Measuring Up: Yandex Vs. Google

Google Vs Yandex

Google Vs YandexA couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across an article that talked about the European search engine, Yandex, and it led me to take a closer look at them. It’s probably been about a year since the last time I poked around in there – the change was impressive, if not entirely satisfying.

The first thing to do, of course, is to switch to the English version, which is easily accomplished by clicking on the small flag icon in the footer and selecting UK English. Doing this, I steeled myself for what I expected to be a Google Translate-like mish-mash of near-English.

I was pleasantly surprised to see I was wrong. The English versions of their pages was every bit as good as Google’s… to the point I could easily believe it was written by an native English speaker. So that was pleasant surprise #1. Note: they also offer French, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Tatar and Kazakh. So far, that’s all.

Pleasant Surprise #2

Playing around for a while with their search results proved to be enlightening, too. Comparing their SERPs to those of Google and Bing showed few differences, in the universals. I noticed two striking differences – one which dismayed me, while the other pleased me.

First, at present, Yandex has no UK, ES, US, CA or AU version of search. Their index, however, does return results – even some obscure ones – from the US, UK, CA and AU, as I specifically checked those. But providing  localized results outside of their immediate market area appears to be a challenge they haven’t yet seen the necessity to address. That was a disappointment.

Within Russia, though, they seem to have a fairly sophisticated local search capability. Here’s a decent English description of how it works. While I wouldn’t say it’s on a par with Google, by any means, it’s a start.

Yandex Serp

The part I liked was the total absence of ads on their SERPs. [see my big happy smile here] MAJOR treat, that, after watching Google gradually push everything in the SERPs below the fold. How long that will last, of course, remains to be seen.

More Differences

I also noted that there was no parallel to Google Instant. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve gotten so used to Google Instant that I immediately noticed the lack of a similar search assist.

One other thing I pinged on immediately was that my results didn’t change, between logged in and logged out, even though I did a dozen related searches before I tested. That’s not a lot of history, of course, but it does leave the question open regarding to what extent, if any, they cater to personalized search.

I also see that they respond to standard search operators like site:, inurl: and intitle:. But one other minor annoyance was that the SERPs don’t state the quantity of results returned.
Their webmaster tools is an area in which I think they excel. They offer a few handy features in there that appeal to me more than what GWT offers. It’s efficient, intuitive and seems to be fairly accurate.

In Summary

Yandex certainly isn’t up to Google’s speed yet, but they seem to have come a long way. I’ve been wondering how long before they decide to dip their oar into North America, but they may be further from that step than I thought.

I think before any SEO or Internet marketer is going to take them seriously, they’re going to have to expand their geo-specific abilities quite a lot. If we can’t drill down more than is possible now, it’s strictly a users’ search engine.

Next, I want to give their analytics a spin around the block, but as yet, I don’t have enough data there to do so.

10 On-page Optimization Tips for a Post Panda Era

As we all know, Google has come out with some pretty hard hitting updates that have affected many (large and small) websites, both on and off-page. In this post I would like to address the on-page side of things. Google released a couple Panda updates and many sites (including some of mine) were nearly mauled to death. Thankfully, I was able to make several tweaks to nurse some of those beatings back to health. It’s also nice to hear that Google may have scaled back and tamed these Pandas.

Recon Request - GA

I would like share what I have found to be successful when it comes to post-panda on-page optimization. Some of the strategies listed below are site-wide and some require drilling down to specific pages, all in efforts to help your website’s overall trust and relevance scores.

Below are the 10 tips any site that has experienced any recent drops on Google or wondering how they can improve their website optimization should consider implementing the below strategies.

1. Spell Check Top Traffic Pages – Spell check your top 10 ranking or most trafficked pages of your site. It’s probably better to spell check your whole site. But if time and software is an issue, at least spell check your top organic landing pages. Both Chrome & Firefox have extensions/add-ons to help you spell check specific pages. If you would like to spell check a whole website, you can use something such as Internet Marketing Ninja’s Free Online Spell Check Tool.

