Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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The SEJ team has been hard at work behind the scenes to secure the best speakers for 2015s first SEJ Summit, hosted by Searchmetrics, to take place on February 24 at the JW Marriott Le Merigot in Santa Monica, CA.

We are excited to share these names with you, and now that everything is confirmed we can finally unveil the first round of speakers!

In case youre asking What is SEJ Summit?, allow me to get you up to speed. SEJ Summit is aninvite-only day of learning where each expert speaker will focus on 3 takeaways that are actionable, impactful, and memorable. Attendance is free, thanks to Searchmetrics.

While it is completely free to attend, you do need to request your invite in advance as space is limited to 100 attendees. Please see this page for full details.

SEJ Summit Santa Monica Speakers

  • Katrina Jefferson: Chief Marketing Technologist & Educator at Chica Intelligente

  • Kieran Hawe: Director of Marketing at DreamWorks Animation

  • Matt Prince: PR and Newsroom Manager at Taco Bell

  • Mindy Weinstein: SEO Manager & Trainer at Bruce Clay Inc.

  • Morgan Brown: Head of Growth at TrueVault and Qualaroo

  • Neil Patel: Co-Founder of Crazy Egg and KISSMetrics

The official agenda with speaking topics will be announced in January.

You can rest assured the presentations will definitely NOT include any pitches, product demos, or sponsored content, as this is strictly prohibited at SEJ Summit. This event is dedicated toeducation and networking.

Well announce the rest of the speakers tomorrow. Weve got some great folksyoull recognize. Stay tuned!

Interested? Wed love to have you join us. Request your invite now!

 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)

Matt Southern

Freelance Writer at

Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert articles he contributes to many well respected publications across the web. Contact him via his website if you'd like him to write for you.

 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)


 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)

Matt Southern

 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)

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 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)

 Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1)

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  • Heres the Speakers For SEJ Summit Santa Monica! (Part 1) - December 22, 2014

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  • Google Blocks Thousands Of WordPress Sites Following Malware Attack - December 17, 2014

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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content marketing fail

Content marketing is a tactic that requires research, testing and then a strategy onhow to proceed. A lot of businesses tried content marketing for the first time in 2014. Those who didnt see the results they were looking for shouldnt rush to throw in the towel.

A Google search for the words content marketing pulls up some 355 million results. Narrow that search down to just the past year and the results are around 311 million. Thats a lot of new information out there for people who are just getting started in content marketing.

Even if you include the exact phrase Content Marketing (not just one word or the other) youll find about 4.2 million results over the past year alone.

Any organization launching a content marketing plan in 2014 was sure to find countless best practices, tactics, tips and tricks online to help them get started. Some of these practices of course are better than others, and tips and tricks are sometimes only as good as the sources from which they are found.

If your content marketing program didnt see the results you had hoped this past year, youre not alone. Only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy according to the 2014 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs 2014 annual Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. If you didnt have a strategy in place, or if your strategy didnt satisfy your expectations,here are a few things to consider that could improve your next campaign.

You didnt answer a question

Consumers whether B2C or B2B were looking online to find the answer to a question. They found a pain point in their daily lives and they looked to the internet for a solution. A B2C consumer may have been looking for a pair of pants or a new computer. They had specific questions and they turned to a search engine for answers.

The same can be said for B2B consumers. They wanted to know which accounting software to use for their business, so they rang up a Google search to find out.

In both cases, these consumers searched for answers to questions. Was your content there to provide these answers? If you published content on accounting software, but all it entailed was an extensive product description, then you probably missed out on customers.

Instead, be the useful answer to your customers questions.If your content included an example of why your accounting software is a good fit for business owners, then chances are you piqued more interest online. Answering questions is key to any content strategy.

Your content didnt find an audience

Content produced but not optimized sometimes doesnt go anywhere. You may have great content, but if youre putting it out on your company blog and its not optimized for search, it may not be found.

Always optimize your content. Know how your customers find information about what concerns them. Whether that is a Google search or through social media, understand how to connect with your consumers, engage them with content, then inspire them towards purchase. Heidi Cohen has a great post here about content marketing optimization.

You ignored them once they got there

Seeing clicks come in is great. Likely someone in your organization is going to measure the success of your content marketing campaign on how much traffic was brought to your site. But if that is the primary measurement of a campaigns success, its quite shortsighted. Only 57% of B2B marketers named web traffic as their organizations goal for content marketing.

Know how to convert your visitors to buyers. More importantly, know how long it takes, and what the conversion process entails. Once visitors come to your blog or company website they need to know what to do next. Are you nurturing these leads with more content and calls to action? Make sure your visitors can answer other questions and see more content that drives them further through the purchase cycle.

