Archive for January, 2011
Jan 11

Bing has announced a new image search landing page that contains the top image searches on Bing.

The group of images highlights those top image searches with the use of images, how novel. When you click on an image from that page, you are taken to a Bing image search result. From that page you can narrow down the image search with the various tools on the page.

Bing updates the landing page daily.

Here is a picture of the new landing page:

Bing new landing page

Bing new homepage

Article by Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land.

Read the full article here

Jan 11

There are two type of people in this world. One who loves social media, and the other who hates it. There’s no in-betweens. And about brands ? There are the ones who’ve already embraced social media and others who are skeptic about it.

Brand and Social Media

Brand and Social Media

In my opinion, its fair for brands to get skeptic about social media, because of two reasons:

1) There is a lot of uncertainty involved

2) Brands have their image at stake.

Imagine all that marketing talks, discussions, strategies and competition that would’ve gone in all these years to build the brand. One fine morning, social media comes up and you’re talking about change. Change to such volumes that it could even put the brand at threat.

So, brands have all the right to get doubtful about social media. And its fair that they might not understand it in the first go, but education can helps it all.

Brands, have always been following the old-school marketing techniques. They’d extrapolate their ideas and techniques to social media, and expect it to work the same way. They would fail miserably. But that’s when they would either realize that they’ve done something wrong, or realize that this isn’t going to work.

Article from Daily SEO Blog

Read the full article here.

Jan 11

Two weeks ago, we spoke about the merits of bidding on your own company brand name. One of them was to prevent competitors to steal away your potential customers.

From Google’s perspectives, it is fine to bid on your competitors brand name and products. In May 2009, they made it possible for your competitors to bid on your company name and use your brand terms in their text ads. In September 2010, Google expanded this practice to Canada, U.K. and Ireland. The same day, they also made it possible for most advertisers worldwide to bid on your company name (but not include their brand terms in the text ads). This is currently being challenged  by the European parliament and US companies like Rosetta Stone.

There are some limitations, which Google highlighted below:

Ads using the term in a competitive, critical, or negative way will not be allowed to run with the term at issue in their ad. Additionally, we will not allow the following:

- ads that do not lead to a landing page that clearly facilitates the sale of either the goods and services corresponding to the trademark or parts or components related to the goods and services corresponding to the trademark

- competitive or critical information about the goods and services corresponding to a trademark

- ads that do not lead to a landing page which provides substantive information about the goods and services corresponding to a trademark”

The above rules are of course controversial for market leaders like Rosetta Stone that have established generic brand names that are associated with a category wide product. Google would argue that customers looking for Rosetta Stone products are looking for a language training program, not necessarily Rosetta Stone’s.

Google trademark policy is also not drawing clear boundaries. Right now, it seems any company can bid on any competitors’ name.

semvalet bid competitors names adwords

Stealing our customers away

In my experience, Google’s argument that their trademark policy is an attempt to increase customer experience is biased. There is clearly some financial benefits in having competitors and resellers bid on the same terms. Due to the nature of the AdWords auction, more bidders will automatically drive Cost Per Click (CPC) up.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen instances where bidding on your competitors brand name or products work. This is especially true when your competitors is not using any paid search advertising. But unless your competitors are not running any analytics, they will notice the drop in traffic and sales. And very quickly will start creating ads that not only aim to recoup loss traffic but also take your own customers away.

Only Google is the long term winner of those short sighted strategies for advertisers.

Jan 11

This question has been raised several times by our clients and we felt some clarifications were needed. After all, why would you want to bid on your company name if your web site already performs well in natural search?

In the old days where competition was weak and paid search very costs effective, most advertisers focused on educational or transactional keywords. Brand keywords (‘your company name’ or ‘yourcompanyname.com’) were mostly left out of the paid search campaigns. We just assumed those brand terms would perform effectively by themselves in natural search.

This is changing. Increased competition, decreased share-of-voice in search engine results and rising Cost-Per-Click make it more than ever important to bid on your company name. Here’s why:

1. Negative suppression … or how to prevent competitors to steal your company’s name

With Google’s update to their U.S. trademark policy in May 2009, it is now possible for your competitors to bid on your company name and use your brand terms in their text ads. In September 2010, Google expanded this practice to Canada, U.K. and Ireland. The same day, they also made it possible for most advertisers worldwide to bid on your company name (but not include their brand terms in the text ads). This is currently being challenged  by the European parliament and US companies like Rosetta Stone.

But it looks like most regulators are fine with this approach as long as the ads using brand names do not confuse customers. In summary, those policies are unlikely to change for now and you may want to get head of the game by bidding on your own keywords to protect this valuable sponsored results real estate

2. Real Estate opportunity … your web site first

Talking about real estate in search engines results, research has shown that customers do expect respectable companies to come-up in the top results of the Google, Bing or Yahoo!

Customers may think that your company is relevant to the search query or you are prepared to pay for the privilege of being on top of the results. And so should you, even for brand terms like your company name.

With the explosion of digital assets optimization, all sorts of links such as Twitter feeds, YouTube videos or Google news may come-up in the search engines results pages before your web site link appears. You want to offer customers the opportunity to go to your web site where you can manage relevant and targeted content.

3. Share of voice … every pixel matters

As mentioned above customers are now seeing multiple links and messages that are related to your company name. The more positive messages about your company name, the better.

Especially when those brand term references (‘your company name’) occupy real estate above the fold.  Below is an illustration of customers looking at search engines pages. There are definitely some great benefits in terms of brand recognition of being in the areas that receive most attention.

eye_tracking_sem_valet

Don't fold when in trouble with competitors.

4. Hallo Effect … SEO and Paid search benefits

Some research I have seen in the past indicate that having both a strong SEO link and sponsored results ads can trigger a 10 to 15% increase in CTR for both of them. This supposedly can be related to the fact that once you have gained the share of voice battle, customers are simply more willing to click.

5. In-site control … get customers to where they should be spending their time

SEO links are determined by a complexity of factors. And so is the selection of which link will appear under which brand terms. It’s not always easy to influence Google or Bing’s assessment of each page.  By bidding on your company name, you will be able to redirect customers (or other stakeholders such as reporters) to the right section of your web site. By using Google site-links in your text ad, you can even offer a selection of pages each customer or stakeholder type can go to.

All in all bidding on your company name makes more sense than even from a competitive, branding, performance and content control standpoint. If you don’t, competitors will most will.