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Google Escapes Anti-Trust Charges

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Google was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief as the Federal Trade Commission closed its long-standing investigation on the Internet search giant. The company agreed to change some of their business practices, avoiding a potentially long and financially draining anti-trust case as well as financial penalties. The investigation was launched in June 2011.

What Google did agree to in the settlement was to make it easier for small businesses to advertise on competing search engines instead of continually losing out to the company itself. They agreed to cut back on patent wars that exist between them and their rivals in the mobile phone sector. Also, Google agreed to stop copying original content that comes from other websites unless they have permission from the owner. These steps were the most efficient ways to resolve the pending issues while providing closure for users.Of course, Google has walked away relatively pleased with the outcome, even though they will have changes to make. One of the biggest arguments during the investigation was that the technology company favors its own services in the search results. When shopping for red winter boots for example, it’s Google Shopping that comes up in the right-hand corner. Well, they don’t call the company “The Search Giant” for nothing.

Some people have criticized the FTC for giving the search company a ‘slap on the wrist.’ What may come as an even greater surprise is that in the settlement, there will be no changes to Google’s search engine practices. Although many accuse the technology company for “search bias” – configuring the algorithms to favor their own products – these suggestions stand little ground. The FTC states that updates to the algorithms could have been designed to enhance the user experience and not favor specific products.

Now that the investigation is closed, it will be easier for other companies to license patented technology, and companies can now edit or remove online content, which are two giant steps forward. However, other countries can still pursue their own case against the company, even if they don’t have the support of the FTC.

Google Ecommerce Product Feeds To Go Paid

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Google has recently announced that it will make a profound switch when it comes to ecommerce marketing. Starting this fall, it will shift from Google Product Search to Google Shopping. While this will involve numerous changes, let’s discuss some of the most profound and how it will change things for both businesses and consumers.

The primary change is that businesses will be required to use product listing ads to bid on the positioning of their products. Rather than getting free clicks from organic search engine traffic, the business with the top bid will usually get the top position when selling products. Along with this, positioning for ecommerce product listings will depend upon relevance as well. As a result, this concept is somewhat similar to Google’s Adwords platform where individuals bid on ad placement.

While it’s apparent that Google is most likely doing this increase revenue, representatives have stated that this change will be beneficial for most consumers. Some of these benefits include an improved shopping experience where consumers will have access to products that are consistently updated. Basically, this new platform should encourage companies to keep product information fresh so they can remain competitive. It should also keep consumers abreast of the latest deals or promotions that a company is offering. Besides this, it should minimize the frustration that sometimes stems from ordering a product only to find out that it’s out of stock or unavailable.

In terms of the benefits for business owners, they are as follows. This new model for ecommerce product feeds should result in better traffic that is more highly targeted than it has been in the past. Since the search results that appear to consumers will be more up to date and accurate, businesses can expect to receive traffic that is more likely to make a purchase. Consequently, this should maximize the conversion rates for many businesses. Google has also stated that it will offer some perks to businesses that make the transition to this ecommerce marketing platform early.

For example, Google will offer a 10% discount to businesses that create Product Listing Ads by August 15 of this year. Also, businesses that currently use Google Product Search will be given $100 for their Adwords campaign if they sign up by this date. Even those these aren’t major advantages, they can prove helpful for many ecommerce companies. In addition, Google will offer businesses the option of signing up for the Google Trusted Stores program. This involves giving a special badge to quality stores where customers can look at ratings.

This brings us to the final question of what will this mean for large and small businesses. In all likelihood, this shift should be advantageous to larger business with more money to spend on an ecommerce marketing campaign. Since the company that can make the highest bid will usually get the best positioning, it could hurt smaller businesses with limited budgets. However, the full effect of this change in ecommerce datafeeds is still yet to be seen.

Happy 13th Birthday Google!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Happy birthday, Google! Sorry, but we didn’t get you anything this year. ;-)

Google's 13th Birthday

New Google Product Datafeed Guidelines

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Change is in the air for Google merchants and shoppers alike! On September 22, 2011, Google will implement a new set of standards for the Google product datafeeds designed to improve Google Product Search. Who will the changes affect? Merchants in the U.S., France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan will be required to adhere to the new Google product datafeeds standards. As for Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands; Google will email any account affected by the changes with further information. Not to worry, though, because these changes will not only improve your shopping experience but also drum up business for Google merchants.