Every successful content marketerhas encountered a few fails along the way. In the earlier days of this blog, TopRank Online Marketing staff for a time only talked abouttheir own services and offerings. Our content was about our expertise, CEO Lee Odden said. It was pointing back to our product and services cases. Engagement went down significantly. When we started to tell stories related to experiences, engagement increased.

Image: Shutterstock

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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Years ago, it was easy for companies to make their way to the top of search results by manipulating the system. With a large number of spammy inbound links using keyword-rich anchor text, anyone could trick search engines into making their site appear important, credible, and relevant, thus manipulating their way to higher search engine rankings and traffic.

However, the days of creating large numbers of links without regard for quality have faded away, and this tactic no longer works. Search engines have made it much more challenging to gain search visibility, because search engine users demand quality search results. This is why search engines have placed a larger emphasis on detecting and removing content from search results that doesnt deserve to be there.

With this in mind, its become important for site owners to not build, but earn valuable inbound links. A successful link-building strategy is no longer a manipulative effort; instead, it now revolves around quality content publication that attracts inbound links like a magnet. In this article, well discuss how to create and implement a quality, successful link-building campaign.

Anchor Text Best Practices

Anchor text (the clickable words in a hyperlink) is a critical element of inbound links. Years ago, the commonly cited "best practice" for anchor text was to use your desired keyword as the anchor text. Google put a stop to that, using it as an easily identifiable signal of manipulation when it launched its Penguin algorithm updatein early 2012. Including keywords in your anchor text can be strategic for establishing topical relevance of the linked page, but over-use of keyword-rich anchor text can backfire if Google determines its manipulative.

These days, anchor text should be natural, relevant, and value-adding. Anchor text shouldnt be wielded as a tool for increasing your search engine rankings, but rather providing insightful information or resources to your audience. Branded anchors are growing in popularity and effectiveness, as are links that use the title of a cited article as anchor text. For an in-depth breakdown on the topic, see my article, "How to Properly Include Links and Penguin-Safe Anchor Text in Your Guest Blogs."

Guest Blogging

Im a huge proponent of guest bloggingas not only a way to build links, but also to build your brand. Guest blogging is one of the few tactics remaining where you can truly "build" links by being proactive rather than publishing content to your website and then waiting (and hoping) that it attracts inbound links.

Guest blogging has many benefits beyond just link-building, but not many people realize it. I believe this is due to the mass exodus from guest blogging after Matt Cutts blog post seemingly condemning it. But most people misunderstood what Cutts was saying, leading him to revise the article days later to clarify his stance on guest blogging. Cutts isnt against guest blogging; he just condemns its use as a tactic solely aimed at link-building.

Guest blogging gives you the opportunity to align your brand with authoritative publishers and brands, and gains you access to a new audience.

Content Strategy: The Foundation of a Link-Building Campaign

Earning or attracting inbound links starts with publishing truly amazing, quality, value-adding content. Quality is often defined differently depending on who you ask, but thissums up how search engines and people define high-quality.

The most common mistake I see business owners make is publishing low- or average-quality content. Such content usually only hurts your brand, and wont attract any inbound links. Infographics, videos, and in-depth research articles are fantastic types of content that attract inbound links.

If you are engaging in a content strategy, evaluate whether the content is truly link-worthy. If you arent engaging in a content strategy, its time to get started. A content strategy lays the foundation for a link-building campaign, providing link-worthy content while also strengthening your brands authority and credibility, along with conversion rates.

Measuring Your Efforts

Metrics are critical to ensuring that your link building strategy is providing positive ROI. There are several tools that can help you measure the value you bring to the Web and your site through your links. Here are some tools to consider:

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a valuable tool to anyone who is interested in SEO to any extent. Its offerings make it a one-stop shop for everything link and keyword-related. Some of its assets include traffic reports, SEO results according to Google, mobile traffic information, and in-page analytics. Use it to measure your organic search traffic, which should benefit from your link-building campaign.

  • Majestic SEO: Majestic SEO offers a wide variety of services, but its value to link builders comes in the form of a backlink checker. This feature can help individuals determine the number of backlinks detected by Web crawlers. Registered users of Majestic SEO can compare up to five URLs at the same time.

  • Google Webmaster Tools: Another essential tool for any SEO campaign, GWT allows you to view and download a list of inbound links detected by Google, along with the date the link was first discovered. Use this tool to determine which links are being counted by Googles algorithm and when they were first detected by Google.

  • Screaming Frog: This SEO website crawler has a handy "list mode" that allows you to crawl a list of links (for instance, a list you download from Google Webmaster Tools). The output contains just about every piece of data you could ever dream of, relating to each link.

Whether you use free tools or pay for extra insights, gauging the performance of any marketing campaign is essential; and this this true for link-building campaigns, too. Deciding on a definitive way to assess your campaign can help you determine where you need to make improvements.

