September 30, 2010 by Alain Saffel
Google Instant is now available for Canadians, but only if you have a Google account. So, if you want to check it out, you need to sign up. I’m not sure if that will change or not.
There’s been a barrage of hype surrounding its launch. Is the hype deserved?
Is Google Instant worth a look?
In one word: no. In fact, having a look at Google Instant reminded me that I should always have my Google accounts off when doing searches. I had made sure Google didn’t collect my search history even when I wasn’t logged in, but it seems you don’t have that option now.
I had a look and there was a partial list of my searches for the past month. Hey, nothing sinister, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t want my searches tied to my account in any way.
If you are worried about your privacy, you’re really not going to like Google Instant because right now you’re forced to have a Google account to even use it in Canada.
It seems that you can pause your search history in your account, but I just don’t trust Google not to collect that information in the background. With the USA PATRIOT Act, all your electronic information is considered fair game to the US government and you won’t ever know.
Google Instant is annoying
Having worked in SEO and in social media for a while now, I’m used to the hype. Oh, I remember when Google Wave came out. Yes, it was going to revolutionize the world. Invites were coveted and if you had one, your other geek friends marvelled at how connected you were. Yawn. If you were in PR and not on Twitter, you were nowhere. Yawn.
Aren’t marketing people annoying sometimes? Unfortunately this kind of hype tends to cause a lot of anxiety for people whose level of Internet knowledge is lagging or non-existent. No worries. If you aren’t on Twitter, didn’t use Wave and don’t like Instant, you’re not going to be relegated to eating with your fingers, using stone clubs and picking nits out of your partner’s hair.
Google Instant will not revolutionize search. It will annoy the hell out of searchers, should they choose to use it, to the point they are going to seek other alternative search engines like Blekko or Bing. My prediction is that Google Instant will be lucky to last as long as Wave, which Google killed.
The only relatively useful part of Instant is the predictive search, which has been around with Google in another form for a while. Where’s the time I’m going to save if I have to scan the results as I type? Every letter could totally change the results. No, I’m going to continue typing my query until it’s done and then look.
Effect on SEO and PPC
To anyone running a website or optimizing them, the key question is “will Google Instant affect my SEO or PPC campaign?”
It seems that the thought that Google Instant would destroy long tail keywords (search queries of three or more words) hasn’t happened; in fact, there have, according to some research, been slight increases in long tail keyword phrases searched with Google Instant. In other words: no effect. Whether or not things continue that way remains to be seen.
In looking at Google’s Instant video one has to wonder if images and videos are going to begin to get more clicks as they’re more easily visible as one types through a query. If you’ve got a bit of expertise, doing more video might not be a bad addition to your SEO campaign.
Google Instant and Adwords PPC
While the effects on organic SEO may be minimal, it may be more important to look at pay per click Adwords campaigns.
There seems to be a bit of a trend in thinking that Google Instant will increase impressions with a resultant decrease in clickthrough rate (CTR). This naturally would lead to a lowering of quality score and an increase in average cost per click.
This is a concern I have had since I heard about Google Instant. There’s another interesting thing I hadn’t considered and that is how people may change how they type a search query. At Practical Ecommerce they suggested that people may begin to add keyword modifiers to the end of the search query such as “shoes brown” instead of “brown shoes” because typing the modifiers first brings up mostly irrelevant searches.
It’s an interesting idea, and while Google says search results will be the same, if searchers begin to enter their queries differently, naturally the search results will be different. The differences in organic search results are often subtle, but they are there when you reorder the same keywords in a search query.
Kind of gets away from Google’s preference for natural language in content.
It’s probably a little too early to tell what is really going to happen with Google Instant. It’s certainly not going to be the death of SEO. If your content isn’t optimized, searchers still are going to have difficulty finding you unless you’re one of the big brands.
My main concern is for pay per click advertising in Google. It very well could increase ad costs for advertisers with no apparent benefit. I will be watching the Adwords campaigns I manage much more closely now.
Ultimately the important question is: are searchers going to like Google Instant and keep using it? If their reaction is anything like mine, I hated it. I have turned it off. I will ensure I either don’t have my Google accounts open or have another browser open to do my searches. As far as I’m concerned, from a personal search perspective, Google Instant is dead to me. My hope is that it will go the way of Google Wave but I’ll keep an eye on it to see where it goes and how it could affect my clients
What do you think? Have you used Google Instant? Like it? Hate it? Concerns? Raves?