The Google product datafeeds that will fall under the new specifications are availability, data freshness, Google product category, apparel, and image feeds. Fortunately the changes are relatively easy to implement. For example, the availability feed will require the status (out of stock, no longer carried, etc.) of products. This is to ensure shoppers can find the products they are searching for even if the item is out of stock. The image feed changes require stores provide an image link of each product, ensuring consumers have a better idea of what they are purchasing. As one can see, the new specifications will not only make shopping on Google a more pleasant experience, but likely improve sales for Google stores.

Merchants can rest assured Google will indeed enforce the changes to the Google product datafeeds. Any merchants in the U.S., France, Germany, the United Kingdome, and Japan that do not put into practice the new specification may well find their accounts suspended. There will also be penalties for those who continuously fail to implement the changes. However, improved sales are all merchants who adhere to the new specifications can look forward to!

What’s This About Organic Panda Farmers?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Earlier this year, Google released another significant update to their search algorithm aimed at devaluing websites deemed to be of low-quality. The Farmer/Panda update was officially released on February 24, 2011 and has affected an estimated 12% of Google search engine results. (The update was initially coined “Farmer” by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land but was named Panda internally at Google after one of the engineers.)

As many of you know, we’ve been stressing the importance of providing unique, quality content for some time now. This most recent algorithm update touches on that by identifying and devaluing excessive duplicate (copied) content, but it also takes the analysis a good bit deeper. Essentially, Google polled third-party testers about the overall quality of a series of websites and compiled their answers to help define what a “low-quality website” is. Some of the signals of low-quality websites include the following:

  • High percentage of duplicate content
  • High bounce rate
  • Low click-through rate
  • Low time-on-site
  • Excessively obtrusive advertising

These metrics are not only a measure of content quality, but can also be heavily influenced by the quality of web design and usability. Your content may be 100% unique and engaging, but if your web design is grossly outdated and contains aggressive ads this would affect your overall quality score by contributing to high bounce rates and low time-on-site metrics.

So what’s the takeaway?

Instead of scrambling to update your website every time there’s a Google update, align your Internet marketing practices with Google’s: Provide engaging, quality content and give your visitors the best experience possible! This really isn’t a new concept but it does help to reinforce our overall approach for SEO and Internet marketing for years.

The New Google Analytics: Dashboards

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Google Analytics has proven itself to be a popular and powerful tool over the past few years. This free service is currently in use at over half of the most popular 10,000 websites, generating massive amounts of statistical data. On March 23, Google announced on its Analytics blog that the new version of Google Analytics will soon be available in beta to more users.

As the first in a series intended to highlight the new features of Google Analytics, the March 23 post concentrated on the changes the user is likely to notice first – changes in the Dashboard itself. Users will soon find that the entire Dashboard has been completely redesigned and features customizable widgets. In addition to this added power, up to 20 customized dashboards can be created per profile.

Google Analytics WidgetsThe new Dashboard in Analytics will be completely based on widgets from categories including Metric, Pie Chart, Timeline, and Table. These distinct visualizations of the raw data can be arranged via a drag-and-drop customizing interface to present users with the information most relevant to them.

Using this flexibility across multiple Dashboards will give users the power to craft tools personalized for their specific reporting needs. Suggested options mentioned by Google in their post include a Dashboard dedicated to website content and a Dashboard focusing on search engine optimization efforts.

These changes to Google Analytics will provide users with more streamlined access to visitor data and the tools to creatively view this data in the form that it will be most useful to their efforts. This promising upgrade to an already powerful tool for online marketing research is already available to a small segment of Google Analytics users and will gradually be rolled out to more users as new functionality is added.

Google Launches Gmail Motion

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Google has announced today the introduction of Google Motion, a revolutionary new method of interacting with Gmail (and Google Docs). The new technology enables users to enter commands via their webcams using predefined body motions.

Gmail Motion Guide

Gmail Motion Guide

We’ve already signed up for a trial account and LOVE it so far! There are a few glitches here and there, but that’s to be expected with a Beta version.

What’s even better about the new system, is that it also works with Google Docs. Now remote collaboration is even easier and documents can be shared and updated effortlessly. Thanks, Google!

Google Docs Motion Drawings

Drawings for Google Docs Motion

Let’s Hear It For The Ladies!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

Happy Birthday, Will Eisner!

Sunday, March 6th, 2011
Will Eisner Google Doodle

Happy Birthday, Will Eisner!

Will Eisner (March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005) was an American comics writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an instructional medium; for his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature with his book A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories; and for his educational work about the medium as exemplified by his book Comics and Sequential Art.

GoogleDoodle: John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

GoogleDoodle: John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

Stop SOPA