*This tip comes straight from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog post; More guidance on building high-quality sites, where it says “Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?” In fact many of the below strategies will come from there or here.

2. Identify & Fix the Pages with the Worst Bounce Rates – Pick your top pages with the worst bounce rate. (Not the 100% ones with only 1 or 2 visits.) The pages that bring in at least 5% of your total traffic with bounce rates higher than your site average.

Bounce rate

When in Google Analytics, go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages, then click on Secondary Dimension, go to Traffic Sources and select “Keywords“. This way you can see which keyword/page combinations have the highest bounce rate. If you notice a keyword/page combination with a high bounce rate, start thinking about why. Ask yourself “If I was searching this term, what are all the possible things I could be looking for?” Then ask yourself “Does this page satisfy all those queries?” Make adjustments. Also try to figure out if there is any way to entice visitors to click onto another page of your website. (Something more alluring than the back button.)

3. Clean Up All Broken Links, Redirect Links & Crawl Errors – Use Google Webmaster Tools, Screaming Frog, Raven Tools, Bing Webmasters, or whatever tool-set you use to find all the broken URL’s in your website.  First make sure all broken pages aren’t linked to from other pages within your website or on other sites you own. If so, change those links to point to the new URL, then redirect the old URLs to the new URLs. Or you can do it the other way around. All that matters is that you clean up all internally linked broken URLS and recognized crawls errors, so that the bots can smoothly crawl your website without any issues. While you are at, make sure your XML sitemap isn’t referencing any of your old/broken URL’s, then resubmit it to Google.

4. Fatten-up Unindexed & Thin Content Pages – After you make those changes and resubmit your XML sitemap to GWT, record how many pages were indexed and how many weren’t. Figure out which pages weren’t indexed (either with a tool or site:search in Google) and make sure those pages are 100% unique and have at least 250 words of content. In fact, make sure any pages with only a little bit of content has at least 250 words. This may be hard for some pages like your contact page, but if you look around, you’ll notice many top quality sites have figured out ways to address that.

5. LSI Content Implementation – If you are targeting a certain key phrase, make sure that the page targeting that phrase has all the necessary contextual terms to back it up. You can use Google Suggestion, UbberSuggest, Analytic Stats, Keyword Tools, etc. to help you identify which terms you need for support. This strategy will also improve your overall visibility and chances to rank for long tailed phrases.

Suggested Keywords

6. Google Authorship & Structured Data – We are all noticing that Google Authorship, rich snippets and structured data is taking over the SERPs. I don’t even think you can type in a keyword without at least 1 result having some form of microdata.

Rich Snippets

I’m not sure how much this affects your rankings. But there are many correlation studies showing that G+’s are ranking factors and pictures and ratings increase CTR. But it is something I did incorporate into all my recoveries. Plus, Google is making strides encouraging webmasters to take advantage of it through GWT and by creating structured data tools. It’d be crazy to ignore.

7. Eliminate All Duplicate Content Issues – Run your website through an on-page analysis tool to help you identify all pages with duplicate content. I use Raven Tools’ Site Auditor to help me with this, and for duplicate, short, long title tags and meta descriptions (for sites up to 1,000 pages). You could also use GWT for the latter (but not for duplicate content). Once you’ve cleaned up all duplicate content within your website, use a tool like Plagspotter or Copyscape to help you find other websites with your content. Either send a threatening email to get that content removed or change your content so that it’s 100% unique and new. Depending on your business size, budget, legal issues & cost to produce your content, you could find yourself debating on if you should take further action. I had one webmaster respond, “what are you going to do about it? How about you change yours”. Dang, really?

