Google AdWords are something we always expect to see now. Sitting in the sidebar of a search, the top results features, sitting somewhere on a webpage…we just know it is going to be there. Half the time, I know I don’t even notice them. It is as though my eyes skim over them with absolutely no recognition, not even bothering to read what they are.
Many people are like this now, which is a shame. Because when you do pay attention, you will occasionally find some hilarious flubs by the automated system and the companies that have bought AdWords. These are five of those examples.
We all want to be loved. Now it is easier than ever…just hop on over to eBay and buy some! Not only is it available, but it is apparently cheap. That hasn’t been my experience, but hey, I am not the expert here. Whoever managed to apparently bottle, brand and advertise love is a genius, and probably worth trillions. I bet that can buy a whole lot of the love stuff.
Thinking of ordering Dominos? Pizza Hut has something to say about that. This is the search equivalent of a photobomb. It isn’t even subtle, Pizza Hut literally thrust themselves right in there like a canon ball in a swimming pool, splashing their marketing all over the place. But what I really love about it is how it is actually the result above the real Dominos site. I don’t know if there is a clearer way of one business giving the other a finger. This by the way is not allowed by Google but doesn’t mean this can’t be done.
This one is just clever. It reacts tot he ad above it, and is very amusing because of it. I love witty advertising, especially when it has a bit of a sarcastic flare. For those who don’t know, this refers to former GameSpot editorial director Jeff Gertsmann. In 2007, he was fired from his position for unclear reasons. Though it is widely believed to have been advertising pressure that led to his being unfairly bumped from the company. A number of colleagues left in protest, and it caused quite a stir. Even years later, this reference is a funny one.
Not only can you buy love these days, but apparently you can buy a baby, too! They are even on sale, so I bet you can get a great deal. There is no word yet on whether or not you can get a two-pack deal on twins. But we will keep our fingers crossed.
I have never seen a worst example of advertising on Google. Why this would even register for an ad is beyond me, but I am sure it caused a great deal of embarrassment for eBay. Which, by the way, does not specialize in the sale of African slaves. Or indeed people of any kind.
Have you seen any examples of funny Google AdWord flubs? Let us know in the comments.
“Check what keywords your competitors are using, and build better content to win their traffic.” Sound familiar? While that statement represents one traditional approach to keyword research, it could also kick off a losing battle. You really want to be where your competitors aren’t, but where you can still find lots of traffic looking for what you have to offer. To do this, you may need to do a little research off the beaten path.
I’d like to tip my hat to David de Souza, writing for Search Engine Land on the topic of using these “hidden gems,” as he calls them, to find performing keywords that your rivals haven’t stumbled upon yet. I’m not covering all of his gems here, so by all means, check out his article for the ones I’m missing.
His first suggestion seems counter intuitive at first. You’ve no doubt noticed that many keywords for which you want to rank return searches with a Wikipedia page in the number one spot. They’re not your competitors, and you sure don’t want to try to outrank them! Or do you?
For many pages that you don’t own – especially your regular competitors – you lack some important data necessary for outranking them: the amount of traffic they receive. Interestingly enough, however, that’s not true with Wikipedia pages. There is a tool to which de Souza links that gives you some excellent information. He notes that it “will allow you to find traffic volume for any Wikipedia page over the last 90 days,” but it actually gives you a bit more than that; you can fiddle around with it and even analyze the popularity of any particular page over a longer period of time.
Why is this useful? When you try a keyword in Google and see a Wikipedia page ranking at the top, you can check the traffic that article receives to see if it’s worth it to try to outrank that page. One caveat: the fine print on every page of this tool says “This is very much a beta service and may disappear or change at any time,” so I’d recommend finding a spare 10 minutes or so to play around with it reasonably soon.
The second suggestion for keywords off the beaten path takes advantage of a traditional year-end habit of websites in many fields. No, I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions; I’m talking about most popular posts lists. These can yield all sorts of interesting ideas. Of course, it’s February now, so how do you find those posts if it’s not the right time of year?