Creating Goals and Planning Ahead

It takes trial and error in order to determine which strategies work best for your particular niche/industry and audience in terms of attracting high-quality links. Use the information from your tools to assess trends. Which links and anchor texts seemed to be popular or attract the most referral clicks? What items were most clicked, and at what times of day were people visiting your site? Its this type of information that can help you refine your strategy for the future.

Having a critical eye can help ensure that youre always working toward improving the ROI of your efforts. As Google and other search engines continue to evolve, your strategy may need to change, but one things certain: Google will never penalize or suppress quality content from its ranking algorithm. Start with quality, and design your link-building campaign from there.

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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portrait of man looking down

Its something that hangs heavy over your head every day.

Youve got traffic flowing to your site. Youve built an audience and overcome the obscurity problem.

The number of links pointing to your site grows every day, social shares to your content rise with each passing moment, and youve recently started creating products and services your audience loves and buys.

Its safe to say youve reached your hockey stick moment and handily solved the sustainability question, too. You are finally making money as a blogger (the impresario), which has allowed you to quit your job.

It is so satisfying after all youve been through. So what could possibly be bothering you?

Its strange, but you feel like something terrible is going to happen that all of this will be taken from you.

In my last blog post on this topic, I showed you the two concerns that will plague you in the first stage of becoming a content producer (and how to overcome them).

Now, in this second stage, you have a new set of concerns.

They boil down to these five issues

1. Will your website crash?

Youve seen it happen once or twice before.

A hotshot someone with more than 200,000 Twitter followers or a Facebook page pushing one million fans shares a link to a web page on your site.

And its like a whale striking the side of a boat.

The site blinks and then lights out. Traffic is too heavy. The site cant cope. So it sinks.

What most of those thousands of visitors saw was a white screen. An ugly white screen. They wandered away wondering if it was some kind of joke.

They replied to the hotshot who shared the link: Bum link or Nothing but a 404.

And the hotshot, while sympathetic to your predicament, is embarrassed. He or she will probably never share another link to your site again.

Traffic lost. Sales gone. Credibility damaged.

2. Does your website load fast enough?

Maybe its just a small fear. Maybe youre simply concerned about your web pages bogging down while loading (Google considers 1.5 seconds slow).

Theres a host of culprits: large files, javascript, analytics code, plugins, uncompressed images they all can slow down a web page.

We all know its silly, but people simply refuse to wait more than three seconds for a page to load. After three seconds, 40 percent of visitors will abandon the page.

So how are you going to compete with web pages that take less than one second to load?

Start by testing your site here.

3. Can you afford to have your website hacked?


A third concern website owners face is web security. And unless you work in the web security industry, this is strange territory for just about all of us.

But what we know for certain is that there are some bad guys out there who want to do naughty things to your site just for the fun of it.

According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, 44 percent of small businesses have been attacked.

As a result, those companies paid out-of-pocket recovery costs averaging $8,700. Most of us dont have that kind of money in our budgets.

Typically, if youve been a victim of a hack, you hire a security consultant to identify the source of the attack and purge any malware. Plus, if customer data was breached, you are obligated to inform customers of the intrusion and foot the bill for costs incurred.

In addition, many states encourage businesses to pay for credit monitoring for each customer. Not to mention you might face lawsuits.

At the very least, youll suffer a credibility hit when customers feel like you cant protect the data they entrusted to you.

While you can certainly overcome such a customer breach, its best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

And lets not forget about the threats to WordPress in particular.

4. Will Google punish you if your site isnt mobile-friendly?


The answer is yes.

Why? Google is putting mobile users first, which is one of the reasons they gave for killing Authorship snippets.

If your site isnt compliant with their mobile-first guidelines, then you might see a drop in your rankings.

Use this Google tool to test if a web page is mobile-friendly.

As Googles Gary Illyes said, I think its pretty clear that mobile-friendly websites provide a much better user experience for the mobile users.

This is consistent with studies that reveal 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone and mobile-friendly sites turn visitors into customers.

Fortunately, becoming mobile friendly doesnt have to be labor-intensive. Which brings me to my next point.

5. Can you do all of this without being overwhelmed?


The challenges of running a successful business are legion. Its easy to feel overwhelmed.

For example, through our 2015 Cost of Doing Business Online Survey (full results will be released on January 5, 2015), we discovered that more than 40 percent of online business owners spend between two and eight hours each day working on their websites, but more than half of those who took the survey are either barely paying the bills or failing (soon to shut the doors).

Since you can only do so much in a day, you have to prioritize your tasks generating leads and making sales top your list. Then other tasks, like web security or mobile-friendly design, fall to the wayside.

In fact, more than one third of online business owners said they dont have a plan of action in place to take care of a hack or infection and half said the reason is that they are new to web security. Another seventeen percent said they feel like it wont happen to them. Another third said they simply dont have the time.

