The End of Manipulating Google Places

Google Places Pages
Google Places Pages

Very quietly Google has changed Google Places to remove the ability to manipulate a listing for organic performance. This action has very quietly slipped under the radar, but the changes are big for businesses.

First, this last month, Google sent out notices to all Google+ Local businesses that duplicate listings of the same business would not be allowed. Google immediately disable access to all Google+ Local pages (also known as Google Maps pages and Google Places accounts) to email addresses that did not carry the business domain or were not recognized by Google as clearly being the account owner by email, or having the business phone number or carrying the registered address. This effectively locked out all third party account managers and update services.

Google then advised all account access users that the main account owner – not even the originator of the account, would have to allow access to any users from the parent account. Additionally that any approved users would then have to manage the account for two full weeks before transfer of the account could be done.

By making the linking and transfer process so complicated Google has effectively locked our all parties except the one account owner. Of additional important note is that Google has been removing one by one the items a business owner could actually change on their account.

Over time, Google has removed the ability to add keywords and to craft a message that helped the business place locally. Google even removed the ability for a monthly promotion as well as comments from the page owner.

With this most recent update Google has now forced all Places pages now into the format of a true Google+ page. No longer is the look and feel different of a Places page from a postable Google+ Business page but identical and one that you can now post to with a third party app like HootSuite.

These huge changes to who can own and update the page, what the page looks like, and how you interact with the local page have now made Google+ Local pages unable to really be optimized for organic placement. This bad for businesses, but great for Google. Google gets more people forced into Google+ and now nets out manipulation of local results.


Five Tips on Creating Negative Keyword Lists for AdWords

Giving you a hand on negative keyword lists.
Giving you a hand on negative keyword lists.

Keywords, they are the pivot point for the success of all AdWords programs. Have keywords that are too broad in your account and you’ll be looking at poor quality scores and higher costs. Have keywords that are too narrow and you’ll be looking at very low impressions and very low conversion numbers.

So, how do you achieve the balance you need to make an AdWords program truly successful? By combining broad match, phrase match and negative keywords you can drive traffic while staying targeted.

Here are my five tips on creating top performing negative keyword lists for AdWords.

1. Think like a customer. By putting on your thinking hat as you create your initial keyword list you will actually identify keywords that will not bring you the traffic you need. Got something that is top quality? Good negative keywords will be cheap, free, and discount.

2. Review your search query report. Look for keywords that are popping up in the report that have actually triggered your ad. For example you are selling enterprise document generating software, are you seeing terms like letter generator, tattoo letters; if so your ads may be showing to people who are looking for a letter (symbol) generator not a correspondence generating platform. Good keywords to use to filter out this traffic would be generator (focus on generating instead in your keyword list) and online.

3. Consider using match types for your keyword list. Remember however if you use phrase match negative keywords, you will need to enter in plurals. To enter in phrase match keywords, use the same syntax by quoting the phrase.

4. Look for the smallest number of keywords that still make your negative phrase workable. Instead of a negative keyword phrase like “luxury Hawaiian vacations”, maybe luxury all alone is a better match or the broad match variation of “luxury vacation” and “luxury vacations”.

5. Use the shared library. By adding your negative keywords to the shared library, all your campaigns and ad groups in your AdWords account will share the negative list. This action makes it easy to update your global keyword list. Just make sure if you add a new campaign to the account that you link that campaign to the shared list.

If you need help with your AdWords program, I invite you to find out more about the services my firm provides for AdWords set up and account management.


Twitter’s New Cover Shot Aims to Improve Page Time

My Updated Twitter Profile.
My Updated Twitter Profile.

If you have not upgraded your Twitter profile page yet, on May 28th you are getting the new look regardless according to Twitter.

So, what’s to like about the new profile?

1. Wow, it is much more interesting to view and moves Twitter from mainly being accessed through third party tools to now a venue of interest. With such visual appeal, I appear to be spending my time here over Facebook!

2. I love the new cover look and the new layout is much more stimulating visually.

3. I like the sidebar showing photos and video thumbnails on the left as well as the top level navigation sorting my updates tweets, replies, cool thumbnails of follower sites, and following sites.

4. I like the option to pin tweets, star favorites (the new way to say thank you for retweeting or mentioning you in a tweet).

