Google announced yesterday that a new feature for Adwords analytics called “search funnels” would help search engine marketing professionals better understand the way in which paid clicks lead users to their sites.
The company said that its new feature would provide “data on how ‘upper-funnel’ keywords are assisting conversions before the last click. It also enhances basic conversion reporting for AdWords.” Google also noted that Google Analytics users would be able to import data from those accounts for use with search funnels.
Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land reported that “until now, Google would only show you the last keywords that led to a conversion. In many cases, searchers will go through a searching process that includes research that might not lead to an immediate sale but may assist in a sale after a few more searches.”
Such a tool, as useful as it undoubtedly is for paid search marketers, is unlikely to be offered to natural search engine optimization (SEO) professionals anytime in the near future, due to concerns about privacy and security, according to Schwartz.
Microsoft updates its Bing Maps application with more features, including one that integrates Flickr photos into its Streetside view, which presents an eye-level view of terrain. In the future, Microsoft plans to add real-time video, interior panoramas and constellation viewing to Bing Maps. The Bing road map for 2010 includes an increased focus on knitting together data from multiple sources for its results pages and structuring results more efficiently with help from third parties.
Microsoft has integrated new features into its Bing Maps application as it continues to battle Google for U.S. search engine market share. The latest features continue the bulking-up of Bing Maps that has taken place over the previous few months and follow the road map for Bing that Microsoft laid out in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
One of the new features is a technology preview of the Streetside Photos application, which attaches geotagged Flickr photos to a particular location in Bing Maps’ eye-level Streetside view of terrain. Historical photos will also be incorporated, allowing users to see a particular neighborhood as it looked in the past. Microsoft is working on video overlay technology that will attempt to unite real-time video with street-level imagery, something it promises to demonstrate in more depth by the end of 2010.
After reading Mike Blumenthal‘s post on Google’s new feature, Nearby Places, I just felt like I had to write this. I did a local search for the most popular Chinese food restaurant in Petaluma, CA to see what places this new feature recommended. Take a look below to see what was yielded for the search “Lily Kai Chinese Petaluma, CA”:
If I was a competing small business I would not be happy about this update one bit. It is only a matter of time before Google places advertisements at the bottom of those listings. They could potentially place the new “enhanced listings” there to attract the reader’s eye to their restaurant. The addition of rich snippets is very important to these Nearby Places listings too. If your business has 5 ratings that average 3 stars and a few of your Nearby Places have solid 5 star ratings you actually might loose a customer. This is opening the doors for automated content aggregation companies to take a leap into the local scene by signing a content partnership with Google. This allows Google to take rich content provided by companies like CitySearch, Yelp, InsiderPages, and yes… even DemandForce. and have it get merged into your businesses local profile.
Greg Sterling posted yesterday about Ads Entering the Google ’7-Pack’. These ads are actually called Enhanced Listings that Google is now featuring in the map pack. This was also noted on Mike Blumenthal’s blog post titled Google’s “Enhanced Listings” for Local earlier today.
You will notice that the Golf Club at Boulder Ridge is highlighting photos. This is just one of the many options that Google allows you to choose to highlight.
Google says that you can use any of the following enhancements to jazz up your listing.
- Website for your business.
- Photos of your business.
- Videos of your business.
- Coupons for your listing.
- Menu for your restaurant.
- Reservations page for your business.
- Driving directions to your business.
“The enhancement types you can select depend on what information you already have available in your business listing. If you want to highlight a video, for example, you’ll first need to add a video to your business listing. Once you’ve done that, the option will show up in the menu for your enhancement types.”
There is a $25 monthly fee that gets paid to Google to create an enhanced listing for your local company. There are no bids or keywords to optimize for either.
The Burlison Law Firm chose to highlight some of their videos, in order to persuade the viewer to click the link.
Not only does your listing get highlight next to where you appear in the maps, but you also get a nice icon to accompany the map its self. This should improve the click through rate of your listing since it is a way to separate your map listing from your competition’s.
Localeze, the premium business content provider has struck a partnership with Microsoft, rumored to give Google a run for their money. Microsoft will use Localeze’s 14 million business records to fuel Bing Local as well as Bing 411. This value-added content should give Microsoft some steady ground to stand on when going head-to-head against Google for the same local space.
Microsoft will use Localeze’s 14 million records as well as their 500,000 premium listings which are business-verified and passed through Localeze’s software to create Gold Sourced Content for local search. The premium listings will not only include information such as name/address and general contact information but value-added content like hours of operation, products and services offered, credit cards accepted, photos and more.
This news is great since Bing has been pushing for iPhone and other smart phone developers to use Bing’s SDK in the development of their smart phone applications. Developers now have another reason to use Microsoft’s search feature and local listings database for their apps.
The local listing space is getting competitive, yesterday AT&T announced the launch of its own local listings site, Buzz.
