Using Advertorials in SEO Content Marketing

Google has a long standing policy on how it views links from advertorials. The explicitly say that it goes against their policy to sell links that pass PageRank. First off, let’s review what advertorials actually are. Advertorials are content that is written like an editorial piece but they are really just content that  advertisers pay for to get published.

Clear Intentions
The intent behind these “stories” is to get links on major news sites and therefore pass off the link juice back to their site. And therein lies the problem. According to Google, these types of link have to be clearly marked as advertisements or sponsored. The links also need to have a rel=”nofollow” attribute attached to them to show search engines that they aren’t trying to game the algorithms.

The problem that Google (and readers) have with advertorials that they aren’t clearly marked as basically being paid ads. Without proper disclosure, it’s misleading to have content that intends to sell to readers. And publishers don’t have to be paid to violate Google’s guidelines. They also aren’t fond of publishers receiving gifts or other forms of compensation for publishing the stories.

Still Thinking of Using Advertorials?
Passing off advertorials as high quality content is a risky move and just when you think you can’t get caught, you can get slapped with an ugly penalty (see: Interflora). If this method of marketing still seems appealing, it’s important to go by Google’s rules and a) clearly mark content as sponsored and 2) follow through with the no follow attribute.

Advertorials aren’t a new tactic but Google has seen a rise in businesses taking this route, hence all the articles and videos against advertorials. In the long run, informative and quality content will help your website’s staying power and we aren’t talking about it through the form of advertorials. The difference is that advertorials tend to be more sales-y and self serving, whereas “evergreen” content is actually helpful.

Google’s Official Stand
Check out what Matt Cutts has to say about advertorials in the video above and let us know if you think it’s fair or not.

Was Penguin 2.0 What SEOs Expected It To Be?

Penguin 2.0 (or #4) officially rolled out on Wednesday May 22, 2013 but tools like MozCast showed turbulent weather in the days before Google’s long awaited algorithm update. If you haven’t been counting the days, Penguin 1.0 first rolled out on April 24, 2012.

Changes Foreseen
Matt Cutts and Google warned that there were many drastic changes to come before summer. But now that that it’s here, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much “jarring” and “jolting” changes as when Penguin first rolled out. Still, there were casualties from this update as SearchMetrics found, specifically in the industries of: online gaming, porn, and even brands like Dish and The Salvation Army.

Big Data for a “Big” Update
Taken directly from Dr. Pete’s post, here are the changes within industries as seen by MozCast data:

33.0% – Retailers & General Merchandise
31.2% – Real Estate
30.8% – Dining & Nightlife
29.1%  – Internet & Telecom
26.0% – Law & Government
24.4%  – Finance
23.5%  – Occasions & Gifts
20.8%  – Beauty & Personal Care
17.3% – Travel & Tourism
15.7%  – Vehicles
15.5% – Arts & Entertainment
15.4%  – Health
15.0% – Home & Garden
14.2%  – Family & Community
13.4% – Apparel
13.1%  – Hobbies & Leisure
12.0%  – Jobs & Education
11.5% – Sports & Fitness
7.8% – Food & Groceries
-3.7%  – Computers & Consumer Electronics

Best Practices Going Forward
Although it’s too early to distinguish the best methods of “recovery” for the latest Penguin update, some things remain to be clear:

– Raise authority with quality content and active engagement with your readers
– Take advantage of Authorship and other structured data for reviews, breadcrumbs, product prices and more
– Improve social signals and point it back to your site
– Natural content and links will win in the long run over black or grey hat techniques
– Co-citations, social mentions and natural links are an important part of your backlink profile
– Think about how you can earn more readers, clicks and links instead of buying them
– Disavow bad, questionable links and work on building better ones
– Recovery may not be an option

Better Alternatives and Options?
Perhaps, from what Google has been saying, SEOs expected the worst to happen or in the best case scenario, for their affected site to jump back to what it was. This doesn’t seem to be the case as only 2.3% of queries were affected and some people just continued to stay where they were. Remember, only about 9% of sites affected by Penguin claimed recovery.

This last point is something that you might not want to hear, but it may have to be something that needs to be done. But as a business owner, it might be just the thing that your website needs to move on and survive. Waiting over 1 year just for the off chance that your site will recover is a long time to wait for something that is uncertain. During that time, you could have worked on building a new, better site. Especially since there is so much information on website best practices and white hat techniques, which is drastically different than methods that were acceptable in the early 2000’s. Change isn’t what we always want, but sometimes it’s what we needed.

