Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Is SEO Dead? Not Even Close: Here’s Why


“SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description.” – Rand Fishkin

You’ve heard it touted a million times before; SEO is dead. But how can these sorts of headlines be justified in any sort of manner when SEO is a $65-billion industry?

Despite these egregious headlines, SEO has become increasingly more important nearly every year since its inception; and 2016 is no different.

In a recent study conducted by Borrell Associates, it was uncovered that organizations will spend upward of $65 billion on SEO efforts this year. This is nearly three times the forecasted amount put forth in 2008.

What’s even more jaw-dropping, however, is that the SEO industry is not even close to reaching stagnation; that same report predicts that SEO investments will jump a staggering $15 billion in the next four years. This means that by 2020, the SEO industry will be worth nearly $80 billion.
Additionally, in a survey of 357 marketers, a staggering 94 percent of respondents report that SEO budgets will increase or, at the minimum, stay the same over the course of the next year.

These statistics give a crystal clear picture of the overall health of the SEO industry. If you have been wary about bumping up your search engine optimization budget, rest assured that it is a safe investment, granted you gain the results you are after.

Since we now know the industry is set to swell over the next several years, let’s take a look at the factors that will ultimately contribute to this massive aggrandizement, so you can best understand how and where to spend your marketing resources.

Causation of SEO Amplification

The monetary boom SEO will see over the next several years does not have a single root that can be pinpointed; there are many contributing factors.

The first is a rise in the number of search users. According to a 2015 report from the International Telecommunications Union, the number of Internet users has skyrocketed from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015. This means that Internet penetration now reaches 43 percent of the entire global population. This figure is set to massively increase over the next several years as companies like Facebook and Google enact initiatives to spread internet access the world over. This, in conjunction with the explosion of mobile usage in India and other developing nations, will provide connections to countless more individuals across the globe.

The next element is the rise in the number of search queries. The proliferation of digital connectivity will naturally bring more searches due to the elevated number of Internet users; mobile ubiquity again plays an integral role here. Additionally, as older generations come to pass and those who have grown up with, or were born into, technology at their fingertips will continue to rely on search engines to provide answers of every nature. As search engines and technology continue to become more refined, expedient and convenient, users will find themselves taking to sites like Google more often than ever before.

Next on the chopping block is the decline of traditional advertising. It has been noted by various studies and media outlets that traditional ads are dying. This decay will begin to leave businesses with fewer options for customer acquisition. This will inevitably force many to dive headlong into inbound marketing to supplement the losses from the forgotten and ineffective relics of the advertising world.
Due to all of the aforementioned circumstances, and dozens more, search engine optimization continues to become increasingly more sophisticated and polished in terms of tactics and best practices. Strategies like keyword stuffing, haphazard link building, and other black hat SEO tactics have largely fallen to the wayside. Furthermore, the increased amount of comprehensive and in-depth data that can be drawn from such campaigns makes SEO incredibly valuable for this reason alone.
One of the biggest factors to consider is the inflated number of devices that users have to search through. Outside of actually heading to massive engines such as Google, Bing, YouTube and others, on a laptop or mobile device, users are now gaining access to search with various gadgets such as Amazon’s Alexa. The variety of digital assistants that have recently come into play give users new ways to search online. Things like Google speech-to-text, Cortana, Siri, and many others are contributing a larger number of queries to search engines as time goes on. These serve as way for users to search the online universe from offline. As devices such as these continue to rise in prominence, so will the value in SEO campaigns.

While the exponential rate at which technology advances makes it challenging to peer just a few years into the future, it is more than likely that SEO won’t be going anywhere anytime soon; in fact, just the opposite is glaringly true. SEO is becoming more important with each passing month and year. Users now rely heavily on search engines. And, because of this, SEO is raking in more money as an industry. At this point in time, your best bet for driving traffic, acquiring customers, and achieving other business-focused goals lies in gaining an intimate understanding of SEO, employing the most powerful tools at your disposal, and ignoring those silly headlines that try to convince you that SEO’s reign is officially over; that stuff is hogwash. Your business deserves to thrive, and as such, your SEO needs to follow suit.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

3 Components of a Perfect Mobile App Spec


OnePlus One vs LG G3 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4. - photo by Maurizio Pesce.