Several thousand users of Google’s Local Business Center (LBC) were recently surprised to find that they had received confidential LBC analytics information from other LBC users.
Google sends out a monthly newsletter to its LBC users that includes product news and Web traffic statistics related to users’ business search listings. As a result of an employee’s mistake, several thousand newsletter recipients received statistics for other people’s businesses.
No sensitive personal information was disclosed, a Google spokesperson said. Exposed data consisted of the number of times the account owner’s LBC listing appeared in Google local search results, the number of times searchers clicked on the listing and the associated Web site, and the number of clicks seeking further information and driving directions.
“Shortly after sending the newsletter to a small portion of our users (less than 1%), we discovered that some e-mails included incorrect business listing information,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. We promptly stopped sending any further e-mails and investigated the cause, which we found to be a human error while pulling together the newsletter content. We’d like to apologize to all the business owners affected and assure all our users that we’re working hard to ensure that nothing similar will happen again. Those affected should have all received a corrected e-mail.”
Google LBC users like David Dalka, a business development and online marketing strategy strategy consultant, reported receiving one of the errant e-mail messages and suggested that the incident could harm users’ trust of Google. “If the Google Local Business Results were sent to many people, this could likely be as serious as the AOL data breach,” he wrote.
AOL’s 2006 breach exposed about 20 million search terms and phrases used by 658,000 of its subscribers, so it’s not that serious, but it’s nonetheless embarrassing and something that Google doesn’t want to repeat. The company is exploring ways to automate its newsletter to remove the potential for mistakes of this sort.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for San Jose and The Bay Area, today, Wednesday. The NWS issued a tornado warning for parts of Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. This happened after wind gusts as fast as 85 mph were reported today.
This blogger has never heard of a tornado warning in The San Francisco Bay Area until today. In Santa Cruz County, California, 36,000 people lost power. Yesterday, Oakland was battered by hail storms. Rain has pelted the San Francisco Bay Area all day long.
According to SFGate.com and the National Weather Service’ Dan Reynolds, what we’re experiencing is called an El NiÃ±o, where thunderstorms over warm weather over the Pacific Ocean shoves clouds across the Pacific and into the West Coast. Since there’s no high pressure system to crowd-out the El NiÃ±o, it dominates the weather.
So get an umbrella, if you must go outside.
For now just stay tuned, or go to SFGate to read more.
Mike Blumenthal recently made a post about Google sending out the wrong Local Business Center information to some local businesses. I am not sure how this happened, but I have heard it was human error. Luckily none of the information was ‘sensitive’. The Local Business Center is a work in progress, and will make mistakes from time-to-time. The followed up with some apologies to businesses that received this incorrect data.
A new technology in development by Cisco Systems could provide additional refinements for search engine optimization (SEO) by helping to improve the web crawlers that the major engines use to index pages.
The new technology would use “routers, multilayer switches, and any other suitable device” to capture the URLs of websites that traditional web crawlers may be unable to access because they are unconnected to the crawler’s previously known network of sites. The patent was originally filed last year, but was published by the U.S. patent office on December 17.
BNet describes the technology as an “elegant solution” to one of the central problems with traditional web crawlers. “Any page receiving any amount of traffic would seem to be one whose location should be known,” writes Erik Sherman on that website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals should be aware of the possible implications of the Cisco technology, which could have an effect on their carefully crafted SEO campaigns, experts say. Some speculate that the technology could improve the comprehensiveness of search engine results.
Good news for users of the popular WordPress blogging platform: WordPress 2.9 has arrived, and it includes some major new features that make blogging easier, as well as hundreds of under-the-hood improvements to important stuff like databases and SEO. The most visible new features are a built-in image editor, a much easier way to embed video, a better plug-in updater, and a trash for your deleted posts and files.
The image editor allows you to resize, crop, flip or rotate your images from within WordPress, which makes fitting your image into a post a whole lot easier. Sometimes it’s just not worth opening Photoshop for those quick adjustments. On the video front, you can now paste a URL from any of several major video sites (including YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr and Google Video) and WordPress will recognize and embed the video automatically.
The new plug-in updater does batch updates, so you can install the latest version of up to 10 plug-ins at once. Previously, you had to click each one individually, which was tedious for people with lots of gadgets installed. The new updater also automatically checks to make sure a plug-in is compatible with your WordPress install, so you don’t have to fear something mysteriously breaking when you do an update.
Trash seems like something WordPress should have included a long time ago. Now instead of asking whether you really want to delete that post or file, WordPress will just move it to the new trash, where it can be recovered if you change your mind. It’s a simple feature, but I think it will avert a lot of data loss catastrophes and save a lot of hassle.
All in all, WordPress 2.9 looks like a major improvement, and it should make your blogging life easier and more productive.