The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to the major search engines requesting that they more clearly distinguish between the organic results and paid ads. This applies not only to traditional search engines, but also social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as mobile apps.
The FTC’s warning to search engines should be a wake-up call to the search marketing industry. The days of playing fast and loose with mixed paid and organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs) appears to be coming to an end. In its place will be more stringent oversight of how search engines display paid search results and, as a result, more cumbersome and potentially onerous restrictions on what search marketing can and cannot do with their campaigns.
What are the potential implications for marketers of this new guidance? What do search marketers need to do now to begin adjusting for these changes?
It is unclear at this point the extent that each search engine will address this request, but it is expected that minor changes to the way paid ads are identified will ensue to avoid possible FTC action.
These changes, however, can impact the efforts of search engine marketers, as they will potentially need to make more drastic modifications to their search engine marketing efforts.
Here are some potential effects that the FTC’s warning will have on marketers:
Further Real-Estate Limitations
Clarifying the difference between paid and organic search listings can potentially limit the space available to both organic and paid listings. This means that either fewer results will be able to display “above the fold” without scrolling, or the character limits within each result will be reduced.
If the number of results above the fold is decreased, achieving an above-the-fold listing will be even more competitive. Businesses will be competing heavily for top placement and more of an investment will be needed to generate current levels of volume.
In the case of character limits being reduced within each result, businesses will need to update their online messaging to get their point across in less space. Paid ad titles and ad copy will likely have to be updated to fit within new limits and titles, and meta descriptions of organic mobile pages will need to be shortened to avoid being truncated when listed.
More Strategic Mobile Targeting
Paid search targeted to mobile devices is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels and is playing a bigger role in how consumers find products and services. The implications of the FTC warning on mobile paid search could have a big impact on how these ads are displayed. Mobile search real estate, because of the size of mobile browsers, is already very limited.
What marketers will need to pay close attention to is how they segment their mobile targeting by device type. For example, the difference in the amount of SERP real estate between tablets and smartphones is likely to increase. Targeting and bidding strategies will need to vary per device to be most efficient.
Changes to Voice-Activated Search Services
Another implication specific to mobile search is brought on by the request relating to voice-activated search results. The FTC’s warning extends to services such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice. The FTC has requested that when a voice search is executed, an audio disclosure should be made to identify paid advertising. This could potentially deter users from those paid ads, making the organic listings more valuable.
Marketers must keep a close eye on search engine results and take note of any changes that occur. When used correctly and responsibly, paid search marketing can provide a tremendous benefit to brands’ online marketing and customer acquisition strategies. But in light of the FTC’s letter, the days of deceptive paid search tactics are coming to an end. That will benefit both consumers and marketers in the long run.
The next frontier that Facebook needs to conquer is search. That would help it significantly expand revenues and, in turn, its market value. Search, I would say, is a very high priority for Facebook and may be the announcement due Tuesday might well be that. Facebook has this incredible treasure trove of unstructured data on the site, but can it finally put it to good use?
Research firm eMarketer estimates that Facebook, the No. 2 company in the U.S. mobile advertising market, had an 8.8 percent share last year —up from zero in 2011. That compared with No. 1 Google’s 56.6 percent. This year, Facebook is expected to grow its share to 12.2 percent, while remaining far behind Google, but we all know the real dollars is in search.
Facebook’ biggest challenge however and potentially its most lucrative opportunity, a chance to topple Google as the king of search. Will that ever happen?
As always at this time of year we give our predictions for SEO for the following year, this year we have gathered some help from our friends & other search experts in the field who have given there twist on things to come.
In 2013, the SEO Role must go above and beyond. For example, a basic SEO strategy would obviously include some amount of reporting (for keyword rankings and traffic numbers at the least); however, I find myself analyzing the data to help my client better understand their demographic. Where are visitors accessing the site from, when do they access the site, and what are they specifically looking for when they are on the site?
All of these questions—and more—are in hopes of helping them identify new ways to effectively reach their customer base and ultimately make them more successful. It is SEO’s job to provide meaningful help.
Rand says links and rankings are just means to an end, not the end itself.
What clients really want is not better rankings and more links; they want to make more money.
The SEOs who understood and understand where Google is going and what their clients really want are the ones who are still in business and doing well. For them, the job of a SEO is content relevancy (public relations), user experience, web design, conversions, traffic segmentation, call tracking, research, writing, and anything else that sells products and services and leads to more profits for the client not just short-term, but long-term as well.
Most of all, the job of an SEO is to see the future. Those who can’t will go out of business and take their clients with them.
In conclusion, each of these experts—coming from multiple perspectives–agree that SEO will become a much broader and more complex function in 2013. Yet it will also become more vital than ever before, as it converges with every variety of online presence and marketing.
