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If anyone can tell you the secret to finding success on AdWords, it would be Frederick Vallaeys. Vallaeys was one of the first 500 employees at Google, and he spent over 10 years establishing AdWords as the hugely powerful platform it is today. Now, that he has left Google, Vallaeys is finally free to share his in-depth knowledge, which he recently did in an article for Search Engine Land.

Get the inside scoop on how Vallaeys manages his AdWords campaigns here.

 

Panda

Over the past 2 days, the SEO community has received confirmation that Google is rolling out not one, but two web spam focused algorithm updates; Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0. Panda 4.0 was confirmed by Matt Cutts on Twitter, while Search Engine Land initially announced the newest Payday Loan update which was later verified by Cutts.

As with any major algorithm update, there is much more speculation than there are facts at the moment. However we do know a little bit about the roll outs of the algorithm updates and what they are focused on.

Panda 4.0

Panda 4.0 is being called the ‘softer update’ in relation to its precursor thanks to a discussion back in March. It has been stated that the update affects different language queries to different extents, but Google estimates the effect on English searches is about 7.5% of queries.

Considering the reports of sites seeing significant recoveries, it is safe to assume this update is a little more generous and more welcomed than than the previous updates to Panda.

Payday Loan 2.0

The Payday Loan Algorithm is a bit less well known, as it was first launched last June and only targets ‘very spammy queries’; primarily the type of spammy queries associated with payday loans, insurance, and accident claims.

A Google Spokesperson issues a statement on the update, saying:

“Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update. The update was neither Panda nor Penguin – it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.”

So far estimates say only .2% of English queries were affected by this update, though this is also an international rollout affecting different languages to different extents.

googleadwordsGoogle has been hinting that AdWords is up for a major overhaul, with tons of new features and tools. They have recently announced the big AdWords presentation will occur on April 22, as Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management for AdWords speaks during a customer event. However, very few have been told what is going to be launched.

The only people with any idea of what is going to be unveiled later this month are Google and Search Engine Land, who got an exclusive early look at some of what is coming. Since Google obviously isn’t telling, your best chance of finding out before the April 22 event is to head over to Search Engine Land, where they are teasing all of the upcoming announcements.

Getting online is only half of the battle to actually expanding your brand via the internet. Once your website and profiles are all set up, you have to start leveraging them to interest and excite your audience. The only way to do this is by actually understand who you are trying to connect with and their habits.

A new study recently released by retail engagement firm Parago offers just that type of insight, as it explores how consumers research and buy across several product categories. The entire report can help you more deeply understand how people buy online and in-person.

Nathan Safran from Search Engine Land also took the study even further, by putting a magnifying glass onto the portion of the study that examined consumer behavior once the buyer is already in purchase mode.

There is a ton to be gained from the full report, and Safran’s work takes it a step further. The findings also break many of the misconceptions held by online marketers, especially when it comes to social media’s role in purchasing.

The graphic below breaks down where people prefer to look for certain types of goods, but it is just the tip of the iceberg contained in Parago’s report.

Source: Paradago

Source: Parago

The holiday shopping season is currently at a fever pitch, where it will likely stay until Dec. 26th, and more and more consumers are using the internet to aid their purchases. Online shopping isn’t new, but the prevalence of smartphones has made it easier than ever to turn to the internet to find what you need and shoppers aren’t shy about consulting the web before any purchase.

But, how does this affect shopping patterns and what are these consumers looking for exactly? If your brand is online, chances are you want to capitalize on the huge amount of online shoppers both at home and those using their smartphones while they shop. Unfortunately, a new survey from Search Engine Land and SurveyMonkey suggests this may be harder for smaller brands to do than anticipated.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that many online shoppers are looking for well known brands, but it might raise your eyebrows to learn it is the most important factor to many shoppers. The survey conducted on November 21-22 of this year shows that 70% of shoppers are focused on finding brands they are already familiar with. The only other factor which received over 50% of the response was free shopping.

The good news is this doesn’t spell the end for local businesses trying to grow their brand during the commerce season. Location and reviews still made a strong showing in the results, as did sales. Many shoppers also focused on retailers who offer images and easily viewable prices for their products.

Smaller brands can also take some solace in knowing the survey was limited to a relatively small sample size of roughly 400 Americans using SurveyMonkey Audience. You can see a chart of the results below.

Online Shopping Survey Graphic

Source: Search Engine Land / SurveyMonkey

Google has been making a move towards providing searchers more lengthy and thorough content in recent history. They estimate that roughly 10 percent of all searches call for in-depth article information and they have been aiming to make those types of sources more available, especially when it may be more relevant for users.

The first big move came a couple months ago, back in August. The search engine launched an update to include in-depth articles for relevant searches, with a special block of articles at the bottom of the search results page.

Now, Google has expanded the in-depth articles section so that users can view even more comprehensive articles by adding a new link which reads “More in-depth articles” beneath the initial selection of sources. Clicking that link shows 10 more articles on the same page. A screenshot of the update is below:

In-Depth Article Update Screenshot

The latest update also implemented the ability to explore related topics with an explore section next to articles which may be connected to other keywords. Search Engine Land notes that you can also search exclusively for in-depth articles by adding &ida_m=1 to the end of your search URL.

Currently this new feature doesn’t have much impact on the content your brand creates, but the trend could have huge implications for the future of search and Google’s focus. For now the majority of searches call for less extensive results, but eventually longer and more detailed content could be hugely rewarding for those willing to put in the effort.