In the end, what were talking about at this stage of the online business owners journey is performance.

Wouldnt it be great if you didnt have to worry about web security? Whether Google will harass you? How to keep people from bailing on your site because it loads slowly? Whether your site can handle a sudden surge of traffic?

Spend more time in front of your audience not your servers

You want to stop hunting down plugins (and wondering if they work). You want to focus on marketing and content creation. You want to stop worrying about your website and focus on your business.

In other words, you want to preserve your hard-fought-for revenue stream without having to spend your time staring at your servers. Instead, you want to be in front of your audience more often. And, of course, you want it all to be push-button easy.

You can have it that way when you work on the Rainmaker Platform.

It takes care of your performance concerns without digging deep into your pockets.

As Seth Spears put it:

Copyblogger Media has created a game changer for bloggers and content marketers who want the ability to create beautiful membership sites, optimize and sell digital content, continue their marketing education, track their metrics, and never have to worry about the technical side of their website.

Try the Rainmaker Platform for free

Right now, you can take the Rainmaker Platform for a 14-day spin at no charge and get the type of performance that protects and preserves your powerful online marketing and sales engine.

For more information, click right here.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Alexander Rentsch.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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Youve got your search terms and youve got your budget set, but do you really know who youre marketing to when you create a new paid searchcampaign?

Though buyer personas have been a key element of traditional marketing campaigns, they are often overlooked when creating campaigns for digital media. This is tragic, because understanding who youre trying to attract with a PPC campaign and what their pain points are is critical to improvingyour campaign conversion rates and reducing your non-converting spend, meaning more sales and revenue for your business or agency clients. Dont take the spray and pray approach when building your paid searchcampaigns; use these tips to understand your ideal users to boost your conversion rates instead.

What is a Buyer Persona?

An excellent post on the Hubspot blog breaks down the buyer persona in simple terms:

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Sam Kusinitz, Hubspot

Who is the customer most likely to need what your campaign is selling? Where are they, and how do they search online? Why do they need your product or service and what objections are keeping them from making a purchase decision? Understanding the ideal customer, their motivations, their objections to purchase, their demographics, and where they are in the buying cycle are essential elements for a strong buyer persona.

How Do You Create a Buyer Persona?

Look at Existing Customer Data

Do some digging in your CRM to pull out user trends, and meet with sales reps to identify the top objections to purchase. Read blog comments and sift through analytics data to understand where your customers are located and what their interests are. Look at your Facebook analytics for your company profile. For integrated marketing campaigns you may need to create a user survey or form a focus group to get the details you need. Leave no stone unturned!

Do Some Market Research

Find three top websites or blogs your ideal customer is likely to visit often: threeforums, threetwitter influences they might follow, threeLinkedIn groups, etc. What are customers complaining about? Are they asking questions on Quora? Identify their pains and understand why it hurts; this is the foundation for your ad and landing page copy.

Spy on the Competition

Dont forget to look at competitor ads, social profiles, and blog comments to find additional buyer concerns that may be different from those of your own customer base.

I like to write-up my buyer personas and add a stock photo so I can write copy to a single person, but you may be able to get away with a short list of bullet points depending on the depth of your campaign and the time available. Once youve got this done, its time to hunker down and build your campaign.

buyer persona sample3 Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

Choose Your Keywords

Build a primary list of keywords describing your product or service as usual, but also include long tail keywords based on buyer motivations, objections, and customer terminology. Keep language differences in mind (one persons cleaning crew is another persons janitor) so you can get a good understanding of the variety of terms your target audience is using to describe their needs.

Create Your Landing Pages

Time to take those customer pain points and put them to work on the landing page! I like to start with this basic outline before I start building layouts and test variations:

  • Headline = Customers ultimate objective in using the product/service

  • Paragraph = Customer pain points

  • Bullets = How the product addresses specific customer objections

  • Paragraph = Company background/social proof

  • A killer call-to-action!

Once I have this basic outline, I add trust signals to add weight to my claims and keyword instances to boost my quality scores.

Craft Your Ad Copy

Now that youve got your landing page and search terms, its time to write the ad copy variations to marry the two and complete the conversion funnel. Although neuroscience marketing studies have shown that people are generally risk averse, I write ad copy variations to cover both perceived losses and possible gains to cover my bases. For example, if I were selling janitorial services I would address both the joys of having a clean office in some ads and the pain of having a filthy office in other ads. Look at existing ads in top positions for your most relevant keywords to get a sneak peek at which method may be working for the competition.

If youre looking to spice up your ad copy and landing pages with more neuroscience tips, check out this excellent post on conversion optimization on the Neuromarketing Blogby Roger Dooley.

