Google Quietly Updates the Keyword Tool Interface

16 06 2011

It looks like Google made some more changes to one of their products without drawing much attention.  Sometime this week it looks like Google updated the Keyword Tool interface.  Previously when doing keyword research with the tool, the word or phrase that you were searching for got lumped into the rest of the results within the search.  With the new interface the actual search terms are presented in a separate table from the keyword ideas that are delivered:

As you can see the change was anything if not minor, but I like the idea of being able to quickly see the results for the exact search terms that I entered.  At first glance I thought that it may make the “only show ideas closely related to my search terms” obsolete, but a quick test that I ran returned some bizarre results:

Strangely, the broader search for all keywords returns 577 keyword ideas and when you click the “only show ideas closely related to my search terms,” which in theory would refine the search, Google returns 800 keyword ideas (the maximum number the tool will return).  What are your thoughts on the backwards results?  Did Google flub the update?

Google Updates AdWords Traffic Estimates Algorithm

19 05 2011

In the ever-changing world known as Google products and services, Google has announced yet another algorithm update.  However, this time around it isn’t Panda 3.0 – the update doesn’t even apply to search.  The newest update has been applied to the traffic estimates you see in AdWords.  According to Dan Friedman from the Inside AdWords Team:

“Today we’re announcing an update to the algorithm behind the traffic estimates you see in AdWords. As a result of our updates, we hope to provide you with better statistics for estimated clicks, cost, and ad position. This change is effective now and affects all AdWords accounts globally.”

Nothing exciting has been done to update the actual interface, just the behind the scenes interpolation.  One of the primary differences I first noticed was that you are now required to enter a number in the “Max CPC $” field illustrated below:

Other than a keyword and a max CPC you are not required to enter any other information in order to get an estimate for the global monthly searches, local monthly searches, estimated average CPC, estimated ad position, estimated daily clicks, estimated daily cost, competition or local search trends.

However, the biggest benefit of the updated algorithm is the fact that you are able to more accurately estimate traffic and bid structure when you are building your campaign.  More info from Dan and the AdWords team:

“In order to determine if you’re setting an appropriate target bid, try entering a few different values in the Max CPC field the next time you use the Traffic Estimator. Look at how these different bids affect your statistics, and then decide which bid gives you the best return on investment. You can use the same process for trying out new budgets.”

So have at it, test out the new algorithm to refine your bidding & keyword strategy and better optimize your campaign performance.

Protect Yourself from Short URLs

7 04 2011

With the spread of social media on the web came increased sharing of websites and stories among friends.  The popularity of Twitter has only increased the amount of interweb sharing that’s taking place.  However, with the advent of Twitter came an idea that was not a part of more traditional social media – the 140 character limit.

The 140 Character Limit

Twitter has stated many times why there is a 140 character limit.  Originally, when Twitter was created the inventors envisioned it as a way for users to share via SMS (read: mobile phones).  At the time the international limit on text messages by most carriers was 160 characters.  Therefore, as stated by Biz Stone, 140 is the character limit on tweets because the international limit is 160 -20 for the tweet author’s name.”

So What Problems Does the 140 Character Limit Pose?

The 140 character limit hinders the process of effective sharing on Twitter due to the fact that if a URL is shorter than 140 characters, you aren’t left any room to add comments or info about the link you’re posting.  And even then there’s still the URLs all over the web that exceed the limit on their own.

Enter the Short URL

A short URL is a process by which you make a link available on the internet via a short link which enables, among other the things, the ability to share on Twitter and still add value to the link by commenting about it.  The problem arises when someone misleads you by masking the true identity of the destination URL by using a shortened URL and directing users to destinations with malicious intent.

Protect Yourself

Don’t be too scared.  There are ways to protect yourself depending on the browser you use or even 3rd party Twitter applications.  Interclue is a Firefox add-on which once installed allows you to float your mouse over a link and click a bubble for more information about the destination of the short URL.

Another option would be to choose the correct 3rd party application, such as TweetDeck.  TweetDeck allows users to enable the option to see more information about a short URL by clicking on the actual URL in the Tweet.  A pop-up allows you to see more information about the link and then decide if you want to follow it.

If you’re not into installing an add-on for your browser or using a 3rd party application, you can always do things the old-fashioned way and copy & paste the short URL into the tool at LongURL.  Voila – more information.

It’s as simple as that.  Don’t be afraid of the short URL – embrace it, but make sure you’re protecting yourself.  What are your favorite tools for deciphering short URLs?

