Mr. Google, Matt Cutts, foretells the Future of SEO

ImageMatt Cutts has recently given a heads-up for what webmasters and SEO experts should expect over the summer of 2013. He addresses Google’s “Most Wanted” List of Top Ten things to watch out for:

http://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-black-hat-link-spammers-less-likely-to-show-up-in-search-results-after-summer-159185

[Giving a Shout-Out to Barry Schwartz over at SearchEngineLand for that link to a really nice summary of Matt’s presentation. I often keep an eye on Barry’s posts, along with other great journalists at SearchEngineLand.com.]

Fewer Words Matter

The hardest part of any marketing task is communicating your message in just a few words.

I have been telling friends for years that a marketing degree should start with “Marketing 101: How to Describe It in 100 Words.” It would be a weekly course and every week the student would have to describe the same item, but in fewer and fewer words. The final would be a Google Adwords Ad…here is it’s format:
25 Characters
35 Characters
25 Characters

That’s less than 100 Characters, including spaces. And in that 100 characters you have to grab a person’s attention, differentiate yourself and entice them to click on your Ad among all others.

Most firms we begin helping have a tough time saying what they do in a paragraph.

One of the SEM mentors I follow posted this video, which I think sums all this up in two spoken sentences and one written one.

Can you describe your company in seven words or less? Give it a shot, you may be surprised at the results!

Google Adwords Big Change Coming?

Upcoming Adword Format Bad for SMBsWhile catching up on the latest SEO articles, a disturbing post showed up today. It appears that Google is testing the effects of showing how many clicks an Ad or Advertiser has previously gotten.

While we promote Google Adwords to many of our small business clients, there are various aspects that are real disadvantages to them. The overall complexity and several default settings are definitely an issue for SMB and independents without some type of Search Engine Marking (SEM) resource.

Well, Google is trying an Adwords experiment that may indeed be another major problem for small businesses. There are apparently two types of displays being tested, one that just says “Clicks”. The other one says “clicks from this advertiser”. In this image, notice the difference between the two almost identical Ads for the same basic product/brand:Google Adwords Click Display Experiment

Showing “Clicks for this Advertiser” in the Ad will create a very unfair advantage for large brands, big Ad budgets and National Ad agencies.

Notice that the top Ad has 156,000 previous clicks and the one below it has 59,000,000. Which would you click?

We’ve been very successful pitching SMB Ads against major brands with deep pockets. We rely on niche targets, whether time spots, longer tail keywords, more refined and selective demographics or sites. If successful, our Ad typically shows higher than the wider casting net of the big check books.

Think of it another way. A big budget allows for less granular keyword bids, less related Ad text to keywords they are bidding on and finally, paying a bit higher due to a lower quality score. If we are able to place our SMB Ad alongside the more generic text from one of their Ads, we stand a better chance of getting the click due to our more relevant copy and keywords.

Unless that other Ad has 59,000,000 clicks displayed and we only have 156,000.

The real shame? All 156,000 of our visitors could have bought a product, while 200,000 of those other clickers could have bounced away from that site’s competing product immediately without buying anything. If that Advertiser’s 58,800,000 of those clicks are for Ads that send them to another page, not that related to our client’s product, then they won’t even be penalized much. And the users that might have clicked and bought, will instead gravitate towards the Ad with more clicks due to the Lemming Effect.

This also means longer running Ads and Advertisers could have better click through rate (CTR) advantage.

YELP CEO responds to class action lawsuit

I’ve been discussing the issue of online reviews, and in particular YELP in several articles this year, such as “no Sheriff in the Wild Wild ‘Net” and more recently about a class action lawsuit against YELP.

YELP’s CEO has responded to the lawsuit with his blog post. It does provide YELP’s perspective and emphasizes that the quality and fairness of the reviews is how they’ve built a large user base. Jeopardizing the integrity of that, he states, would negatively impact the company.