Adjust Your Campaign Targeting, Set Your Budget, and Launch

Use the demographic and interest data you collected earlier to adjust your geo-targeting, day parting, and other targeting options. Bonus: Depending on the situation you may be able to use the blogs and forums you identified during your market research as managed placements. After your paid searchcampaign starts accruing data, your buyer persona may change, and youll gain a deeper understanding of your customers motivations as you continue testing your campaigns.

Using buyer personas can skyrocket your paid search campaign results in record time and give you insights into the motivations that truly drive your target audience to take action. Resist the urge to keep your buyer personas trapped in silos; share them with your content producers, copywriters, and web designers to get the best campaign results across every channel.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Tasha Tuvango forFotolia.comScreenshot taken December 2014

andrea atkins bus photo2014v4 small Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

Andrea Atkins

Marketing Strategist

Andrea Atkins is a marketing strategist with nearly ten years of marketing chops. She's the author of "SQL for Marketers" and can be wooed with chocolate and coffee at

andrea atkins bus photo2014v4 small Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance


andrea atkins bus photo2014v4 small Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

+Andrea Atkins

andrea atkins bus photo2014v4 small Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

andrea atkins bus photo2014v4 small Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

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  • Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance - December 22, 2014

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22 2014 |
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Join Aetna, Netflix, Dell, CA and More Register Now for Best Rates

At MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, well connect the dots between technical possibilities and strategic opportunities reshaping of modern marketing. Making those connections will be a roster of innovative thinkers and doers industry-defining executives and analysts who will help you understand marketing technology and its impact on your organization. See the agenda!

Attend MarTech March 31-April in San Francisco and connect with speakers from:

MarTech 2015 speaker logos

MarTech is programmed by Conference chair Scott Brinker, who has been chronicling the rise of marketing technology and hybrid marketing technologist professionals on his blog,, since 2008.

Register today for MarTech and get access to all the conference sessions and networking events for just $1295.

MarTech is an ideal experience for executive and marketing management, marketing operations and IT staff to share. Take advantage of our team rates and save 15-35%!

Register now MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference!

Check Out the MarTech 2015 Speakers: A Whos Who of Brands

Learn to Effectively Integrate Marketing Technology At MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, we'll connect the dots between technical possibilities and strategic opportunities reshaping of modern marketing. Making those connections will be a roster of innovative thinkers and doers industry-defining executives and analysts who will help you understand marketing technology and its impact on your organization. See the agenda!

About The Author

Check Out the MarTech 2015 Speakers: A Whos Who of Brands

Search Engine Land is a daily publication and information site covering search engine industry news, plus SEO, PPC and search engine marketing tips, tactics and strategies. Special content features, site announcements and occasional sponsor messages are posted by Search Engine Land.

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Discover what's up in the business of marketing each Friday.

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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Google Partners, the platform in which agencies and individuals can get certified in AdWords management, now has an exam for Google Shopping certification.

The exam tests proficiency in creating Merchant Center accounts, organizing product data and managing and optimizing Shopping Campaigns. Practitioners must also pass the AdWords Fundamentals exam.

There are several training modules available on the Google Partners site to prep for the Shopping test.

google shopping certification examShopping Certification is launching in the US, but will roll out to other countries in the near future.

Google Partners Adds Certification For Shopping Campaigns

Learn to Effectively Integrate Marketing Technology At MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, we'll connect the dots between technical possibilities and strategic opportunities reshaping of modern marketing. Making those connections will be a roster of innovative thinkers and doers industry-defining executives and analysts who will help you understand marketing technology and its impact on your organization. See the agenda!

About The Author

Google Partners Adds Certification For Shopping Campaigns

As Third Door Media's paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

(Some images used under license from

No fluff - just the best news in paid search marketing every week.

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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The clock is ticking on 2014. In a matter of days, well all turn our calendars to 2015 and close the books on another year. Before we do that, the editorial team that brings you daily news and features on Search Engine Land and Marketing Land is going to look back at the most popular content we published during these past 12 months.

If youre a new or recent reader, youll likely find some important news and commentary that you missed the first time around. If youve been reading our sites all year, youll hopefully enjoy a reminder of the years important marketing news. (And thanks for being a long-time reader!)

Over the next week two weeks, well reveal our most popular columns (overall, and broken down by topic) and our most shared stories on the main social networks. But lets start today with a look back at the most popular news stories we published in 2014.

Search Engine Lands Most Popular News Stories Of 2014

This list is based on pageviews, and includes news stories published through December 18th.

1.) Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now

Barry Schwartz, May 20: Is this the softer and gentler Panda algorithm? From talking to Google, it sounds like this update will be gentler for some sites, and lay the groundwork for future changes in that direction.

Google told us that Panda 4.0 affects different languages to different degrees. In English for example, the impact is ~7.5% of queries that are affected to a degree that a regular user might notice.

