Share of Paid Searches – US (August 2012)

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Comscore US Search Share August 2012

Comscore US Search Share August 2012

The above percentages represent “explicit” searches, or searches that “explicitly” reflect search user intent in reported results, as opposed to contextually driven searches.

More than 17 billion explicit core searches were conducted in August, with Google Sites ranking first with 11.3 billion. Microsoft Sites ranked second with 2.7 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.2 billion, Ask Network with 550 million and AOL, Inc. with 292 million.

Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in August with 66.4 percent market share, followed by Microsoft Sites with 15.9 percent and Yahoo! Sites with 12.8 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.2 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.7 percent.

B2B Search Keyword Tips: Starting Small

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B2B search campaigns are viewed by some as a completely different discipline than advertising with a high end retail consumer campaign. While I disagree that many skills don’t translate to both sides, I do agree that they offer a new and exciting challenge of developing strategy and implementing industry specific tactics.

When comparing B2B and retail search, many things to remain constant in the planning phase.

  • Industry Research
  • Budget
  • Consumer Research
  • Setting Goals/KPI’s (Conversions, ROI, Site Traffic etc…)

However things will differ when it comes time to building the keyword list. In a B2B campaign the users you’re targeting may possibly be much savvier than the average consumer, using language that the majority of users on a search engine would not use. So you’ll definitely want to make sure that all of your clicks aren’t going to the wrong audience, and giving you misleading results to report on.

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Share of Paid Searches – US (July 2012)

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The above percentages represent “explicit” searches, or searches that “explicitly” reflect search user intent in reported results, as opposed to contextually driven searches.

“17.7 billion explicit core searches were conducted in July (up 3 percent), with Google Sites ranking first with 11.8 billion (up 3 percent). Microsoft Sites ranked second with 2.8 billion searches (up 4 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.3 billion (up 3 percent), Ask Network with 548 million (up 6 percent) and AOL, Inc. with 264 million.”

The past few months have revealed continued incremental increases on behalf of Microsoft properties, showing promise for Bing as the Summer season begins to wind down.  Unfortunately for Yahoo, their search properties remained flat in search share compared to the month prior, while Ask noted a negligible increase compared to last month.

iPad Crazy & T-Mobile Takes Advantage of Google

in Advertising, innovation, Mobile, Search Engine Marketing, Technology 1 Comment

We are now using iPad’s more than ever, according to Business Insider who conducted its 3rd annual iPad survey. The survey concluded that people now use their iPad’s for 2-5 hours every day! Also, 46.7% of people say the iPad is now their primary computer vs. 29.1% when they first started the survey. Several graphs show a huge spike in what people are actually using their iPad for, which is web browsing. The number of people purchasing iPad’s and other tablets leaves a huge opportunity for advertisers to focus on mobile. Especially now with the tablet craze of 2012, demand for a more affordable tablet is attracting all sorts of companies to push a tablet into the market. Amazon.com took the first leap into the cheaper tablet market. They set the tone for the rest that a more affordable, simple design, and decent hardware tablet can do just as well. Now that the tablet universe is growing with other competitors like Google trying to make a more affordable tablet without sacrificing specs/features, it will only put tablets in more hands. With more tablets around the household/work/commuting this definitely grows the possibilities for advertisers wanting to expand their reach.

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Share of Paid Searches – US (June 2012)

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US Paid Search Share - June 2012 (Comscore)

With the recent appointment of Yahoo!’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer (the fourth in the last year counting Carol Bartz, Tim Morse, and Scott Thompson), we thought it timely to reprise our monthly commentary on US paid search engine rankings as reported by ComScore.

The above percentages represent “explicit” searches, or searches that “explicitly” reflect search user intent in reported results, as opposed to contextually driven searches.

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, we observed the mighty Yahoo! with a 15.9% share.  Since June of 2011, Yahoo! has lost over 18% of its stake in the US paid search market, pushing it further into search obscurity.  It goes without saying that Google has remained steady over the same time period and has even gained an additional 2%, while Microsoft has improved by 8% and has taken over Yahoo!’s position as runner-up in the search wars.

It remains to be seen whether the arrival of Ms. Mayer, a 13 year veteran of Google and the 20th employee with the Mountain View giant, will help steer Yahoo! Search back in the right direction.

Wrong Message, Wrong Person, Wrong Time

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In advertising we are always talking about putting the right message, in front of the right person, at the right time. The rapidly evolving advertising technologies online allow us to get closer to this goal then ever before. When it comes to search marketing people are typing in exactly what they want, and therefore giving you as an advertiser an opportunity to capitalize on this.

Many companies take advantage of this and deliver highly tailored ads to match the search queries. The result is that people expect their ads to be targeted so when you see an advertisement that doesn’t fit with your search query, it can be quite offensive. I was researching some text ads for a campaign when I ran across a perfect example from Wal-Mart of why you should make sure that your agency is using negative keyword targeting for their search campaigns.

It would have taken 30 seconds to add “coping” as a negative keyword to prevent this from happening.

This ad represents two failures. Firstly the ad clearly shouldn’t be displayed for this search query. Secondly the ad itself has a typo, which is a minor detail given the offensive nature of the keyword it is paired with but it is yet another sign that their QA process failed.

This is particularly bad given that the company is Wal-Mart, which people are far more likely to pounce on for blunders such as this. When a person types in “coping with a death in the family” I don’t think they want to see this message from Wal-Mart, especially not at this time.

Google “Freshness” Algorithm Update – November 2011

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Google has had an ongoing problem with providing fresh content and until the launch of the “Freshness” algorithm earlier this week they didn’t have a solution – only a series of quick fixes.

