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12

Back in 2009 Google executives were scared of not being able to retain talent with stock options after Google's stock price cratered with the rest of the market & Google's ad revenue growth rate slid to zero. That led them to reprice employee stock options. That is as close as Google has come to a "near death" experience since their IPO. They've consistently grown & become more dominant.


In November of 2009 I cringed when I saw the future of SEO in Google SERPs

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a href="http://www.seobook.com/excuse-me-where-did-googles-organic-search-results-go">where the organic results were outright displaced & even some of the featured map listings had their phone numbers removed.


Investing in Search


In 2012 a Googler named Jon Rockway was more candid than Googlers are typically known for being: "SEO isn't good for users or the Internet at large. ... It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug."


It isn't surprising Google greatly devalued keyword domain names & hit sites like eHow hard. And it isn't surprising Demand Media is laying off staff and is rumored to be exploring selling their sites. If deleting millions of articles from eHow doesn't drive a recovery, how much money can they lose on the rehab project before they should just let it go?


Breaking spirits works!


"If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is break their spirits." - Matt Cutts


Through a constant ex-post-facto redefinition of "what is spam" to include most anything which is profitable, predictable & accessible, Google engineers work hard to "deny people money."


Over time SEO became harder & less predictable. The exception being Google investments like Thumbtack, in which case other's headwind became your tailwind & a list of techniques declared off limits became a strategy guidebook.


Communications got worse, Google stopped even pretending to help the ecosystem, and they went so far as claiming that even asking for a link was spam. All the while, as they were curbing third party investment into the ecosystem ("deny them money"), they work on PR for their various investments & renamed the company from Google to Alphabet so they can expand their scope of investments.


"We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!" - Larry Page


From Do/Know/Go to Scrape/Displace/Monetize


It takes a lot of effort & most people are probably too lazy to do it, but if you look at the arch of Google's patents related to search quality, many of the early ones revolved around links. Then many focused on engagement related signals. Chrome & Android changed the pool of signals Google had access to. Things like Project Fi, Gogle Fiber, Nest, and Google's new OnHub router give them more of that juicy user data. Many of their recently approved patents revolve around expanding the knowledge graph so that they may outright displace the idea of having a neutral third party result set for an increasing share of the overall search pie.


Searchers can instead get bits of "knowledge" dressed in various flavors of ads.


This sort of displacement is having a significant impact on a variety of sites. But for most it is a slow bleed rather than an overnight sudden shift. In that sort of environment, even volunteer run sites will eventually atrophy. They will have fewer new users, and as some of the senior people leave, eventually fewer will rise through the ranks. Or perhaps a greater share of the overall ranks will be driven by money.


Jimmy Wales stated: “It is also false that ‘Wikipedia thrives on clicks,’ at least as compared to ad-revenue driven sites… The relationship between ‘clicks’ and the things we care about: community health and encyclopedia quality is not nothing, but it’s not as direct as some think.”


Most likely the relationship *is* quite direct, but there is a lagging impact. Today's major editors didn't join the site yesterday & take time to rise through the ranks.


As the big sites become more closed off the independent voices are pushed aside or outright disappear.


If Google works hard enough at prioritizing "deny people money" as a primary goal, then they will eventually get an index quality that reflects that lack of payment. Plenty of good looking & well-formatted content, but a mix of content which:


  • is monetized indirectly & in ways which are not clearly disclosed
  • has interstitial ads and slideshows where the ads look like the "next" button & the "next" button is colored the same color as the site's background
  • is done as "me too" micro-reporting with no incremental analysis
  • is algorithmically generated

Celebrating Search "Innovation"


There has been a general pattern in search innovation. Google introduces a new feature, pitches it as being the next big thing, gets people to adopt it, collects data on the impact of the feature, clamps down on selectively allowing it, perhaps removes the feature outright from organic search results, permanently adds the feature to their ad units.


This sort of pattern has happened so many times it is hard to count.


Google puts faces in search results for authorship & to promote Google+, Google realizes Google+ is a total loser & disconnects it, new ad units for local services show faces in the search results. What was distracting noise was removed, then it was re-introduced as part of an ad unit.


