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Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, spoke during a Google Tech Talk on October 22, 2012, and he shared some interesting information about what you see every time you use Google, as Barry Schwartz reported for Search Engine Land.

“Any time you access Google, you probably are in a dozen or more experiments.” Google is always working to improve and refine how they record data. Google releases about 500 updates to search per year, and about another 500 on the ad side. To establish what changes are needed and what works best, they run these experiments, which come to about 5,000 different experiments in a year,

The video of the entire talk is below, and the relevant information starts around the 26 minute mark.

When we talk about mobile search engines, there are really only two names in the conversation: Google and Bing. But did you know there are quite a few other options, and you probably already have them available on your phone?

Many apps offer built-in search engines, and they may be able to direct good amounts of traffic to your site, depending on your market. For example, YouTube is actually the second most popular search engine being used. Yes, YouTube gets used for searching more than Bing.

Sherwood Stranieri analyzed these in-app search engines, and has a helpful breakdown of what less recognized mobile search engines are best for your industry.

Longtail SEO is beginning to become the dominant method for article marketers to be successful in the results pages, as well as strengthening brand visibility and awareness. It is the most effective method for most marketers.

In the past, the problem for many has been deciding whether to invest energy, time and money into marketing a single primary keyword, which might receive a high volume of searches every month, or possibly to focus on a longtail keyphrase. The longtail keyphrase might only get a small amount of search queries every month, but it allows for the business to achieve the top ranking, which receives the most traffic.

Trying to focus on a single keyword puts you at a disadvantage. It may get queried more than your longtail phrase, but it will be such a crowded market, you would be lucky to get on the third page or results. When most traffic goes to the very first result, being on the third page isn’t going to get you many visitors.

Longtail phrases on the other hand put you in a much higher ranking on SERPs for less popular related queries, which will net you more traffic overall. As Justin Arnold, writer for The Mightier Pen, puts it, you have to choose between theoretical popularity, and actual sales traffic.

Choosing a longtail phrase is much too big of a subject to cover here, but the main idea is to think about claiming a corner of the market. People are searching for more specific queries, so marketing a longtail phrase for your specific area of the market puts you in a good place to actually get some sales.

 

The latest research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which examines the first half of 2012, finds that the biggest contributor to online advertising in the U.S. continues to be spending on Search Marketing.

With 48% of all interactive advertising in the first half of the year, search ads brought in $8.1 billion.  It is also 19% higher than during the same period of 2011.

Performance pricing, usually cost-per-click, remains the dominant pricing model and has continued to get stronger.

For graphs of the data, visit Pamela Parker’s write up over at Search Engine Land.

 

New research from Compete.com is suggesting being the first result on a SERP can make a huge difference from being second.

The analysis comes from “tens of millions” of consumer-generated search engine results pages from the last quarter of 2011. It also had some really interesting findings. 85 percent of all listings shown are organic, with only 15 percent paid search listings.

Out of the organic listings, 53 percent of clicks are going to the very first result, with the second result only seeing 15 percent, and all others getting even less.

Analysts from Compete.com summarize “since the vast majority of listings on a SERP are organic, and the majority of clicks are on the first listing, it’s imperative that brands strategy including constantly monitoring results due to the ongoing evolution of search engine algorithms.”

The paid results are also getting a large amount of clicks. Most specifically, ads in the top of the page perform very well, with between 59 percent and 9 percent of all paid results clicks. Ads on the right hand of the page however, get at most 4 percent of paid results clicks.

Overall, it is important to get your listings in the top position, if you want your page to be getting attention. For graphs and analysis of the results, read Miranda Miller’s article at Search Engine Watch.

 

Google’s algorithm changes over the last decade have really made huge shifts in the way we search things. They also really help developers stay on their toes.

Initially, the SEO business was all about rankings. You told your client how you would get their keywords to the top of the search, and then showed them how high they were coming up in searches. Of course, it took a while to get their site to the top, but once you did, they were content.