If you’ve been reading up on developing a mobile app, whether you’re planning to try to build it yourself or hire a developer to build it for you, the first step is always to write your idea down. Sure, easy enough, if you have an idea just write it down. Then you get the blank white sheet of paper in front of you and the process may seem a little daunting. So here’s a guide to help you outline your perfect mobile app spec. This spec can be used to help get an accurate cost estimate from a developer, to get funding from an investor, or to work as a framework for building the mobile app yourself.

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Mobile App Wireframes

The wireframe is a visual of the idea you have in your head. It will help you determine how many screens you might be thinking about. Start thinking about how it will function and what features you’ll need.

If you Google “mobile app wireframe tools” you’ll see there are many options to help you develop a wireframe. We like Just in Mind for wireframes; it’s $29 per user per month, no commitment. Many tools also have free 30-day trials. Or you could keep it simple and just hand draw in something like this:

Wireframe Image

We actually used a template like this for a children’s activity at our local library and they did a great job with the drawings! So if they can do it, you can do it. You can Google “mobile app wireframe examples” under images for inspiration.
The reason creating wireframes is part of a perfect spec is:
1. It helps you really develop your idea and how it will work on paper;
2. It gives a better picture to anyone you’re working with so you can do your best to ensure everyone is on the same page. When you’re not on the same page it can affect cost estimates both up and down.


Concept Overview

Write a couple paragraphs that describe the app concept. This can accompany the wireframe in a separate document. I recommend just a Word document. You can use these questions to help you develop the content:
• Who are you?
• How did you come up with this project concept?
• What problems will the app solve?
• What is the app?
• Who is the target audience for your app — who will download it?
• What do you hope to accomplish from developing the app?
• What is the business model for the app?
• Which mobile devices do you want to support? iPhone? iPad? Android? Windows?
• Do you have any preference if this app is built hybrid or natively? Hybrid apps can be finished faster at a lower cost but native apps typically perform more smoothly and quickly throughout the lifecycle of the app.
If you’re hiring a developer to help you with the app, consider:
• What are your turnaround time expectations?
• What are your cost expectations?


Your List of Must Haves

These are things that may not be easily visible from the wireframe and they can help reiterate what is in your concept overview. They can be shared in a third, separate document. Here are some examples:


Must Have

• Be available on Android
• A back-end control panel
• The ability to capture users’ e-mails
• Users can add personal profiles


Nice to Have

• In-app analytics
• Connection to social media accounts
• Push notification functionality
• A design like example app

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I hope this will give your blank white paper a little more direction when someone asks you to write down your idea. The most important thing this will do is give you an outline to start really thinking through the details of your project. You may want to get feedback from friends, family and industry experts before diving in with both feet – and this can be a written plan that will put your thoughts on paper and give them a visual to follow. Best of luck and happy apping!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Paying for Interested, Not Accidental Visitors

Image courtesy of ( David Castillo Dominici) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Businesses advertise online. A lot.

But a vast majority of businesses don’t advertise well. At least, not as well as they could.
Usually, the trouble is a hard focus on getting traffic to a website, when instead, they should focus on conversions.

If you’ve invested in bringing traffic to your site, you’ve either brought interested visitors, or accidental visitors. Which is it? Your conversion rate will tell you the answer. You can’t just invest in driving traffic, you must also invest in converting that traffic.

Conversion optimization is typically two things:
1. Targeting the right customers.

2. Optimizing your site for conversions.

Optimizing your site for conversions is its own beast, and it ought to come before anything else. You don’t want traffic if your site isn’t ready.

But if you’ve already optimized your site for conversions, it’s time to get serious about the traffic you bring in.

When targeting the right traffic audience for your website, there are three general phases: creating customer personas, mapping the customer journey and serving up your optimized content.

Creating Customer Personas
If you’ve spent any time with a marketer, you’ve probably heard about personas. These are the fake people that companies invent to serve as a sort of “template” for their typical customer. Your marketing efforts target specific personas (and, hopefully, so does your website).

The more detailed and in-depth the personas a company creates, the more accurately it can target customers. When you know what the customer is like, you can map his/her journey from finding your site to converting into a lead or a sale.

Basic demographics like age, gender and geography can tell quite a lot. But these are very broad and the “story” you invent for their journey could be completely wrong. Details like income (can they afford you?), interests (what else do they like?), in-market affinity (what are they shopping for?) and more can help you create the right path.