2.) Googles Logo Moves Some Pixels Around

Barry Schwartz, May 26: Google made a slight change to their logo recently, as a Reddit user posted. The g in the latter part of the word was moved left one pixel and the l in the Google logo was moved down a pixel.

3.) Its Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results

Eric Enge, August 28: The primary reason behind this shuffle of products is Googles unswerving commitment to testing. Every product, and every change or innovation within each product, is constantly tested and evaluated. Anything that the data show as not meeting Googles goals, not having sufficient user adoption, or not providing significant user value, will get the axe.

4.) Panda 4.1 Googles 27th Panda Update Is Rolling Out

Danny Sullivan, September 25: The rollout means anyone who was penalized by Panda in the last update has a chance to emerge, if they made the right changes. So if you were hit by Panda, made alterations to your site, youll know by the end of next week if those were good enough, if you see an increase in traffic.

The rollout also means that new sites not previously hit by Panda might get impacted. If youve seen a sudden traffic drop from Google this week, or note one in the coming days, then this latest Panda Update is likely to blame.

5.) Google Releases Penguin 3.0 First Penguin Update In Over A Year

Barry Schwartz, October 19: Publishers hit by the last version of Penguin back in October 2013 have been waiting until now to see if actions theyre tried such as removing spammy links have worked. If so, theyre likely seeing some improvement in traffic this weekend. If not, they have to try making more changes and then waiting until however long it takes for Google to release Penguin again.

By the way, for those who tried disavowing bad links, if you did that within the last three weeks, that was too late for this Penguin update.

6.) Google Pigeon Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal

Barry Schwartz, July 24: Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.

In addition, Google said that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.

7.) Googles Olympic Charter Logo Stands Up To Russias Anti-Gay Legislation

Danny Sullivan, February 6: If you had any doubts over how Google feels about Russias legislation against gay propaganda, just go the Google home page. The company has started what will be a string of special logos for the Olympics with one that includes a quote stressing that the official Olympic Charter is against discrimination and using the colors of the rainbow gay pride flag.

8.) Apple Drops Google For Bing As Spotlight Search Provider In iOS 8 & Mac OS X Yosemite

Danny Sullivan, June 2: This is a big new integration for Bing, which last year knocked Google out of Siri. Currently, Spotlight offers a Web Searches option which launches Safari (if you havent changed your default browser), which in turn runs a Google search, as Google is the default on Safari.

9.) How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google

Danny Sullivan, March 26: More broadly, while its easy to dismiss all this as some type of SEO squawking, it should be pretty disturbing to any publisher that Google might fairly broadly decide just how narrow your site has to be, in order to escape a penalty, if you have guest authors it deems writing off-topic.

10.) Is eBay A Big Loser In Googles Panda 4.0 Update? Winners & Losers Data

Barry Schwartz, May 21: Yesterday, Google began rolling out their Panda 4.0 update designed to punch low-quality content. Thats generated both winners who have moved up in rankings as losers have dropped down and eBay might be one of the big losers.

With just a couple exceptions, the top 10 articles are specifically about Google rankings, algorithms and search results which is no surprise. Last years list was 100 percent Google-related, and also filled with articles about Googles various animal-related algorithm updates/filters. If you need a refresher on those beyond the articles linked above, see our article library to get caught up:

Weve also compiled a similar list on our sister site, Marketing Land: Marketing Lands Top 10 News Stories Of 2014: Facebook Layout Changes, Oscar Selfies, CIA Tweets & More.

On behalf of the Search Engine Land editorial team, thanks for reading us during 2014. Happy holidays to you and best wishes for 2015!

Search Engine Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2014: When Pandas, Penguins & Pigeons Attack

Learn to Effectively Integrate Marketing Technology At MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, we'll connect the dots between technical possibilities and strategic opportunities reshaping of modern marketing. Making those connections will be a roster of innovative thinkers and doers industry-defining executives and analysts who will help you understand marketing technology and its impact on your organization. See the agenda!

About The Author

Search Engine Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2014: When Pandas, Penguins & Pigeons Attack

Matt McGee is the Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. After leaving traditional media in the mid-1990s, he began developing and marketing websites and continued to provide consulting services for more than 15 years. His SEO and social media clients ranged from mom-and-pop small businesses to one of the Top 5 online retailers. Matt is a longtime speaker at marketing events around the U.S., including keynote and panelist roles. He can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

(Some images used under license from

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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This post is a follow-up from my Novemberpost, in which I shared some interesting findings from the currentInsideLocal webinar series.

During InsideLocal webinars, we survey the audience, which consists of 500+ local search consultants andSMB owners. The vast majority of attendees are search consultants/agencies, with 90-95% located in USA andCanada (so the data areskewed to that sectors experience andlocation).