SEO 2013 predictions
So Facebook closed with a loss of 9.68 percent at $28.82, dropping below $30 for the first time and ending down more than 24 percent from its offering price of $38 on May 18.
To be honest I think it’s all a sham, some traders getting rich while others will end in the poor house.
Facebook does not have any real money making schemes like say Google, it’s advertising module is a joke and does not work and when it does it’s poor to say the least, that wont stop the advertisers throwing banners all over the place like in the late 90′s early 2000′s to try take advantage of the numbers facebook has.
However, it does have a huge database and following, it’s only saving grace as far as I’m concerned which of course is worth plenty, they just have to work out how to monetize it properly.
Well personally I see them buying RIM, you heard it here first folks, Yes Blackberry & Facebook could save each other.
Both need a helping hand at the moment, Facebook is thinking of getting into mobile and RIM needs a lot of help too, to marry could be the answer.
Looking into my crystal ball I dont see facebook being around for many a years, in fact I would be surprised to see it in say 10 years in it’s present form, the numbers and addresses they have in that database is all the wolves in the marketplace really need.
The stubling block will be Zuckerberg’s ego, we all have one, but something new always comes along, that may by Opera or RIM, but they need to do something new and different or at least work out the kinks in their advertising, or all that will be left will be the farm girls and boys playing games and the singles still using it as the dating site.
Social Media for some small businesses especially with small budgets struggle in todays market, well we may have found the answer, Social Outbreak.
This new program is aimed at any business who firstly would love a customized page on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, and secondly they can do this at a fraction of the price most company’s charge to look after social media channels for you.
Content, this is most peoples worry, not a problem, feeds are available in different catogories for you to use so your facebook & twitter pages are kept up to date with fresh content. A user friendly admin panel gets you up and running with very little effort and should you get a problem, live help is available, all this for $100 a month.
Members get videos, webinars and a bag full of goodies to promote your new pages, you can even earn a few dollars by recommending it to your friends.
Is the revolution beginning? Check it out or Join Today and start getting seen on the biggest networks online.
It’s almost like a tragic love triangle, with Microsoft somewhere in the middle between Yahoo and Facebook. In case you missed the news, Yahoo is making a lot of fuss and bother over Facebook, and the more scrutiny that’s put into it it looks like it’s founded on some loose interpretations.
How is Microsoft stuck in the middle? While it doesn’t own Yahoo or Facebook, it does have it’s finger in both of their pools. With search and social sharing with Facebook and delivering the search results for Yahoo. Yahoo isn’t a stranger to suing others over what they see as patent infringement. They’ve also sued Google as well, which was eventually settled for some stock after a couple of years of duking it out. The difference there however, is that Yahoo may have actually won a case had they not settled. Google had began to use a similar idea to Overture’s pay per click and auction system, and Yahoo had bought the fledgling search engine. Even with changing, upgrading and innovating on the ideas, they were still taken from that basic idea that Yahoo effectively owned.
Where Facebook is concerned? Yahoo is on thin, shaky ground at best, and in la-la land at worst. Some of the points that Yahoo is going to attempt to sue? How about the “method and system for optimum ad placement on a page” which take literally on it’s own could allow Yahoo to sue any company or website using paid advertisements. If that isn’t a loose enough patent for you, how about the patent for dynamic page generation? PHP and any other database driven site or achitecture could technically be dinged on this point.
The key points which Yahoo has decided to press on in regards to Facebook infringing patents are hopefully met with a realistic view and not a literal one when the day comes. When all the points are taken together, Yahoo could almost translate any of them to suing the vast majority of the web, which is a twisted pipe dream in a literalists world.
Over the last couple of weeks people have been hacking and slashing at Google because they’ve rolled out a change to how your results pages show up when you conduct a search. They’ve dubbed the change “Search plus Your World” and the idea is you receive Google+ data while signed into your Google account and conduct a search. Personally, I really don’t see the issue with their idea and here’s why.
Number one reason, if you’re signed into your Google account, searching Google.com, why would it surprise you to find publicly available information from Google+ in your results pages if it’s relevant? And from all of the screenshots of the integrated social results, a click of a button and they’re gone. Another argument I’ve seen about Google integrating the information into the SERPs is they are prioritizing its own content instead of linking out to third-party sites, which arguably is the whole point of a search engine. Valid point to bring up, but again, you can simply shut the option off with a few clicks at most. In the online world where 800 million or so people are used to the “opt-out” model thanks to Facebook, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken this long for another major web player to try it. Twitter and Facebook even backed a small browser bookmark of sorts to help cull out the Google+ results from your results pages. It’s outraged enough people, that bloggers are already forcasting that Bing is the new King of Search.