I'm confused didn't Google pull authorship cuz faces in the SERPS was a bad experience for the users? pic.twitter.com/mI2NdyGzd7— Michael Gray (@graywolf) July 31, 2015


The same sort of deal exists elsewhere. Google acquires YouTube, launches universal search, offers video snippets, increases size of video snippets. Then video snippets get removed from most listings "because noise." YouTube gets enlarged video snippets. And, after removing the "noise" of video stills in the search results Google is exploring testing video ads in the search results.


Some sites which bundle software got penalized in organic search and are not even allowed to buy AdWords ads. At an extreme degree, sites which bundled no software, but simply didn't link to an End User Agreement (EULA) from the download page were penalized. Which leads to uncomfortable conversations like this one:


Google Support: I looked through this, and it seemed that one of the issues was a lack of an End User Agreement (EULA)


Simtec: An EULA is displayed by the setup program before installing starts. Also, the end user license agreements are linked to from here http://www.httpwatch.com/buy/orderingfaq.aspx#licensetypes


Google Support: Hmm, They do want it on the download page itself


Simtec: How come there isn’t one here? google.co.uk/chrome/browser/desktop/


Google Support: LOL


Simtec: No really?


Google Support: That’s a great question


Of course, it goes without saying that much of the Google Chrome install base came from negative option software bundling on Adobe Flash security updates.



Google claimed helpful hotel affiliate sites should be rated as spam, then they put their own affiliate ads in hotel search results & even recommended hotel searches in the knowledge graph on city name searches.


Google created a penalty for sites which have an ad heavy interface. Many of Google's search results are nothing but ads for the entire first screen.


Google search engineers have recently started complaining about interstitial ads & suggested they might create a "relevancy" signal based on users not liking those. At the same time, an increasing number of YouTube videos have unskippable pre-roll ads. And the volume of YouTube ad views is so large that it is heavily driving down Google's aggregate ad click price. On top of this, Google also offers a survey tool which publishers can lock content behind & requires users to answer a question before they can see the full article they just saw ranking in the search results.


"Everything is possible, but nothing is real." - Living Colour


Blue Ocean Opportunity


Amid the growing ecosystem instability & increasing hypocrisy, there have perhaps been only a couple "blue ocean" areas left in organic search: local search & brand.


And it appears Google might be well on their way in trying to take those away.


For years brand has been the solution to almost any SEO problem.


I wonder how many SEOs working for big brands have done absolutely nothing of value since 2012 yet still look like geniuses to executives.— Ross Hudgens (@RossHudgens) August 7, 2015


But Google has been increasing the cost of owning a brand. They are testing other ad formats to drive branded search clicks through more expensive ad formats like PLAs & they have been drastically increasing brand CPCs on text ads. And while that second topic has recently gained broader awareness, it has been a trend for years now: "Over the last 12 months, Brand CPCs on Google have increased 80%" - George Michie, July 30, 2013.


There are other subtle ways Google has attacked brand, including:


  • penalties on many of the affiliates of those brands
  • launching their own vertical search ad offerings in key big-money verticals
  • investing billions in "disruptive" start ups which are exempt from the algorithmic risks other players must deal with
  • allowing competitors to target competing brands not only within the search results, but also as custom affinity audiences
  • linking to competing businesses in the knowledge graph

Google has recently dialed up monetization of local search quite aggressively as well. I've long highlighted how mobile search results are ad heavy & have grown increasingly so over time. Google has recently announced call only ad formats, a buy button for mobile ads, local service provider ads, appointment scheduling in the SERPs, direct hotel booking, etc.


And, in addition to all the above new ad formats, recently it was noticed Google is now showing 3 ads on mobile devices even for terms without much commercial intent, like [craft beer].


