Monday, August 25, 2008

Section 2: Around the Net in Search Marketing

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the Lowdown On Google's Latest Quality Score Changes
Digital Media World
Google announced a number of Quality Score changes last week, and Rob Weatherhead cuts through the "Google-speak" to break down what it actually means for everyday AdWords users. One of the main changes is a removal of the minimum bid--which means that advertisers will see the estimated CPC they'd have to pay to get an ad to appear on the first page of results, instead of the standard lowest-price bid they'd need to make to have the ad appear in general. The other change is a Quality Score that's determined by query level as opposed to a per keyword basis.

For Google, Weatherhead says this means more search ad volume and more money, as advertisers will likely fight for that coveted first page positioning. "Once this temptation is there for every advertiser the whole market for first page listings should become more expensive," he says. Not to mention the fact that "people [will be] able to appear on any keyword they wish (so long as they are willing to pay) and a large number of previously inactive keywords will suddenly come into play."

For advertisers, it means increased CPCs all around. "By allowing people to see what it will cost them to appear on the first page you are giving them the push to bid to that level," Weatherhead says. "Some will shy away and save their spend, [while] to others it will be the carrot they need to make the next step." - Read the whole story...

Can Fiddling With Too Many Title Tags Negatively Affect Rankings?
What happens when you tweak title tags across a swath of pages on your Web site at the same time? Apparently, tumbling rankings, a decrease in the number of pages indexed and an ensuing slowdown in traffic, according to one Webmaster's account. Internetheaven, a WebmasterWorld forums user,explains that organic traffic to his site dropped by 65% in the wake of him changing the title tags for about 60 of the site's 250 pages.

"Last week I went through about 60 of them and adjusted the title tags to something I thought would be more appropriate," he said, "E.g. from: 'CompanyName - Get your keyword1, keyword2, keyword3 & keyword4 Quote Now from Company Name' to ¦ Company Name Keyword1 & Keyword2 Quotes'." And while it wasn't a drastic change, as the site wasn't generating much traffic from the deleted terms, the ensuing results were awful. So the discussion focuses on whether Internetheaven fiddled with too many title tags at once and sparked Google's "excessive optimization" radar. As one reader says: "Unless you are a super trusted authority site (ie you can throw up a page on a long tail and rank Top 3 in an hour), then Google is very cranky about title changes lately." The reader suggests that Internetheaven should change the bulk of the title tags back to their original setup, leave one "optimized" and see how/when the rankings fluctuate.

Another reader suggests that including "" as the first word of every title tag was likely the culprit. Google weights the first words of the title more than later words," says Steveb. "Putting as the first words of every page is suicide, and odd anyway. Change is not a problem, literally completely useless duplicate content is." - Read the whole story...

Still More Ways Search Firms Can Incur Client Wrath
iMedia Connection
Brandt Dainow serves up a scathing review of seven ways that search firms can under-serve or otherwise rip off their clients. He's not an "SEO sucks" kind of guy, as this article comes on the heels of one in which he extols the virtues of SEO. But Dainow explains that he received a "surprising" number of responses to the first article from readers who'd been duped by unscrupulous search firms.

"People complained about SEO suppliers doing things that I thought we had long ago eliminated," he says. "I thought the marketing community had smartened up and driven the SEO carpetbaggers out of town. I guess I was wrong."

Dainow calls search practitioners to task for using jargon and even creating words to describe the work they perform. For example, he found a company that described both "crawl maps" and sitemaps in their marketing literature. "Everybody knows how to create a site map, but only this company knows how to create a crawl map," Dainow says. "In fact, since there is no such thing, only this company even knows what it is (and it's not telling)."

He also says that hiding behind the guise of "IP rights" when clients ask for an explanation of how proprietary technology works is inexcusable. Dainow even argues that focusing on link-building (in terms of quantity as opposed to quality) can actually under-serve clients, as well as giving Page Rank too much attention. - Read the whole story...

Optimizing For Inclusion In Google News
Shimon Sandler
"Getting included in Google News can drive a ton of traffic," says Shimon Sandler, and he offers tips for getting your articles and blog posts indexed and filtered into both Google and Yahoo's SERPs with the "News" spotlight.

First, make sure your story is adding info to the actual news report--for example, expert commentary or an angle that no one else has pursued. Spitting out the same stats and facts that have already been covered won't garner your piece visibility.

Sandler also suggests making sure that each story has a URL that seems static (at least to the engines) and includes the author's name. And the title should be the same in both the H1 and title tag. Lastly, try including images or video, where applicable. - Read the whole story...

SES San Jose Spotlight: Implementing And Tracking Social Media Efforts
Top Rank
Jessica rounds up Top Rank's extensive SES San Jose coverage with this post that outlines the basics of analyzing and tracking social media efforts, starting with how to set up a social media strategy.

First, you need to listen to the conversations--i.e. how people are feeling about your brand, who the most influential voices are, and where they're talking about it--to map the landscape. Then, you become part of the conversation by answering forum posts, commenting on blogs and, in some cases, developing ads that will run against the social media content.

Lastly, you need to measure and optimize based on performance, and Jessica offers a host of applicable metrics. These include monitoring metrics, like the tonality of user postings and the amount of site traffic to the targeted forums and blogs, as well as engagement metrics, like the number of company postings and the number of members that the brand ambassador/manager spoke directly to. There are also other metrics like the page views per post, as well as the number of links that get directed to a client's Web site. - Read the whole story...

Search Insider - Around the Net for Monday, August 25, 2008


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