8. Re-examine Google Webmaster Guidelines – You’ll be surprised if you revisited the whole Google Webmaster Guidelines document how much of it has changed. In theory Google hasn’t really changed its stances on major factors however, it’s a completely new search engine specifically calling out new and old factors. Make sure your website meets all the guidelines. Be confident enough to feel you can ask a Google rep to come visit your website to determine where it should rank on the engines.

9. Analyze Inbound Link Anchor Text & Bounce Rate – Use your backlink analysis tool to help you identify your keyword anchor text distribution. Record your highest non-branded anchor text percentages, then compare in Google Analytics. Check the bounce rate of those terms with the highest percentage. If you have a high percent of links saying a certain keyword and high bounce rate for visitors via that keyword, this is an obvious red flag. You’re pretty much telling Google, “look, this is what I want to rank for, even though I’m not about that, and since my visitors say I’m not really all about that term, I guess I’m trying to trick you!

An easy way I like to look at it is like this; if you have 1,000 backlinks saying a certain term, you better have a really low bounce rate for the next 1,000 visits that come via that term. Of course this isn’t a true measurement of link value and keyword correlation. This is just something to help you keep in mind when optimizing your website’s inbound linking and bounce rate correlation. I’ll discuss in more detail how to tie this in with referral traffic & bounce rate in my post-penguin tips post.

10. Revamp Outdated Content – If you have any content that is obviously outdated, (either because it includes dates or tips/news that are no longer applicable,) consider revamping the content. Replace that page with new content and move old content to a difference page (with reference to it), or add a disclaimer above the content giving some current news related to any changes since it was written. Or, maybe add a last updated snippet with link to latest version.

All that matters is that the users that come to that page don’t think your business is outdated or that what they find is old and misleading. Also, when revamping the content keep on the lookout for LSI terms relevant today that weren’t relevant when you originally created the content.

I’m on a roll… I might as well tell you the other 2 tips, even though I only promised 10.

Bonus Tip #1 – Make your content so good that it gets shared on social networks – I’m not going to elaborate on this. It’s pretty straight forward and we’ve heard this a hundred times before.

Bonus Tip #2 – Speed up your website – Another tip that I can’t take the credit for.

Google told us this…

“You may have heard that here at Google, we’re obsessed with speed in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.”

Google Webmaster Blog, 2010

.. plain and simple. They even created a tool to help us speed up the site. That’s how serious they are about page speed.

PageSpeed Google Insights

I’m still on the fence about this because I’ve had a couple sites where that’s all I fixed and viola, improved rankings and several other websites that speeding up made no difference at all. But what Google says, goes!

Lastly, I wanted to add; make sure there’s a mobile friendly version of your website for smart phones and tablets because that’s what I read all over the place. But I can’t attribute any of my major recoveries to that.


As you may have noticed many of these strategies aren’t rocket science or even “advanced” SEO techniques. Many of them are so basic we usually forget about them and skip right over them. However the fact remains Google has been telling us what they want from a website for over a decade now. Even though techniques and strategies have evolved, the basics still remain.

These strategies derive from Google’s goal to reward higher quality domains and are intended to satisfy our visitors. After all isn’t that what SEO is all about?


Stay tuned for some proven off-page strategies for a Post-Penguin era. In combination with the above on-page strategies, your site is bound to be future-proofed and ready for any update Google rolls out later on in our SEO lives. I do believe it’s more important to fix your backlink issues before the above on-page issues, because if your backlink profile is crap, many of the above fixes won’t make a difference. So maybe I can say I’m saving the best for last. I’m not sure Google and those focused on quality would agree that focusing on off-page is more important, because as always, content is King and it’s all about quality, quality, quality. Either way, like all SEO, it’s based on both on-page and off-page indicators.

Effective Social Media Channels for Different Niches

find your social channel

find your social channelMarketing to a highly specialized niche can be tricky business – after all, not everyone has a healthy appreciation for cat-themed eyewear or needs organizational tools for their sombrero collections.

