Google parent Alphabet Inc. warned that its business may be damaged by changing data privacy practices, new digital advertising polices and software bugs that leak user information.
The company filed its annual report on Tuesday and added language that suggests it is adjusting to stepped up regulatory scrutiny and evolving consumer attitudes toward data and privacy online.
“Changes to our data privacy practices, as well as changes to third-party advertising policies or practices may affect the type of ads and/or manner of advertising that we are able to provide which could have an adverse effect on our business,” the company wrote in the filing. “If we do not provide superior value or deliver advertisements efficiently and competitively, our reputation could be affected, we could see a decrease in revenue from advertisers and/or experience other adverse effects to our business.”
As consumers and politicians re-evaluate the data-collecting business models of companies like Google and Facebook Inc., the chance of tough regulations that undercut key revenue streams is increasing. To date, Google has mostly faced fines in Europe that it has been able to pay with its massive cash hoard, but some privacy advocates and those concerned with the company’s sheer size are pushing for harsher policies.
The internet giant has warned about stricter regulation and potential fines in the past. And regulatory filings like Tuesday’s annual report are often filled with boilerplate descriptions of risk so companies aren’t sued by investors if something actually goes wrong. Still, when new language appears, investors and analysts take note.
Another addition to Alphabet’s latest filing warns about software errors. “Bugs or defects in our products and services have occurred and may occur in the future, or our security measures could be breached, resulting in the improper use and/or disclosure of user data,” the company wrote.
Last year, Google found a software glitch in its Google Plus social network that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million people. The company decided to shut the service soon after.
Alphabet also updated its warning about an expansion into non-advertising businesses like cloud services and consumer hardware.
“Due to these factors and the evolving nature of our business, our historical revenue growth rate and historical operating margin may not be indicative of our future performance,” it wrote.
The company reported thinner fourth-quarter profit margins late Monday as the internet giant spend heavily to expand its cloud and YouTube businesses.
LK Web Media say that 43% of eCommerce traffic comes from Google search, that 59% of all eCommerce sessions are on mobile devices, and that 70% of shopping carts are abandoned.
I can see your eyes rolling already – “OMG NOT ANOTHER SEO IS DEAD ARTICLE!” – but bear with me for a moment.
For those that are not familiar, every year in the search industry there is a clickbait article about SEO being dead.
Then there are a proverbial hundred articles written to explain why SEO is not dead and round and round we go.
This has been going on as long as I have been in search and surely before and I have been in the industry since 2004.
So why would I be writing another article about the death of SEO?
Because this time the question of the death of is not being posed by some digital marketers looking for traffic and links, it is coming from site owners.
This is an important distinction and something that deserves attention.
The Decline of Organic
The idea that SEO is a dying channel is not completely without some small basis in fact.
In 2016 and 2017, there was a small but definitive downward trend in organic search across the board.
While these trends were not large enough to cause any great concern, if you were looking at the trendline you could see organic was down 2 percent between 2017 and 2016.
Given the number of searches in just Google organic online are in the trillions each year, 2 percent is not without significance.
From the Q1 & Q3 Merkle Report on Search
The share of site visits produced by organic search was 24 percent in Q4 2017, down 2 percent from the previous year
However, that trend changed in 2018 with the first two quarters coming in 2 percent larger and the 3rd quarter up 9 percent year over year, at least in Google.
Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo struggle to be competitive in this market. Though DuckDuckGo is on the rise, Bing and Yahoo are not.
According to Merkle:
“Despite recent headlines about the strong growth for DuckDuckGo, US organic search visit share for search engines beyond Google, Bing, and Yahoo fell from just 0.8% in Q3 2017 to 0.6% in Q3 2018.”
Even with the negative changes to Bing and Yahoo’s trendlines, Google owns 96 percent of the market, so organic is just as important as it always has been, actually more.
Organic Is NOT a Dying Channel
At this point, Google=Organic.
As long as Google Ads are driving the majority of their revenues, organic will be here to stay.
