Sword and the Script

As Google Authorship Ends, Finger Pointing Begins



As Google Authorship Ends Finger Pointing Begins

Googler John Muller announced in a Google+ update that Google was ending its Authorship project. There was the usual, perhaps deserved, criticism of the search company – because it seems to dabble in products, gets users hooked and then dumps them both.

“After over two years of Google encouraging webmasters to add authorship to their pages, Google drops the feature cold,” read the subhead a Marketing Land article about the announcement.

Suffice to say, the web community, particularly digital marketers ought to be well used to this by now.  Google has killed more than 3,000 projects according to Slate, though not all of them have had the fanfare of Wave, Buzz or Reader. Questions remain open about the viability of existing popular products including Google+, Feedburner and Blogger. Read More…

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Infographic: The Biggest SEO Fear



by Frank Strong

SEO Greatest fear

Panda’s may be in need of some PR.  First the world is confused as to whether it’s more closely related to bears or raccoons and now Google has Google-bombed its namesake.

The one-time lovable and cuddly-looking species – which even has its own reality show – has seen its trademark hijacked by the mighty search engine.

The panda PR people are writing op-eds. The panda lawyers are filing claims. But nothing compares to the outrage of the panda SEO staff.  As Google rolled out Panda 4.0, all eyes were on the web to discover (h/t Danny Brown) the winners and losers.

My bank is sending me a new credit card because eBay is already having a bad week.  And then Panda 4.0 bites.  But it’s not just big business getting hit.

Rae Hoffman, one of my go-to SEO blogs, points out small businesses are getting hit too – over “false positives.” Read More…

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Google Beats a War Path for Guest Posts; PR Needs to Listen



by Frank Strong

Google is on a War Path and PR Needs to Tune In

Google is on a war path, it’s personal, and the company is seeking to make public examples in an effort to dissuade the behavior it’s campaigning against.  Algorithmic changes like Penguin and Panda may have extended beyond SEO and into the PR lexicon, but soon the terms “manual penalty” might as well.  A manual penalty is when Google artificially depresses the visibility of a site in search because the company believes a site is gaming its algorithm.

Yes, they can do that.  And when they do, you have no choice but to yield to its demand, or forgo the search rankings.  For most organizations, whether it’s a savvy search marketing organization or not, forgoing search isn’t a viable option.

Although there are many factors that determine search rankings – and your results for any given term are likely to be different from mine – links are still the strongest indication of relevance and value of a site.  A link is a vote of confidence and generally speaking, the more quality links a site earns, the better it ranks in search.  PR pros tend to pitch a lot of content (if you’re not, you’ve got another issue) and whether they are aware of it or not, that content often earns links.

These links really matter because for most organizations, Google is likely to be the single highest source of referral traffic to a website.  This is the sort of traffic that online marketers and SEOs dedicate their time to converting – to webinar registrations, white paper downloads and ecommerce transactions. Read More…

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One Last Time…Google+ is not a Ghost Town



by Frank Strong
Google+ New York Times Claire Cain Miller

The mainstream media just can’t shake the compulsion to call Google+ a “ghost town.” It’s the type of refrain that if we say it enough times, we might start to believe it. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact the media is supposed to serve readers and playing out this story-line falls short of that goal…and they are completely missing the point of that little +.

New York Times tech reporter Claire Cain Miller was the latest to apply the ghost town label in a story in a less than loving piece published on Valentine’s Day: The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google. Her lede, which also ran on the front page of the print version, read: “Google Plus, the company’s social network, is like a ghost town.”

The story is more about search and less about social as the media — and I’m not just picking on Ms. Miller here — erroneously, perhaps ignorantly, perpetuates this notion that these two dynamics should be evaluated separately.

As of this writing, the available public information on  Ms. Miller’s Google+ profile indicates she has been circled by 23 people, has yet to post a profile photo or make a single update to the social network. PR types might remember her well-shared 2009 story on PR, Spinning the Web: P.R. in Silicon Valley [sic] which included delightfully salacious phrases such as “‘whisper in the ears’ of Silicon Valley’s Who’s Who.” Read More…

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Off Script #6: Ignite’s Jim Tobin: Fans as a Metric are Fool’s Gold



by Frank Strong

Jim Tobin Twitter
Jim Tobin of Ignite Social Media recently made headlines with this post about Facebook: Facebook Brand Pages Suffer 44% Decline in Reach Since December 1.

With offices near Raleigh, NC and Detroit, MI, Jim’s company manages social media marketing for a range of large brands.  This provides the firm with unique insights into the results large corporations are finding in the social space.  His commentary certainly has credibility:

Ignite analysts reviewed 689 posts across 21 brand pages (all of significant size, across a variety of industries) and found that, in the week since December 1, organic reach and organic reach percentage have each declined by 44% on average, with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%. Only one page in the analysis had improved reach, which came in at 5.6%.

