Friday, May 22, 2015

A Keyword Example of Why The Google Monopoly is Bad

It's late Friday afternoon, and I'm checking in on my Feedly. Feedly is one of my favorite news aggregators, and I came across 'Through the Google Lense,' which is an official column by Google on trends in search queries.

Google as a Monopoly
Through the Google Lense is pretty sad when you drill into it. Why? Because the tool its actually based on - Google Trends - is in and of itself a sad little tool. Google Trends gives you only the most basic access to search query trends on Google: you can compare two words to each other, but you can't really drill into words (phrases, synonyms, related words, etc.) and you can't really do much with the data, quantity or value of search terms.

You can't really customize Google Trends to any significant degree.  So it's a more a temptation than a tool.

Why is that? The reason, I submit to you - dear reader - is that Google is a monopoly, and like all monopolies, Google stifles innovation.

If It Walks Like a Duck, It Stifles Innovation

For all intents and purposes, Google is a monopoly. Do you use Bing? Yahoo? I thought so. Ask your friends, family, business colleagues, mom, dad... does anyone willingly use Bing or Yahoo? Not really, and so Google is a monopoly when it comes to search. 

(According to the latest public data, Google has about a 75% market share (here), although people like me who work in search and who have access to client data would estimate it more like 90% or even more.)

Now, if you took Econ 101 in college, you learned that monopolies are bad. For many reasons. One of them is that they stiffle innovation

Does Google stifle innovation? Well, let's take a look at the data it releases on keyword search queries.

Keyword Tools and The Fingerprints of Monopoly

Let's look at search queries (keywords), as an example, and the data available to the public on keyword-driven search queries. Take Google trends.  As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, Take Google trends, please. And fix it. And make it robust. And make it real-time. And make it so I can input a term like 'Hillary Clinton Email' or 'California Drought,' and get real-time results, into which I can drill. 

Make it like Buzzsumo. Now there's a tool that can blow your minds about what's trending, where, how, and why.

Example No. 1 of the Google Monopoly Effect: Google Trends

Google trends is a fixed window on the search world: Google's window, defined by Google. Now, yes you can make small adjustments, but you can't really drill into months vs. years, this keyword vs. that keyword. Just compare it for a moment to Buzzsumo, and you'll get my drift.

I love and adore Buzzsumo. Google trends makes me want to cry. 

If we had some competition - say two, or three, or four search engines - they might see the incredible market opportunity in creating a paid search query trend tool, with a freemium Buzzsumo like structure.

It would be AWESOME. You and I could drill into search queries, compare this one with that one, drill into today, drill out to last month, compare exact queries to phrase match queries and on and on and on.  We could see trends, watch them emerge and combine our own innovative quest for insight with the second-by-second emerging data on what people are searching for now.

But no, we're stuck with sad pathetic Google Trends.  And an official 'from on high' report called 'Thru the Google lense.'  Through the Google Lense just makes me angry: it tells me obvious things, like people are searching for bikers, NBA, and David Letterman, all of which you can tell just by reading the news!

Can we - the mere user - drill into trends? Nope. Can we create our own 'Through the Jason lense' on keywords and trends we care about? Nope, nope, nope. The effect of the Google monopoly is little, if any, innovation into what has to be an incredibly important topic: what are people searching for in real-time, and how can a journalist, a marketer, a PTA president, or a USA president get real-time intelligence into the collective thirst for knowledge?

We can't get to that data because the keeper of the keys, Google, doesn't let anyone but Google have access to the real data.

Example No. 2: the Google Keyword Planner

Here's a second example.

The AdWords Keyword Planner is the fountainhead of data about how people search Google. It replaced a much more robust keyword tool, but because Google has a near monopoly on search, you can't do much with the "new and improved" (sic) tool. The most important example being that you can't compare search phrases with exact search queries.

You can't ask the Keyword Planner to tell you, how many monthly searches there are for the phrase "divorce attorney" vs. the exact search query [divorce attorney] not to mention drill into a search like "divorce attorney and child custody" and see any significant data about trends, related search terms, or close synonyms or adjacent searches.

If you are a marketer doing AdWords, SEO, or even Social Media, this limitation means more than half of your job is to "guess" what people for searching for, in what quantities and with what relationships to other terms.

The Google monopoly stifles any real innovation into keyword tools; the paid tools depend on Google's data stream, and therefore, they - too - can't really do anything wonderful.

The fountainhead of data - Google - has that data, and it ain't sharing. Google could build an incredible, wonderful, insightful tool into search queries, share that data with customers and the public, and we'd all live in a better world because we'd have much better data about who's searching for what, when, where, and how.

If search were only a competitive marketplace, we'd have three, fix, six, Buzzsumo's of search telling us the volume, value, and trends of every search query on the planet.

But it's not, and we don't.  But we have Buzzsumo and we have social, and that - dear reader - is beginning to do an end run around the terrible, rotten, horrible scraps of tools that are Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.

Oh, and case you were thinking that I work for Buzzsumo or have some commercial relationship, I don't. It's just an amazing tool, and it deserves a lot of attention from anyone involved in Internet marketing. Check it out, and then toggle over to the Google tools. And cry.

Monday, May 18, 2015

SEO Factory Social Media Factory AdWords Factory

Andy Warhol (who happens to be my favorite artist) called his workshop in New York City, the factory.  The concept being that he didn't "make art." He orchestrated the production of "stuff," which may or may not have been art. Warhol played with the continuum of where mass production ends and where art begins or vice-versa. Mad Men would have been proud of him, as he was both thoroughly commercial and thoroughly brilliant.