So not only is Google organic not a dying channel, as the data shows us it is actually growing. However, that growth is only going to likely increase.
Search Trends That Will Drive the Growth from Organic Results
There are some emerging search trends that will only make organic a more likely driver of traffic, not less.
Increasing Rise of Mobile
Google is so confident in the continued growth of the mobile space it is making the biggest change in its history and moving the factors it evaluates to rank a site from desktop to mobile – a.k.a., Mobile First. (If your site has not been moved to Mobile First yet, don’t worry, it will be sometime soon. At least most likely, by year’s end.)
Because mobile is only going to continue to grow and desktop is not going anywhere, people will be searching more, not less. That means continued growth for Google no matter what else happens.
If you have any doubts, see what The Boston Consulting Group found users would give up in order to keep their smartphones. Pretty telling, really:
Google Search Page Design
As Google has shifted from an information, or search engine, to an answer engine, Google has made whole sale changes to its search engine result page (SERP) design.
While not all pages have been altered, many of the top traffic driving queries search results pages have been given an overhaul to make them friendlier to mobile users and micro-moment search.
Organic Is Not Just 10 Blue Links Anymore
Here is a just a sample of places a site can find itself outside of the standard “10 blue links.”
For instance, we have multiple new “search modules,” but all of them are driven by some degree by the value of your site’s organic search.
Want to be seen in these spaces? Your organic SEO must be up to par as your site’s organic value matters, in whole or in part, in your placements.
- Knowledge Features
- The One Box / Answer Box
- The Knowledge Graph
- People Also Ask
- Similar Locations
- Similar Items
- Local Results
- Featured (this can fall under multiple modules as the term is used loosely)
And these are not all of the modules available, so while the “10 blue links” are less visible on pages when search modules are present, all of these modules have an element of organic search to them.
Basically, part of how you show up in the additional modules is based on how well Google values your site organically – either in part or in whole.
Voice search is different than voice assistants, which we will discuss next.
While devices such as Google Home and Alexa use voice, it is not what we refer to as voice search. Voice search is a broader category that refers to the use of your voice to make a search query versus using your fingers.
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While Google does add a lot of “search modules” to many query pages, there are many queries where it does not. These queries tend to fall under what we call “long-tail search.”
Long-tail search is when a user uses multiple words to create the search, rule of thumb is over 3 or 4, and since the average length of a voice query is 7 or 8 words it is much less likely to “match” other searches users have created because it is so specific to the users intent.
This means that these queries are also less likely to have integrated search modules that push down the “10 blue links.” They are even less likely to contain ads.
These pages are all about the 10 blue links.
So as people move more and more to voice-assisted search, your placement in the top 10 organic links on long-tail queries becomes much more important as we all know – almost no one goes to Page 2 of Google (or other search engines).
And you know who built their business on long-tail search? Amazon.
There is great value in the long tail. Don’t ignore it.
While Voice Assistants such as Google Home and Alexa are not highly valuable to sites providing only information (the site never sees a click).
Even though they are still in their infancy for sites in relevant verticals such as ecommerce, if your site is in a vertical like ecommerce you ignore voice assistants at your own risk.
The growth projection is similar to when smartphones hit the market and by 2022, OC&C Strategy Consultants projects it to be worth $40 billion in sales to the U.S. ecommerce sector alone.
Predicted growth in the ecommerce sector by 2022
Why such growth, so quickly?
Devices, Devices, EVERYWHERE!
At CES this year, Google proclaimed that its voice assistant would be available on 1 billion (yes that is BILLION) devices by the end of January this year, and Amazon said they sold 100 MILLION voice assistants during the holiday season alone.
In less than a decade, almost every home in the U.S. will have a voice assistant in either the form of a device or on their phones
Another thing to remember is that though users may not be purchasing in large numbers yet, when users are not buying, they are doing research
And according to Google, users are interested in deals, sales, promotions, and business information.
“52 percent of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales, and promotions from brands. 39 percent would like to receive options to find business information.”
So even though sales are not there yet, brand relationships are being built through Voice Assistants right now.