I’d jokingly point out that Jim may be partly to blame for coining the idea that Social Media is a Cocktail Party, as it’s the title of his first book co-authored with Lisa Braziel.  Last year he published his second book:  Earn It. Don’t Buy It.

While I’d have to confess I haven’t read either of his books, I do read his blog regularly and his other writing on the web.  After reading one of his posts that was referenced by the Triangle Business Journal, I asked him if he’d be interested in answering some questions for this Off Script series and he agreed.   Read More…

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Why Reporters Should Check Out Google+



by Frank Strong

Google $1,000

Google news search results results favors the bylines of writers with a Google+ profile.

I’ve been thinking about a blog post about Google’s $1,000 victory over the stock market.  I’ve got a different angle in mind, but also did some (news) searches tonight to see what else had been written. My search terms were fairly straight forward, “Google and $1,000.”  The results of that search are shown above.

As I scanned the list of results I noticed this result from Reuters for two reasons.  First, Reuters is a financial news outlet and I was specifically seeking financial analysis. Second, I noticed the byline: Alexei Oreskovic.  The name seemed familiar so I clicked the link to read and that’s when I noticed it.

This Reuters article wasn’t just by Oreskovic but was co-written by Soham Chatterjee.  However in my news search, Google was only giving credit to Alexei. Read More…

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Seriously Fun Analysis: Google’s Android KitKat PR Stunt



by Frank Strong

Google Android KitKat

Chocolate robots? This is a Halloween 2013 costume for sure.

Who would have known a candy bar could make such headlines? After all when was the last time chocolate earned this level of media? I’d suggest I was chocolate covered grasshoppers – and that was a PR stunt too. Before that it was E.T. and Reese’s Pieces.

By way of quick background for those that might have missed it, Google decided to name its newest version of its Android operating system, that’s the stuff inside smart phones like the Nexus 7, after a candy bar. In this case, KitKat was the lucky brand.

 

Candy Coated Headlines

It’s been all over the news, with editors and producers everywhere writing sugar-coated headlines that play off old marketing taglines. “Break me off a piece of that,” begins ABC – while CNN writes “Android sweetened by KitKat.”

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Google to Clamp Down on Press Release Anchor Text



by Frank Strong

Google-to-Clamp-Down-on-Press-Releases-Anchor-Text

It’s been time honored advice for the better part of a decade, and maybe a little longer.  A staple of press releases in the modern media age is to hyperlink key words in the body of the release, otherwise known as optimized anchor text.

That is until now.

On Friday, Search Engine Land reported Google was cracking down on guest posts, advertorials and press releases. That the search giant has bucketed these three items together is not accidental.

This is one of the big changes that may have not been so clear for many webmasters. Google said, “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites,” is an example of an unnatural link that violate their guidelines. The key are the examples given and the phrase “distributed on other sites.” If you are publishing a press release or an article on your site and distribute it through a wire or through an article site, you must make sure to nofollow the links if those links are “optimized anchor text.”

Here’s how you create a nofollow link. Read More…

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Why Google+ is a Better Place for Brands


Google+ for brands

Google+ is the #2 network according to eMarketer

by Frank Strong

“Google+ is like a gym,” began the Facebook status update. “Everyone joins it but only few use it. [sic]”

Lately, I’ve noticed people that make such broad statements have weak or little activity on the social network, but there’s little doubt it has grown.

Recently eMarketer published a post with a headline that stated Google+ had topped Twitter as the #2 social network in a survey of 2,500 U.S. Internet users conducted in March 2013:

The site had the second-highest number of account holders among both men and women, leading Twitter by approximately 10 percentage points for both genders. – eMarketer

Google+ hasn’t existed long enough to reach toddler status, yet the critics have already marked it as a failure. It’s amazing, really, because if a startup social network gained such traction it would be a media darling. However, since it’s Google, the standards, vague as those might be, are set higher. Invariably, it always returns to a Facebook comparison.

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Google Bombs Native Ads


native advertising

eMarketer reports and optimistic outlook for spending on native advertising.

by Frank Strong

Usually when Matt Cutts speaks he reminds me of the Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke testifying before Congress: he speaks in broad terms about a philosophy and leaves the pundits to interpret the details.

This probably isn’t by choice, but by design because the words of both men hold a great deal of gravity to so many people. The latter can boost or tumble global financial markets, while the former has a similar impact on online marketing. However, one can arguable say both men speak to a digital form of currency.

That currency is dollars for one and links for another, but yesterday Cutts spoke out with unusual clarity about both. Links in exchange for dollars, he pointedly said, don’t mix.


Misleading Readers

Google’s Web Spam team lead was speaking of course about native advertising and in a video bluntly titled “advertorials” he warned that publications running advertisements, which are designed to look and feel as if they are editorial content, may face stiff penalties. In fact, he warned that Google might go beyond just removing the offending content and remove an offending publisher’s entire site from Google News.

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