The thing about Internet marketing, though, is that your niche customers, no matter who they are, are out there somewhere – it’s just a matter of finding them.  This is when social media can become your greatest asset or biggest energy sink.  By choosing the right social media channel for your niche and using it wisely, you can reach your customer base quickly and efficiently.

Breaking Down the Major Social Media Outlets

Social media is the place to be, but how you envision using this flexible medium may influence the outlets you find most useful.  Although new social media outlets seem to be popping up daily, when you’re just starting out, you should stick to the bigger networks – your company has more competition here, but it’s also easier to find your audience and learn from watching others in your niche.

Below I’ve broken down the major social media players and given you some hints on how each works best.  Media is constantly evolving, but these rules of thumb will help you make a better decision before jumping into social media feet first.


Currently the largest social network, boasting about a billion users.  With so many users accessing this social media tool from their homes, offices and smart phones, a niche business should have little trouble finding the people who are interested in their products, provided the company adds something to the conversation instead of simply making more noise.

Facebook is about social interaction and visual stimulation; you can’t simply throw your traditional calls to action at this platform – you’ll see a much better return if you engage your fans, give them valuable information and avoid the hard sales pitches.  If your product lends itself to user-driven photo contests, discussions and word of mouth recommendations, Facebook is definitely for you.


A favorite place for businesses to break into social media – after all, one in five Americans aged 18 to 35 are on Twitter.  As with Facebook, the huge number of Twitter users makes it easier for your niche business to connect with people interested in your products, especially if you make a habit of using hashtags (#) to create new ways for fans to communicate with one another.

Twitter can be frustrating if not used properly, though.  Unlike Facebook posts, Tweets are only productive for a short time and frequent interaction is expected on your end.  With a limit of 140 characters, there’s no room for empty words in your Tweets – think of it as text messaging to the world.


Another major player in the world of social media, but perhaps the most under-utilized of the networks.  For many businesses, the problem is that Pinterest is nothing like Facebook and Twitter – Pinterest is visually driven, providing only limited space for you to say something to your followers who, at present, will be predominantly women.  If you sell a niche product with a huge visual appeal and your target demographic is educated women with disposable income, Pinterest is an outlet you need to consider.  Not only can you create virtual product displays, you should be directing potential customers to useful information elsewhere on the web with your pins.


Not for everybody, but some niche markets that rely on business-to-business sales may find it helpful.  This is the network for professionals and job-seekers everywhere, so if your product makes business easier or helps people on job hunts, you may find LinkedIn a useful supplement to the major social media outlets.  This is no place for a casual approach, though – keep your suit and tie handy.

Google Plus 

G+ continues to baffle and confuse many social media marketers.  The search engine giant launched G+ after Facebook’s enormous success was already evident, leading many to wonder if it would ever gain traction.  The last numbers from Google indicate that the community is only 135 million active users strong, but businesses can still benefit from this social platform’s deep integration with Google.  Your blog posts may get ranked higher on the search engine side if you take advantage of Google Authorship and integration of your G+ activity can increase your SEO visibility.

No matter your niche market, social media platforms can help you find your best customers, provided you use them efficiently.  Frequent social interaction with your target market is key, so before taking the plunge, take a look at what your closest competitors are doing to get an idea of the time you’ll need to invest for the best return.

Learn Attraction Marketing Now, or You’ll Hate Yourself Later

attraction marketing the hard way

Attraction marketing is a simple concept, as this strategy dictates that you market yourself, rather than the product or service that you are selling. In doing so, you can turn yourself into an online expert, which will make any venture in which you partake more successful.

How Attraction Marketing Works

Nearly every major product that is being sold has a spokesperson. The company hires a spokesperson that the public trusts, as potential customers are more likely to buy from a person if they have a positive opin1`ion of the individual.

attraction marketing the hard way

If you are running a small business, it is highly unlikely that you can afford any star power, but you can turn yourself into a reputable source of information. If you consistently provide people with good information through informative articles and blog posts, you will become an expert on the subject.