Developing a Long-Term, Forward-Thinking SEO Strategy

21 03 2011

Many people look at SEO as a one time consultancy that’s a set it and forget it technique for driving increased leads/sales/traffic to their site.  But, taking a look at something as basic as a keyword research for your optimization efforts can tell a completely different story.  In addition, it’s vital that you hire an SEO firm that understands your industry and can demonstrate that knowledge before a contract is ever put in place.  You must be forward-thinking for a long-term strategy.  The best way to understand what’s going to happen in the future is to look at the past.

A Look Into the Past

A backward-thinking strategy is amazing if your industry is extremely cyclical.  For example, the automotive industry:

If you aren’t familiar with Google Insights for Search and are completely confused at this point – from Google: “The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don’t represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100. Each point on the graph is divided by the highest point, or 100.”

In the graph above, you can see the comparison of four search terms: “2009 BMW,” “2010 BMW,” “2011 BMW” and “New BMW.”  The graph spans the time from January of 2009 until March of 2011.  The data is extremely telling.  Your first thought might be that if you’re optimizing a page for new BMWs then the keyword “New BMW” would be a given.  Diving into the historical data you can see that, just like the auto industry, the search terms are extremely cyclical in nature.  Due to the fact that the auto industry announces new models at the same time every year, you can see that traffic for the current model year is always higher than the search traffic for “New BMW” until around October when the next model year takes over.  Not to say “New BMW” shouldn’t be part of your overall keyword strategy, but you might want to reconsider a primary focus.

Thus, knowing the industry and having an ongoing, forward-thinking SEO strategy is of utmost importance.  Any on-site changes must be implemented at the proper time in order to capture the flip in search traffic for the next model year.

What industries have you seen the same type of trends?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

7 SEM Trends for 2011

8 02 2011

After spending the last month reading list after list making SEM predictions for 2011 I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.  When you truly look at predicting anything, the best case scenario is you’re right and the worst case scenario, well at least you made an effort.  So, without further ado, here are my top 7 SEM predictions for 2011:

1.  Above the Fold Content Becomes Less Crucial

One of the biggest things to take away from the infographic craze is that users are willing to scroll if you have engaging content.  Virtually every mouse has a scroll feature; create amazing content so I want to use it.

2.  HTML5 and CSS3 Will Begin to Go Mainstream

The general population is afraid of change.  Most tech people are early adopters and embrace change.  Now we just need the people building sites for clients that are still using IE6 to let them do it the right way.  Listen to Smashing and start using HTML 5 and CSS3 today.

3.  The Death of Foursquare: As big players integrate location-based services better, the smaller pioneers will fade.

Let me start by saying I’ve never been into letting people know where I’m at so they can go to my house and kidnap my dog while I’m out drinking.  Therefore, I may not be the authority on any this issue.  However, I do hate having to juggle four different apps in order to let everyone know what I’m having for dinner, where I’m having it, that I just became the Mayor and that I checked in to save 20% on appetizers.

4.  Google’s Disdain for RSS Will Continue to Grow

With rumors already swirling about Google moving resources away from Google Reader, it’s likely that support for RSS will fade overall.  Personally, I used to be into RSS as it’s an excellent way to keep abreast to the latest news and industry blogs, however that all went away when Twitter became my professional social vehicle and Facebook became my personal social vehicle.  Using Twitter and using it right helps to filter out all the fluff and only read content that is valued by people who know more than I do.

5.   Blekko Will Become an Important FREE Tool for SEO Professionals

Blekko has already made efforts to supply SEO data to users.  I think the next step in the process is to allow the data to be exported and manipulated.  Stay Tuned…

6.  Local Search Will Drive More Customers to Brick & Mortar Stores

Yelp reported that in December of 2010 35% of all searches on came from a mobile app. Please take into account that this number doesn’t even include the people who go directly to the site through their mobile browser instead of using the app.  People are searching locally and on the go because they want to spend locally.  Looking at Google’s shift towards local content only reinforces the fact.

7.  Customer Reviews Will Take Center Stage

One of the biggest obstacles working with companies that are just now jumping on the local bandwagon is that it’s difficult to get an influx of reviews.  As local businesses begin to optimize for local search, expect to be asked to review a business more and more as you’re walking out the door with your lunch.

In the end, there were a million different predictions I could have thrown out there. Check back next year and we’ll see how I did.


What are your thoughts/predictions for 2011 and beyond?

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