Psychographics and emotional demographics help you go even further. Psychographics are your customers’ attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria. These play into broader demographic details nicely and can really start to tell you how they will turn into a customer.
Emotional demographics are usually very temporary conditions in which your customer would make a purchase. Snickers’ ads are a perfectly-honed example. Their emotional demographic is “hungry and angry (a.k.a. hangry).” This is the perfect time for their product, a candy bar of significant sugar and protein density. Their candy bar will temporarily relieve the temporary symptoms, and the company plays this message beautifully.

Personas are as important as anything when laying out your initial strategy. When you know your customer personas well, you can begin to engage them smartly. The importance cannot be overstated.

How to Use Google Analytics to Get Started
Set your segment to a specific traffic source instead of all traffic to see your current organic search strengths and weaknesses.

Note: Organic traffic is important to look at, of course, but for any business investing in advertising, paid traffic is actually much more important—the primary reason being that it is paid traffic. Specific budgets are dedicated to paid traffic, and it’s more directly attributable to the conversion of said traffic and your content. In other words: its ROI is clearer.

In Google Analytics Reporting, under Audience, you’ll find:

• Demographics: Age, Gender. You can see your basics: age and gender. These things mean different things depending on your industry.

• Interests: Affinity Categories, In-Market Segments; Other Categories for additional insights. Here you can get a sense of the personality and interests of your current traffic.

• Geo: Location. Use this to figure out where your conversions come from and if you’re attracting the right local customers or not.

• Mobile: Overview (Mobile, Tablet vs. Desktop). Look at conversions by device category. If mobile devices produce fewer visits but show a higher rate of conversion, you can infer that more effort to reach visitors on mobile phones would be worth your company’s time and money.

Google has adopted a mobile-first attitude and has been making subtle changes to reflect that. (Not all websites will reflect that mobile has taken over desktop, but in general, it has.)

Under Acquisition, you’ll find:

• Search Engine Optimization: Queries This requires connection to Google Search Console—if you haven’t done that yet, go ahead and do it.

• AdWords: Keywords: These will give you a sense of the types of queries users are typing when they click your paid ads. It’s a pretty good hint of what they’re truly interested in when they view your landing page content.

• Campaigns: Paid Keywords. This can give you some more insight on interests, especially if you don’t use Google AdWords for your PPC. If you haven’t already explored alternative online advertising networks, it may be worth your while.

Under Behavior
• See Site Content: All Pages. Sort by Bounce Rate to see which pages have the lowest bounce rate.
These should help springboard you to creating your customer personas and should also help you prioritize your efforts when it comes to targeting with digital marketing. Remember, you know your own customers better than anyone, but objective data is important to consider. If objective data doesn’t match your ideal customers, you’ll need to make some adjustments…

Mapping the Customer Journey
Ignoring your existing content for a second, how does your highly-detailed persona go from discovery to customer? What are the steps along the way? What is high-funnel? Mid-funnel? Low-funnel?

If you can answer these questions, then you know what content you need to create.

Of course, that’s easier said than done…

And since “content” can actually take many forms, your content strategy should take into
consideration your methods of getting that content seen. Will you buy paid ads? Are you leaning on search engine optimization? Is social media your biggest traffic driver? And how about e-mail, that best-converting channel of all?

Think like a chef in a nice restaurant. You need a good appetizer, a delectable main course, and of course, you should always offer a dessert. But restaurant patrons don’t just stand in the kitchen with their hands out – you need to plate that food appropriately, serve it at the right time, and make sure it’s fresh.

Serving Up Your Content
With so many channels to choose and so many ad networks out there, digital marketing can feel like you’re trying to build a car from a warehouse full of parts. It’s daunting to say the least.

Having your customer personas will help you narrow your focus, and help you understand what you need to build. Most companies can’t afford all the options. You have to be choosy.

When you choose the paid ad route, you have to be as sharp as possible. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend a lot of money on entirely the wrong customers.

• Personas inform your keyword research, which in turn influences your content, which becomes (for many customers) the first impression of your company.

• Ad copy matters a great deal — not just for keeping bids optimized, but for improving conversion rates, too. Proper expectation setting begins with the ad copy.

