No Noise Friday 11 July’14

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC & Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

If your business has anything to do with the online world you know how much information is out there. It’s overwhelming and constantly changing.  Finding out what’s relevant to your business amongst all the noise is time consuming and can result in information overload.

At SureFire Search we want to help you by sifting through all the noise and highlighting what’s new and noteworthy in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. But more importantly, answer the question – Why this might matter to YOU and YOUR business here in New Zealand.

Here’s what caught our attention this week…

  1. Is Google authorship still worth it now that author photos are gone?
  2. Survey says Yelp most influential local review site in US – what about New Zealand?
  3. Groupon’s experiment reveals up to 60% of “direct” traffic is actually organic search
  4. Google probably wishes it could forget “right to be forgotten” – it’s a mess
  5. Are we heading for a world with two online shopping options – Amazon & Google?
  6. Twitter buys ad re targeting company TapCommerce

1.Is Google authorship still worth it now that author photos are gone?

We previously mentioned in a blog post that Google has dropped the authorship photos in the search results. (There are some exceptions such as it showing up in personalised searches and news). Google claim it doesn’t affect organic search click through rates (CTR).

Most commentators, including Larry Kim from WordStream, have disputed this claim. Larry has actually produced a ‘smoking gun‘  showing that the CTR of the organic results is negatively impacted by the removal of the photos.

And the CTR on paid averts has been positively impacted by removing the photos. Great for Google.

So with the removal of the photos are there still reasons to implement authorship?

Here are five reasons why you should still consider using authorship.

Authors still matter – Google still values authorship. That’s the reason why the authors name still appears in the search results. Showing who has created the content takes up valuable real estate in the search results.

Bylines are not invisible – There is no disputing that the written byline will not capture as much attention as a picture. However, it will differentiate the result from others on the page. Anything that encourages a user to click on your website is a good thing.

Author and brand images now in personalised search – Google will sometimes show the author photo or brand image for Google + content in personalised search.

Authorship still builds your author rank database with Google – Prepare for the future when Google may use author authority as a ranking factor. Showing Google the best content you create by marking it up with authorship.

Google remains committed to author authority as a search factor – At SMX Advanced recently Matt Cutts (Head of Google Spam) spoke of his enthusiasm for author authority. Google knows that people will always trust other people ahead of “brands” or websites.

Why should you care?

What these reasons show is that there is still value in authorship. Maybe not as much as there was before, but still enough to consider implementing it.

Any advantage that you can give your website now and in the future is a good thing. Google may or may not bring back the pictures in the future. They may or may not use it as a ranking factor.

Either way it’s usually better to have something and not need it – than to need something and not have it.

2.Survey says Yelp most influential local review site in US – what about New Zealand?

A recent Nielsen survey showed that Yelp drives local purchases. Here is an info graphic showing the results of the survey.

Yelp Results


Image Source – Yelp blog

Why should you care?

Yelp doesn’t have the same user numbers in New Zealand than it does in the US. However, what this shows is that reviews have a large influence on purchasing decisions – especially local purchasing decisions. Another study revealed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

If you aren’t actively generating and monitoring reviews for your business online then you could be leaving money on the table.

In New Zealand a good place to start getting reviews for your business is on your Google My Business page, Finda.co.nz, Yelp, Yellow, Localist and other local websites, such as viewauckland.co.nz.

 3. Groupon’s experiment reveals up to 60% of “direct” traffic is actually organic search

Groupon recently conducted, by their own admission, a dangerous experiment – they de-indexed their website for 6 hours. They did this so they could examine their Organic Search and Direct Search.

This graph shows the results.

Groupon Results Example 1


You can see that the traffic attributed to SEO efforts drops to nearly zero between 13:00 and 16:00.

Direct visits fell 60%.

The full analysis of the study can be found here. But the results that Groupon found were that about 10 – 20% of Firefox, Chrome and Safari desktop traffic reported as Direct is actually Organic.

Why should you care? 

Groupon is a major company with a huge amount of resources to test this. What should be taken away from this experiment is the importance of SEO.

If you don’t invest effort in making sure that your website can be found in the organic search results and think that people will find you directly – you could be missing out on a large percentage of revenue generating organic traffic that’s been misreported as direct.

4. Google probably wishes it could forget “right to be forgotten” – it’s a mess

The EU’s right to be forgotten has apparently helped convicted pedophiles to ask that their actions be forgotten. Businesses that have been convicted of fraudulent practices have also asked to have their actions hidden from the public.

Google has had its hand forced by the broad EU ruling and Google’s judgment calls are blowing up. Recently three UK newspapers were told that their content would no longer show up for some searches, but not which searches. The removal of this content equates to censorship.

Google notices are making everyone look guilty of trying to hide something. If you search your name in any version of Google within the EU a Google notice will be served. The notice will say that content may have been removed, regardless if content has actually been removed.

These are just a couple of the range of issues that the “Right to be forgotten” ruling is causing. And we often forget that the ruling doesn’t just include Google – it applies to Bing and Yahoo as well. (These search engines are yet to remove anything.)

Why should you care?

This could have an effect on your business if you trade in the EU. If someone is doing a search for your name and your company they will get served with –

Right to be forgotten example

Even if nothing has been removed.

Depending on what the search is, this could have a negative effect on your business.

Hopefully Google will figure out a way to carry out the EU ruling in a way that doesn’t implicate everyone and doesn’t lead to guilty people or corrupt businesses being able to hide their history.

5. Are we heading for a world with two online shopping options – Amazon & Google?

Google wants to be a more dominant player in the profitable space of eCommerce. Right now Amazon is the king but Google is plans to try and dethrone them. The first part of this plan is to target fresh groceries.

Tom Fallows, the head of Google Shopping Express, said “You can very much expect that we are putting a lot of money into this and we’re excited and willing to sustain that investment over time as this gets going.”

Google also sees this as a way of bolstering its golden goose – search advertising. It would allow them to dominate product search which Amazon currently owns. It would also give Google the option to sell specialised advertising against product listings increasing their advertising revenue.

The main difference between Google and Amazon will be that while Amazon is often seen as a threat to local businesses, Google plans on partnering with them. (However, Google has been known to change its mind)

Why should you care?

It’s an interesting development.

Google owns search. If they control what product search results you see and can deliver those products to your doorstep – will there be any reason to look elsewhere and will other companies be able to compete?

If you are a local business that sells products we would be hoping that Google stays true to its “Google is a platform and a partnership business.”

Otherwise you could be competing with Amazon and its same day delivery plus Google and its Shopping Express platform.

6. Twitter buys ad re targeting company TapCommerce

Twitter has spent $100 million purchasing a firm called TapCommerce that offers targeted adverts on mobile.

Twitter is hoping the purchase will allow them to offer advertisers the ability to drive conversions and ROI with mobile consumers on and off Twitter.

Why should you care?

According to Adcorp there were 368,000 Twitter users in New Zealand in August 2013. This number may have increased or decreased since then, but what it shows is that there is a reasonable number of Kiwis using Twitter.

Twitter isn’t as crowded as Facebook.

This purchase may make Twitter a more viable option for some of your advertising spend and with the fastest growing demographic on Twitter being the 55 – 64 year age group – Twitter isn’t “just for teenagers.”

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

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About the Author SureFire

These search marketing news updates feature articles of interest picked up through the week by the SureFire team.

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