Page Rank

Source: Felipe Micaroni Lalli

Ever since the roll-out of Google’s Penguin algorithm there has been a substantial amount of confusion regarding the current state of link building within the search marketing community. Thanks to Google’s vague practices everyone has an opinion on an algorithm which few actually understand in depth. Everything we know on this side comes from what Google has told us and what we’ve seen from data and analysis in the two years since Penguin came out.

The fact of the matter is that link building in the post-Penguin climate is risky business, but it is important for your online presence. If anything, links are more potent for your visibility than ever before. The problem is the rules are stricter now. You can’t buy and sell wholesale links, and bad links can be heavily damaging to your traffic and profits.

If you acquire quality links, your site is likely excelling in numerous areas and seeing success in both web traffic and search engine visibility. However, getting the wrong types of inbound links is almost certain to result in penalties from Google. In fact, Jayson DeMers from Search Engine Land says it is often more expensive to clean up the mess from bad backlinks than it would be to just acquire good links to begin with.

So what exactly constitutes a bad link? A bad link is any which is gained through questionable methods or goes against Google’s best practices. DeMers pinpointed six of these link building tactics which are likely to cause you problems if you attempt them.

Paid Links – Buying or selling links in the post-Penguin market is the same as putting a target on your website’s metaphorical back. Your site will get seen and penalized. Google has openly stated multiple times that buying or selling links is a huge no-no, and even links from long ago can come back to haunt you.

Article Directory Links – Article directory links were once a staple of link building because they were easy to get and they worked. But, low-quality spun content and distribution software relegated to the spammy category. At this point, Google has outright penalized many article directories, and this practice won’t help your SEO anymore.

Link Exchanges – For years link exchanges were a highly popular form of link building. It almost seemed like common courtesy to practice the concept of “you link to me and I’ll link back to you”, but of course many began to abuse the system. Once it was compromised and turned into a large scale pattern of link scheming, Google shut it down.

Low-Quality Press Releases – A press release is still a popular means of announcing important company information to the public, but don’t expect them to help your SEO. Most free press release submission websites are entirely ignored by Google.

Low Quality Directory Links – There are still a small number of industry-specific directories that are great for helping certain industries gain good links and traffic, the majority of old, free directory sites have been de-indexed by Google, and the search engine has publicly denounced the practice. In general, you should be staying away from low-quality directory links.

Link Pyramids, Wheels, Etc., – Over time, many SEOs came to believe they could get around Google’s watchful eye by using methods to artificially pass page rank through multiple layers of links, obscuring the distribution patter. But, in May, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam mentioned how the new version of Pengion has been refined to further fight link spammers and more accurately measure link quality. While we don’t know for sure what practices Cutts was referencing, it is widely believed he was talking about link pyramids and wheels.

Bing Featured VideoOn Monday, Bing rolled out a brand new music video search results page. The new feature allows you to search for a music video by song title, artist, or album, and users will see a box at the top of the results that highlights the most popular music videos related to the search, and a list of “Top Songs” for the query.

Bing’s result page collects videos from “leading sites including YouTube, Vimeo, MTV, Artist Direct, and more.” The videos listed beneath the featured video are ranked based on relevancy to the search, so an artist’s name will only mostly show their videos, while a search for a specific song returns more covers and amateur music videos.

Bing Videos Screenshot

Users are able to preview song’s without clicking by simply mousing over.

You will also notice a sidebar to the music video search results page which includes a related artist or related albums list so you can more easily find music in the same vein as you enjoy.

One nice little feature is that Bing has collected certain videos as they were originally ordered on an album. Search Engine Land reports a search for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon results in Bing listing the songs in the original order along with the featured video.

Bing-music-video-Dark-side-of-the-moon-600x192

rip-offersAfter an underwhelming debut in February, it appears AdWords Offer Extensions is being sent to the grave in favor of Google Offers. Ginny Marvin explains that AdWords Offer Extensions was intended to allow advertisers to dedicate extra real estate in their search ads to promoting in-store coupons and discounts. There was little excitement surrounding the announcement, and a new alert informs users that Offer Extensions was sent to the chopping block on November 1st.

The alert was posted on the support page for Offer Extensions. It reads:

Starting on November 1, 2013, we will no longer support offer extensions in AdWords. On that date, offer extensions will stop showing in your ads and offer extensions reporting will stop showing in your account. No action is required.

We recommend reviewing your campaigns to ensure your messaging continues to fit your goals. To retain offer extensions reporting for your records, remember to download campaign reports before November 1. Consider using sitelinks or Google offers to promote your deals and offers in the future.

On the other hand, on October 24, Google announced an updated self-service tool that allowed US businesses to create Google Offers. This way, consumers can use their smartphones to redeem and save coupons and promotions. These offers are distributed through Google Maps, Google+, Google Wallet, and the Google Offers app and website. It appears Google is putting their investments into turning Google Offers into a success, rather than trying to force AdWords Offer Extensions to catch on.

Just as with search, when we talk about PPC advertising, we almost naturally shift the majority of our attention to Google and their AdWords advertising platform. It makes sense on the surface, Google receives a significantly higher volume of search than other engines and even higher CTRs. But, some marketing analysts are beginning to believe it may be more effective to put an emphasis on Bing ads, especially if you are advertising for a small business.

Pricing Engine, a small business marketing platform, has found that Bing ads are “more efficient” than AdWords, as they become a lower cost source of leads for small businesses.

As Search Engine Land reported, Pricing Engine examined their own data from hundreds of accounts, and they found that CTRs were indeed marginally higher on Google, but CPCs were significantly higher. As such, it seems that you actually get more for your dollar with Bing ads.

Big brands will still favor the higher volume of searches on Google, but smaller businesses don’t require the same kind of scale. Investing in marketing with a better return per cost may pay off in the long run.