Irrelevant Keywords Can Be Costly

How Effective is Google’s Session-Based Broad Match?

Some Google AdWords advertisers are not pleased with what they are finding in Google’s Search Query Performance reports for their campaigns. These reports show advertisers what keyword queries are surfacing their ads, and some are finding some of these keywords questionable.

Are you losing money on clicks from questionable keywords? Let WebProNews know.

You might think that an ad impression is an ad impression, but when you’re charged by the click, you want the clicks to come from people who are likely to buy what you’re selling, considering that you are paying Google for each click.

A Wall Street Journal piece has put the spotlight on some of these advertisers, including a New York dentist who claims irrelevant keywords have cost him nearly $3,000 over the last year or so. The problem allegedly stems from Google’s session-based broad match feature, which shows ads to users not only for a single query, but also for subsequent queries in the users same search session.

Google explains the feature in the AdWords Help Center:

“When determining which ads to show on a Google search result page, the AdWords system evaluates some of the user’s previous queries during their search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads related to these other queries, too.”

“The system considers the previous queries in order to better understand the intent of the user’s current query. The added information allows the system to deliver more relevant ads.”

“This feature is an enhancement of broad match. It works by generating similar terms for each search query based on the content of the current query and, if deemed relevant, the previous queries in a user’s search session. Your ad will potentially show if one of your broad-matched keywords matches any of these similar terms.”

Sounds good in theory, but the advertisers complaining appear to disagree with what Google is considering to be relevant. The dentist from the WSJ story cited ” ” and “[Chinese characters] in Chinatown” as examples – not exactly dentist-related. The story also cites a plastic surgeon, who counted “olivia newton john photos” among questionable keywords.

The WSJ spoke with Google’s Nick Fox:

Mr. Fox acknowledged there are “edge” cases in which search queries “does not appear to be relevant to the ads, but the context of previous queries indicated that the user would have a strong interest in that advertisers’ ad.” In addition, he said, “a user must be interested enough in an ad to want to click on it.” He said a very small percentage of ad clicks are session-based and that advertisers can limit the scope of their campaign to halt session-based clicks.


Google’s Mr. Fox said: “It has to be the case that the users, in the very recent history, searched for terms he’s advertising on.”

It’s worth noting that Google says that whenever an ad is served based on the associated keyword’s relevance to the previous search queries, the ad’s performance has no effect on that keyword’s Quality Score.

It’s also worth noting that not everyone is unhappy with the session-based clicks. Jordan McClements, commenting on a Clixmarketing post on session-based broad match says, “If you are in a niche where there is not much search traffic, and a new client/sale is worth a lot of money to you then it is probably a good idea to keep all your ‘broad’ options open.”

John Lee, who wrote that post, says, “I want advertisers to be aware that in the case of session-based broad match – you can’t turn it off. My recommendation is to remain vigilant in reporting, primarily with Search Query Reports to ensure that the session-based query matches that do come through are relevant. If they aren’t, roll that knowledge (and those queries) into your negative keyword lists.”

Probably good advice.

Perhaps the real question is how much of the problem is Google and how much is the advertiser?

Speaking of negative keywords, Google actually just released a new feature this week to manage negative keywords across multiple campaigns with negative keyword lists.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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SEO and Social Media Matter for Press Coverage

When businesses think about search and social media, a great deal of the time, they are thinking about traffic, customer engagement, and brand awareness. While these are all good things to consider, there may be more to that last one that you have spent much time thinking about.

Brand awareness goes beyond just having a random customer find your site in a set of search results or through a link from their Facebook news feed. Have you considered how channels like search and social media are used by media outlets and journalists? The fact of the matter is that journalists and bloggers alike utilize both to a great extent while covering their beats.

Do you take press coverage into consideration? Comment on this at WebProNews here.

Search and social both play significant roles in PR. This is a topic that WebProNews recently discussed with TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden. Odden calls journalists customers, and in many ways they should be treated as such when it comes to getting your product or site in front of their eyeballs.

Odden says to look at what it is you can do as a marketer to make it easier for the journalist to do their job. Optimize your content for what a journalist is looking for. This is one way you can potentially increase your media coverage, which can obviously increase brand awareness.

Odden makes a great point online journalists often having tighter deadlines, and turning to blogs and social networks for sources and quotes. For example, the real-time nature of a Twitter search might be just what a journalist or blogger need to find someone who’s talking about the subject they’re writing about, at nearly the moment they’re looking for it.