5. But for me, mainly it is the navigation and new look of my account that actually makes me want to click into Twitter and not just post through HootSuite. That says a lot right there!

Twitter wants to become a venue just like Facebook where users login to interact, spend more time connecting and viewing updates, and not just send content there through third party apps. If Twitter can get you on the page, they can more effectively serve ads and build revenue.

The layout is slick, clean, uncluttered, and very eye appealing.

You can check out my Twitter site to get a feeling for what’s coming for you on the 28th by visiting me here:


New Title Tag Length for Google Search

Illustration of new title tag length on Google.
Illustration of new title tag length on Google.

If you are a Google watcher like me, you’ve seen changes come and go on Google. Here is a new one that I am seeing now in the search results and it has to do with the length of the title tag.

“I am seeing title tags of 49 to 58 characters but typically with a pixel width on the Google page of search results ranging from 486 to 506 pixels wide. It is time to shorten your title tag from 80 characters down to 50 to 55.” – Nancy McCord, President of McCord Web Services

After reading this article at SiteProNews, I started really checking out the title tags. Previously we had been recommending a 80 character title tag but had typically exceeded that as Google would truncate the title tag to there needs, but in some cases would show the full title. Bing would show more than the 80 characters as well. Now however, Google seems to prefer about the 50 character length at this point in time and is justifying the title in formatting to fill the smaller space. The font of the title is larger but with fewer characters.

Bing is showing a variety of title tags and without the justification that Google appears to be using in formatting. Bing is also showing the title tag with a bigger font.

My recommendation at this time is that if you have not reviewed your title tags in over a year, I would recommend a review and possible revision. I will be revising mine to a 50 character length with a clear description of the page written in marketing-type language (meaning to entice a click in to my site).


Our Increasing Visual World Forces Blogs to Upgrade

The Selfie Generation is Losing the Ability to Concentrate on Content.
The Selfie Generation is Losing the Ability to Concentrate on Content.

It used to be that content was king on the Web; have a great blog or terrific content on your website and that was enough. Search engines loved it and so did customers. Now with devices galore, short reader attention spans, and readers in the Instagram and selfie generation, blogs and website have to cater to a full bodied rich media experience.

Gone are the days of blogs without images.

Gone are the days when only a few businesses did video.

Gone are the days when content all alone was enough.

Now we need…

● Images on every blog post and some have gone crazy by making the image huge it fills the entire computer screen.

● Do a Facebook update, wow, better make sure there’s a good image on the page so Facebook will grab it as a thumbnail as we all know that readers won’t even look at an update that is not visually interesting.

● Doing a Twitter update, yikes, did you add a Twitter pic link?

● Got a new product. Better whip out your smartphone and do a quick YouTube video of you demonstrating it and upload it and then link it to your website.

Although in some cases images really add nicely to content, it almost seems like the pendulum is swinging too far. Pretty soon websites will look like toddler chunky reading books with images and only a few words of content.

Although a picture may be worth 1,000 words, we still really NEED words in our online content to convey a full thoughtful and persuasive message.


The New Facebook – Again

Hating on Facebook Again
Hating on Facebook Again

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that Facebook has changed its look again, for at least the one millionth time. For some who do not check in frequently it may seem like the same old look, but for those of us who are on Facebook several times a day the new look is not necessarily a better look.

Here’s what Facebook did specifically:

1. Changed what appears in your news feed – trying to make it more relevant to you personally. Unfortunately for me, my news feed now looks like a video bazaar.

2. Many videos are set to auto-play now; especially the brand or advertising videos. You won’t hear sound, just see action, until you click the video and then the sound comes on.

3. Bigger default images in the news feed. Most will fill the width of the news feed, making them hard to miss. Don’t like that old high school photo someone posted of you, oh well, it is going to be pretty hard for others to miss!

4. More current events and news will now appear in your news feed. Well at least that’s the story.

5. Content will reappear multiple times – Facebook wants to make sure you didn’t miss that important message or brand campaign!

As for me, I have noticed that my news feed appears junkier. It seems like I have too many videos and images in my news feed and few status updates of friends. In fact the status updates are lost in the jumble of Vine videos, GodVine videos (I am going to have to unsubscribe from them as Facebook is now letting them “blow up” my news feed.). I am actually finding it hard to find any content which is why I was on Facebook in the first place.

I have to say that I am looking really, really hard at the “newly revised” Twitter.