But how is this related to organic search?
No ’10 Blue Links’
Voice assistants do not have “10 blue links.” There is one answer. That answer either comes from your site or it doesn’t.
While organic search is not the only way sites can make themselves relevant to these devices, think Alexa Skills and Google Actions, it is an excellent channel for making sure that when Google uses the search results to provide an answer, that you are the site it uses.
For instance, a voice assistant search user wants to order a pizza. It can ask Google to give it a pizza place near them. There is going to be one answer and that answer, Dominos – Papa Johns – Pizza Hut will most likely come from the featured snippet or answer box on top of a search box page.
Even when it doesn’t if you have not organically optimized your site pages then you are not likely going to be that first result because those results are typically pulled from the top 10 organic listings.
So, if you are not optimized for both organic and voice, that business will not go to you, it will go to your competitor.
Organic Search is EXPANDING, Not DYING
John Franklin, Associate Partner, OC&C, commented:
“Voice commerce represents the next major disruption in the retail industry, and just as e-commerce and mobile commerce changed the retail landscape, shopping through smart speaker promises to do the same.
The speed with which consumers are adopting smart speakers will translate into a number of opportunities and even more challenges for traditional retailers and consumer products companies.”
So, we can see that even though the “10 Blue Links” are harder and harder to surface for many short tail queries, there are multiple opportunities to use organic to expand your search presence in other spaces and with other devices. The best part is many of those spaces are pretty empty right now.
It is estimated that by 2020, 50 percent of the searches online will be hands-free. Anyone with an online presence would be foolish to ignore those numbers. According to a report from TheStreet:
“In two years, voice shopping, or v-commerce, could be as popular as mobile shopping is today, according to recent survey data from MoffettNathanson. So far, less than 5 percent of consumers use voice shopping, but that number could reach 50 percent by 2022, the report found.
“The growth curve of voice shopping looks a lot like the trajectory of mobile commerce seven years ago,” when less than 10 percent of American consumers made purchases on their cellphones, MoffettNathanson’s Greg Melich told TheStreet on Thursday, April 5. “If you’re a retailer and you’re not preparing for this significant trend of e-commerce going toward v-commerce, then you won’t be around.”
And it is also important to mention that there are many queries in Google that still only contain “10 Blue Links”. As users use voice to search, those queries become more relevant, because they are long – not short-tail.
So, the next time someone says organic search is a dying channel just let them move on, while you clean-up on the billions of activated devices out there poised to give someone their money and their time.
As they say, always skate to the where the puck is going.
SEO is still NOT dead!
All screenshots taken by author, January 2019
About Shine Virtual Balloon Races
An integral part of Shine’s fundraising initiatives since the early 90s has been sponsored balloon races. We approach 1000s of companies each year asking for their kind support in a fun event that could ultimately win them a choice of prizes!
See where we are now >>
Over the years, the nature of the event has evolved from actual balloon races to virtual balloon races. We took the step to go virtual due to the detrimental effect real helium filled party balloons were having on the wildlife and environment.
Since its induction in 2009, Shine’s virtual races have gone from strength to strength! You can now decorate your balloon, track its journey and interact vastly on social media to influence your balloon’s journey! These are just a small number of options available to enhance your experience while supporting a great cause!
Who are Shine?
Shine (formerly ASBAH) was formed in 1966 to support those living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. We rely heavily on the generous support of individuals and businesses in order to achieve our goals on a daily basis.
Make a Donation
What do they do?
Your support enables Shine to continue providing our unique vital services which include a Life Long Opportunities Programme (LLOP) – a tailored, age-related calendar of events including Family Opportunities Weekends, Teen Residentials, Independent Living Workshops, and Shine40Plus events for our adult Members.
Please feel free to make a donation here>>
© Shine Trading Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved. Shine Balloons is a fundraising website for Shine Trading Limited
SEO is a new(er) marketing practice, which creates unique challenges and added scrutiny.
Limited Budget & Resources
Often, the only resource you have as an in-house SEO is yourself.