I like how this new-ish search box takes up a ton of space and puts all these ads right in the prime viewing area pic.twitter.com/CcYdW118gf— Jared McKiernan (@jaredmckiernan) August 18, 2015


Now that the mobile search interface is literally nothing but ads above the fold, early data shows a significant increase in mobile ad clicks. Of course it doesn't matter if there are 2 or 3 ads, if Google shows ad extensions on SERPs with only 2 ads to ensure they drive the organic results "out of sight, out of mind."


Earlier this month it was also noticed Google replaced 7-pack local results with 3-pack local results for many more search queries, even on desktop search results. On some of these results they only show a call button, on others they show links to sites. It is a stark contrast to the vast array of arbitrary (and even automated) ad extensions in AdWords.


Why would they determine users want to see links to the websites & the phone numbers, then decide overnight users don't want those?


Why would Google determine for many years that 7 is a good number of results to show, and then overnight shift to showing 3?


If Google listed 7 ads in a row people might notice the absurdity of it and complain. But if Google only shows 3 results, then they can quickly convert it into an ad unit with little blowback.


You don't have to be a country music fan to know the Austin SEO limits in a search result where the local results are now payola.



Try not to hurt your back while looking down for the organic search results!


Here are two tips to ensure any SEO success isn't ethereal: don't be nearby, and don't be a business. :D


Categories: google
28
Search marketing shopping campaigns like those used for Google Shopping can improve strategy and increase profit by utilizing the economic principles of marginal profit optimization.
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com/~ff/sew?a=lT7le0kVnP8:KVDspN4Z8UA:F7zBnMyn0Lo">
26
In spite of the transient nature of this ever-evolving and converging field, here are five skills that will allow digital marketers to adapt and thrive as hybrid professionals.
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ginewatch.com/~ff/sewblog?a=GjI_zPTLoAU:L7vlWrMIEpg:F7zBnMyn0Lo">
21
I was a moderator on Digital Point forums back in 2007 when I heard about this John Reese guy.  One of the other moderators had a VB plugin and was blown away when Jon promoted it and he sold over 10,000 units of it. This was at the time I just had launched AuctionAds and I wanted to get this guy onboard. So I looked up John Reese’s information at DigitalPoint and shot him an email.  His first response was something like “How the hell did you get my personal email?”.  LOL.  So I told him.   He offered to
41

The number of businesses that now ship or trade in multiple countries is growing by the day. No longer is it just the large corporations that have the ability to ship their products at competitive rates and increase their returns. Although many have increased their international revenue streams, the majority of brands large and small neglect […]

The post rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net/blog/international-seo-5-basic-seo-issues-you-should-be-considering/">International SEO: 5 Basic SEO Issues You Should be Considering appeared first on rel="nofollow" hre

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f="http://white.net">White.net.

48

A day after the alleged major update, I thought it would make sense to highlight where we are at in the cycle.


Yesterday Google suggested their fear messaging caused 4.7% of webmasters to move over to mobile friendly design since the update was originally announced a few months ago.


The 4.7% of the websites Google pushed to go mobile friendly likely include some sites which would have been mobile friendly anyhow by virtue of being new sites on hosted platforms with

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responsive designs. But for the rest of the sites, was the shift worth it?


That is a tough question.


It is too early to tell.


  • Google still hasn't put much weight on it in the rankings yet.
  • Mobile traffic is typically worth far less than desktop traffic for most websites.
  • Time which was spent on mobile friendly conversion could have been spent on other forms of marketing.
  • Some sites which became mobile friendly took a significant revenue hit in doing so by switching out long running effective ad placements with mobile responsive units which may not have performed as well.

The problem with going early is you eat the expense upfront, while the rewards are still unknown.


  • Many people who jumped on the "secured everywhere" bandwagon last year saw broken security certificate issues and broken plugins which were hard to fix. And the upfront cost wasn't the only expense, as many AdSense publishers saw less relevant ads, lower ad CTR, and a sharp drop in AdSense earnings after going secured.
  • Those who spent the money to integrate Google Checkout to get AdWords discounts had to spend again to remove it when Google stopped supporting it.
  • TV makers who were early to integrate Google's YouTube API (which allowed ad free streaming) will now have to deal with a rash of customer complaints as Google sunsets the old API to make way to be able to sell an ad free subscription service.