You need to create a query for Google that joins several things. The first part will be your niche, the phrase “most popular posts of 2012” (or whatever year has just passed) and the word “traffic.” So if your niche is electronics, your search would look like this: electronics “most popular posts of 2012” traffic.
Okay, so it’s pretty clear why you want the niche and the “most popular posts of 2012;” the niche directs Google and the quotes tell it to look for an exact phrase. But why the traffic? You want to find lists that mention how much traffic the site received. One of the posts that de Souza found in this manner noted that it posted 50 articles during the year and received more than 100,000 visitors. “Using the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule), we can estimate that the 10 articles listed received around 80,000 visitors,” de Souza notes.
Now here’s where it really gets interesting. You can check out those popular articles to see if you can create better content on those same topics. If you can, you know what to do, right? In fact, if you really want to make your efforts pay off, check out those popular posts to see which ones got links. After you’re created your killer content, send an email to the webmasters of those websites to make them aware of it. You just might get a link, which will certainly help you in your goal of beating the competition.
You should never do one form of keyword research to the exclusion of others. These ideas aren’t meant to take the place of whatever you’re doing now. They’re there to help you when you’re stuck and want to find something different that could still bring in good traffic for your website. Good luck!
It is quite obvious that Google is beginning to put more importance on the use of reviews. It is all about trying to narrow that gap between the social web and ecommerce, where sales themselves are becoming more and more social in themselves. Just look at the regularity of community selling on sites like Amazon.
But will that be a factor when it comes to rankings? Will SEO have to adapt to be more ratings inclusive, a new addition after already changing to make way for both video and social results? Given the high priority given to review communities like Yelp and CitySearch when in results for both local and online businesses, and the way that Google is now encouraging G+ users to review local businesses by accessing search result data for suggestion customization, it has already begun.
Local businesses are well used to seeking out reviews from customers. Along with social media and online shopping carts, they are the only way to establish a viable web presence. It is the typical ecommerce business that has to really focus on this change and the way it is certain to adapt over time.
External reviews are important, and many small companies encourage their customers to hop onto sites like Yelp or ResellerRatings for their opinion on the service/product. This is a good idea for small businesses, as customers are more likely to comment when they have positive experiences, unlike many large corporations that find themselves with reviews only when the customer is unhappy.
Sites like Amazon also offer a great service for those who are selling a tangible product. It is a selling community, and reviewing for many people who buy there is second nature. Especially when they are happy with what they have bought. Google seems to also favor these pages, showing the star rating right there in the results.
Some people reading this are already tempted to begin what many companies do, which is purchase fake reviews. This is a mistake, as Google is working overtime to quell this phenomenon, as are the third party sites reviews are hosted on.
If you are suspected of review spamming, all ratings can be wiped off of the account. Sometimes sites will even ban the company entirely, though most the time this is for multiple offenses after getting a warning. Plus, most customers are now web-savvy enough (and jaded enough) to recognize fake reviews, and to be leery of even positive ones if they don’t appear to be genuine. There are plenty of signs that they can follow to come to this conclusion, so don’t underestimate them.
For those who are struggling to get customer reviews, you can always meet in the middle. Offer someone a free sample of your product or service in exchange for an honest, well written review. Many bloggers will do this on their sites, which are great to link to, and social users who are following your page will jump on the opportunity if you offer it. As long as you are not soliciting positive reviews, or running it as a contest, this is not against any TOS.
There are websites that are choosing to use third-party surveys in order to find out about customer experience. Which can help when trying to improve for better public reviews that will come up in a Google search. Usually, they are done using a service like TrustPilot or Foresee.
But these are controversial, and many small business owners in particular see them as a risk to their brand loyalty, not a help. Customers don’t usually like seeing these popups at the end of a purchase or while browsing a site. They are an eyesore, annoying and completely unsolicited. So the customer opinion of a site can go down drastically for nothing more than the survey request.
When looking at a large company, this doesn’t make much of a difference; they aren’t likely to stop using it or shopping there. However, smaller businesses have to work harder to prove themselves against the competition. At the very least, a more creative and less invasive way should be found to find out the information from a survey. Even a single email a few days later, while not ideal, is better than a popup.
