This week, the web was abuzz with criticism of Google's search results and a number of social-friendly search developments, which points to the rising power of social signals in search. Here's Brafton's look at these and other top internet marketing news stories for the week ending December 3.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a widely circulated piece about one very unhappy online customer. As Brafton reported, the article criticized Google's search results, suggesting negative comments could potentially improves businesses' search rankings. The attack on Google continues to generate online debates, with Google Realtime results showing that the Times' article is still being passed around social sites.
In response to the piece, Google announced that it implemented an algorithmic update to correct the controversial rankings. Moreover, the company alluded to the idea that it may one day include user reviews alongside search results and/or use sentiment analysis to make negative comments act against a business in terms of search ranking.
Amidst the controversy over algorithmic rankings, this week also saw a number of headlines revolving around new socially enhanced search developments. Both Bing and Blekko unveiled new shopping features that incorporate human touches. Bing's social shopping list module let users get advice from Facebook friends about which products they should purchase, and Blekko released a holiday search vertical that ensures only human-selected businesses make it into shoppers' search results.
Google also got in on the social action with a Google News Most Shared Tab and "Shared By" data in News results for web searches. (Simultaneously, Search Engine Land reports the company is heightening its Google News inclusion standards.)
Together, these events indicate that search (and subsequently, internet marketing) is taking a social turn. Marketers should bear this in mind if they hope to catch online shoppers' interest this season – and the latest headlines reveal there is money to be made on the web this holiday.
Cyber Monday's record-breaking online sales dominated internet marketing news this week. As Brafton reported, online sales exceeded $1 billion on Monday, and paid search campaigns are helping brands get a competitive edge in catching clicks from holiday shoppers.
Based on the week's headlines, marketers may also get a competitive edge by gearing up for local searches and offering targeted neighborhood promotions. Rumors of Google's purchase of Groupon made the news throughout the week, with some speculating that the company will pay as much as $6 billion for the local deal site. Perhaps in response to this potential marriage of the leading search engine and leading local deal-finder, ecommerce site eBay purchased local product search portal Milo.com and Amazon is now linked with LivingSocial.
Google also made the news this week for announcing TrueView ads on YouTube. As Brafton reported, this advertising unit emphasizes the need for relevant content – it lets users decide which ads to view based on which seem to best suit their needs or interests.
Marketers looking to create consumer-relevant content on their sites may also have been interested in this week's news about different search engines' top queries for 2010. Both Bing and Yahoo revealed the year's most frequent queries on their sites, and brands that create content which answers search questions may find they draw traffic during the holiday shopping season (and beyond).
Next week, internet marketing news headlines may revolve around online sales for the first week of December, which Brafton has reported is the "Peak Week" for holiday shopping. Also, marketers might expect the hot question of whether Google will buy Groupon, and at what cost. Stay tuned.