The results of these polls help to illuminatethe scale of specific issues impacting local businesses and the local search community.

Q1. What Are The Most Common Local Ranking Issues That Local Businesses Have?

What are the most common local ranking issues that local businesses have?

Respondents: 336

We gave attendees 5 options to choose from and asked them to pick the 2 most common issues that they find across all theclients they work with or businesses they audit. Given that each localsearch consultant handles 9 clientson average, we can assume that these experiences are drawn from in excess of3,000 businesses.

Key Findings:

  • Inconsistent citation andNAP (Name, Address, Phone) data isby far the most common issueat41%.

  • Duplicate Google Places/+Local listings is the 2nd most common issue at 27%.

  • Google Places Guideline Violations is the least common issue, with just 4% of respondents counting this among their most common issues.


We all know how the local search space is plagued with incorrectbusiness data, so its not surprising to see Citations/NAP as the number oneissue affecting local businesses. The majority of businesses have NAP consistencyissues on some level, ranging from cripplinglybad to very minor, and this issue will remain a thorn in our side for some years to come.

I was surprised to see thatGoogle Places Guideline Violations was so low. Given the frequent changes and even reversal of advice in the guidelines, I believe that many businesses are in violation of the guidelines in some way or other. I suspect that many respondents are unclear on what constitutes a guideline violation, hence the low score in thissurvey.

I believeGoogle has an obligationto educatebusinesses/SEOs more; they should make it clear when they are in violation and explain what action they need totake. Its in everyones best interest (except for spammers) that data is cleaned up and duplicate listings are removed.

This would make it easier to identify low quality and spammylistings if they dont comply, and Google can mete out a more targeted penalty on those offenders.

Q2. What Percentage Of Local Businesses Have Duplicate Google Places/+Local Listings?

What percentage of local businesses have duplicate Google Places/+Local listings?

Respondents: 370


Practically every consultant/agent has at least one client that has a duplicate Google+ Listing. Its such a common issue that all 3expertson the webinar saidthat this is the first issue they explore when auditing a business with local ranking issues.

Duplicate listings can be such a detriment to ranking in Maps/Local that even if other aspects are well optimized (e.g. citations, links), a business often doesnthave a chance of breaking into the local pack while their duplicatelisting remains at large.

Q3. What Percentage Of Local Businesses Have Suffered ALocal Penalty?

What percentage of local businesses have suffered a local penalty?

Respondents: 311


Farfewer businesses have suffered a local penalty than have had duplicate listings. Local penalties can be applied for many reasons (mainly due to abreach of Googles Guidelines), but not all duplicate listings result in a penalty.

Again, I believe that many more businesses may have suffered a local penalty than know it. There is no clear message either in the Google My Business dashboard or Google Webmaster Tools stating that a local rankings penalty has been applied. This means its down to awareness andunderstanding to identify a penalty.

Google coulddo a lot more to make it clear when andwhy a listing is being penalized, thereby helping business owners to improvetheir listings as Google wants them to.

Q4. Do You Believe That Optimizing For Google+ Local Delivers Good ROI?

Do you believe that optimizing for Google+ Local delivers good ROI?

Respondents: 448

Key Findings:

  • 28% said ROI was Excellent

  • 48% said ROI was Good

  • Just 4% said ROI was Low or Very Low


With so many complexities and issues impactingGoogle+Local, we wanted to knowif SEOssee a worthwhile return fromthe effort invested into optimizing their listings via Google My Business.

The feedback was extremely positive: YES, THEY DO! A whopping 76% of respondents said the ROI was either Excellent or Good,whileonly 4% said itoffered Low/Very Low ROI.

So despite the issues that impact the ability of manylocal businesses to rank well in Google Maps/Local, the effort is worth reward.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Citation Inconsistency Is No.1 Issue Affecting Local Ranking

Learn to Effectively Integrate Marketing Technology At MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, we'll connect the dots between technical possibilities and strategic opportunities reshaping of modern marketing. Making those connections will be a roster of innovative thinkers and doers industry-defining executives and analysts who will help you understand marketing technology and its impact on your organization. See the agenda!

About The Author

Citation Inconsistency Is No.1 Issue Affecting Local Ranking

Myles Anderson is Founder & CEO of BrightLocal provide a unique and specialised set of local SEO tools for SEO Agencies, Freelances and & local business owners. See their Local SEO Research Section for the latest research & survey findings about the local search market.

(Some images used under license from

Get the latest news in local search marketing each week.

Author: web_coder |
22 2014 |
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As javascript becomes ever more integrated with HTML on the Web, SEOs need to develop an understanding of how to make javascript sites search-friendly.

We covered some basic approaches to SEO for javascriptin an earlier post. However, a complex subject deserves an in-depth treatment. So lets look at the specifics behind the emerging #! / snapshots approach to javascript sites.