If you are spending your own time & money and you believe in what you are doing and the longevity of a project then it doesn't matter too much if the rewards come slowly or never come. A sense of purpose & a sense of pride in your work is a form of payment.



However, if you are spending a client's money & you ring a 5 alarm fire to rush to make some technical change & then see no upside after the much hyped announcement, that erodes client trust. If there is no upside and a huge drop in revenue, then the consultant looks like a clueless idiot burning money for the sake of it doing various make work projects.


A few years ago a Google rep stated Panda would be folded into the regular algorithms. Then recently we were told it was a near realtime. Then we were told it was something where updates needed to be manually pushed out & it is something Google hasn't done in 4 months. If we trusted Google & conveyed any of these messages to clients, once again we looked like idiots. If we choose to invest client money based on the cycles and advice we are given, quite often that is a money incinerator.


Imagine dropping $30,000 on a link cleanup project where you remove links which were helping your Bing rankings but the Google update "coming soon" takes over a year to show up.


Invest money to lower your current income while you're waiting for Godat.


Good times!


So after Google made a big show of this pending mobile update by pre-announcing it, speaking about it at multiple conferences, comparing it to Panda and Penguin & stating it would have a bigger impact, sending out millions of warning messages via Webmaster Tools, etc etc etc .. when the big day came, did Google make the people who trusted them & invested in their advice look good?


Not so much.


Ayima recently launched a SERP flux pulse tracker tool which shows desktop and mobile flux side-by-side.



As you can see, nothing happened.



So far, no rewards. Maybe they will come. Though here is a hypothetical example where it could be very much NOT worth it for some publishers to go mobile friendly...


  • a webmaster managing an affiliate site converts it to a mobile responsive design
  • but user conversions on mobile devices in some verticals are unlikely, due to it being a pain in the ass to enter credit card info and so on ...
  • well ... person makes their site mobile friendly
  • that leads their mobile version of their site to rank better in Google
  • that leads to a greater share of their overall organic Google search traffic coming from mobile devices
  • their engagement metrics on mobile are somewhat weak, particularly when compared against desktop users, as is the case for many websites
  • their lower aggregate engagement metrics could create a signal which lead an edge case site into a false positive panda penalty
  • that then lowers their desktop search rankings
  • which lowers their desktop search traffic
  • which lowers their desktop search revenues
  • ...worse yet, ...
  • those affiliate cookies they dropped on mobile devices don't count for them when the user later converts on a desktop device

Any form of penalty (even a false positive) can become self-reinforcing. And many of the things which seem like they might help could cause harm.


Did you jump the gun or wait and see?


Categories: google
38
As singular keyword bidding ends, marketers should familiarize themselves with the bid stacks Google is testing, such as those for age, gender, location, device and household income.
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com/~ff/sew?a=y-8ymrY1Ono:4o4n-k9KSyc:F7zBnMyn0Lo">
21
Industry experts see Google's search and ad business remaining relatively unchanged. However, the areas that fall under Alphabet could see a positive impact from the increased attention.
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s.searchenginewatch.com/~ff/sewblog?a=6NkPCJAAHOo:E3GZGqlsJB0:F7zBnMyn0Lo">
12
Should you start selling from day one, or should you wait until you have an eager and willing audience? If there were an easy answer, this question wouldn’t keep coming up. There is no right or wrong; only what’s right for you. Here are some thoughts on when you should begin selling. Get Set Up As Early As Possible Whether you want to review and promote affiliate products or put ads up on your site, you need traffic to make money. If people aren’t coming to your site, it doesn’t matter how many things you’re promoting. Still, while you’re probably
63

After conducting a fair number of content audits in my time, I feel that the time has come to speak out about company blogs at their very best and worst. Over the next few months I’ll be taking you through some blogging basics, starting today with the question: “should it be a blog post?” Introduction […]

The post rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net/blog/should-it-be-a-blog-post/">Blogging 101 – Should it be a blog post? appeared first on rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net">White.net.

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