June 14, 2010 by Alain Saffel
Managing a pay per click marketing (PPC) campaign is a little different than an SEO campaign in that they typically change on a daily basis and have to be managed more actively
A good example of that was something I ran into this morning. One of the pay per click marketing campaigns I manage really spiked in clicks yesterday. It’s not unusual, as this is their busy season.
What was unusual was the fact that there were a huge amount of clicks in an ad group that doesn’t normally get a large amount of clicks, try 50 times as many.
After a little investigation I’ve asked Google to have a look and issue a credit. I haven’t seen click fraud in any of the other campaigns I manage. Normally there are a certain number of invalid clicks from people double clicking an ad and that type of thing, but it never really amounts to much.
Competitors clicking your ads
One of the more common types of click fraud that occurs is where one of your competitors clicks on your ad in an effort to inflate your ad costs and hopefully eat up your pay per click advertising budget until your ads no longer show.
In this case, I suspect that is likely what is going on, but one can never be 100 per cent sure.
Your competitors really would be better off improving their Internet marketing campaigns than spending time wasting your money (and theirs) but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Active PPC ad campaign management
This points to the benefit of having someone actively managing your campaigns. I am a bit of a report and statistics junkie (a result of my days working as an accountant, no doubt) and I regularly run through a variety of traffic reports, statistics, keywords and more. If you’re an information junkie, Google Analytics and Google Adwords could feed that addiction!
When I worked as an accountant I typically would give financial statements the “eyeball test” just to see if anything looked out of place. It served me well and I caught a few things in that manner. Most of the time it could just be a natural variation in earnings or expenses, but sometimes it was a data entry error or a miscategorized item.
It pays to actively manage your pay per click campaign to ensure you aren’t the victim of click fraud, which is uncommon, but also to weed out non-performing ads, keywords and to increase your ad click through rate. Improving your landing page quality can help your ads climb higher on the list and lower your cost per click too.
I really enjoy the challenge of creating a fresh campaign, writing the pay per click ad copy, the keyword research and determining which market segments to target. It really brings together all my SEO (landing page optimization), writing and marketing skills to bear on a PPC marketing project.
Alain Saffel is the owner of Page One SEO, an Edmonton SEO company. Page One SEO’s services include organic search engine optimization, pay per click advertising campaign setup and management, public relations and copywriting.
December 1, 2009 by Alain Saffel
It’s no surprise that with the recession, marketing budgets have shrunk. It’s affecting people with big pay per click marketing budgets and small ones.
I’ve seen it happen with some of my clients and I have talked to many others who have seen the same shrinking online marketing budgets. That’s why I thought Marketing Sherpa’s chart about how agencies view client search marketing budgets was interesting.
There aren’t many agencies out there with clients who have too large of a budget. There’s been an increase since 2008, according to online marketing agencies, of clients whose search marketing budgets for pay per click marketing are too small. I’ve also experienced it on the SEO side where ongoing SEO has been scaled back from planned levels.
It is frustrating because while the initial SEO phase is very important, the ongoing SEO linkbuilding phase is equally as important. Of course I’m not the one at the accounting controls, but the end goal of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic and click through to a client website. Once those visitors are on site, they can become customers.
It’s not a quick and easy process and I think that’s where educating clients is important. There will be ups and downs along the way, but it’s worth the effort in the end. It is an investment and not just a cost.
Recession: time to invest in SEO & website
With this recession, I see it as a great time for companies to invest in their website, making it more responsive to visitor needs and, in so doing, to get those visitors as your clients. Depending on what point those visitors are in their buying cycle, they may not become clients immediately, but may when their situation improves or once they’ve moved through their decision process.
Here in Alberta, with its recently overheated economy, we have swung from some companies saying ‘too busy to do it’ to ‘we don’t want to spend anything.’ It’s funny in a way, but disappointing because they’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to focus on the long-term marketing of their company. I’ve talked with people in a variety of IT sectors that have said the same thing about their segments of the market.
I’m not worried though. The outlook for the economy is improving, and from a search engine optimization perspective, every time I search in Google, I see websites that need to be optimized. Is yours performing as well as you’d like?
Page One SEO is an Edmonton SEO company specializing in organic search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. If you’d like to increase your online visibility, traffic and move your site up in organic search results, contact us for a free online marketing consultation.