For that matter, Google’s real-time search can help for the same reason, and most journalists and bloggers frequently use Google to search for what they’re looking for. If what they’re looking for happens to be related to a newsy topic, they just might see Google’s real-time results literally before anything else. If that topic happens to be related to something you’re talking about, you just might end up in those results too. Google is also indexing updates from Facebook Pages here now, by the way.

The point is, if you are looking for increased media coverage, there are ways to increase your chances of getting in front of the right people, and it is certainly not limited to real-time search. Sometimes journalists/bloggers will simply tap their contacts within their social networks (or email of course) to find sources. This is as good a reason as any to engage in social media on a regular basis and network with lots of relevant people.

If attracting media attention is what you’re after, consider these five tips I offered in a SmallBusinessNewz article last year:

1. Do something that’s different – Simply do something that makes you stand out: something that gets people talking. If it creates enough buzz, the media coverage will likely follow.

2. Look for niche publications – the more niche the publication, the more likely they probably are to cover you.

3. Personalize your message – When you’re writing an email to a publication to talk about your business, for example, personalize the message for the specific person you’re contacting, so they know it’s not just a manufactured piece that you’re sending all over the web. Journalists like exclusivity.

4. Find multiple contacts – If you can find more than one contact for a particular publication, it may be wise to send your story pitch to them. This will increase the potential visibility among the publication’s staff.

5. Provide plenty of details – When sending such a pitch, it’s a good idea to include as many details about the product/story as possible. The more details available, the less research is required, and time is more valuable than ever, especially for a journalist.

Another piece of advice I would give is to not let your press center hold back your marketing opportunities. I’ve seen a lot of companies fail to keep their own press centers up to date with the latest news, even as big announcements are made, and even if they have issued press releases. Often times, these releases won’t even be available on the site until later. If you want to increase your chances of more media coverage, you should always have your latest news readily available in your press center, or via your blog – wherever you make announcements. And always provide contact info.

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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Microsoft and Facebook Adjust Their Partnership

Facebook to Control its Own Display Ads, Get More Bing Search

Microsoft and Facebook have “enhanced” their partnership with each other. The two companies will soon be providing Facebook users with what Microsoft refers to as a “more complete search experience”. They will be providing full access to Bing features in Facebook. In addition, the Bing and Facebook connection will be extended globally.

Facebook will be taking over full responsibility for selling its own display ads, although Microsoft will continue to provide search ads. “Given the kinds of advertisements that make sense within a product as unique as Facebook, it just made more sense for them to take the lead on this part of their advertising strategy,” says Bing General Manager Jon Tinter.

“Bing will continue to exclusively power the web search results on Facebook,” he adds. “This change will also enable Microsoft to continue its focus on driving strong performing campaigns across our own social media and communications tools, including Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail, and via rich content environments across MSN and Xbox Live.”

Bing search on Facebook

“Going deeper in web search experiences with Facebook, in addition to the collaboration we announced last October about bringing public data from Facebook’s API into the search experience, will enable us to do great things together for our customers,” he says.

The product of this enhanced relationship between the two companies will start being felt among users in the coming weeks and months. It will be interesting to see if Yahoo advertising gets involved if the Microsoft-Yahoo deal ever sees the light of day.

Related Articles:

Respond to Facebook Comments From Your Email
Pingdom Names Facebook “Most Engaging Social Network”
Content Can Now Go Viral More Easily with Facebook

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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Customer Connections Now Important for Google Results

Google Puts Social Results in the Mix

If you are one of those people still skeptical about the business uses of social media, you may be interested to know that Google’s Social Search is no longer just an experiment. Though it does have the beta tag on it, it is now mainstream. This is something we’ve all known would come sooner or later, but now it’s here.

Have you established enough connections to do well in social search? Leave your comment t WebProNews.

If people were already seeing different search results from one another before, that is really going to be true now, now that Google is plugging results based on the individual’s social circle into any given SERP. This is one of the many ways SEO is changing, and it would appear that any business looking to get some play in Google search, would do well to have as many connections established as possible, via various social networking sites and tools.

Keep in mind that the social circle is based upon information that Google has about you from your Google account. You can see your list of connections anytime from here (assuming you have a Google account). It pulls connections from your Google Contacts, and any services you have listed on your Google profile (assuming you have services listed on your profile). If you have Twitter listed for example (Facebook connections are not public), anyone you are connected to through one of those services is fair game for potential search results.