You may not have a full team to rely on, so prioritising when and how work will be done becomes paramount.
Collaboration Is a Must
You typically need to collaborate with another department to fully realise your SEO plans.
Prioritising work with the most responsive departments (or those you have the best relationships with) will help you get the ball rolling, and allow your campaign to build momentum as you tackle more difficult collaborations later on.
Proving Efficacy & Demonstrating ROI
Obtaining buy-in — and budget — is difficult to begin with.
Unless you show results quickly it can be even more challenging to keep that budget.
Prioritising SEO projects that require the least amount of resources and provide the most impact is critical during the early stages of a campaign.
SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time and sustained effort to fully realise the benefits of the work.
However, prioritising the path of least resistance will help you demonstrate early returns, empowering you to achieve your larger goals over the course of a campaign.
There are three areas where prioritisation is key:
- On-site and technical optimisation.
- Content creation and repurposing.
- Link building.
Prioritising appropriately within these three areas will set your SEO campaign up for success.
Let us help you with your SEO campaign prioritising >>
Social network Google Plus (stylised asGoogle+) will now be shut down earlier than planned, following the discovery ofa bug affecting more than 50 million users.
Google+ waslaunched in 2011 as an attempt to launch a social network competitor to Facebook.The platform was integrated with other popular Google services, includingYouTube. Although Google+ attracted some initial interest, user engagementquickly dropped and has remained consistently low ever since.
In October 2018, Google announced that the social network would be shut down, following a Wall Street Journal report which found that the company kept quiet a security breach first identified in March, which potentially exposed the personal data of half a million users. An anonymous source speaking to the Wall Street Journal claimed that senior Google staff had not disclosed the vulnerability due to concern about reputational damage, new regulation and CEO Sundar Pichai being required to testify before Congress (despite Google’s best efforts, Pichai is due to address Congress today).
Yesterday, Google announced thatit had identified a second bug during regular testing, following a softwareupdate. The latest bug, which affects a Google+ API, affected approximately52.5 million people and lasted for six days. Much like the previous bugdisclosed, this could have allowed developers to access private profile data, includingage, occupation, username and email addresses.
However, Google has reassuredusers that there is no evidence that the bug was exploited or even noticed bythird parties and that the bug did not expose users’ passwords or financialdata.
Need help with your Social Media?
Search is an exciting, ever-changing channel.
Algorithm updates from Google, innovations in the way we search (mobile, voice search, etc.), and evolving user behaviour all keep us on our toes as SEOs. The dynamic nature of our industry requires adaptable strategies and ongoing learning to be successful. However, we can’t become so wrapped up in chasing new strategies and advanced tactics that we overlook fundamental SEO principles.
Recently, I’ve noticed a common thread of questioning coming from our clients and prospects around searcher intent, and I think it’s something worth revisiting here.
However, you might not have your own internal research team, leaving you to analyse intent and the impact it has on your SEO strategy on your own. Today, I want to share a process we go through with clients at Page One Power to help them better understand the intent behind the keywords they target for SEO.
Two questions we always ask when clients bring us a list of target keywords and phrases are:
- Should your site or page rank there?
- What will these rankings accomplish?
These questions drive at intent and force us, and our clients, to analyse audience and searcher behaviour before targeting specific keywords and themes for their SEO strategy.
The basis for any successful SEO strategy is a firm understanding of searcher intent.
Looking for help with your SEO?
Microsoft and Mastercard are partnering for a new digital identity solution which offers internet users the option to dispense with multiple passwords and verify themselves instantly online.
The software giant announced it was joining forces with the payments provider to develop a decentralised identity product that will alleviate the burden on individuals when it comes to providing digital or physical proof of identity as part of the online verification process.
Announcing their strategic collaboration today, Mastercard and Microsoft said they would be working together to give people a secure, instant way to verify as well as enter, control and share their data “with whomever they want, whenever they want”.
The eventual product will help consumers create a single, reusable digital identity that can help people interact with e-commerce merchants, banks government agencies and other digital service providers with lower cost and less friction.