While that may be right, or may have been right before gaining 29 million users, he doesn’t address anything at all about their income and business model, other than referencing “no businesses that advertise on YELP have a perfect reputation”.

But, isn’t that where the issues lies? I suspect those businesses didn’t start off advertising when there were few users and great reviews. I believe the majority of those businesses advertised to get a more favorable review up top above a negative review…that seems to have only occurred after turning down an Ad deal from a YELP sales person.

Of course, I’m only speculating based on the range of multi-page articles I’ve read, several by investigative reporters. I could, of course, be as wrong as the YELP CEO contends all of these reports are wrong.

Yelp sued for online reviews

I just noticed a news item on TechCrunch.com that mentions Yelp is being taken to court over their online review & ‘pay to remove’ practice.

On this previous blog post, I mentioned how Yelp, and other online reviews, can be a real challenge for small business owners trying to keep up with all the information overload and online ‘sites’ they have to monitor.

I’ll keep an eye on this case, as many in my part of the industry will do I’m sure, and let my readers know the outcome (though I’m sure it will be several years).

But does Yelp Love us?

But does Yelp Love Us if We Don't Pay?

Google adds “Click to Call” on Mobile Adwords

Wow, talk about timing. I don’t think my last blog post about the impressive response percentages to SMS or Text ‘Marketing’ messages had even managed to hit most RSS streams before I saw the below Google announcement on a new “Click to Call” business feature sent to my inbox. While I think overall this is a fantastic opportunity for most retail businesses, I’m not thrilled with the limited flexibility they provide as to how to control whether your business phone number shows or doesn’t show.

However, this additional feature continues to make it more and more important that retail businesses formalize their mobile marketing plans:

Coming Soon: Click-to-Call in Ads on Mobile Devices with Google AdWords

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

We’re pleased to announce that beginning in January, your location-specific business phone number will display alongside your destination url in ads that appear on high-end mobile devices. Users will be able to click-to-call your business just as easily as they click to visit your website. You’ll be charged for clicks to call, same as you are for clicks to visit your website.

How will phone numbers appear in my ads? Based on the customer’s geographic location, the phone number and closest business address will appear as a fifth line of ad text when the ad appears on mobile devices with full HTML browsers (e.g. iPhone, Android, Palm WebOS).

Where will I be able to see the results? At launch, you’ll be able to view calls from your ads on your Campaign Summary page within AdWords from the “click type” segment option under the “Filter and Views” drop down.

How will I be charged for phone calls I get from my ad? The cost of a click to call your business will be the same as the cost of a click to visit your website.

What actions should I take?
If you’d like your ads to show location-specific phone numbers when displayed on mobile devices, make sure that your campaign is targeting iPhones and other mobile devices with full HTML browsers, and that you have included phone numbers with your business addresses in the locations under your Campaign settings. If you would prefer your ads not show phone numbers, simply remove the phone number from the business listings included in your campaigns targeting mobile devices.

We hope this new feature enables you to connect more easily with your potential customers. If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at ctc-feedback@google.com.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

Google Inc.

Study shows Small Businesses with Revenue Growth due to Increased Online Marketing

There’s not doubt that many businesses have substantially cut costs in Sales, Marketing & Advertising. However, according to the “Small Business Marketing Health Check” report from Hurwitz & Associates, small businesses that are doing well have increased their expenditures in marketing, especially online.

The study showed small businesses with increased revenues shifted marketing initiatives toward cheaper digital media and away from traditional channels. The three key online marketing methods used by these small businesses were use of social networking, email newsletter campaigns and ‘search’ (which really means “Pay Per Click”, such as Google’s Adwords platform).

“The survey clearly reveals that the use of low-cost Web-based marketing tools is playing a strategic role in helping businesses succeed,” said Laurie McCabe, partner, Hurwitz & Associates

Thanks to eMarketer’s blog for originally posting details of this report. There are graphs showing various breakdowns of small business revenue, marketing spend and projected spend at this blog.