relationship. He’s not barred from maintaining it while in Parliament. He’s also apparently not prevented from sponsoring resolutions or legislation that may be indirectly tied to interests the law firm represents — as in this case.

If the European Parliament had legal authority to initiate a Google breakup this would be a very serious problem. The body however is without authority in this case and any resolution or recommendation to break up the US company is largely symbolic.

The non-binding resolution comes up for approval tomorrow. It’s likely to pass.

Beyond expressing deep dissatisfaction with Google, the resolution is intended to raise the stakes and put pressure on the European Commission, the body actually presiding over the antitrust case. A successful “break up Google” resolution would mean that significant additional concessions would need to be made by the company to settle the matter.

But that was already probably true. The current settlement is dead.

The US has expressed “concern” about the potential European Parliament resolution as politicizing the antitrust process. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the US mission to the EU said the following: “It is important that the process of identifying competitive harms and potential remedies be based on objective and impartial findings and not be politicized.”

It’s probably already too late for that. Google’s position in Europe and its perceived impact on domestic European industries are highly “political” issues.

The post German Legislator Calling For Google Breakup Has Serious Conflict Of Interest appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Insights Into PPC Traffic From “Sofa Sunday” In The UK

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By Rebekah Schelfhout

On December 16th, The Drum magazine highlighted a new “day” called Sofa Sunday.

“Sofa Sunday” was named for the expectation that millions of people would shop using their smartphones on the Sunday that follows Black Friday. The prediction was that browsing from m-commerce would be highest between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. that day. Did the prediction match the reality?

What Happened To Mobile Traffic On Sunday 30th November?

Through grouping together data from some large online retail clients in the UK, I was able to see some top-level data on trends.

As you can see from the chart below, impressions were dominant from computers for the most part of the day and peaked at around 8:00 p.m. with mobile taking over as the lead impression generator from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., exactly as predicted.

Though mobile impressions did heavily drop at 11:00 p.m., they remained double those of computers!

Impressions sample 30th nov

Though mobile was a clear winner toward the end of the day in terms of impressions generated, it was a different story when I came to look at clicks from the retail client campaigns. As seen from the chart below, tablet traffic was the most dominant toward the latter part of the day.

Clicks sample 30th Nov

Click-through rate was much stronger for tablets for the selection of accounts that I analyzed. This again shows that tablets are becoming ever popular for browsing. Though we can’t bid differently for tablets, everyone should be thinking about the user experience for visitors that land on a site from a tablet device.

Of course, the data above is from a sample of clients, so there could be outliers affecting that data.

The chart below hones in on one particular client in the fashion industry to show what happened to its traffic on Sofa Sunday.

This mostly follows the same trend when it comes to tablets, but shows how many more people were clicking through to ads from mobile devices than computers from earlier on in the day.

Despite mobile impressions not overtaking computers until 8:00 p.m. for this particular retailer, clicks became stronger from mobile from 6:00 p.m., which is ahead of the sample curve above.

Fashion retailer clicks 30th nov

I thought it would also be interesting to compare this same fashion retailer year-on-year to show how the landscape has changed over time.

Looking at the data below for the Sunday that preceded Cyber Monday last year, you can see it paints a completely different picture. Though the peak of incoming traffic remained between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., computers brought in the majority of traffic at all hours.

Fashion retailer clicks 1st December 2013

A simpler version of this year-on-year data is shown below to summarize.

YoY Sofa Sunday Impressions

This just shows how much things have changed in just one year and how important it is to have a responsive mobile and tablet site to accommodate for this change in browsing behavior.

Did We See A Similar Pattern For Conversions?

Not only was 8:00-9:00 p.m. the most popular time of the day for impressions and clicks, this hour also saw the most conversions coming in from all devices!

Computers still stole the show in terms of volume of conversions coming in, but this year, tablets also produced a much higher volume of conversions.

Sales from sample of online retailers

Mobile conversion volumes increased toward the end of the day, but the results overall lean more toward mobile still being utilized for browsing, as conversion rates were lower than on other devices.

Is This Trend Different From Any Other Sunday?

It’s pretty obvious that this is not an out-of-the-blue trend; in general, people will be browsing from their mobiles more in the evenings as they settle down on the sofa.

I took a look at the same retail client we’ve been looking at in previous datasets to see what happened to its data on the four Sundays that preceded Sofa Sunday (November 2, 9, 16 and 23) compared to Sofa Sunday.

Though the trends are broadly similar, you can see that between 8:00-10:00 p.m., mobile overtook computer traffic more on Sofa Sunday, giving us further insight into why it’s so important to have a presence on mobile and to make sure your site is easily shoppable from mobiles.

