Internet marketing news roundup, March 16

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Three announcements from Google came this week, ranging from search algorithm updates to new developments in ad targeting, and it's likely that marketers will be racing to prepare their websites in the coming weeks.

In recent weeks, Google has dominated conversation in web marketing. First, it was concerns raised by the National Association of Attorneys General regarding the company’s new privacy policy, followed by comScore’s news that, despite similar consumer questions, Google search was still leading the search field.

This week, Brafton reported Google’s Matt Cutts made big news for internet marketers with an announcement that may rock SEO and content marketing. Speaking at the ongoing South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Cutts said that Google will soon roll out a new search algorithm aimed more intensively at rewarding websites that focus on delivering high-quality content to their visitors.

This has always been a goal of Google’s search team in its desire to deliver the best websites to its users. However, the company has gotten better at this over time. Evidenced by its ongoing Panda updates, Cutts and his team are serious about helping websites doing SEO right move up its search rankings.

Search Engine Roundtable picked up on Cutt’s comments this week. More than anything, Google is likely looking to provide users with results that contain strong content. Businesses using content marketing campaigns that include natural keyword use and timely, informative articles or blog posts are likely safe from any negative side effects. Meanwhile, websites that practice keyword stuffing or other practices that mean low-quality content may see their ranking drop drastically.

While it looks to perfect its search results, Brafton found Google is also making adjustments to its ad service at the moment. Search Engine Land reported that Google is dropping its demographic bidding tool for paid search campaigns. The data used for this tool was taken from the myriad websites within Google’s Content Network. Now, with its privacy policy in place, it’s likely that Google will roll out a similar, more comprehensive feature.

The addition of Google+ gives the company more information regarding the people using its services, which will likely be used to deliver better-targeted ads to its users. For marketers, this should result in a different bidding feature for paid search campaigns.

With both paid and organic search changes coming, Google is actively looking to help marketers improve their overal search campaigns. Brafton reported on Thursday that Google released a Webmaster Help video featuring Maile Ohye, its developer programs tech lead, detailing the effects of paginated content on search ranking.

Ohye discussed different coding websites can use to signal to Google that a piece of content contains multiple pages. Discussing the rel=”canonical”, rel=”prev” and rel=”next” tags, Ohye said that it’s critical for those using news content marketing to ensure that any paginated content includes some form of these tags. Among other things, these bits of code tell search crawlers which page (if applicable) is the “view-all” page and which sequence the various pages follow. As such, Google’s search crawler will be better at detecting the view-all page. For those not using view-all, the “next” and “prev” tags are designed to help Google bring users to the first page of the article, while treating all of the pages as one entity. As such, the SEO value of each page will be pieced processed as one page.

Fine-tuning its search algorithms to deal with different types of content is ultimately a bellwether for the company. To ensure that businesses creating high-quality content, regardless of the form it takes, are ranked appropriately, more of these changes will likely come over time.

It’s a good thing that they do, too, as businesses using new media marketing channels are seeing their web leads and conversions rise. However, Brafton reported on Wednesday that many businesses are undervaluing their new media marketing channels, such as social media marketing and custom content.

A report from Slingshot SEO suggests companies are misconstruing the source of website conversions quite frequently. According to Slingshot, many conversions that come from direct website visits are the result of an earlier website visits driven by SEO or social campaigns. For example, a prospect that finds a business’ profile through social media marketing with Facebook or Twitter will likely click through to the website. Often, it will take more than one visit for prospects to convert. As such, the second or third time around, they may just enter the URL into their browser. This will register as direct website conversion, but the new media marketing campaign is where their movement through the conversion funnel began.

Slingshot estimates that organic search is undervalued by as many as 77.25 percent of marketers. Meanwhile, direct websites visits are overvalued in the sense that social campaigns or strong content marketing is likely what got the prospect to the website in the first place.

On the other hand, a report from OutBrain shows that businesses using content marketing recognize the benefits, even if they occasional misjudge the impetus for conversion. The study shows that 70 percent of companies are actively using blog content marketing to increase visibility and inform their prospects.

On Wednesday, Brafton reported that the study reveals news content marketing and video marketing are also growing in popularity. Responding organizations believe these content types are now vital to lead generation efforts.

OutBrain’s report also demonstrated that social media marketing is an ideal channel for the distribution of content. Brafton noted that nearly 100 percent said social has helped them boost engagement and build brand reputation. Providing links to website content and speaking directly to prospects can help businesses appear more accessible and willing to work with their customers.

Creating content and distributing it where prospects are spending time on the web is critical. Brafton reported on Wednesday, for example, that the rapidly growing smartphone user base is more comfortable browsing the mobile web than downloading apps for companies they want to do business with. Organizations relying on content marketing and social distribution will be more visible to businesses and consumers researching potential purchases with mobile search.

Nielsen reported that between 50 and 60 percent of smartphone owners used their handsets to research a potential purchase between December and February.

Moreover, improvements to mobile search have helped businesses drive traffic.

Search on both mobile and desktop is increasingly important for driving traffic. Brafton reported on Tuesday that Google drove nearly half of all website traffic in February. Moreover, SEO campaigns aimed at improving standing on Google SERPs are becoming increasingly important.

The numbers, presented by Shareaholic, also showed the growth of Pinterest in recent months. In February, Pinterest drove 1.05 percent of all website traffic, compared to 0.85 percent in January. Additionally, the website outdid Google+ and Twitter and almost matched Bing in sending prospects to websites.

Businesses have substantial opportunity to lift their social media marketing campaigns using the platform. Moreover, Brafton reported on Thursday that the average Pinterest user is like a young adult female with or currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Companies with similar target audiences may want to consider the platform as part of their social media strategies sooner rather than later.

What’s even more impressive about Pinterst is that the website has achieved this growth depsite still being invite-only.

Internet Marketing found that a number of businesses’ Pinterest content marketing campaigns have already proven quite successful.

As both search and social saw major developments this week, the industry will have every chance to discuss it next week. SES New York begins next Tuesday, running through the middle week, and industry experts will surely have something to say about Google, Pinterest and the value of new media marketing.

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Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.
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