Google tries to provide the most relevant possible search results when someone is looking for something. If you offer what someone is looking for, it’s your job to provide the most relevant possible content. You do that by determining what content they need for that stage of the journey.
When you get your content to a customer seeking what you offer, at the time when they seek it, at the appropriate stage in their buying cycle, your conversion rates will improve dramatically. You’ll also develop brand awareness and build your authority as the right company for the job.

It’s not about being at the right place at the right time – it’s about being in the right place ALL the time. So create the right content, and put it in the right place. If you do this, all your advertising dollars will be put toward bringing interested traffic instead of accidental traffic.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lawsuit Accuses Facebook of Scanning Private Messages to Boost Page Likes


Facebook has been slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly scanning users’ private messages.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a Northern California District court, accuses Facebook of breaching federal privacy laws by scanning and logging URLs sent through the social network’s private messaging system in a bid to get more likes for pages on its site.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs accuse Facebook of scanning the content of their private messages. If there is a link to a webpage in that message, the social networking firm then treats it as a ‘like’ of the page as well, the filing adds.

“Facebook uses this data regarding ‘likes’ to compile user profiles, which it then uses to deliver targeted advertising to its users,” the complaint reads.

The complaint goes on to say that the “messaging function is designed to allow users to communicate privately with other users,” and adds that “Facebook’s practice of scanning the content of these messages violates the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act.”

The certification of the complaint by the court means the plaintiffs cannot receive any monetary damages, although the court could ban Facebook from carrying out such scans in the future. The plaintiffs have until June 8 to file any amended complaints.

Facebook, of course, is pleased to not be on the hook for any payouts.

“We agree with the court’s finding that the alleged conduct did not result in any actual harm and that it would be inappropriate to allow plaintiffs to seek damages on a class-wide basis,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “The remaining claims relate to historical practices that are entirely lawful, and we look forward to resolving those claims on the merits.”

Facebook has said it discontinued its scanning and logging practices some years back.

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Why You Don’t Have to Nofollow Good Links in Your Content


Photo Credit: Baitong333 via freedigitalphotos.net
Nofollow is a tool that was introduced in 2005 by Google’s Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen. The idea was that the tag could be used for the purpose of decreasing spam on blogs by instructing search engines that a hyperlink would have no bearing or affect on the ranking of the link’s target.
In other words, nofollow was designed for use in links that the site owner did not want influencing Google’s index. Unfortunately, nofollow is nearing 10 years old, yet bloggers, webmasters and content marketers alike have misused it for nearly every one of those 10 years. Read on to learn more.

Nofollow’s Original Purpose
At its inception, nofollow looked like it would be an effective way to fight spam. It was great at keeping unhelpful links (the ones that didn’t reflect the site in a positive light or add to its importance) at bay while also allowing a site to rise through the rankings of multiple search engines on the basis of good links.

In its original inception, nofollow was introduced as a means of controlling abusive tactics from sneaky websites that sought to increase their personal search ranking through links posted onto external sites with high DA scores. This creates a problem, however, when you pause to consider that the content curation for these sites rests solely on the shoulders of the site’s editorial team.

Since editorial staff has no control over external sites that feature user-generated content and blog posts, it stands to reason that the content of those sites would be nofollowed almost immediately in an effort to regain control over content and search engine ranking.

Originally, nofollow was introduced as a way for editorial staff of high-quality websites to stop their site from being dragged down the indexes as a result of having links to poor-quality sites foisted upon them by external users. In this way, the original purpose of nofollow was to be an editor’s tool that allowed for reclamation of power back and the ability to mitigate ranking damage caused by unscrupulous sites.

It all went wrong in the nofollow world, however, when people began to express a great deal of concern over “authority sites” — what they were, how they worked and which sites earned the title.
As the importance of “authority sites” began to rise in the eyes of content publishers everywhere, editors and webmasters began thinking twice about how they linked to external pages and, in an effort to protect their site’s ranking, these same content publishers began dropping nofollows in order to protect themselves from the aforementioned “guilty by association” index dives.