Now, thanks mostly to Search+, it is the job of SEOs to get their clients to stop thinking about ratings. What Search+ has done is customize the results for every search you make based on search history, location, social media usage, and other criteria. That means everyone gets results catered to them, but it also results in your client’s site not appearing high in the rankings for some people.

Sujan Patel offers some other methods of tracking how your websites are performing, all of which can be found in Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.

There are simple reports like “visitor growth” that show how your site is trending quickly and clearly, as well as old metrics that have risen in popularity. Such measurement tools like Impressions give you ideas of how your pages are appearing for similar search terms.

Another old metric that has become much more useful is your site’s average ranking. In January, Google announced changes to how they score site’s average rankings and now it gives a much closer average of “how a link’s position in Google search results should be important.”

While the older ways of Google made it easier for you to see how your site is performing, the changes in recent months have actually been an improvement for marketing towards target demographics. Unfortunately, this means improving your analytic skills is essential if you want to succeed. You may not be able to give your client keywords to search to see their performance, but if you know your analytic tools, you can still quickly show them how your SEO path is helping them grow their business.

 

Google has made five recent SEO changes that will make most content marketers, writers, and bloggers quite happy. They play to your strengths. Some users may be less happy about these changes, however.

The changes were mostly made to keep more people on Google products, which isn’t a bad idea from a business perspective, but some may find the changes effect searching negatively.

The good news is, the changes were also made so that your results would be more personal by monopolizing on the fact that people are more likely to purchase something if they know their friend also likes it.

The even better news is these changes are great for anyone who makes content for a living. I will walk you through all of the changes and help you to take advantage of them.

1) Optimize personalized search – One of the biggest changes Google has made completely changed SEO by making search results personal. The results you get for a search will be different than mine, based on factors like your browsing history, the content you create and content shared by your social circles. People are finding their content more and more through social media networks and searching less.

So how can you optimize your content for personalized search? One option is you can increase your Google+ circles. Google is actively trying to get people to sign up for Google+, and in this instance, using Google+ and connecting with more people on there helps improve your search. The more people you have in your circles, the higher relevant content will show up in your searches. This also means that your circles can see your content when they search.

2) Increase social sharing – As a content creator, getting shares on social media is a great way to get your content high in the search rankings. According to a study by branded3, the more tweets leading to a URL you can get, the higher you will appear in rankings. For example, anyone that gets over 7,500 tweets (not an easy task) will appear in the top five results almost always. This type of logic most likely also works for Facebook.

As a content creator, capitalize on social sharing and you can beat your competition in the rankings. Just make sure to make the social sharing buttons obvious so that readers can find them, encourage your readers to share and try to court others with influence in your target social circles. Interview them or offer to do guest posts. Anything to establish a connection.

3) Employ semantic keyword research – Google is improving at segmenting search results, which gives you an opportunity to rank higher in verticals. This is a surefire way to get higher conversion rates because your prospective visitors are better targeted.

To take advantage of this, you’ll need to look for “advanced search” keywords. When you search, there is a way to refine results with a tool hidden in “show search tools”. Within this advanced search tool, you can look at “related searches”. Now you have semantic options you can test for the highest search volumes. There are also ways to improve your keyword list such as Google Insights for Search, which lets you narrow keywords down via categories.

4) Play with the Panda update – Google’s Panda update finally made life hard for spammers and content farms by harshly punishing sites with low quality content. This is good for all of the content creators who put hard work into long blog posts with useful content. Google even offered questions to determine the value of your content.

5) Implement the Google Authorship Mark-up – A search marketing firm proved rich snippet will increase SERP CTR and traffic. It’s that simple. Their analytics show a 150% increase when rich snippet was implemented. You might not get results quite that good, but it’s almost certain you will benefit if you implement the Google’s authorship snippet. It can be complicated, and it is slow to show results, but if you invest now you’ll see results in the not too distant future.