Google’s thinking is that if the user is connected to certain people, results from those people will have relevance because you know and trust them. Google says, “You can improve social search results for your friends and contacts by linking to content you have created such as blogs, photos and videos on your Google profile.”

“We’ve been having a lot of fun with Social Search. It’s baby season here on our team — two of us just had little ones, and a third is on the way,” the company says in the announcement. “We’re all getting ready to be parents for the first time and we have lots of questions. So, what do we do? We search Google, of course! With Social Search, when we search for [baby sleep patterns], [swaddling] or [best cribs], not only do we get the usual websites with expert opinions, we also find relevant pages from our friends and contacts. For example, if one of my friends has written a blog where he talks about a great baby shop he found in Mountain View, this might appear in my social results. I could probably find other reviews, but my friend’s blog is more relevant because I know and trust the author.”

Appearing in social search results means:

1. Make sure you have all of your important links on your Google Profile.
2. Make as many connections as possible.
3. Encourage customers to follow you via social networks.
4. Participate in social media so people will engage with you.
5. Encourage sharing of content (there are plenty available social media buttons)
6. Include social network info on business cards/signage, etc.
7. Include social network info in your online advertising
8. There are probably many more worthwhile tips (if you have any, share them in the comments at WebProNews).

Google’s social search doesn’t end with regular web search. They’re adding it to image search, and who knows what else. Look for a lot more features to become part of social search, as Google leaves that Beta tag on. Let’s not forget that Gmail only left beta last year, and I don’t have to tell you they’ve added a lot to that over the years.

Just remember that social results will always be clearly marked as such on Google’s SERPs. They will be accompanied by a heading that says “Results from your social circle”. Still, for traditional SEO it is just one more thing to compete with as far as page real estate. That’s why social is a much more of an important part of search than ever.

Google has been making many moves over the last couple years that seem to slowly turn it more and more into its own social network. Now that its profiles have a direct impact on search results, how people view Google in this light is likely to change significantly. Once more and more average users start to realize the social features are being integrated more into their everyday searches, they may find themselves getting sucked into using Google as more of a social tool, as opposed to just search.

What are your thoughts on Google’s social search? Let WebProNews know.

Related Articles:

> Google Profiles Go to the SERPs
> Google Launches Social Search Experiment
> Can Search Engine Optimization Survive Google?

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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A Markup That Could Have Big Implications for SEO

RDFa Could Play an Increasingly Big Role in Search

RDFa, which stands for Resource Description Framework in attributes, is a W3C recommendation, which adds a set of attribute level extensions to XHTML for embedding rich metadata within web documents. While not everyone believes that W3C standards are incredibly necessary to operate a successful site, some see a great deal of potential for search engine optimization in RDFa.

In fact, this is the topic of a current WebProWorld thread, which was started by Dave Lauretti of MoreStar, who asks, “Are you working the RDFa Framework into your SEO campaigns?” He writes, “Now under certain conditions and with certain search strings on both Google and Yahoo we can find instances where the RDFa framework integrated within a website can enhance their listing in the search results.”

Lauretti refers to an article from last summer at A List Apart, by Mark Birbeck who said that Google was beginning to process RDFa and Microformats as it indexes sites, using the parsed data to enhance the display of search results with “rich snippets”. This results in the Google results you see like this:

RDFa in play

“It’s a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable — if they see useful and relevant information from the page, they are more likely to click through,” Google said upon the launch of rich snippets.

Google says it is experimenting with markup for business and location data, but that it doesn’t currently display this information, unless the business or organization is part of a review (hence the results in the above example). But when review information is marked up in the body of a web page, Google can identify it and may make it available in search results. When review information is shown in search results, this can of course entice users to click through to the page (one of the many reasons to treat customers right and monitor your reputation).

Currently Google uses RDFa for reviews, but this search also displays the date of the review, the star rating, the author and the price range of an iPod, as Lauretti points out.