Why You Don’t Have to Nofollow
There is a dangerous side to using the nofollow tag on good links. When Google sees a site with all nofollow links, it assumes that the site is comprised entirely of user-generated content or, alternately, that all of the site’s content is ad-based. Because neither of these scenarios generally produces a site that boasts good content, a site that is perceived like this by Google is likely to be ranked down.
Additionally, dropping the nofollow tag everywhere means that your site will sabotage organic links. Although it is understandable for a site to want to suppress low-quality external links, the issue of the nofollow tag gains a whole new face when it becomes such that reputable, high DA sites are being marked “poor” sites and webmasters are being advised by Google to nofollow them.

This is where the double-edged sword of the nofollow culture enters the equation: in an attempt to make their sites rank higher, those who lean heavily on the nofollow tag may actually find themselves sneaking down Google’s indexes.

In a 2013 interview, Matt Cutts cleared up some nofollow myths for the tag’s many users. By pointing out that nofollow is a helpful tool for times when it is necessary to link to outside sites, he also clarified that many users would be better off using no index more often than nofollow. For example, if a user has pages within a site that the user intends to place nofollow tags next to, it actually makes more sense to simply use the no index tool to ensure that the pages are not indexed in Google at all.

The Verdict on the Nofollow Case
Nofollow has been confusing webmasters for years but the verdict is in: you don’t have to nofollow good links in your content.

As Cutts points out, using nofollow links inherently means that PageRank won’t be able to discover a link, which also means that PageRank computation and indexing won’t apply to that site. Because of that, it’s best to forge the nofollow tag on internal links within your site.

Although nofollow was originally a helpful tool that used its powers for good rather than evil, it has become the metaphorical monster in the closet and it’s time to rein it in. Through the atmosphere of fear and doubt that has surrounded the nofollow tag for the last ten years, nofollow has taken on a distinctly “big brother” feel. By doing away with the practice of needlessly nofollowing good links in content, webmasters can begin to reclaim the Internet, one post at a time.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Pay-Per-Click Advertising – How to Get Started


When you have a website that you want people to visit and buy from, it needs to be visible on search engines like Google. One of the fastest and easiest ways of expanding your website’s reach is Google AdWords; it’s a tool that offers marketers results and rewards instantly. The other big advantage is that the results are highly measurable, which means that you can keep on tweaking your marketing strategy to get improvements.

Google AdWords
When users search with Google, the results are ranked by Google according to its assessments defined by its search algorithms that take into account various SEO elements such as the search criteria, content, page titles, headers and backlinks from reliable websites, internal links and more. Sponsored links or advertisements generated by Google AdWords appear on the right-hand side of the page and also on the top. Advertisers need to bid on selected keywords and those who pay the highest get their websites to appear the highest, achieving more exposure.

A Great Way of Advertising
The reason this kind of advertising works out for advertisers is because they can target customers specifically looking for certain products or services by using the search box on Google. The payment to Google needs to be made only when customers see the advertisement and click on it, which is why this model of advertising is known popularly as pay-per-click or PPC. Businesses that get their advertisement placement right with keywords that accurately describe their activities can now easily get prospects for sales conversions or sign-ups, or any other desired outcome.

Full Control over Campaigns
Advertisers get absolute control over managing their Google AdWords accounts and measuring the campaigns. This kind of targeted advertising is far more versatile than advertising in the print or television media because advertisers only pay for customers that click on the links whereas in other mass media, they end up paying for everybody but only a few really see it. With Google AdWords, you have the advantage of launching a campaign, conducting a result analysis, and making suitable adjustments. There is no need for you to commit yourself to a long agreement, and also, there is no minimum expenditure criterion. These facilities ensure that first-time advertisers can start in a very small way and pick up skills as they go along.

Bidding and Selection of Keywords
To keep the entire process simple and easy to execute, it is recommended that automatic bidding be used when advertisers are starting out. Setting up a daily budget for the campaign is preferable so you do not spend too much on advertising. An Internet marketing company can help you set the ideal advertisement budget. It is also possible to set a maximum rate for cost-per-click so the system does not spend more than what is desired per keyword.
Google makes available its own keyword tool free of charge that you can use to research the keywords online. The intention of every advertiser is to refine and classify the applicable keywords into groups that are closely-themed with different advertising copy, landing pages and bids. Doing this makes the monitoring easier and also ensures that you are not competing with yourself as far as bids for keywords are concerned.

Selecting Effective Keywords
The best way of choosing keywords is to conduct searches to see what works best. There is little point in using the name of your business as the keyword —searchers normally try to locate products and services in a generic manner. Investigate what your competitors are doing on AdWords so that instead of battling with them for the same words, you can think of creative alternatives that will get you the desired results.