Reviews are a big deal on Google now, and user experience data is crucial for the average ecommerce site. But there is a right way and a wrong way to use this tool, and you should take care that you don’t make a misstep. Luckily, the ranking benefits far outweigh the risks.
Image Credit: 1.
To totally misquote Barbie, “Writing original content is hard!” Well, if it was easy, anybody could rank, right? When you need to create something new on a daily basis for your blog, it’s tempting to find a great piece of work and just copy it. That’s illegal – but there is a legal way to do it.
Before I explain the right way to republish someone else’s work, let me give a tip of the hat to Mike Moran for explaining all the issues around it. I’m going to start with the biggest one: by law, you need to get permission from the copyright holder before you can republish something. That’s usually the author of the work. And yes, you need to get that permission even if you’re publishing it on the Internet – and even if you include the person’s name, copyright notice, and link back to them. I’m serious; contact them first and get that “yes.” If they say “no,” DON’T republish it. If they say “yes, but here are my conditions,” don’t republish without fulfilling those conditions.
If that sounds like a lot of effort, guess what? The copyright holder went through a lot of effort to create that article in the first place, and you’re going through a lot LESS effort to get it. You know you’re going through a lot less effort, because if you weren’t, you’d simply write something original yourself and put THAT up on your site, now wouldn’t you?
Besides, do you know what happens when you republish something? You’re competing in the search engines with the original item. Most web surfers find content online by searching for it. The search engines can tell the original from the republished item by checking a number of “hints;” judging by our SEO Chat forum comments over the years, they’re not perfect, but they’ve been getting better at it. Now these search engines assume that searchers want to see the original item, so they’ll rank that higher than republished items. So all that new traffic you may have been hoping to attract with an awesome piece of content you’re republishing? Yeah, that will end up at the site with the original item, not at yours with the republication.
So if you’re going to republish something, make sure it’ll be of benefit to your regular readers, who will certainly see it. This point brings up a side issue, though: your regular readers may be used to a certain “voice” from your blog. Part of the point of writing a blog in the first place is to establish not just your expertise, but yourself as a personality with which your audience wants to engage. It’s another form of branding, in a sense. And if you’re republishing someone else’s work, well, they don’t have your voice or your personality. So the content may be useful, but in at least in this one sense, republishing it is counterproductive.
But let us assume at this point that you’re not completely dissuaded from capturing some of the advantages of republishing. You’re completely out of ideas (which need never happen with an editorial calendar, by the way); you asked the copyright holder for permission to republish and they laughed in your face (which is just as well, since their writing style clashes with yours); and you know your readers want more on this topic. So what can you do?
Fortunately, there’s another form of “republishing” that isn’t really republishing at all. It’s legal, you don’t need permission from the author of the original item, and nearly every blogger does it. I’m doing it right now, in fact. You take the original article and write a few paragraphs about it, building up your own opinion on the topic – adding your own spin in your own voice to the issue. Courtesy demands that you link to the original, and that you have something substantial today. Granted, in some sense it’s not totally original content, but at least you’re not starting the piece by staring at a blank page with an exhausted and equally blank brain.
Moran notes that if you only write two or three paragraphs from your own perspective on someone else’s original work, you provide fodder for the search engines while satisfying your regular readership. “And if you can write five or ten paragraphs with a well-thought-out opinion,” he continues, “agreeing or disagreeing with the original, or adding and expanding on points in the original, you have likely created a nice article both for your readers and for search engines, without the heavy lifting of having to think up an idea on your own.” On top of this, if the site containing the original content supports trackbacks, a link to your article will show up in its comment section. You could get traffic from the original item to yours, then – which you wouldn’t get if you simply republished the original item!
So, to recap: writing original content is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. If you’ve temporarily run out of ideas for writing something original, you can consider republishing someone else’s work, if you do it right – but there are disadvantages. The more original you can make your work – the more work, and the more of yourself, you put into it – the more benefits you’ll get. I’ll leave Moran with the last word here: “In blogging, there is no substitute for originality.”