Getting Started

Do not act like a salesperson as you develop your brand. In fact, you should not even think about the products that you wish to sell just yet, as that is not your foremost goal.

You will start off by building your brand as a provider of free information, which will keep people coming back to you repeatedly, much like SEO companies often provide education on how to get your company website onto the first page of Google.

Developing Leads

Once you have captured the attention of some online traffic, you can begin capture leads through the front page of your website. Provide things like free videos and articles for your customers in exchange for their contact information. Give the customers your contact information as well, as this allows you to develop relationships with them.

Remember that you should never present your readers with direct advertising, since they trust you as a source of valid information. You should continue to provide information on a number of different products, while occasionally giving information on your own.

The contact information that you have collected should be used to let the customer know about new contact that you have developed, so that they do not forget about you after leaving your website. If you can turn the customer into a regular visitor, you stand a much better chance of generating a sale.

Continuing the Process

The longer you provide your readers with free information, the more they will trust you. It is also a good idea to guest blog at a few other reputable websites, as this allows you to communicate with an entirely new audience.

Making sales online is no longer about chasing customers, as they can find similar product almost anywhere. By using attraction marketing, you can entice people to seek you out for information, which could lead to a sale in the future.

It will take time to build personal relationships with those who read your blog, but it will be well worth it if you manage to become a legitimate expert in your niche.

How to: Do a content inventory

Content Inventory - Library

Content Inventory - Library“Content inventory”. The very phrase can strike fear in the hearts of SEOs, or make a marketing manager swoon. But what really is a content inventory?

For some companies, it’s a list of pages, and maybe some completely useless metrics like ‘images per page.’ For others, it’s a set of documents so complex you’re better off reading the entire web site, page by page, instead.

To me, a content inventory should tell me:

  1. What I’ve got.
  2. The topics for each asset.
  3. How each asset has performed, not simply in pageviews, but in actual audience response.

The metrics

When we do an inventory, here’s what we collect, why we collect it, and how we collect it:

  • URL list: We need a list of pages to measure, first. We use Screaming Frog for simpler crawls and our own in-house toolset for big hairy sites with more than 10,000 pages. OK, they’re not actually hairy. I’m hairy. Web sites are challenging, difficult, complicated… It’s an expression.
  • Title tag: Hopefully obvious. We parse the page using Python’s Beautiful Soup library.
  • Description tag: Ditto, and again, Beautiful Soup is how we do it.
  • Citation and trust flow from MajesticSEO using their API…
  • and/or page authority from the same database that drives OpenSiteExplorer, using MOZ’s API: These are solid, basic authority metrics for judging content performance on non-social channels
  • Facebook shares, likes, clicks and comments: A solid social media indicator. We fetch this data straight from the Facebook Open Graph API.
  • Tweets from influencers: Grabbed via the Topsy API. This is a huge help if we need to figure out why something was successful.
  • Total tweets: Again, this is a good indicator of content performance in social media. Again, we use Topsy’s API. Why not use Twitter? Because they don’t provide data on URLs. C’mon, Twitter, throw us a bone…
  • Reddit shares: It is the front page of the internet, after all. Fetched from Reddit’s API.
  • Number of headings on the page: Headings can sometimes indicate layout quality. A 2000 word article with zero headings may be a real usability disaster. This lets us figure it out at a glance. Python’s Beautiful Soup to the rescue, again.
  • Word count: Because, you know, people tend to use words. The Python Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) is overkill, but we use it anyway, since we’re going to use it for some other stuff.
  • Flesch-Kincaid reading ease and grade level: A somewhat-helpful look at how challenging a specific asset may be, and whether average, site-wide reading level is too high or low. We use a mix of the NLTK and some custom code.
  • Whether the page has correct paragraph markup: Like headings, this is a simple way to check whether a page complies with basic formatting standards. Beautiful Soup does the job.
  • Page load time: Load speed matters. We fetch this using Google’s Page Speed API.
  • Page weight: May explain load speed issues. Again, obtained using Google’s Page Speed API.
  • Top words: The top 5 words on the page, excluding stop words like if, and, the. Fetched using the Python NLTK.