If your site was hit by Penguin 1.0 and there still seems to be no improvement after 2.0, it’s time for a change. Contact us today for more information on your specific case.

Mid-May Marketing Recap & SEO News

SEO
Matt Cutt says, “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video…(unless you prefer surprises)”. Watch it now!

Social
Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive Mike Jeffries speaks candidly: “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Talk about a social media fail and PR flop!

Local
1.1 million local businesses have claimed their profiles on Yelp. The company said that this is an astounding 58% increase from the first quarter of 2012. Read more here.

Mobile Search
Straight from Inside AdWords, shoppers who use mobile more are more likely to spend more in store.

Have any other stories that caught your eye so far this month? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Google Event at Emarketed Office!

Do you love Google?
Does Google love you?
Join us next Tuesday March 5th at 10 am for a talk broadcasted live from Google Headquarters.
We’ll be providing food and have room for 20. Please RSVP.  We’ll hold a bagel for you. :)

Click here to reserve a spot.

Event Agenda

Live-stream starts at 10 pm PST.

Keeping Up With the Evolving Digital Landscape

Lisa Gevelber,
VP of Americas Marketing, Google

The world is changing. The evolution of technology is giving people the opportunity to do extraordinary things. We’ll share how Google is evolving alongside this changing world, in the way it thinks about its brand and its marketing.

The Zero Moment of Truth: Reaching Customers When It Matters

John Nicoletti,
Director of Agency Development, Google

Whether we’re shopping for corn flakes, concert tickets or a honeymoon in Paris, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. We call this the Zero Moment of Truth, and we’ll share how this changes the way businesses reach their customers. We’ll talk about reaching the right customers when it matters, with the right message, using Google AdWords.

Working and Winning with an Agency: A Fireside Chat

Bickey Russell,
Head of Channel Managed Agencies, Google

We know small businesses can be hesitant about spending with an agency. We’ll discuss best approaches to working with an agency and what resources the Google is providing agencies to help their clients succeed.

Happy Halloween 2012 – Costume Origins and Ideas

Happy Halloween!

This spooky day isn’t complete without costumes, candy and having a good scare. But have you ever thought about the origins of Halloween costumes? This all began as a season of celebration (and superstition), as people in ancient Celtic culture would dress up to scare spirits away. These costumes often involved spirits, ghouls and other frightening things. Over time, Halloween and the idea of costumes became more popularized to be more child and pop-culture friendly. Aren’t we lucky that people everywhere can now enjoy Halloween in their own different way?

Here are some online marketing-themed spooky costumes:


Black Hat SEO (also available in white and grey hat)


Google (other options include: Bing, Yahoo, AOL, DuckDuck Go. You can also bring back the oldies like Ask Jeeves and Dogpile!)


Evil Penguin (also available in evil panda)

Sleazy salesman (Cold-caller selling questionable SEO services… enough said!)


Content scraped (Hit by bots that crawl and steal your content while slapping on spammy affiliate links? You’ve been scraped!)

Let us know if you have any other good ones!

Online Marketing Lessons to Learn from 3 Scary Movies (Part 2)

Happy Halloween Eve! Get ready for some more lessons from scary movies:

4) Gremlins
Gremlins and links – what do they have in common? One is cute and cuddly (Gizmo/white hat) and the others are just plain nasty (Mogwai/black hat). In the movie, the bad gremlins multiply quickly and can cause havoc if left to their own devices. (If it were only so easy to kill bad links with bright light…)

As we know, there are different types of links and automated services might not be the best. Links should be earned a few at a time and not by the dozens or hundreds one day out of the month to catch up. Even Google recently said that website submission services can be harmful to your site. Proceed with caution and just like having your own Gizmo, some people just aren’t ready!

5) The Fly
In this cult classic by David Cronenberg, Dr. Brundle turns into a human fly in an experiment gone awry. His ultimate wish is to be fused with his wife and unborn child to become… you know, the ultimate fly-human-hybrid. After his plot is foiled, he begs his wife to put an end to his misery – which she does.