Best Buy’s lead web development engineer reported that by adding RDFa the company saw improved ranking for respective pages. They saw a 30% increase in traffic, and Yahoo evidently observed a 15% increase in click-through rates.(via Steven Pemberton)

Implications for SEO

I’m not going to get into the technical side of RDFa here (see resources listed later in the article), but I would like to get into some of the implications that Google’s use of RDFa could have on SEO practices. For one, rich snippets can show specific information related to products that are searched for. For example, a result for a movie search could bring up information like:

– Run time
– Release Date
– Rating
– Theaters that are showing it

“The implementation of RDFa not only gives more information about products or services but also increases the visibility of these in the latest generations of search engines, recommender systems and other applications,” Lauretti tells WebProNews. “If accuracy is an issue when it comes to search and search results then pages with RDFa will get better rankings as there would be little to question regarding the page theme.” (Source) He provides the following chart containing examples of the types of data that could potentially be displayed with RDFa:

RDFa Implications

“It is obvious that search marketers and SEOs will be utilizing this ability for themselves and their clients,” says Lauretti. Take contact information specifically. “Using RDFa in your contact information clarifies to the search engine that the text within your contact block of code is indeed contact information.” He says in this same light, “people information” can be displayed in the search results (usually social networking info). You could potentially show manufacturer information or author information.

RDFa actually has implications beyond just Google’s regular web search.
With respect to Google’s Image search, the owner of images can also use RDFa to provide license information about the images they own. Google currently allows image searchers to have images displayed based on license type, and using RDFa with your images lets the search bots know under which licenses you are making your images available (Via Mark Birbeck). There is also RDFa support for video.

Following are some resources where you can learn more about RDFa and how to implement it:

Google Introduces Rich Snippets
Introduction to RDFa
RDFa Primer
About RDFa (Google Webmaster Central)
RDFa to Provide Image License Info
RDFa Microformat Tagging For Your Website
For Businesses and Organizations
About Review Data (Google Webmaster Central)

Google’s Matt Cutts has said in the past that Google has been kind of “white listing” sites to get rich snippets, as Google feels they are appropriate, but as they grow more confident that such snippets don’t hurt the user experience, then Google will likely roll the ability out more and more broadly. This is one thing to keep an eye on as the year progresses, and is why those in the WebProWorld thread believe RDFa will become a bigger topic of discussion in 2010.

WebProNews would like to thank Dave Lauretti, who contributed some findings to this piece.

Update: As I pieced together this article, Google coincidentally announced support for rich snippets for Events.

Related Articles:

> Get Your Breadcrumbs in Google for More Links in Results
> Google Makes it Easier to Tell Where Results Originate From
> Get More Links in Your Actual Google Results

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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Get Your Breadcrumbs in Google for More Links in Results

Google Talks About Getting Your Breadcrumbs In

Last summer it was discovered that Google was testing breadcrumbs in search results (breadcrumbs being the hierarchical display commonly used in site navigation. For example: Home Page>Product Page>Product A Page). Then in mid-November, Google announced that it was rolling out the use of breadcrumbs in search results on a global basis. What this means for webmasters is that if you can get your breadcrumbs into Google’s results, you essentially have more links on the results page. You have a separate link for each page in the breadcrumb trail.

Do your site’s breadcrumbs show up in Google’s results? Leave a comment at WebProNews.

The company said they would only be used in place of some URLs, mainly ones that don’t give the added context of a link the way that breadcrumbs do. Interestingly, there seems to be an incentive for those who go the breadcrumb route because of the multiple links that you just don’t get with regular search results.

Google Breadcrumbs display

Google’s move was generally well received. This was reflected in the comments from WebProNews readers on our past coverage. For example, a commenter going by the handle Stupidscript said, “It’s definitely a good time to start wrapping your head around the notion of ‘providing context’, because the web is heading into its “semantic” period … where each link will be more or less valuable based on its relationships with and context to information found behind other links.”

Google’s use of breadcrumbs in search results is the focus of a recently submitted question to the Google Webmaster Central team. The question was, “Google is showing breadcrumb URLs in SERPs now. Does the kind of delimiter matter? Is there any best practice? What character to use is best? > or | or / or???” Google’s Matt Cutts responded:

Matt says you should have a set of delimited links on your site that accurately reflect your site’s hierarchy. He also notes, however, that it is still in the “early days” for breadcrumbs.

“Think about the situation with sitelinks,” he says. “Whenever we started out with sitelinks, it took a while before…for example, we added the ability in Google Webmaster Tools where you could remove a sitelink that you didn’t like or that you thought was bad. So we started out, and we did a lot of experiments, and we’ve changed the way that sitelinks look several times. And we have different types of sitelinks (within a page, and the standard ones you’re familiar with). So we’ve iterated over time.”

