The Relevance of Google’s New “+1”

In an effort to keep pace with Facebook’s ubiquitous “f”, Google is creating “+1”, which effectively tries to mimic and even one-up (no pun intended) the fan-page icon.

+1” is a new symbol Google will begin rolling out on the English version of Google.com over the next few weeks, and people logged into their Google account will notice the symbol following both Google organic search results and paid advertisements. If you click on the “+1” sign, you are indicating this is a website or listing you “like”, and those in your circle of acquaintances will see your endorsement if they happen to see the same listing in their search results.

Google’s intent with “+1” is to make the user’s search experience that much more relevant: they are combining real-time search needs with friends’ recommendations typically seen unsolicited and at an inopportune time on sites like Facebook.

Google is hoping to begin integrating non-Google contacts, such as those in your Twitter account, into your Google contact list in the near future. For now, users desiring an effective “+1” experience will need to make sure their Google account is updated and well-stocked with contacts. If you are unsure about who is in your contact list, you can visit the “Social Circle and Content” section of your Google account to check.

If you are an online advertiser, you may be sweating over the thought of just one more marketing gimmick your site needs to contend for. Rest assured, Google wants to make it easy on advertisers and will soon offer a “+1” icon you can place on your website for people to click. Additionally, there is nothing you will need to do to ensure “+1” shows up on your organic listings or paid ads; Google will begin placing them there automatically, although you will need to be logged into your Google Account to see them.

Finally, the big question: how will this addition affect my rankings? Well, we have some good news and some bad news. On a good note, “+1” will have no effect on the quality score for paid advertisements, at least for now. On a bad note, “+1” will be a factor in the way Google calculates its organic rankings. For now, however, talk to your SEO company about how you can ensure your website is not negatively affected by this addition to the Google algorithm.

Google’s Panda 2.5 Update Causing Panic

Last week Google rolled out the latest iteration of its “Panda” (aka “Farmer”) update, which has caused some site owners to panic.

At first glance, the general consensus is this update favored big brand sites with a large amount of direct traffic, sites with a lot of video content, and Google properties. Those who immediately appeared to come out the losers were sites with a low amount of video content or those seen as competing with or having been “less agreeable” with Google.

These are the top 10 “winners” in the immediate aftermath of the update:

YouTube.com
Hulu.com
Mtv.com
Wikipedia.org
Reelz.com
Tv.com
Fox.xom
Gamespot.com
Nbc.com
Ign.com

The top 10 “losing” sites following Panda 2.5 were:

Myspace.com
Consumeraffairs.com
Starpulse.com
Amazon.com
Aceshowbiz.com
Savings.com
Bettermedicine.com
Prnewswire.com
Faqs.org
Comcast.net

Because of the drastic changes in traffic volume to these sites, many people in the industry or those on the “losing” list began to panic. However, it is possible that Google itself thought the changes went overboard a little because many sites seemed to “bounce back” into previous traffic levels a few days later. Whether or not this “bounce back” was due to Google retweaking Panda 2.5, or just a natural week-over-week traffic volume change, it is too early to tell. These new numbers should be a source of encouragement to the Panda “losers”, however, and as Google has yet to comment, online marketers should avoid any drastic changes to their site to compensate for any losses in traffic.

If industry experts are correct that Google is, indeed, favoring video content, businesses may want to consider adding the video where appropriate. If you have any questions about how video can affect or improve your site’s content and rankings, contact your SEO agency today.

Got Pay Per Click Advertising? You’Re In Good Company: Titan Growth® Explains

A recent document reportedly leaked by a Google insider gives fascinating insight into some of the Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising habits by major international corporations, information typically off-limits but allegedly confirmed by various sources with inside information.  While this list of big PPC spenders is interesting for various reasons, one of the most important conclusions we can draw from this report is PPC advertising is viewed as important enough that well-known brands are willing to spend millions of dollars per year, and in a few instances, millions of dollars per month to get top positions.

The document reveals AT&T’s $8 million PPC spend in June, presumably to push the new iPhone 4, and British Petroleum’s $3.5 million PPC spend in June to help repair their reputation at the height of the Gulf oil spill.  Despite these high-spenders, the report revealed 90% of the 1500 highest-spending PPC clients invested between $10,000-$100,000 per month on Google Adwords for PPC.  However, the important takeaway from the report is the perceived value gained by PPC advertising to hundreds of leading national companies, whose brands are already household names.

Besides the obvious benefits of placing your hand-crafted ad in front of people searching specifically for your service or product, PPC advertising is also an excellent tool to supplement your existing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign.  Past research indicates most searchers considered a brand to be more relevant and authoritative if they saw both an organic and paid ad from the same company in their search results, resulting in an increased likelihood of clicking on one of those two ads.

Although in most cases, a well-managed SEO campaign is the best bang for your buck, and typically most effective, PPC also offers some advantages over SEO marketing.  Some of these benefits include being able to pick and choose the keywords you want to bid on as well as determine your ad copy and the exact landing page for your ads.  Another selling point for many advertisers is the ability to get your brand on the first page of the search engines within minutes of initiating your PPC campaign.  For those companies who can’t compete with the million-dollar spenders, Google’s Quality Score plays a major role in ad ranking.  It allows relevant, well-worded ads and an organized account to get advertisers a lower cost per click.

Many Pay Per Click companies begin with the intention of reducing or eliminating their PPC spend altogether once their SEO campaign is getting them first-page rankings, which is a fine strategy.  However, a majority of those marketers eventually see the value in having both SEO and PPC listings and continue paying for ads even after they come up naturally for organic non-paid keywords.  The top advertisers on Google’s list are great examples of companies who probably do very well organically, but recognize 27% of searchers only click on paid listings, and therefore make PPC an important part of their ongoing marketing strategy.

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not PPC advertising is a good fit for your business, a knowledgeable  SEO or PPC agency should be able to direct you to a strategy that is best for you.  Search Engine Marketing is one of the best ways to get your brand in front of millions of searchers, and even companies with a very small monthly advertising budget often see big results on PPC and SEO.

Contributed by Amanda Finch, VP Operations