Fashion retailer impressions 2014

Impressions from a fashion retailer sunday 30th nov

What To Take From This Data

  • Increase bids for mobile during key hours
  • Make sure you have full impression share during these key hours and have enough of your daily budget left for the end of the day
  • Be sure to have mobile-specific ads and even consider a mobile-specific promotion as this traffic is predicted to grow further year-on-year
  • You should also be looking at your estimated total conversions within AdWords to see if Google thinks that people who came in on one device actually purchased on another; this metric is still too-often overlooked
  • Make sure to prepare a “Sofa Sunday” strategy for next year!
  • Adjust your site to become responsive for tablets and mobiles if you haven’t already

On my wishlist for next year is the ability to see cross-device conversions within AdWords rather than just estimated total conversions. Hopefully, with the advances in technology and Google’s acquisition of Adometry, we might see some more features being added here in the future!

The post Insights Into PPC Traffic From “Sofa Sunday” In The UK appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How a Facebook Page Grew Their Organic Reach 219% in 30 Days by @shortstackjim

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By Jim Belosic

If you’re a business on Facebook, there’s a good chance you’ve been fighting the organic reach battle. In the last year-and-a-half, Facebook organic reach has gone from around 16 percent per post to as little as 1 percent per post. To give you an example of the effect on businesses, my company’s Facebook Page has 74,000 fans. About a month ago, my Facebook manager, Sara, reported to me that we were averaging around 200 reach per post. There are some companies who give up and delete their pages, but I think that’s a mistake. Facebook is still a huge referral […]

The post How a Facebook Page Grew Their Organic Reach 219% in 30 Days by @shortstackjim appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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In A Big Shift, Google’s Latest Ad Test Drives Users To Google Shopping, Not Advertisers’ Sites

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By Ginny Marvin

Google is testing a category version of a Google Shopping ad on brand searches.

Google is experimenting with a new format for Google Shopping ads, this time on brand searches. The example shown above showcases products from jeweler David Yurman by category — rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings — on a search for the brand.

This screen shot was sent to Search Engine Land anonymously last week, but RKG has confirmed the test as well in a blog post by Senior Research Analyst, Andy Taylor, which featured a category product ad (PLA) for the clothing and housewares retailer, Anthropologie. I have not been able to replicate the test, yet, but have been able to find out a bit more about it.

One might assume that this type of ad would lead to the related category pages on the brand’s website. However, as Taylor explains, clicking on one of the categories takes users to a page on Google Shopping. For example, clicking on the Rings category in the David Yurman ad would lead to a page of David Yurman products on Google Shopping pre-filtered by “Rings”.

Landing page on Google Shopping is filtered by the category clicked on in the ad.

If a brand’s products are carried and advertised by other retailers, those listings will also appear. The results are not filtered by seller. There are product listings on the David Yurman rings category page from Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and other retailers that carry and advertise David Yurman products.

The user experience isn’t limited to a handful of product ads on the web search results. This view gives users a much broader view of product selection and pricing than is possible on a web SERP.

Ads Aren’t Bid-Driven

This test is interesting for a several reasons. First, it means that individual advertisers aren’t bidding to show up in this particular type of PLA. The ad is entirely advertiser neutral. I’m pretty sure that’s a first for an ad format on Google search results. (If I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments.)

Essentially it’s an ad for Google Shopping.

Real Competition Happens On Google Shopping

Second, it means that many more product ads now surface to the user, but more importantly more users are exposed to Google Shopping itself.

Today, I could probably do all of my holiday shopping entirely from PLAs and never actually visit a Google Shopping page. Sure, users can click on the “Shop for X on Google” link, but it’s easy to overlook or ignore that entree to Google Shopping. This ad test gets them there through very popular branded search queries.

Standard Google Shopping ads have been wildly successful in driving searchers to advertisers’ sites. This ad test lets Google Shopping itself benefit from the proven popularity of image-driven ads. All the better to compete against Amazon in product search and discovery.

When asked about this test, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We are constantly experimenting with ways to bring a better search experience to users and good value to advertisers. As always, we are gathering feedback through the experiment, but have nothing to announce at this time.”

This test appears to be extremely limited at this time, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more examples popping up in the coming weeks.

The post In A Big Shift, Google’s Latest Ad Test Drives Users To Google Shopping, Not Advertisers’ Sites appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Authorship Is Dead, Author Rank Is Not: A Interview With Casey Markee by @lorenbaker

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By Loren Baker

At Pubcon 2014 in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to chat with Casey Markee of SearchEngineNews.com about Google Authorship. More specifically — the end of Google Authorship and what’s going to happen next. The topic of authorship and establishing authority has been a hot topic for quite some time in the SEO world. Understandably that led to some concerns when Google recently announced the end of Authorship. I started off by asking Casey if Google Authorship is officially dead. Hear his response, and his predictions for what’s to come, in the video below. Here are some key takeaways from […]

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