Kevin Gamache on Google +1

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Doing the Bump with Google Places

Google continues its shift of their results pages. The newest culprit doesn't affect the natural search listings, per se, but mostly affects the paid, right column, ads.

Google Places is the latest addition to the Google Search Results page. The idea behind this is to free up some space on the natural search listings (center column) by simply tagging the locations in the center and having a map off to the right ABOVE the paid ads. So while this allows more room for those websites that are occurring naturally it is decreasing the visibility of those who are paying for attention for those results.

Most of you can see why this would be detrimental to pay-per-click marketers, but let me spell it out for those who don't see it:

1) Competition for local results now not only includes other businesses but Google's map which takes up 2-3 possible positions.
2) In order to be seen in these results you are now bidding at a much higher rate than before just to be seen.
3) Justifying the expense for pay-per-click ads will be a tad more difficult because the ROI that you had been optimizing for before Google Places no longer applies unless you were already in the #1 position which now is technically the #3 or #4 position.
4) UPDATED PORTION: The map box that takes up a good portion of the right column also scrolls down with you thus completely eliminating a top right column search ad position. All ads disappear behind the map box.

Marketers threw their hands in the air in disgust when Google first tested this out several months ago, now that it is common place, I foresee the same backlash on its way.

That's my opinion, you don't like it, let me know about!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Putting SEOs Where They Belong

I think it is time to put SEOs in their place! But where is that? Let’s look at some options:

The Technology/Developer Group: This is a good option, a lot of the onsite site SEO happens behind the curtain of the webpage and they occasionally dabble in coding.

The Copy Writers/Designers Group: Ooh this is another good option. SEOs help to inform the content creation and can head off designs that are not the most search engine friendly.

The Web Analyst Group: Hmm, another interesting choice. Most Search Engine Optimizers can filter through the raw data and provide perspective on what is going on and help put it into actionable context (the good ones can at least).

The Marketing/Strategy Development Group: Dang, another possible selection. SEOs are an excellent resource to bring in on the beginning strategy phase. They can inform best practices, perform competitive analysis, and many other exploratory and strategic offerings.

The Business Development Group: OK, Search Engine Optimizers are not going to be the closer but they definitely have the ability to add to the sales pitch; what is going wrong with the current site, value add for current clients, and other ways to ensure the client will found or will maintain ranking during a website refresh.

All these options seem to be a good fit; how do I choose? Oh, wait maybe that is the point I am trying to make! SEOs play a roll in many areas of the agency environment. No matter where they sit their perspectives and targeted insights in the whole digital marketing process can help aid the success of a client’s web presence. The SEO specialist adds to each of the groups and only when they are fully integrated into the process and a feedback loop is in place, do the best results rear their beautiful head. If your SEO strategy is developed in a vacuum then the results will truly suck. The communication needs to be a two-way street, but be sure to use your turn signal.

Have another group that is a good fit or you think doesn't fit, let me know!

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World (v. 2)Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 3: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness (v. 3)Scott Pilgrim, Vol 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It TogetherScott Pilgrim Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs The UniverseScott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Google's Instant SEO Challenge

Does Google Instant provide an SEO minefield or just expand the way we think about keyword selection?

All across the Twitterverse and in industry blogs the question is being raised, "Is Google Instant what will kill off SEO?"

I think that Google Instant provides a challenge for those of us in the Search Marketing industry. For a long time we in the SEO field have been trying to find the secret sauce of Google and trying to figure out what keywords are driving results to our clients' pages. We now not only have to think about the ultimate keyword they will use to find what they are looking for but what keywords they will start searching with. Most recently long-tail keywords have been the solution to how most searchers ultimately find what they are looking for, as the head terms are increasingly less relevant as more pages fill up these results but not targeted to what the searchers are looking for.

I believe searchers have grown accustomed to using more long-tail queries first to get at what they really want and have started adjusting their searching habits to avoid those pages that seemingly have less specific results.

Ok, now how does this apply to Google Instant?

Google is now taking a step away from the searcher by predicting what they are going to type for their query. No longer does the searcher have to waste time reformatting their query for head terms or long-tail terms. Google is now showing what results they would get if they did decide to go for the often irrelevant head terms automatically without additional keystrokes. As a searcher knowing that these results will be presented to me instantly I am more likely to try those terms knowing that I can quickly adjust that query and get what I am try looking for but it doesn't hurt to look at those head terms since they are there anyway.

As a search marketer I need to take into account how my clients' customers are searching for their products. As I mentioned previously this was focusing on a few head terms and a large portion of long-tail keywords but with the new adaptation of Google Instant it will be important to try for those head terms as they will now be viewed and considered more often because they will be the first results given for a specific query even if the searcher is heading toward the long-tail keyword.