Does this sound familiar to your website? Some owners can go overboard with content, design, over-optimization, thin content, and questionable SEO tactics over the years. Pair that with an exact match domain and you’re bound to be buried by Google in the post Panda and Penguin world. There’s a time for it and some people just need to know when to end it all… and start over new. This means 301 redirecting your content or affected URLs to a new domain and starting fresh with new content. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Don’t let the monster consume your pride and work things out before things get any worse.

6) Friday the 13th
At the end of the film, just when you think the masked killer is dead, there he is! Not only does Jason live but he also survives 11 other sequels including trips to space, hell and an intense battle with Freddy Krueger. The same goes with SEO. Many people claim that SEO is “dead” but it has really taken a life form of its own and is constantly changing to adapt to the evolving search marketing landscape. You can go on and on about how search engine optimization is a dying art but at the end of the day it comes down to the truth – SEO lives (and so does Jason Voorhees)!

Read our previous post here and let us know what you think!

Get Ready to Bing it On!

If you’ve visited Bing’s home page recently, you’ll see a “challenge” at the very top:

Clicking on this challenge will take you to “Bing It On“, where Bing and Google are pitted against each other in the ultimate search-off (of sorts).

According to the Bing Team, people chose Bing search results over Google’s nearly 2:1 in blind comparison tests. Their research is based on a representative sample pool of over 1000 participants. Very impressive… but that wasn’t the case when we took the challenge. Check out our results here, where we only favored Bing 1 out of 5 times.

Breaking it down even more, we ran additional challenges in different categories to see how the two search engines matched up:

- Restaurant and food searches in specific locations: Google clearly had the upper hand with microformat markup which displays the visually appealing 5 star ratings.
News searches (such as The Emmy’s  and the Endeavour space shuttle): Both Google and Bing were closely matched displaying the main search topics with recent news stories underneath.
How-to and tutorials (such as how to change a tire and how to make pizza): Google and Bing were also evenly matched with a diverse amount of instructions and videos from different sources.

Of course, there are many other tests you can run and different search combinations you can try. This little experiment is a great way PR move for Bing when so many have expressed public distrust and disappointment in Google’s search results. Make sure to take the challenge for yourself and let us know what you think of the outcome!

PPC Landing Pages and Quality Score

Google quality score
Have you heard the recent news about pay per click landing pages and how it affects your Quality Score?

Google recently announced some changes they are making to determining Quality Score. After some previous testing in Latin America, Google liked what they saw. These ad quality improvement updates will start rolling out worldwide.

If you take a look at the image to the left, you can see all the different components that make up Quality Score. Google’s recent update means the quality and relevance of your landing page will play a bigger role in determining your Quality Score.

Why?

Although it seems like a canned response, Google’s goal of these making changes is to “improve user experience.”As businesses try to adapt to these changes, they will also be improving their PPC ads to make it easier to find what they’re looking for. In other words, they’ll be doing things that they should be doing in the first place! This means:

- Having original content that is relevant to the user
– Being clear about the nature of your business, customer interaction and your intention of what to do with visitor information
– Having a fast loading and easy-to-navigate. Pop-ups and pop-unders should be kept to a minimum!

If you need more help with your Quality Score and PPC campaign, here are some helpful “Tips for Success” on how to improve your Adwords results posted by Google. Or you can contact a PPC company that is Google Adwords qualified, like Emarketed, today!

Google Fail?

Google failJanuary 15, 2012 is officially Doomsday. More specifically for Google Buzz, Code Search, iGoogle social features, and Jaiku. In a post titled “A fall sweep”, Google officially announced that these services would no longer exist.

Have you taken a look at all the Google Products? Maybe it was just about time that they took  a look around and cleaned up shop on the products that weren’t doing so well. While many are anticipating more products to go (ahem Google Wave), I think it’s interesting how Google chose to announce this news – in a very nonchalant and informal manner.

But after all, maybe Google was trying to keep attention away from the online audience about the shutdown of Google Buzz. Remember early last year? Google was hit with a huge class action lawsuit claiming that they violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Many people were also upset over privacy issues and other bugs that were initially present when Buzz first launched. Overall, I don’t think it’s a product that will missed very much.

Do you think the shutdown of these services means failure for Google or is it just paving way for new and better features?

After all, it was Albert Einstein who said, “You never fail until you stop trying.”