Then, we plunk it all into a database, and pour it all into a spreadsheet. You can learn a lot from a high-level view like this. Plus, it provides a fairly solid list of all content assets.

What’s an ‘asset’?

Oooh, good question. We could store data on every image, video, page and all other bits and pieces of information on a site. But I rarely find that level of detail valuable. So, for me, an ‘asset’ is a single piece of content, including text, images, video or other embedded material that comprises the page or pages.

Yes, it’s a little muddy. But it’s worked for us so far.

What about videos?

We do have more and more clients who plunk a video on a page and leave it. These pages have no crawlable ‘content’, per se, unless the client has also gotten a transcript done.

Or do they? We can still grab the title and description, and much of the data listed above. We cannot get things like word counts or top words, until the client gets the transcription done. But we strongly recommend that anyway. If we simply can’t get the transcript, then we make do with social media and tag-based metrics.

What about pageviews and stuff?

Yes, we’ll sometimes pull pageview, time on page or page-related conversion data. But these stats can lead to some really bass-ackward conclusions.

Is a page that generates zero conversions necessarily a bad thing? Nope. It may be part of a long chain of content/contacts that lead to all sorts of good stuff.

Is a page the generates a kajillion pageviews a good thing? No guarantee. If it’s generating lousy pageviews, then it’s not helping.

Plus, marketers tend to latch on to pageviews like remora on sharks. Once they do, they refuse to let go. I’d rather present some other statistics, first, if possible.

Getting sneaky

If you’re not a coding nerd, but want to pull the same data for your site or clients, here’s how you do it:

Use Screaming Frog to get a list of URLs on a site.

Upload that list to Amazon Mechanical Turk directly, or using Smartsheet, which is full of awesome.

Ask each worker to fill in the columns, by URL.

Voila: Content inventory, sans coding.

Get used to it

However you do it, you need to set up a content inventory process. More and more clients are going to start asking. And while you can get all the data I’ve listed from various tools around the web, you can’t get it all in one place. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, and look super-professional, if you can pull it all together for your client or boss.

Digital Marketing Weekly – Issue 6

Digital Marketing Weekly Issue Six

Digital Marketing Weekly Issue Six

Ah so this post is well overdue, I have been busy getting my new life sorted and these semi-regular posts just dropped off my radar until the last few days when I had some time to get back to them. So last month I finished up working with Razorfish in their Melbourne office with clients such as Suncorp Insurance, AAMI, Bingle & GIO and have moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands to work with Marktplaats & Marktplaats Services as SEO Product Manager.

Lots has happened in the news in digital marketing over the past 6 weeks, but these were the stories that I thought would be of the most interest to the search crowd. Let me know in the comments if I missed any action/stories you think ought to be here.

Structured Data

Google has been getting better in the speed that it’s addressing the gap in it’s understanding of the structured web with it’s launch of the data highlighter in December 2012 and this was followed up in May 2013 with support for other kinds of structured data such as products, businesses and reviews. They advise the tagging process should take around 5 to 15 minutes and then you can verify that Google correctly understood your structured data before you publish it to Google. They were also kind enough to roll out a Structured Data Markup Helper which can be a useful guide when working with a web developer to implemented structured data within your site.

Majestic SEO Integrates with Piwik

One piece that didn’t get enough exposure was the news that MajesticSEO now integrates with leading FREE & Open source analytics platform Piwik Analytics and offers the ability to import backlink data directly into your analytics data. The current analytics integration is basic but if you would like to see further interaction reach out to Majestic team direct or one of the ambassadors and maybe a full OpenApps integration maybe built.