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Try to focus on the unique selling points of your business so that you can frame alternative keywords that are not being used by your competitors and, hence, it is possible for you to get the top rank for a far lower cost.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Google is Playing Musical Chairs with Ranking and it will Cost Us Billions


Courtesy of  www.flickr.com

Google has gone crazy — again. Every year Google, spins its secrete algorithm roulette wheel to see what it wants to emphasize. This year is no different. Now Google is changing the game in a big way. Google is making core changes to how it searches pages and lists SERPs (search engine results pages). It has changed how many paid ads are listed and, where they are listed. On top of that Google has also changed how many organic listings show up. Plus, there are many backend changes that are not visible to the naked eye that directly affect ranking. So, if you want to know what these Google algorithm changes have in store for you, read on and learn what Google’s game of Algorithm Musical Chairs means to you.

Google does not make these changes to its search engine just to make it better. Many of the changes are designed to increase the use of its paid search advertising product. This article will lay out evidence how these changes are costing US business (and the world) billions, as business owners attempt to chase Google’s musical chair strategy for webpage ranking.

Google has been releasing updates to its search engine algorithms on a regular basis since early 2000. This is not news, however, since Google’s search engine has grown to dominate (some would say monopolize). It has stepped up the process significantly. Most can remember several of the big updates. With cuddly animal names like Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and Pigeon, or the more recent scarier one named called Mobilgeddon. Many of the updates have been named after cute animals, but their results have been anything but cute. In fact, they have been deadly to many websites ranking positions. Most webmasters work hard to optimize their websites to rank well. Most of them focus on making Google happy since it controls more than 70 percent of all search traffic. They provide the website updates needed to give Google what it’s looking for.

Google can do whatever it wants with its search engine, of course, but since it receives the vast majority of all traffic, any changes to its results algorithm can cause ranking changes. Any radical departure from its previous algorithms causes mayhem for most webmasters and owners alike. More importantly, this cost billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars every time it happens.


Over the years, many Google algorithm changes have been designed to thwart black hat techniques meant to trick Google, while at the same time improve the search experience for its users. I have read many reliable reports that Google makes hundreds of algorithms changes during each year. Some are tests, others are tweaks and others are major changes to its search listing. Google has admitted to making many changes annually at press conferences and on YouTube announcements.

Google has made dozens of major updates over the past five years, including Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, Pigeon, Knowledge Graph, Rank-Brain, in-depth Article ranking, Authorship Shake-up, Mobilgeddon, Https/SSL ranking, In The News ranking and dozens of other named and un-named major updates. On top of that, it has been actively tweaking many of the major changes over that same time period. Check out Google Algorithm Change History on Moz, for a timeline and more details.

Major changes to Paid Ad Listings
Another new twist to the search engine advertising game is Google’s latest decision to change the number of paid listings at the top and bottom of search pages. For highly competitive keywords (only Google determines what that means) only four ads will be shown at the top of the page and three more will be listed at the bottom. On top of that, these same criteria will lower the number of organic listings from around 11 to seven. And just to make this scheme even more complicated, Google has added, ‘Featured Snipped boxes’ and ‘Google MyBusinesses Map Boxes,’ both of which take up large parts of the top of page one, moving non paid links even further down below the fold. Every business wants to be on page one above the fold. However, these constant changes are making it nearly impossible to reach these goals.

These changes have shifted the ranking landscape, causing many businesses to become winners and losers over the years. Yet I can’t help but think about the hundreds of billions of dollars that businesses have had to spend chasing these massive changes.

Google decides what You’re Looking For
My partner, Carl, and I have written many articles discussing these changes over the last five years. We have always contended that businesses need to concentrate on giving Google what it says it wants. Primarily, Google has stated or leaked information, that indicates its primary desire is to provide the user the fasted and most appropriate answer to the questions they are asking, when entering a search term. In essence, Google wants to provide not only the best content (best meaning high quality, timely, relevant and authoritatively safe content) but also finding what the search participant was “actually/really” looking for.

This is not easy to accomplish. I know that many times, when I enter a search term, I’m not sure of what I am looking for, so how will Google know what you’re looking for? The fact is, Google’s Rank Brain is filtering the results for us. It is making the decisions of what we want or don’t want and that, my friends, are where the dangers lie.