It is also envisaged that a single digital identity could help tackle payments fraud and identity theft.
When your website is listed on the first result pages, it’s important to get the link. Optimised descriptions help you to increase the number of clicks that your listings get.
How to influence the description
Google displays a short description of the listed page on the search results page. Google will create its own description of your page if they find that the meta description of your pages is not good enough.
For that reason, it is important to create good meta descriptions. The meta description is the description that is listed in the meta description tag in the head section of your web pages. It looks like this:
1. Keep your description short
2. Answer questions in the description
3. Be emotional
4. Tell the website visitors what to do
5. Use different descriptions on different pages
6. Try to get listed as a rich result
Let us optimise your web pages now….
Internet Retailer is forecasting another banner e commerce Christmas and retailers have the opportunity to have their best online sales season ever. Even though many retailers are in the throes of preparing, small tweaks can still be made that can have a big impact on the bottom line.
Nearly 80% of retailers surveyed say they will increase spending on e-commerce technology this year, and the top reason is to attract new customers, according to an exclusive Internet Retailer survey.
More than 600 Top 1000 retailers market a loyalty program. While seven merchants offer free shipping when a shopper signs up for a free loyalty membership, 28 additional retailers have free shipping associated with various paid membership.
Need help with your e commerce site?
Facebook is making changes to subscription messaging permissions that will affect chatbots.
Permission to send subscription messages will have to be granted at the Page-level rather than at the app-level.
Chatbots that send subscription messages have until December 31st to transition from app-level to page-level permissions.
If you have a chatbot that sends subscription messages then these changes are important to be aware of.
These changes do not apply to chatbots that only send standard messages.
Need help with your Facebook messaging?
1. Scraped content
2. Syndicated content
3. HTTP and HTTPS pages
4. WWW and non-WWW pages
5. Dynamically generated URL parameters
6. Similar content
7. Printer-friendly pages
Duplicate content is a big topic in the SEO space. When we hear about it, it’s mostly in the context of Google penalties; but this potential side effect of content duplication is not only blown up in importance, but also hardly the gravest consequence of the issue.
Don’t let Google penalise your Business Website for Duplicate Content >>
Ads placed in front of or beside unsafe content triggered a range of negative consumer reactions.
Brand safety has been an issue since the beginning of the internet. However in the past several years it has gained more importance and urgency, with incidents and advertiser concerns growing.
A new study from brand safety platform CHEQ, media agency IPG Mediabrands and automaker BMW aimed to quantify the risk to brands that appear next to “unsafe” content. In short, the study found being associated with unsafe content had a significant, negative impact on brand perceptions, consumer trust and intent to buy.
Not just a survey. The study’s methodology makes makes its findings more credible than if were simply the product an abstract survey of consumer sentiment. There was an initial screening survey, then participants were exposed to ads beside negative or unsafe content. Then there was a follow-up survey to measure brand sentiment:
The full process is described as follows: “We displayed 4 different types of content alongside the ads ranging from safe to generally unsafe, brand averse and vertical averse . . . We displayed BMW and Hulu brand video ads to the test group, while the control group was shown various PSA ads. . . We displayed the content on both desktop and mobile to make sure we captured and reflected consumers’ genuine ad viewing experience.”
Consumer sentiment declines across the board. The results confirm brand marketers’ fears. Below are some of the summary findings:
• Consumer perception of brand quality declines by 7X vs. the control group not exposed to the unsafe content
• There’s a 2X decline in purchase intent for those exposed
• Consumers are 50 percent less likely to recommend the brand
• Consumers are 2.8X less interested in associating themselves with the brand
• Consumers are 3X more likely to believe that the brand isn’t “in the know”
There are additional findings in the report, consistent with these negative perceptions and sentiment. For example, many of the study participants assumed the placement of the brand ads near negative or unsafe content was intentional. They also view these ads as an “endorsement” of the unsafe content.