Google Trends

One of the coolest new toys from Google insights team is the “Top Charts” dashboard which offers some very cool trends insight broken down by year or month all the way back to 2004. This tool is a perfect platform for content marketers who might want to compare how search interest in particular topics have changed overtime. The dashboard also allows for a breakdown of most search topics within the following categories: business, politics, entertainment, nature, science, shopping, sports, travel & leisure but the downside is that this data is only currently available for the USA.

Google Analytics API

Google Analytics has further improved their testing functionality with Content Experiments API which offers marketers much more control to pick and choose what testing functionality you need to make it a more customised solution that should better suit your needs. The best part I see is that you can now test changes to content without redirects which vastly simplifies the testing and reduces the chance it will impact the user experience. One other benefit for more advanced marketers is that you can now test with your own rules for how to serve variations and are no longer tied to Google’s default logic.

Google Native ads

Google is finally catching up with media properties with native ad formats served via Doubleclick as they were likely missing out on revenue. This focus on native ads or “advertorials” does place Google in a delicate position due to disclosure and even Matt Cutts has warned against the misuse of “native ads”. But Google just can’t resist the extra revenue that can be charged by publishers for native advertising packages and they will be able to better able to track the value of these ad types which may keep advertisers happy but may make publishers nervous with added transparency.

Yahoo Lead Generation

Yahoo launched it’s own lead generation platform Localworks which is quite well suited for small businesses who want to be active in local SEO but don’t have the time or resources to make it successful. The platform is something that is a curve ball from Yahoo as it integrates with over 40 competing web directories and allows business owners to manage all their listings in one dashboard. This time saving feature along with aggregated listing analytics now makes it very easy for small businesses and individuals to track local SEO performance and get better insight into customer feedback and your businesses overall online rating. Yahoo has interest in making this work as they are charging $49.99/month for their platform which which means that platform is not as dependent on revenue from onsite ads and can easily invest more into the platform as it grows.

Facebook reduces ad types

Facebook has finally started to listen to screams from advertisers who are struggling to grasp the 27 different ad units down to less than half this amount. This is great for managing campaigns it also means that the CPC/CPM rates will spike as there are less advertising types available now which means more advertisers will be competing for a much smaller pool of ad units. The other disappointing change is they are axing the Offer ad product which was great for affiliate marketing and lead generation starting in July 2013.

Google+ Dashboards

Back in June the Google Product forums announced the new dashboards for Google+ pages but I haven’t really seen much value unless you are using it for local marketing campaigns. The features around insights on posts & followers would be very useful for Google+ brand pages so until then I don’t see many people getting much value out of Google+ Dashboards.

Google Webmaster Changes

Google made a very aggressive statement on how it wants to change user experience with their upcoming rule changes that will mean a downgrade in rankings for websites that don’t comply with their guidance for smartphone users.

SEOmoz becomes Moz and Launches Analytics

While still in beta Moz Analytics is showing the true potential of their renewed focus on inbound marketing that goes beyond just links and rankings. The new 4 channels Moz Analytics is focused on are: search, social, links and brand/mentions which should move it’s platform closer to overpriced “enterprise” platforms such as Bright-edge.

Site Explorer Goes Free

Everyone always loves something free so it’s always good when platforms open up their data, so it’s nice to see Majestic Site Explorer has been now made free for verified domains. That means you can now get full access to your own backlink data for free which has always been a pain point for marketers, why should I have to pay for insight into my own websites.

Facebook Accepts #Hashtags

It was only a matter of time before Facebook could fight against the trend of using #hashtags in like #omg everywhere. The interesting difference is that Facebook has focused around making their hashtags more advertiser/brand friendly along with a push for more real-time conversations and increased visibility via Graph search. The hope for advertisers is that Facebook will launch a real-time advertising model around hashtags similar to what Twitter already offers but based on the recent culling of Ad types I would think Facebook would just add the #hashtag as a option within existing ad settings.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter has finally listed to marketers and opened up their analytics insights for everyone, the cool thing is their data on interaction and followers is just amazing and beyond any third party analytics platform. I suggest you give their platform a look and you can start to test how different URL shorteners or messaging might impact the reach, faves or retweets that you get.

