Monday, 31 January 2011

Google algorithm change targets content spam

At the end of last week, Google's head of search quality Matt Cutts announced in his blog that the search engine has just implemented an algorithm change that is intended to "help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content."

The issue of 'content spam' and the increasing amount of this content that is 'clogging up' the search results has been rumbling on for some time and Google has been responsive to this criticism. Cutts says that the impact of the changes won't be that widely noticed with slightly over 2% of queries changing in some way, but that the net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.

There has been some amount of discussion forum and blog comment over the past few days about these changes and the impact they are having, but for most sites it should be minimal, or if anything, a positive change that rewards original content.

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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Google and Sensis develop relationship

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Google has further developed its business relationship with Sensis in Australia by signing up the Telstra arm as a keyword "reseller". This means that Sensis will be selling the AdWords pay-per-click service to its Yellow Pages customers and take a commission from Google.

As a result of the deal, Google gains access to this additional network and customer base, while Sensis maintains its reach by ensuring its customers' ads can be found when people are searching the web. The Yellow Pages service has been suffering in recent years and the most recent annual results have shown that revenue for Yellow and White Pages fell by 2.9% with revenue from the print edition down 6.9%. However, revenue from digital and mobile versions grew by 10 per cent, although this is a much smaller proportion of the overall revenues.

This new deal between Sensis and Google follows the agreement in 2008 for Yellow Pages business listings to appear in Google maps (Google Places). Google also powers Sensis's search engine as a search partner.

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Friday, 21 January 2011

Larry Page to become Google's CEO

In a surprise announcement at Google's 4th quarter earnings review, Larry Page is to take over as CEO at Google in place of Eric Schmidt. The BBC reports that co-founder Page will take over the role in April and Schmidt - who has been in the job for a decade - will become executive chairman with a focus on "deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships".

The news upstaged the earnings report, which showed that Google had a strong rise in net profits in the last three months of 2010, at US$2.54bn on revenues of US$8.44bn. The profit figure also compares well to the $1.97bn made in the same quarter the year before. Although there will be much speculation about the change, it appears that Google timed the potentially unstabling news to come out at the same time as the positive financial figures.

The BBC report says that, in corporate terms, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been 'grown-ups' for quite a while and now they are taking charge at the company that is rightfully theirs. Mr Schmidt said the management changes were part of a plan to "streamline" decision making and create clearer lines of responsibility and accountability.

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Monday, 17 January 2011

Google adds Contextual Targeting Tool for display ads

Google has announced the introduction of a Contextual Targeting Tool to help display advertisers select and reach customers more easily with the Google Display Network - part of the AdWords advertising service.

By using contextual targeting, advertisers can reach potential customers as they read webpages related to the products or services being sold and this new tool enables advertisers to create new contextually-targeted campaigns more easily and quickly. The tool automatically builds keyword lists that can be used to show ads on relevant webpages in the Google Display Network.

When planning and selecting lists of target keywords, the tool can help create new groups of terms more automatically and also provides suggested bids and predicted placements to give advertisers an idea of the types of sites in the Display Network where the ads can appear.

The Contextual Targeting Tool has previously been available to advertisers using AdWords Editor but this new launch means that all advertisers can now access it from the Opportunities tab in their AdWords account. However, advertisers will still need AdWords Editor to implement the new adgroups in their account for now but Google says that this requirement will be lifted soon and so that the new adgroups will also be added directly from the online AdWords account in the coming months.

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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Myspace cuts back workforce

In a sign of the changing social networking landscape, the once market-leader and pioneering site Myspace has announced a significant reduction in its workforce by nearly 50%. The Wall Street Journal reports that Myspace has cut 500 of its more than 1,000 employees worldwide, as the site struggles to remain profitable in the shadow of Facebook.

Myspace notified staff of the cuts on Tuesday, as parent company News Corp. considers ways to make the social networking site more popular again. A recent relaunch positioned Myspace as an entertainment destination, to build on its traditional strengths as a music focused site, and the company claims that this has led to increased sign-ups and also stronger mobile usage.

However, since News Corp bought Myspace for $580 million in 2005 it has been overtaken in recent years by the rapid growth in Facebook usage, which has grown to more than 500 million members while Myspace's numbers have dwindled.

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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Yahoo7 to take Bing search results this month

Yahoo7 in Australia has sent out an announcement regarding the integration of Microsoft's Bing search results, which has already taken place in the US at the end of 2010. In the email, Yahoo7 says:

"As you may know, we are working closely with Microsoft to implement our global search alliance. Now that we've transitioned Yahoo!'s organic and paid search technologies to Microsoft's platforms in the U.S. and Canada, we are ready to begin these transitions around the world as well.

In Australia, we expect to transition Yahoo!7's organic search results (the non-paid listings found on the main body of the page) to Microsoft during January 2011.

While no action is required on your part for the organic search transition, if organic search results are an important source of referrals to your website, you'll want to make sure that you're prepared for this change:

* Compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo!7 Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business, to help determine any potential impact to your traffic and sales
* Decide if you'd like to modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any changes in organic referrals that you anticipate
* Review the Bing webmaster tools and optimize your website for the Bing crawler, to help ensure your site is prominently listed in both Yahoo!7 and Bing organic search results.

For more specifics on the organic search transition, please read the Organic Search Transition FAQs."

The email also says that the transition of the paid search services to Microsoft technology is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2011. It is hoped that the new platform will be more user-friendly than the existing Yahoo! one, and that it will help to give advertisers a more effective alternative to just focusing on Google AdWords.

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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Web marketing newsletter published for January

The latest issue of our monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for January.

As usual with our first newsletter of the year, we try to predict some of the main trends that we expect for the online market over next 12 months, with a particular focus on the web search and marketing sector. We also review the predictions we made a year ago to see how they shaped up over the last 12 months.

The online sector continues to be an area of rapid growth and regular product development, with the landscape looking quite different now compared to 12 months ago. This past year saw new PPC advertising opportunities, with Google AdWords in particular introducing a new range of tools, reports and services. The merger between Microsoft and Yahoo search advanced, personalised search and Google Instant made a mark, and local search marketing options continued to improve. On the social media side, Facebook and Twitter continued to be signficant players and for 2011, more is expected to develop in the social networking and mobile marketing field.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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