Let us make your site as NO unsafe content
As cyber threats intensify, small businesses must make sure that careless mistakes aren’t leaving them vulnerable. Tayo Dada, the founder of cyber security firm Uncloak, looks at how SMEs can protect themselves.
Cyber-crime is on the up. A survey by analyst Ovum found that 60% of companies saw an increase in cyber-attacks in the past year. Meanwhile, Uncloaks’ own research suggests that the number of cyber-attacks in 2017 was up an incredible 400% year on year.
The costs of cyber-crime are high, both financially and in terms of the devastating reputational damage done to businesses that fall victim – yet 96% of businesses in Europe feel they cannot justify the cost of a cyber security expert. The reality is that the threat affects businesses of all sizes, yet cyber security is a poorly understood area for many businesses, and most simply wait to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Of course, cyber security is a complex and ever-changing landscape, but there are simple things we could all do to reduce risks. Take a look at these common mistakes, and you might spot some straightforward things you can do to reduce your chance of being hit by a hacker – because prevention is always better than a cure:
Don’t think that it won’t happen to you
Despite the growing threat, many SMEs still believe they won’t be affected, or that they’re too small to be a target. But whatever your size or industry, your business has data that is valuable. And an attack can be fatal to a small, unprepared business.
Protect yourself today >>
Another year is quickly approaching.
That means now is the perfect time to review current PPC best practices to start improving your performance.
There are opportunities to revisit the dependable PPC best practices but even more opportunity to implement new ideas into your program.
Get ready to rock PPC in 2019!
1. Review New Features in Google Ads
Another year, another Google deadline.
2. Test New Platforms
OK, PPC marketers, listen up!
3. Mobile Preference
For years, we’ve seen the usage of mobile devices for search increase.
4. Test New Features
Earlier in this post, we see a few new features you should consider testing in Google Ads 2019: Promotions extensions and Outstream video campaigns.
5. Audiences Integrated with Search
For quite some time we were limited to the keyword in search engines.
6. Learn to Use Scripts
PPC managers can learn to automate repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts using scripts added to the account.
7. Voice Search Preparation
You might not be getting a large quantity of voice searches yet. Most advertisers aren’t.
8. Budget Review for 2019
Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and re-evaluate the distribution of their budgets.
9. Re-evaluate How You Report
Have you been using the same old report for years?
10. Seek Collaboration
If the PPC wheels keep spinning, going nowhere, it’s a time to step back and seek out friendly resources and second options.
Voice search is coming. Here’s what you can do today to get ahead of the curve.
Just about everyone has had the experience of searching by voice, using Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana or Siri. And with pundits predicting that anywhere between 20 and 50 percent of all searches will be voice-initiated by 2020, it’s important for SEOs to start thinking about best practices and techniques for optimizing content for voice search & virtual assistants.
Featured snippets for your site. “This is good in traditional search, and critical in voice search, the world of a single answer where most of the responses Google provides come from featured snippets,” he said. Enge has mapped out a process for getting featured snippets for just about any type of content:
• Identify common questions in your market sector.
• Determine which of those are most interesting to your business.
• For each “target question” you select, develop a set of closely related questions that users are likely to also be interested in.
• Write content addresses target and related questions in a single cohesive article.
If you need help with your voice search contact us today >>
There are times when web traffic changes. Sometimes for the best. Sometimes for the not so best. It’s not difficult to diagnose why traffic changes. Below are the top six most common problems that we find and fix for our customers.
1. Mobile Paradigm Affects Traffic
2. Change in Consumer Habits
3. Indexing Issues
4. Non-Secure Website
6. Google Updated the Algorithm
If you need help with the above or any other Google listing problems, please feel free to contact us today.
Did you know that you can lose all the hard work that you put into your site in an instant if your website got hacked?
WordPress is pretty secure, but there are many other ways a hacker can gain access to your site.
Over 30,000 websites get hacked every day. I want to make sure your website is never part of that.
Securing your website is complicated, takes too much time or requires skill.
Get the Ultimate WordPress Security from LK Web Media