Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inside AdWords: New "Innovations" Coming from Google AdWords

AdWords made some major announcements today (April 22nd). The main thrust seems to be better integration between desktop and mobile devices. You can read about them at

I'd say "Enjoy," but does anyone really enjoy AdWords? If you do, tell me why in the comments.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Matt Cutts on Backlink Relevance: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Do you watch Matt Cutts on YouTube? If you don't, you should. He typically posts to the Google Webmaster Tools channel, here. He's a very interesting character, and I always think about him like Google's "press secretary" or "spin doctor." Meaning... I am sure he's an honest enough guy and all that, but his job is to interact with the public, especially the SEO public, and he "spins" issues to Google's favor.

Matt Cutts and Backlink Relevance
He's anything but an objective third-party observer; like the White House press secretary, his job is to put for the public line for his boss.  For a more objective but "less inside" look at Google, I turn to people like Rand Fishkin or Danny Sullivan, as they do not work for Google but are very serious SEO- and Google-watchers. Matt is incredibly important to SEO, but always remember who pays his salary.

Matt Cutts on Backlink Relevance and Google

But back to Matt Cutts and his recent video. One of his more interesting recent YouTube videos was entitled, "Is there a version of Google that excludes backlinks as a ranking factor?" Let's read just a bit between the lines.

  1. A listener asks where there is a version of Google that excludes backlinks from the algorithm.
  2. Matt answers no, not for public consumption; but yes for internal consumption.
  3. Then Matt explains that "despite" the noise and spam in backlinks they remain very important to search quality.
So backlinks - links FROM other sites TO your site - STILL matter. A lot, clearly. So much so that Google can't live without them, even if - internally - it might be trying.

Matt doesn't say that Google will transition away from them, nor does he speak at all about Google+ or other social mentions. He clearly indicates that backlinks matter, and really doesn't even hint at any alternative (social mentions? author authority?) coming down the pipe in the near future.

That, along with recent posts by Matt Cutts against guest blogging and article marketing (two attempts to manipulate backlinks), imply that we should all continue to focus on getting "quality" back links in every way, shape, and form possible WITHOUT running afoul of Penguin. etc.

Do backlinks matter? Yes they do. Thanks for the clarification, Matt!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Is Facebook Relevant to People (or to Marketers)?

Facebook, oh Facebook. So many of us once loved you (as people) and (as marketers). But now with the overly cluttered news feed, the endless "promoted posts" by companies we are not that into, and the inability of us to follow companies we really care about... not to mention that annoying cousin or aunt that can't stop posting stupid things.

Breaking up with Facebook (as a person or as a marketer)

Facebook and Marketers
Are we ready for a breakup? Some companies have already publically "broken up" with Facebook over the problems with the newsfeed and organic posts; some friends and families have also abandoned you.

Where is your relevance in today's cluttered Internet landscape? Are you just the boring scrapbook of our lives, or a new place for the over 50 set (that includes me) to hangout, while the under 20 set moves on to Snapchat and sexting in class?

The New York Times Bits Blog also reports on the decline of Facebook and (GASP!) perhaps its demise. Is Facebook on its way to be the next MySpace? Does this give an opening to Google+, the social network that just can't "seem to make it happen?" Or are we entering a new era of total fragmentation?

Jenna Wortham of the New York Times, asks:

But Face­book no longer feels like a place to share up­dates with friends, cat­a­log your life events or play games with them. The serv­ice has in­tro­duced and elim­i­nat­ed dif­fer­ent de­signs and fo­cal points of ac­tiv­ity so many times over the years that, to me, it is no longer clear what the main site should be used for. For me and most of my friends, it is no longer the pri­mary place peo­ple share pho­tos or chat with their friends, or com­ment on their lo­ca­tion.
If it is none of those things, then what, ex­act­ly, is Face­book? And what will its pur­pose be in the fu­ture?

Read her piece, here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yelp Reviewers and Stranger Marketing: via Seth Gogin

Seth Godin, of course, is one of my favorite marketing bloggers.  Today he writes -

You will never, ever run out of strangers.

And so, the goal of perfectly pleasing an infinite number of passersby is a fool's errand. They come with their own worldview, their own issues, their own biases.

Since they don't know you or trust you and don't get you, they're not inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt or invest what it takes to understand you.

Sure, some of them will applaud or smile or buy. And if that's your mission, have fun.

But perfection in stranger-pleasing? Not going to happen, not worth the journey.

For some people, some of the time, the only response is, "it's not for you."

Seth Godin and Yelp Reviewers
Read it here.

My Thoughts on Yelp Reviewers

Yelp is a wonderful thing.  I love Yelp. I hate Yelp. One of the "unintended consequences" of Yelp is that specific micro group of Yelpers who don't use your product or service, or use only the mildest, least expensive, least commited version of it... and rather than become an engaged customer feel that they are entitled to slam your business online. They "move on" to the next business to vent their negative energy at... but you are left with a negative review, often for the most ridiculous of motives.

Yelp has empowered strangers, many of whom fit Seth Godin's pattern above: they can't be pleased, pretty much by anyone.

Now there are many great Yelpers and many great reviews on Yelp but if you don't pro-actively encourage positive reviews, the only reviews you may get are from this type of "stranger" Yelper.  Hard to please. Difficult person. Not a happy camper.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

AdWords Announcements on April 22, 2014: New Innovations from Google in AdWords

Google AdWords must be up to something, as they are announcing a free Webinar to announce "major innovations" to AdWords. Here's the cryptic announcement:

AdWords Seminars
Register Today! Join us for a livestream on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 9am PT on the Inside AdWords blog at adwords.blogspot.com. In this livestream, Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management for AdWords will be announcing a brand new set of ad innovations. Enter your information below to register for this livestream and tune in on Apr 22 by visiting the Inside AdWords blog.

You can register here.

The 'Bot Arms Race' - Click Fraud on Google's Display Network

Have you advertised on Google's "Display Network?" If you have, and especially if you didn't know what you were doing, you may have been the victim of "Click Fraud."  

The Bot Arms Race & Click Fraud on the Google Display Network

Marketplace's David Weinberg reports - 

Bot Arms Race
Criminal rings have found a new target, one that is turning out to be very lucrative and less risky than bank and credit card fraud: digital ad fraud. Researchers believe that more than one third of all internet traffic is from bots--software programs, and not actual humans. And all those fake eyeballs are wreaking havoc on the $50 billion digital ad market.

You can read, or listen to this important article, here.

Personal Reputation Management: What Do You Think?

Tom Peter's published one of my favorite articles on personal branding called "The Brand Called You."  It's an evergreen piece about personal branding, written at the dawn of the Internet age. He makes the basic point that no one cares about you and your personal brand, like you do, and that in this day and age of many careers and a very tough job market, each of us would do well to think about our "personal brand."

Personal Brand Management
This goes not just for you as an employee, but it might also go for your boss or CEO. Many large companies (think Apple or the Menswearhouse) have had (or still do have) very public CEOs. Larry Ellison of Oracle comes to mind as a not-so-nice example of the personal brand of the CEO vs. the desired brand of the corporation.

I will be teaching a course at Stanford Continuing Studies this Fall on "personal branding" and so I am thinking very hard (and systematically) about "personal branding" and the "brand called you."

Any thoughts?