In this same way, he says, Google is in the early stage with breadcrumbs and he has seen different experiments with them. For example, there have been prototypes where the breadcrumbs were in the rich snippet gray line, above the regular snippet. “Having it in the URL is kind of nice, but it could still change over time,” he says.

He says the best advice he can give is to make sure you have a set of delimited links that accurately reflect your site’s hierarchy, and that will give you the best chance of getting breadcrumbs to show up in Google, but Google will continue to work on ways to improve breadcrumbs. He says any new announcements about it will likely be made on the Google Webmaster blog.

While Matt doesn’t exactly lean toward one way or another with regards to which character to use as asked about in the submitted question, all of the examples I have seen highlighted show the “>” used. That includes examples from Google’s original announcement on the inclusion of breadcrumbs (if you see other ways, please point them out in the comments). Based on that, if I were going to choose one, I’d go with that.

There are three types of breadcrumbs (as described here): path, location, and attribute. Path breadcrumbs show the path that the user has taken to arrive at a page, while location breadcrumbs show where the page is located in the website hierarchy. Attribute breadcrumbs give information that categorizes the current page. Obviously, location breadcrumbs would be the ones Google is using (although with personalized search becoming more of a factor, who knows in the future?).

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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Google Reveals Factors for Ranking Tweets

Things You Should Know About Real-Time SEO

It’s ok to say “no” to Twitter if that’s your thing. There’s a chance that it just doesn’t fit into your strategy or help you achieve your goals. That’s cool. However, if it is your thing, you may be interested in how Google ranks tweets. That is if search marketing is your thing.

Do you see Twitter as important to an effective search marketing campaign? Share your thoughts with WebProNews.

Google and Microsoft almost simultaneously announced deals with Twitter a few months back, that would give the companies access to tweets in real-time to fuel their respective search engines’ real-time results. Microsoft immediately launched their version, but it was separate from the regular Bing search engine. Google waited a while, but eventually started incorporating real-time results right into regular Google SERPs (including not only tweets, but various other sources).

After the Twitter deals were announced, Bing came out and said, “If someone has a lot of followers, his/her Tweet may get ranked higher. If a tweet is exactly the same as other Tweets, it will get ranked lower.”

Amit Singhal Google was not as vocal about how it would rank tweets and other real-time results, but the company has now shed a bit of light on that via an interview with MIT’s Technology Review. David Talbot interviewed Google “Fellow” Amit Singhal, who has led development of real-time search at the company. According to him, Google also ranks tweets by followers to an extent, but it’s not just about how many followers you get. It’s about how reputable those followers are.

Singhal likens the system to the well-known Google system of link popularity. Getting good links from reputable sources helps your content in Google, so having followers with that some kind of authority theoretically helps your tweets rank in Google’s real-time search.

“One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation,” Singhal says. “As high-quality pages link to another page on the Web, the quality of the linked-to page goes up. Likewise, in social media, as established users follow another user, the quality of the followed user goes up as well.”
But that’s only one factor.

Do you commonly use hashtags in your tweets? If your goal is to rank in Google’s real-time search index, you may want to cut down on that practice, because according to Singhal, that is a big red flag for a lower quality tweet. This seems to be part of Google’s spam control strategy.

Another noteworthy excerpt from the interview:

Another problem: how, if someone is searching for “Obama,” to sift through White House press tweets and thousands of others to find the most timely and topical information. Google scans tweets to find the “signal in the noise,” he says. Such a “signal” might include a new onslaught of tweets and other blogs that mention “Cambridge police” or “Harry Reid” near mentions of “Obama.” By looking out for such signals, Google is able to furnish real-time hits that contain the freshest subject matter even for very common search terms.

Well, we certainly know more about Google’s strategy for tweet ranking now, but there are still plenty of questions about it. What is Google’s stance is on Ghost Tweeting? Are Google’s ranking factors a good reason to create and follow more Twitter lists in hopes for gaining more reputable industry followers?

The factors mentioned aren’t the only ones Google employs. It’s not like Google is going to tell us everything. It also helps to keep in mind that real-time search spans far beyond just tweets. Still, Twitter is clearly a big part of it, and even the significance of tweets themselves will evolve in time.

Google says it hopes to factor in geo-location data (with regards to tweets) into the real-time search results at some point. Google and Twitter engineers frequently collaborate on  real-time search, which Google itself says is evolving.

By the way, it stands to reason that Google’s strategy for ranking tweets probably shares similarities for how it ranks content from other sources drawn from for real-time search.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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