Today, every business has to take into account hundreds of ranking factors if they want to be on page one of Google Search. Google’s Rank Brain is actively changing the game every day without exception. It learns from what traffic occurs on a daily basis and adjusts the results as it deems fit. Getting on page one organically is becoming an almost impossible task, because Google keeps changing the rules. Let’s look at some of the recent updates, for example:
  • Pigeon – Affected local business rankings. It rewarded those indirectory and penalizing those who were not!
  • Mobilgeddon – Rewards websites that are mobile-friendly by serving them up for mobile search and penalizing the ones that were designed for desktop usage.
  • Featured Snipped – Rewards websites with in-depth high quality, relevant, timely and authoritative content. These “Featured Snipped” (aka Answer Boxes) get major SERP real state. They take up a large portion at the top of the search listing.
  • Structured Data — This update further rewards websites with in-depth content along with ones that also have the content laid out to make it easier for the search spiders to understand it.
  • The Secure Website — This update favors websites that employ Https/SSL security because it is safer that those without it.
  • Penguin — The original and recent Penguin update hit sites with bad or irrelevant links, solely determine by Google.
  • Google My Business — Google has favored sites listed in Google Local, and now they have shifted that to the latest version of this ranking factor, Google My Business. This means if you haven’t gone in and set up your Google My Business you get penalized.

Now let’s talk about Rank Brain.
Rank Brain is Google’s Artificial Intelligence Search Ranking Factor program. According to Google’s Chief ExecutiveOfficer Sundar Pichai. “Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing,” He further defines its use as – “Rank Brain is Google’s new machine-learning algorithm with artificial intelligence at its core, which better interprets search queries and learns from each action taken by searchers. Last year (2015), a very large fraction of the millions of queries a second that people type into the Google’s search engine were interpreted by Rank Brain.” According to Google, the results – “were better than expected.” Meaning that they like what they saw and are now utilizing it even more that before. Some say as much as 50 percent of Google search results are now controlled by Rank Brain.

Which brings me to the main point of the article. There have been many studies showing that many pay per click transaction are really Bot clicks, not people. I know Google is actively trying to thwart these bots, but the fact remains that bot clicks are not going away time soon, and these bots are stealing money from businesses running pay per click.


  • In December of 2015, I wrote about the widespread emergence of AI programs on the web and on smart devices. I also discussed the widespread implications of Programmatic (another type of advertising, buying and selling AI). My story included the benefits and dangers that the widespread implementation has on the business community and society in general. My conclusion was that although these new AI applications bring many benefits to our society as a whole, they also bring a huge potential for fraud, abuse and in the worst case scenario, apocalyptic results.
  • We as a society cannot depend on a single business entity to control such a large aspect of the World Wide Web. It diminishes safety, reduces competition, increases cost to business and all consumers. We must not become over depended on the use of Artificial Intelligence. That will lead to a weak society as a whole and it increases the danger professor Stephen Hawking spoke about when he stated that, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

  • It is imperative that people and businesses alike, make decisions, not just based on convenience, but on what is the most effective long term strategy for their benefit. We are currently at Google’s mercy as long as they are in charge of 70 percent of search! If you add up the minimal cost (say $500 time a million of the 500 million websites) to update a website for any one of Googles algorithm changes, you would quickly conclude that it cost the US many billions of dollars each year. I urge everyone to diversify their use of the search engines and pay per click platform. This increase in competition will lower the cost of these advertising elements for businesses and it will insure competition and more freedom for the World Wide Web.
  • I suggest that we ask our representatives to put in place, safeguards to protect us from the potential of fraud and abuse that can come from one company controlling a majority of the search traffic on the web. Google has been sued in the past for miss use of it search rankings. Just last year, its pigeon update corrected the fact that Google was serving up Google+ sites over more appropriate sites when someone asked for a specific restaurant.

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  • I further suggest that we demand that safeguards be put in place to include hard and fast controls for all Artificial Intelligence programs being developed today. We need safeguards that will keep AI applications from totally making decisions on their own. It not only possible, but likely that they will make decisions not in our favor. Either way, these safeguards are in our best interest. We need to be able to unplug them at will, no if ands or buts!