Foursquare Time Machine

In the first big branded move by advertiser Samsung, Foursquare has launched their Samsung branded personal time machine that allows you to visualise your checkins in an amazing level of detail. It’s both an interesting platform but also interesting way that Samsung have produce a fully integrated branded section within a social platform, the ability to produce your own custom infographic based on your checkins is fairly damn cool It will likely be the first of many such moves if the ROI can be even be calculated, I can see a branded nightlife guide sponsored by a large beverage company coming soon!

Google Analytics Ads Impressions

Christmas has come early for many advertisers using Google Analytics as they now have the ability to attribute display ad impressions across GDN and YouTube video ads are assisting their conversions. The new GDN impression reports once enabled will show within your Multi-Channel Funnel reports, but to simplify reporting they have included two new icons, the first “eye” is for when visitors viewed an ad but didn’t click and the second icon “movie” shows when a visitor has interacted with one of your YouTube video or rich media ads during their conversion journey. This is very cool for advertisers who are running beyond the standard search ads and have struggled to attribute these conversions accurately previously.

Facebook Inpage Analytics

Facebook is continuing to update their Page Insights tool that aims to make it more actionable for community managers and Facebook advertisers. The new changes are designed to make it easier for brands to understand when their posts are generating positive or negative responses. The deeper insights are a great start to ensure you are producing and sharing content that helps increase your reach and improve your People Talking About This metrics.

Google Analytics Full Credit Measurement

After a long time testing Google is rolling out their Attribution Modeling feature to all Google Analytics users so now everyone can create, adjust and customise your attribution models in just minutes. The downside for analytics consultants is that attribution modelling projects were often something too complex for most websites owners or brands to do in-house, but this change may shift that balance of power. The good thing is that you now have the ability to swap between the following models: last interaction, last non-direct click, last adwords click, first interaction, linear, time decay or position based model. It will be very interesting to see some case studies one how these different models give businesses and marketers new insights into attribution.

Twitter bans bulk follows

In what is not really something of a surprise, Twitter has finally updated their developer guidelines that highlights automated following or bulk following is prohibited. Twitter has also updated automation rules & best practices document which covers the following concepts: automatically tweeting to trending topics, mass-creating automated accounts, automated spam bots, automated @replies & mentions, automated retweeting of other accounts, automated following, automated unfollowing, automated your direct messages. There has to be some very interesting implications for social media marketing as the infringements range from filtering out your account to suspension which might mean that advertisers who use a lot of automation may have to re-think their strategies.

Twitter allow targeting via email and browse history

Twitter has finally started to open up it’s vast platform for advertisers with it’s new ad product that allows advertisers to target consumers who have visited a particular website but also target via email address. The general idea that Twitter is trying to pitch is that consumers will see more targeted ads not more ads which might make their users happy, along with the ability for their users to opt-out of tailored ads which breaks with Facebook’s aggressive “no opt-out” policy. Advertisers that have focused on building a email newsletter or email database will be happy to know that they can now show their promoted content on Twitter to their existing audiences easily.

Yelp ads local orders

It seems that Yelp has finally clicked on how it can increase it’s relevance to consumers and drive more revenue via it’s platform with an initial launch of pickup and delivery at your local restaurant. Note that this is currently only available within the USA with a small selection of restaurants initially that are currently supported by Eat24 & I think it will be interesting to see if it can gain traction in international markets that are only really starting to get on board with online ordering from restaurants and Yelp doesn’t have the market dominance in many international markets. They have said that customers can expect to be able to do more such as book appointments at dentists, salons, and spas but it will be interesting to see if that is scalable outside a handful of large chains.