Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘seo

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan On Google, Bing, And The Search/Social Intersection

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When I introduced myself to Danny Sullivan at SXSW Interactive 2012 here in the IBM Future of Social Business lounge, I bowed down, as if before a monarch, and explained “I’m not worthy.”

It may seem an over-the-top gesture, but considering the value that Danny has brought to search engine marketers, optimizers, and Web masters over the past decade, the tribute is most appropriate.

We spent a good 15 minutes chatting with Danny, covering everything from Google to Google+ to the emergent intersection between search and social…and much more.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Do No Evil…Except When It Pays

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Every once in a while you find companies which do something that just makes you shake your head.

Google did just that the other day with its announcement that it was going to start sending all logged in users to their SSL enabled search page.

That sounds harmless enough, right?

Wrong.  The change means that the sites people visit after clicking on search results will no longer receive keyword data.  That data helps we marketers understand what people clicked on in the first place, and helps consumers get a contextually relevant experience.

Not having access to that data creates a contextual disconnect and, ultimately a bad user experience, as the marketer has no way of knowing what led the user to their doorstep — kind of like getting a FedEx package with no information as to the sender.

And so will this move by Google in the greater cyber marketplace.

But ah, Google says, we’re doing this to protect the privacy of our users.  Well, not quite all of them.

Because the out clause in this announcement was that Google would continue to reveal the search results in those referrals which originated with their paid search ads.  You know, the ones that drive 97+% of Google’s revenues.

Google’s corporate mantra has always been “To organize the world’s information” and to “Do no evil.”  They didn’t mention anything about leaving their customers and users in the dark along the way, which is exactly what they’ll be doing with this move to block referrer and keyword data from those search results coming through encrypted connections.

That data, as Google well knows, is very valuable information to marketers who specialize in search engine optimization. Though some search engine optimizers (SEOs) have garnered a reputation for gaming the system, I would argue most of them play by the rules and follow “white hat” practices.

Now, it’s Google that is gaming the system, by limiting the amount of visibility into what referrals are being driven to which keywords in organic search results.

By doing so Google, consciously or not, is discouraging investments in SEO, from which they receive no remuneration, while bolstering the need for marketers to buy their paid search ads, the profit engine of their business.  They do this even while knowing users overwhelmingly trust and click on organic results by a very large margin.

Why this sudden policy disparity?

As Peter Young wrote on his blog, Holistic Search Marketing, “To be honest, the fact that its perfectly acceptable for PPC (pay-per-click) data to be tracked in the same circumstance that Google says it cannot pass organic data through for “privacy purposes” would suggest again this privacy is the least of their concerns. ‘You can have the data — as long as you pay us’ would appear to be the rhetoric here.”

Moreover, as Blogstorm in the U.K. observed, “To me this seems like a move designed both to make Google appear to be protecting users as well as an opportunity for them to take away data that helps big sites build more effective SEO campaigns.”

And the less big sites can build more effective SEO campaigns, the more dependent they’ll become on Google paid search.  Right?

As any good and conscientious search marketer will explain, the best search marketing effort combines the most effective and strategic use and balance of both paid and organic search results.  This move by Google will ultimately hamstring the latter while boosting investment in the former (remembering that at last count, Google already held 81.9% market share for paid search).

That’s great news for Google earnings, but not-so-great news for companies trying to understand their visibility and impact in the Google organic search universe, and the organic search results that users trust most and tend to click the most on.  The less relevant those results become over time, the more marketers will come to depend on paid search.

Today, yes, it’s only a small percentage of users who are “logged in” to the Google platform.  But that number will surely rise with the adoption of Google+ and related Google applications, an increase which will continue to drive down the visibility of organic results and prevent marketers around the globe from understanding the full impact of their SEO efforts.

In short, this move will drive Google organic search results away from the sunshine and into a very deep and dark black hole, and in the process create inefficiencies that defy the elegance and relevance that search engine marketing have brought to the marketplace.

Perhaps at that point Google may ought to reconsider revising its corporate mantra: “Do no evil…except when it pays.”

Written by turbotodd

October 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Instant Google

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There’s no flies on the Goog.

They introduced a new feature this week, Google Instant.

Unlike most instant coffees, Google’s already been there and done that when it comes to caffeination (hearkening back to the Google Caffeine update from a couple years back).

This go round, Google’s moving into the world of instant search relief.

It’s also setting off a firestorm of commentary about branding online.

Let me explain: Assuming your connection has gotten the update, go to http://www.google.com and just type in the letter “A.”

What comes up first in the listing? “Amazon.” Followed by “AOL.” Followed by “ATT.”

Then, type the letter “B.”  “Best Buy” is at the top of the list. Followed by “Bank of America.”

I skipped on over to “I,” thinking that IBM might come up first.  But no, it was “IKEA.”

IKEA???  Other than being a Swedish furniture company, what in the world is IKEA doing coming up when I search for the letter “I”??

Fortunately, when I typed a “B” after the “I,” IBM finally appeared at the top of the short list.  Whew!

I can already envision the crazy games people are going to try and play to game their way to the top letter of the new Google search alphabet.

The new Instant, non-caffeinated search coffee Google’s brewing is also likely to turn some heads at the online advertising marketplace.

Impressions are going to likely go up with this new feature.  Possibly way up.

For those of you not in the online advertising know, online impressions are typically the ways by which advertisers measure the number of times their message or ad was presented to an individual consumer via a search or online display ad.

But by saying they expect this number to go up, does that mean there really were more search queries Did the Google search sea, in fact, rise?

Google seems to be saying, well, possibly.

On the GoogleWebmasterCentral blog, Doantam Phan from the Instant Search team at Google explains that impressions will be measured three ways with Google Instant:

  1. Your site is displayed in search results as a response to a user’s completed query (e.g., by pressing “enter” or selecting a term from autocomplete). This is the traditional model.
  2. The user begins to type a term on Google and clicks on a link on the page, such as a search result, ad, or a related search.
  3. The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.

So, marketers everywhere, let me be clear: If I’ve been up half the night writing this blog post, and I suddenly go to Google long enough to search on “sleep remedies,” and I fall asleep on my keyboard during that three second interval…well, you’ve just bought yourself a valuable search impression.

I fear this new (and seemingly arbitrary…but hey, you gotta draw a line somewhere) three second rule is going to be talked about ad nauseum.

Hey, could somebody call Miss Blankenship and get Don Draper on the line?!

While we wait for Don to finish his three martini lunch, let’s not forget the great productivity enhancement this new change provides.

Google user experience queen Marissa Mayer wrote in a blog post introducing this new feature that Google Instant saves the average searcher two to five seconds per search, or 11 hours with each passing second.


Google’s just saved nearly 350 million man hours (Note: The latest top-trending search on Google was “tom brady car accident,” just in case you were wondering what folks were doing with that productivity boost).

My only question is, can Google Instant do my laundry instantly as well?  That could save me tens of hours a day per year, hours I could have better spent online searching via Google and contributing to the “Google Bottom Line Benjamin Franklin printing press” (Try finding that query on Google Instant!).

Well, who am I to complain about progress?

I lead SEO in IBM’s Software business, and I think I’m going to go ahead and chalk up the increased impressions from Google Instant as part of my year-end bonus package.

Just don’t look for my name under the letter “T.”

That’s been reserved for “Target.”

Written by turbotodd

September 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

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