During 9/11 when there was a massive number of searches for “world trade center” related terms nothing showed up except outdated informational pages about renting office space and tours. As a result they had to add links directly from their homepage to news sites to divert users away from using their search features.

On the more recent side of the war in Afghanistan we saw better but still flawed search results from Google when news broke about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Google began putting “Google News” in search results years ago to provide up-to-the-minute content at the top of search results that were tied to current events but this fix is only a band-aid on a larger issue.

If you look at the screenshot below (source: Search Engine Land) you will see that while Google News provided people with fresh content the actual algorithmic search results below were about the White House Correspondents Dinner and one of President Obama’s past budget speeches although the user intent was clearly focused on what had just gone down in Pakistan.

Google started to get into a bit of a rut with its search results, pushing down the actual results with Google news, Twitter updates, and other additional features to liven up the search results pages but not the actual search results themselves.

Earlier this week Google announced an actual fix to the problem of outdated content- a “freshness” algorithm update was launched on Monday building off the infrastructure established by the Google Caffeine update. Caffeine did not change the actual search results, it was a new way to collect and index information on the web.

Caffeine was designed to radically change the way that Google indexed content, giving them the ability to quickly index frequently changing content. The update that Google released on Monday is an algorithmic change that will utilize this high-speed indexing system to provide fresh search results.

What impact does this change have? It allows Google to respond to three separate scenarios where fresh content is necessary for a good user experience, impacting 35% of all search results in the process. Quoting from their announcement:

  • Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like “occupy oakland protest”, or for the latest news about the “nba lockout”, you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old.
  • Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like “ICALP” or an event like the “presidential election”. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest “NFL scores”, “dancing with the stars” results or “exxon earnings”, you’ll see the latest information.
  • Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the “best slr cameras”, or you’re in the market for a new car and want “subaru impreza reviews”, you probably want the most up to date information.

This is a seismic shift in the SEO world, but it wasn’t unexpected. It has been clear for many years that Google wanted to move in this direction for those of us that were prepared the changes have provided a nice boost to organic search traffic.

Regardless of industry there are ways to provide fresh content whether it be starting a company blog, releasing a new product line, or finding some other way to engage your users.

Through this update Google has made it clear that if you don’t start paying attention to your content, you will be left behind.

Yahoo Parts Ways With Carol Bartz

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yahoo dismisses carol bartz

Yahoo’s summary ouster of CEO Carol Bartz this past Tuesday was quite a surprise in more ways than one.  From a big picture perspective though, the news should not really come as a surprise aside from the way in which it was delivered;  Ms. Bartz was reportedly notified of her termination via phone call from Chairman Roy Bostock.

It was not long ago we wrote of the Yahoo and Bing search alliance then presided over by the newly minted Bartz, (September 2009 to be exact).  Her “vision [was to position Yahoo at] the center of people’s lives online” as well as to better address Google’s increasing search marketshare.  Her goal at the time was to shift the company’s focus to their bread and butter, content and display advertising.  The company was losing traction and focus even back then, which coincidentally precipitated shareholders’ ugly dismissal of co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang.  Quantcast’s rough estimates show Yahoo traffic nose-diving in July 2010, but flapping and fluttering downward from as early as 2008.

Yahoo was once the big fish in the industry, but has struggled to find its identity the past several years.  Is it a technology company, a media property, a search engine, or what?  Corporate direction?  The answer to this question is always the responsibility of the CEO, and as such the failure to find it incurs the blame.  Both Jerry Yang and Carol Bartz are immensely intelligent and talented people, but both seemed unable to find the compass needed to direct Yahoo, and therefore, they failed.  Should they really take the blame though?

It certainly can be no consolation for shareholders to see existing CFO, Timothy Morse, assume the position of interim chief executive (not to take anything away from the man himself).  He will reportedly lead a team of 5 senior executives in the management of the company.  Yahoo is also considering a possible divestment of Asian holdings to right the ship.

Google Organic Sitelinks’ Facelift

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google sitelinks facelift

I thought I noticed this a few days ago.  Sure enough, yesterday Google publicly announced that their organic sitelinks will undergo some modifications, and not just in appearance.  Sitelinks (both paid and organic) are valuable to searchers in helping to determine mindset, which can be a difficult task from an initial search, especially for very broad queries like brand only keywords.  To use Google’s example, if one conducts a search for “met museum”, it is impossible to predict whether or not that person seeks information on location, hours, exhibits, galleries, directions, etc.  Offering searchers multiple link results under an individual listing provides more relevance and a better user experience.

Aside from evolutionary tweaks along the way, such as columnar alignment, doubled number of sitelinks per listing, algorithm updates and increases in occurrences, more recent improvements include:

  • Sitelinks are now full-sized and include a URL and one line of descriptive text (similar to regular listings)
  • Sitelinks have been increased to a maximum of 12 from 8, but can vary depending on the query
  • The sitelinks algorithm now combines sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links. Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them.

These modifications incent sites to pay closer attention to SEO best practices, especially when considering the amount of real estate consumed by sitelinks will increase and will offer greater exposure on the SERP.

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Google Realtime Down but Not Out

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google realtime

Mashable recently reported that Google’s Realtime search function, disabled in July due to stalled negotiations with Twitter, is planned to resurface and will include data from additional social sources as well as Google+.  Realtime Search, “Updates” on the Google SERP, delivered relevant Twitter, Facebook and other social media data streams in real time whenever major current and world events hit a boiling point.

Adding Google+ data to the results is also under serious consideration, with the Google+ Stream possibly functioning as its own search engine and real time feed, which coincidentally is Google+’s most requested feature.  This could essentially negate the need to incorporate any data outside the Google family of products (like Tweets and Facebook News Feeds).

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