All of these Google changes have radically changed the SEO game, but they have made it a wonderful moment to be a content marketer. Those that put out shoddy content are being penalized, and there are all sorts of opportunities to really get your content out there.

 

For a more in depth look at author rank, read Neil Patel’s article at Quick Sprout.

McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrities Study results have been released for this year and the news is bad for Harry Potter fans. Emma Watson is the most dangerous celebrity to search for.

The title was held by Heidi Klum last year, but she has dropped off of the list. Searching Watson’s name has a 12.6 percent chance to leading to dangerous sites that offer spyware, adware, viruses and all other sorts of dubious content.

Also of note in this years’ list is the lack of men. The entire top ten are female. The only man to appear in the top 20 is Jimmy Kimmel, who was ranked number 13. Last year only two men appeared on the list.

The message is clear; if you’re searching a female celebrity, be careful what you click on.

 

For more information, read Matt Mcgee’s article at Search Engine Land.

While infographics are often a great way to attract attention, there are times when they are not the proper solution for a client. Here are six instances where infographics don’t provide a good return of investment for the client and shouldn’t be used.

  1. Sites with Questionable Links – All SEO experts know about the huge shift created by Google’s Penguin and Penguin algorithms. Owners of penalized sites will often ask if infographics can solve their problems. Infographics can assist in varying backlinks, but it can’t solve all of the issues. Before recommending an infographic, you need to know about the specific penalties.  Also, many sites with “grey links” haven’t been penalized. Infographics can cause these sites to be identified and then get hit by penalties. Investing money for an infographic (which can cost thousands of dollars if independent research and design is needed) is not a wise recommendation when a website may be already on the edge of penalties.
  2. Under-developed Sites – So, you have a brand new website. Wouldn’t an infographic be a great and easy way to advertise your site to the world? Probably not. They don’t just bring links. They also help place your brand in front of the proper audience. By publishing on an under-developed site, clients may get the impression that you are sloppy or lack experience. Also, like is commonly found in SEO, the ROI relies on how you leverage the assets you already have. Infographics may help leverage your Social Media status and RSS subscribers, but you’ll want to make sure that these are all up to date beforehand.
  3. Lack of Social Media Plan – A real social media plan is not just having a Facebook or Twitter. Infographics are designed to be viral and attract tons of social-media savvy people to your website. If your social media accounts aren’t updated or lack content, these visitors are unlikely to become an audience. Before you use an infographic you need to update your content frequently, court a number of followers and have a stategy for identifying members of your demographic.
  4. Lack of Mailing List – Using an infographic without a mailing list means missing out on a massive opportunity. Having 10,000 unique visitors sounds wonderful initially, but is not likely to provide a long term audience. However, having just 50 people sign up for your company’s mailing list is an essential part of converting visitors to leads.
  5. No Budget – While numerous places offer infographics for relatively cheap, they don’t allow you to rise above the clutter of the internet. According to Topsy, in 2012 17,000 tweets included the word “infographic”. That means a mediocre infographic will not capture the attention of the biggest markets. Making an infographic requires a skilled team and usually costs over $1,000. If you can’t afford that much, you’re more likely to see a return on your investment with link bait articles or guest postings.
  6. You Don’t Understand Infographs – Infographs are for good content but that content may not always be what you personally enjoy. It is aimed at your demographic and the online sources that focus on that market. Trying to squish a long detailed report may seem like a great idea, but it is unlikely to go viral. It may be visually appealing, but it won’t convert potential customers.

To see the original article by Danny Ashton:
When NOT to use an Infographic: 6 Examples

Google’s been doing live suggestions for a while now.  But did you know you can actually use wild cards on the search line?  No asterisk required, but you can simply add one character to a word to find any similar words that are searched for.  So looking for “tree”, you could add an ‘a’ to make it “atree”, and Google will potentially show you “apple tree” as a suggestion.

It’s quite powerful and easy to do.  To see some screen shots of how this works, check out this post on Search Engine Land.