The SEO / Social Media Marketing / AdWords Factory

SEO Factory
How does the "factory" pertain to SEO / Social Media Marketing / AdWords? Well, many people think of this marketing task like ART: create the PERFECT website (one time), create the PERFECT Facebook Page (one time). It's a "work of art" and once done, it's done. Not to mention it takes a long, long time to produce.

That's not how to think about it!

You want to think about it like Andy Warhol: your SEO / Social Media / Adwords is a factory:

  • Goals come in.
  • Keywords come in.
  • Content is produced (e.g., blog posts, infographics, memes).
  • Content is promoted (via SEO / Social / Advertising).
  • Results are measured: traffic, time on page, goals in Google Analytics, likes on Facebook...
Then it's rinse and repeat. We live in a "content marketing" world and so you have to get good at being a factory: chug chug chug chug goes the content marketing machine.

Are You an Artist or a Factory Worker?

If you think you're an artist, you're in the wrong profession. If you think that being a factory worker is not as good, you don't understand Andy Warhol.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Details Details Details: AdWords & Details

I love AdWords! I hate AdWords! It's all about the details. Meaning

  • Do you know your keywords?  Really know your keywords: which ones are "transactional," which ones are "converters," which ones are "dogs?"
  • Do you write strong ads that ATTRACT customers and REPEL non-customers?
  • Do you have a strong landing page that leads to a CONVERSION?
And - have you forgotten about SEO? Can you get what you're PAYING for with AdWords for FREE via SEO?

Spell Check Your Ads

Oh, and as a Harvard Alum - shout out to Harvard.  Do you SPELL CHECK your ads? You gotta kinda sortta look intelligent on your ads.  See screenshot of currently running Harvard ad.

A guy walks up to the "8 items or less" aisle at a store in Cambridge, MA, with 25 items. The clerk asks, "Are you from Harvard and can't count, or from MIT and can't read?"

AdWords and Details: Harvard Can't Spell
Click to see Full Image

Friday, May 8, 2015

Quality vs. Quantity vs. Promotion on Your Blog

Food for thought on a Friday. AWeber had an informative webinar by a company called LeadPages. As is so often the case in these free webinars, the presentation was pretty cheesy, and felt a bit like being at the state fair: it slices, it dices, but wait - there's more!

Blog Promotion
I enjoyed it, however.  The product looks good, especially for those who are not good at Web design.  It helps you make quick landing pages for ad campaigns, email signups, or any other type of offer for which you want to "squeeze" out an email sign up.

The Takeaway: Good Enough Content Beats Great Content

Here's the unusual take-away. The presenter indicated that in their experience "high quality" information can be easily trumped by "low quality" information. The somewhat cynical idea being don't stress so much about having to produce the ultimate, best content. Just produce "good enough" content, and use it as your "carrot" to capture an email address or lead.

The rules might be - 

  • Create GOOD ENOUGH content not PERFECT content.
  • Promote this via advertising, social media, SEO, etc.
  • Capture Leads

"The perfect is the enemy of the good," ~Voltaire

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

AdWords Livestream: What You Kinda Shoulda Otta Know Sorta

Google had an important AdWords livestream today, and you can watch the really really long 45 minute video, here.  Unfortunately, it's very long and they talk v e e e e e r r r r r y y y  s l  o o o o  w.  So here's my wrap up.

AdWords Livestream 2015
  • Mobile, mobile, mobile.  Google wants everyone to "go mobile," and that includes AdWords. So it's all about mobile these days. Now, whether that works for you is another matter. A lot of these "searches" on mobile are very consumer-oriented, and not particularly in-depth. So if you are in restaurants, auto's or big brands... mobile may be great. If your product is complicated and not phone-friendly, then the phone might not be for you.  Tablets and PC's might be better - but Google has completely and utterly drunk the mobile koolaide, as if "everything" were mobile.  Sorta kinda maybe.
  • Apps. Some new stuff is coming out in Apps, including app promotion tools and ads are coming to the Google Play store (there's a beta out there).
  • Conversions. Google would like you (and your boss) to realize that AdWords can drive conversions not from the click, but before the click before the click before the click, so new conversion-tracking lets AdWords claim more conversions than ever before! Not to be a total cynic, but they have a marketing study, here, that "proves" that the GDN can drive an increase in total traffic.
  • AdWords Changes. AdWords is improving "automated bidding" as well as "dynamic search ads." As for the latter... be careful because if your website doesn't do SEO well, that means it doesn't talk to Google well... so it's hard to see how the Google Spider could do a good job of creating "dynamic search ads." Alternatively, if you ARE doing SEO well, then you already know your keywords, and you can probably do a much better job than the Googlebot. So what's the point there? Oh, and they're toying with allowing more visual, more emotional ads, starting with - wait for it - the big car brands.  Oh, the on the GDN (Google Display Network) ads will no resize.
That's my wrap-up. Here are links to other perspectives - 

Oh, and you can read the official blog post, here, on the official AdWords blog.

Facebook and Video: Ads and More

Facebook is going ga-ga for video... What's interesting here is that (finally!) YouTube has a contender that could really contend (sorry Vizio). Facebook wants you to 
Facebook and Video Ads

  • Upload your videos to Facebook
  • Share your videos via Facebook
  • Watch videos on Facebook
  • Advertise videos on Facebook
And foggetta about YouTube.  You can learn more about Facebook for videos here  (as a user) and here (as an advertiser). For information specifically about video ads on Facebook, click here.