Internet marketing news roundup, March 30

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Google dominated news this week with a series of updates that impact all elements of new media marketing.

Despite some disagreements between Google and Twitter, the biggest news of the week for internet marketers involved both companies – sort of.

On Monday, Google took to its Twitter account to announce its latest Panda search algorithm update. Panda 3.4 was not the major algorithm shift many anticipated – especially after a series of similarly small updates earlier in the year, Brafton reported. Much like its other Panda updates in recent months, Google’s Panda 3.4 was simply a refresh of its index.

Waiting for the next major Panda update may take a little longer than most expected, which gives marketers more time to prepare their SEO strategy. In the meantime, Google’s Matt Cutts provided a reminder regarding a separate search ranking signal in a Webmaster Help video on Thursday.

Brafton reported that Cutts advised marketers on two fronts regarding the success of their SEO and content marketing strategies. In terms of site speed, users should remember that this factor negatively impacts results for very few queries. Unless a site is so slow that browsers timeout regularly or it takes far longer than the average load speed, the search standing of a page will not be hurt. However, ensuring that pages load in no more than eight or nine seconds should be a goal to offer optimum user-friendliness. Moreover, Cutts advised marketers not to prevent slow pages from being indexed as one or two slow-loading pages are not likely to hurt SERP standing noticeably.

Any page on a website should be crawlable for Googlebot if a company uses SEO as part of its marketing strategy. It’s inevitable that pages with more information or specific content types will load slower. Still, opening these pages to indexing is more likely to help search standing in terms of boosting cached pages.

Some types of websites may be prone to fluctuating load speeds, such as forums. Since some threads contain far more content than others, the time it takes to load may be vastly different from one page to the next.

As far as web forums go, Google rolled out a new search feature that will bring top answers from forums directly to SERPs. Search Engine Land first reported the new addition to SERPs. When a user conducts a query with relevant forum results, they will see the specific forum question relating to their search and the top answer to that question.

Brafton reported that this is part of Google’s move toward making their search engine as user-friendly as possible. With this update, users can essentially preview websites before clicking on them. This is certainly good for the searcher, but it may pull traffic from websites.

Three announcements in a single week would be enough for most companies. However, Google wasn’t done. On Thursday, the company detailed a new offering, Consumer Surveys, which it hopes will help businesses glean more insight from their prospects.

Brafton reported that the tool could be critical for companies in terms of audience targeting and content creation. Consumer Surveys, marketers will have access to data that comes directly from their prospects based on the polls they provide. Audience targeting is among the most important elements of content marketing as it ensures articles and blog posts reach the right people with the most compelling brand messages. The surveys can help businesses guide their strategies.

Brafton reported that the tool could be critical for companies in terms of audience targeting and content creation. Consumer Surveys, marketers will have access to data that comes directly from their prospects based on the polls they provide. Audience targeting is among the most important elements of content marketing as it ensures articles and blog posts reach the right people with the most compelling brand messages. The surveys can help businesses guide their strategies.

Even with all of that, Google still wasn’t done. The company released a study this week that demonstrates the ability for businesses to maintain strong traffic with SEO campaigns, should they choose to redirect some PPC funds to organic search. Brafton reported that companies using SEO were able to replace 50 percent of the traffic from PPC when they they ranked No. 1 for a search term. The figure decreased as search rankings were lower, but SEO was clearly a strong source of traffic for businesses.

Oftentimes, an SEO strategy takes the form of a content marketing campaign. Using keywords within articles helps businesses improve search standing. With increased visibility and thought leadership via content comes increased engagement opportunities. Brafton reported on Tuesday that Google is rumored to be launching a commenting platform for businesses to include on their article pages.

Drawing from Facebook’s current platform, it’s likely that the tool will be integrated onto company’s new profile layouts. Brafton speculates that logged-in Google users will be able to comment on the platform. Moreover, it’s likely that the interactive posts will be linked to Google+ somehow, which makes sense given the company’s desire to push its social platform. The effect of these comments on companies’ SEO campaigns may also increase since Google+ already acts as a ranking signal (and comments already count toward SEO.)

Google’s comment system may provide some competition for Facebook’s popular comment platform, but this week’s headlines still offered good news for Facebook marketing. Simply Measured found that Facebook’s Timeline feature has helped businesses increase engagement by 46 percent since launching for brand pages in late February. Brafton reported that the company studied 15 different organizations’ brand pages for its research. All but three saw engagement increases with the launch of Timeline.

Social media marketing is an especially strong way to improve targeting for local audiences. BIA/Kelsey reported this week that local marketing is becoming a critical component of web campaigns moving forward, as both B2B and B2C companies look to succeed with nearby prospects. Brafton said that local marketing will receive substantially more attention in 2012, and this trend is expected to continue through 2016. As local search and other modified versions of web channels become more popular, companies must continue to adjust their online presence to improve targeting different regional prospects.

Next week, the news will likely shift to trends and best practices, as the industry shifts its eyes to ad:tech San Francisco. Brafton will have live updates throughout the event, which begins on Tuesday and runs through Thursday.

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Joe MeloniJoe 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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