Do You Even Need to Do This?

Search engines are processing more and more javascript every day. That doesnt mean that your AngularJS site will be indexed and ranked, however. The engines are now parsing some javascript, but complete indexing of all states of javascript Web apps seems a long way off. If your javascript is running in the browser and pulling content from the database, odds are the engines wont see it.

Prerendering Snapshot Pages and Bot-Specific Serving

This is perhaps the most popular approach for client-side javascript SEO issues. The basic flow is as follows:

  1. Detect search engine bots, either by looking at the URL if you used #! ("hashbang") or by simply checking the user agent of the request.

  2. If the bot is detected, redirect the request to your rendering engine of choice, such as PhantomJS. This engine should wait until all of the AJAX content is loaded.

  3. Once loaded, take the source of the rendered page and output it back to the bot.

Ironically this is a form of cloaking sending specific content to bots often a no-no in SEO. This type of cloaking is considered "ethical," however, as the content is pretty much the same as what users would see. Hence the search engines are OK with it.

Google has a full AJAX crawling specificationthat covers the nuts and bolts. The basic idea is one either adds the #! identifier to your URLs or includes the HTML [meta name="fragment" content="!"] tag to the page header. This alerts Google that the page uses URL fragments and gets them to index the page.

As mentioned in my earlier post, History.pushState is another option for creating indexable AJAX URLs. PushState has issues including the fact that it is not supported by IE 9 still a fairly widespread browser.

Potential Issues With Prerendering

There are a couple of things to look out for if you decide to go with prerendering:

  • Bot detection. Make sure you are serving to all the bots, not just Googlebot (i.e. Bingbot, et al).

  • Snapshot timing. Consider the fact that your javascript elements may take a while to process via PhantomJS. You may need to build in a delay to allow for the full content to load prior to saving the page to the cache. Otherwise your snapshot page may be incomplete or partially rendered.

  • Page load time. Similarly, if you run the snapshot page process at the time of the URL request from the bot, the page may load slowly. Page load speed is an increasingly important SEO ranking factor, so if your page appears to load slowly to the bot, you may be negatively impacted. This is why its desirable to cache the pages in advance. This has the added benefit of actually making your site appear faster to engines than it is to users.

  • Batch processing. If you have a lot of pages, you may want to run the snapshot process at a specific time during off hours, or its own server. The process can be resource-intensive.

Checking Snapshot Pages

Since you are using bot detection, it is harder to verify that your process is actually working. One way to check your work is to use the "Fetch as Google" feature in Google Webmaster Tools. Enter the URL of a snapshot page (it may be different from the live URL shown to users) in GWT and check to see if Google can pull it correctly. This requires a live page, so plan accordingly.

Currently, Fetch as Google supports #! but not pushState URLs. If you URLs are static looking, you will have no problems.


Use the Google Webmaster Tools "Fetch as Google" utility to check your snapshot pages.

Prerendering Services

Building a full prerendering capability can be non-trivial. For a larger site it may involve a setting up a caching server, a database for the content, a service for the caching calls, a scheduler, and an administrative utility. Fortunately, several companies have come forward with solutions to address parts or all of the prerendering approach. Several that I am familiar with include:

  • runs a service that works with PhantomJS to host and serve snapshot pages. They take away the headache of running your own prerender server. They are reasonably priced based on the number of pages hosted and the frequency in which the snapshots are taken.

  • Brombone runs a similar service in which snapshot pages can be generated based on the timestamp for the URL in the sitemap or scheduled on a custom basis.

  • AjaxSnapshots. AjaxSnapshots offers prerendering service with some nice configuration options. At the moment their website lists the pricing as free (at least for now), so theres that.

Paid Search and Landing Pages

javascript sites have challenges with paid search as well as with SEO. For example, AdWords determines quality score based on, among other things, the content the AdWords bot sees on the page. One approach is to serve the snapshot page to the Google AdsBot (a full list of Google crawlers and user agents is available here).

Furthermore, if your products or product content is found in a single page application, it can be a challenge to force this state via the paid search destination URL. Creating #! Or static looking URLs is pretty much a requirement here.

As paid search landing pages often need to be highly tailored in order to convert well, it may be better in the long run to create dedicated pages for your PPC campaigns, leaving your core javascript Web experience to users and SEO.


javascript-heavy sites are here to stay. While it can be non-trivial to build a javascript site that works well in SEO, its even more work to try to fix an existing site that was built without SEO in mind. Until the frameworks and tools are improved to make it easy to incorporate SEO requirements, SEOs will need to work closely with developers to insure SEO is factored in. Getting SEO and javascript to live together in harmony may not be easy, but its worth it.

Thanks to Vladimir Katz, senior engineer at Huge, for contributing to this post.

Homepage image via Flickr.

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