So bottom line is that this will be a difficult period for search marketers, the results won't change instantly but SEO practitioners need to start working through their keyword strategy and see how this will ultimately affect their customers' experience of search for their products or services.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Google's Making Me Fat

As I am getting older I am noticing that I don't metabolize like I used to. Personally, I am going to blame this all on Google. I know, I know, you are saying "Oh sure blame Google, everyone else is blaming Google for their problems, like them sharing the information that they freely share online," but wait I have some good excuses how Google is driving me to add on the pounds.

1) Their Search Algorithm: From when I was a kid, shoot even when I was in college, I had to literally search for the information I needed to put into my report or do my job. Sure Yahoo was around but let's be honest those results were skewed(emphasis on were) and not the most reliable. So I ended up walking to the library and doing my research or, heaven forbid, do my own research study with hand taken surveys. Now I can just type in the data that I want to know and get a plethora of data that I can scrutinize. So I don't have to make that walking trip to the library to get what I need. - Fat Burned= -2

2) Google Maps: My family takes a lot of car trips (mainly because it is too expensive to fly 4 people now) but how do I (or my wife) plan these car trips? Get out the big paper map if I have one or go down to the store and buy the map? No! I go on my computer and plot my trip by typing in my location and where the hell I'm going and bada-boom bada-bing I have my whole route planned out. Even if I have to spend a night because the trip is too long I can find the hotel right there in that same map. I don't have to drive down to the AAA office to get a book for the area and look up what hotels are there. By not standing over the map and plotting the course or even in the car struggling with re-folding that big map. No calories burned with holding the turn-by-turn directions, forget getting out and asking for directions if I get lost I pull up the map on my smart-phone. - Fat Burned= -1

3) Google Reader: With this fabulous product I not only do not have to go to the library to pick up the latest newspaper or news-magazine to read the stories I am interested in, I don't even have to search the web! The stories are delivered to one spot that I can just go and start reading. Do you know what would help me burn less calories if I enabled the voice webpage reader. I have all the stories that I could possibly be interested in at one location, I don't have to walk from store to store in the mall to get everything I am interested in; food, video games, business journals, etc. - Fat Burned= -3

4) YouTube: I have saved the worst Google product that is leading to my forthcoming obesity problem for last. YouTube has an endless supply of stupidity, wondrous oddities, and crazy shit that you cannot find anywhere else, let alone one location. So with this myriad of entertainment options (Thank you Hockey Fights) I don't need to go and rent movies as often (I still get out of the house some, but I do have kids) or go bowling or golf or __________ Name your favorite activity that is truly active. I can sit around for hours on end and still not find everything YouTube has to offer. Thanks a lot YouTube. Here is a big F*ckYou for - Fat Burned= -10

So Google be expecting to get a bill for my diet supplements, gym membership (as long as I can watch YouTube while doing the elliptical), and the cardiac surgeon's bill. I love you Google but you are going to freakin' kill me!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where is search going and how can I jump on?

First off, hello again.  It has been a long while since I have done a post.  A full-time job will do that to ya.

Something that I have noticed as a theme in all the articles and forums and twitter posts that I read is that everyone wants to know where search marketing is going and how can I get on board.  Here is some quick advice I have for those that want to dive in:

Do your research!...Search engine marketing is multi-faceted and there things that work well for some sites and things that are detrimental if done incorrectly or not fully thought out.  Don't rush into it...know what you are getting into and plan for a loooonnnnngggg process that will fluctuate and morph into something completely different.

Seek out advice and share advice... A trend that I have noticed in the SEM industry is that aside from a few thought-leaders who are willing to expose every thought and tactic that they have there is a culture of "I don't want anyone else to know what I am doing"  I think this is BS, sure we all have our client secrets and methods but being tight-lipped about issues, problems, or successes should not be under lock and key.  I was recently on a panel with 2 other area SEM practitioners.  That panel was great, I think everyone learned a lot but, at the same time, we didn't exactly reveal our secret-sauce to our success but were able to give some guidance to those that were curious about SEO and social media. This is what I would like to see happen more often.  Maybe I am in too small a SEM community to have experienced this before but I think the opportunities are here and in all regions.

Test and re-test...As I mentioned above search engine marketing is changing and fluctuating at a rapid pace.  Set up a system to analyze your progress and what is working and what is not.  Start with a testing schedule. What are you going to test? What is going to be your control group? What determines success (this is different for every site even in the same category)?  How much data do you need to determine that success (hint 5 clicks to your site does not determine success)?

Basically have a plan, research how to implement the plan, get knowledgeable advice, implement, test implementation and then start again from step one.