It’s perhaps those last two points which contributed to my puzzlement. For all of the people up in arms with Google and switching over to Bing, I can only assume two things. You were born on January 1, 2012 and you don’t have a Facebook account; amazing really considering there are so many. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article stabbing at the changes Google has recently made:
The new feature is baked right into Google and aims to personalize your search results by including Google+ data when you are signed into your Google account.
And here, is an excerpt from an article written in May 2011:
The worlds of SEO and social media were rocked the other day when Bing announced they will incorporate Facebook data into their search results for the most personal social-search integration to hit the web. What does this mean for the user? If you search for something on Bing and are logged into your Facebook account, you will see which pages, products and websites your friends Like and recommend high in the results, regardless of where that page ranks in the general SERP.
Perhaps Facebook should recite the idiom, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as Bing and Facebook have been at social search integration coming up quickly on a year of implementation.
An optimized website
What they say: Even if you don’t actually sell products online, a website gives potential customers and investors the opportunity to find out more about you and your company. For a website to be effective and bring new customers and investors to your doors it needs to be seen. Search engine optimization can help position your website on the first few pages of the search engines which means it’s much more likely to receive visitors.
As well as ensuring the copywriting on your website is optimized with keywords, you need to make sure your web developers or designers have created an SEO friendly website.
With 65,000 new websites coming online every day, not including new pages and blog added to existing websites daily the chances of you ever seeing high traffic and rankings without a BIG cost is near on impossible. Nobody ever mentions the cost do they.
Fact: Investment for marketing the website from approx. $1500 – $20,000 per month depending on size and your competition.
Active social media channels
What they say: Having a profile set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (plus the numerous other social media networks) isn’t enough. For your social media campaign to be a success you need to continually interact with your network.
And to be honest who gives a crap what bus stop or pizza shop you’re at or what you have just eaten, Your top score on a farm game or flirting teens pretending while the parents are out. Get a life. Limited for business unless very local.
Fact: A full-time job to do it properly along with a full-time salary approx. $30,000 – $50,000 per annum.
An up to date blog
What they say: Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to forge an identity for yourself online. Blogs allow you to share your expertise with your visitors and it encourages them to see you as a leading authority in your industry sector. As you build up your blog with opinion pieces, news stories and reviews you will create an online resource for your blog visitors.
Fact: Takes your time and money, time is money or employ someone to do it, another salary.
While there is a lot of information and help out there to get you started, do not be taken in by all the BS that people and company’s shovel out. Sure Google also has SEO guidelines which cover what you should and should not be doing in order to create a well optimized website. Check it out Rand at SEOMoz have a multitude of free blogs, videos and podcasts on their website to help people understand the basic (and more advanced) SEO techniques too, but the cold hard facts are it takes time, money and knowledge to be a real player. As I have said many times, pay peanuts and you will get monkey’s.
As a small business if you don’t have at least $20k a year to throw at marketing your online presence, forget it, you will never even scratch the surface, if some company gives you bullshit about the must have Facebook, twitter and rest accounts, run for the hills, these usually are the wannabe online marketers, with sharp tongues (usually forked) and snappy suits. You can get business from social, but it’s limited, search is and has been #1 from the start and will continue for a very long time.
Ask yourself what you do when you want something, whether on your phone, laptop or desktop, you search first.
Opinions are those of the writer.
It’s reassuring, that even though some businesses out there are slow to improve their websites or their online marketing toolset, the trend is slowly but surely shifting. While still only a fraction of the marketing dollars spent out there, the numbers are showing that around 17% of most businesses marketing budgests are being spent on online marketing. Any positive growth is good for everyone involved.
A great graphic depicting some of these changes has been put together, which outlines some of the changes coming about in the marketing world. In the US, 70% of the businesses out there have indicated that they will be increasing spending on social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and 64% also chimed in to add their budget is increasing for SEO as well. With consumers spending more and more time searching online for their next purchase, it’s much more advantageous to get into the game now, as opposed to later. The longer you wait, the greater your costs are going to be. Surprisingly however, it came back that 17% of businesses out there planned on increasing their marketing budgets on print media, which is much like buying stock in Yahoo these days. I kid, I kid, all jokes aside however, almost anyone out there who has a job has access to the internet. It should be no surprise that on average people spend 3+ hours browsing the internet. 84% of people who use the internet, spend their time searching for information on what has caught their interest, there are billions of searches per day.
There’s a great deal more information which can be gleaned from the stats, have a look and take a moment to conisder your marketing plans. Are you on the side of innovation and forward thinking? Or trying to cling to an outdated, unmeasurable stand by. Just remember that the longer you wait, the more difficult the game becomes.