Google Starts Penalizing Sites for Rich Snippet Spam

Google PenaltyIf you use rich snippets on your websites, you should be aware that Google is now penalizing websites for spamming structured data markup.

The new warning was first mentioned in a forum post on the Google Webmaster Central forums from a user who is asking for clarification about the warning and what the issue could be. It is a manual action penalty based on incorrect usage of markups, regardless of whether it was deliberate spam or simply a mistake.

The warning that would appear in a user’s accounts if they have manual action taken is:

Markup on some pages on this site appears to use techniques such as marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and/or other manipulative behavior that violates Google’s Rich Snippet Quality guidelines.

The writing on the wall for penalties related to rich snippets was back in October at Pubcon when Google’s Matt Cutts talked about changes Google was planning in regards to rich snippets and dealing with related snippet spam.

Rich snippets could get a revamp and they will dial back on the number of websites that will be able to display rich snippets. “More reputable websites will get rich snippets while less reputable ones will see theirs removed,” says Matt.

The new penalty seems to affect websites that are misusing rich snippets, such as including authorship on homepages and reviews on pages where there are no reviews. But there was evidence that Google was attempting to educate webmasters on how to use it correctly when they made changes in December to add debugging support for structured data.

If you’re unclear if you’re using rich snippets correctly, you should first check your Webmaster Tools account and see if there’s any issues that show up, either as issues or in the structured data debugging area. Google also has the pretty significant help area for rich snippets, including with videos, to help webmasters implement structured data correctly.

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Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, released a video today answering the question, “are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?” The short answer was no.

Matt Cutt'sMatt said that Google does not give any special treatment to Facebook or Twitter pages. They are in fact, currently, treated like any other page, according to Matt Cutts.

Matt then answered if Google does special crawling or indexing for these sites, such as indexing the number of likes or tweets a specific page has. Matt said Google does not do that right now. Why?

They have at one point and they were blocked. I believe Matt was referring to Google’s real time search deal expiring with Twitter. Matt explained that they put a lot of engineering time into it and then they were blocked and that work and effort was no longer useful. So for Google to put more engineering time into this and then be blocked again, it just doesn’t pay.

Another reason, Google is worried about crawling identity information at one point and then that information changes but Google doesn’t see the update until much later. Having outdated information can be harmful to some people. Continue reading

5 Social Media Advertising Trends to Watch for in 2014

Social Media Advertising Trends

Social media advertising is what traditional search engine marketing was 5 years ago: constantly in development with major changes coming every other week. That’s not to say that SEM has stagnated and development has stopped – it hasn’t (enhanced campaigns anyone?).

The point is that 2013 has seen more changes and big leaps forward in social media advertising then any year before. The development boom hasn’t slowed down at all this year and is propelling the entire social media space forward into 2014.

Here are five trends in social media advertising to watch out for next year.

More Twitter Ads

Twitter had a big year in 2013. The social media network saw changes across the user interface on desktops and mobile devices. The ad platform grew leaps and bounds. And perhaps most importantly, Twitter filed for and successfully completed their IPO.

Previously I wrote about what that meant for Twitter Ads. In short, using Facebook’s IPO and subsequent development boom as an example, it is safe to assume we should expect big things from Twitter. Throughout 2013 and leading up to the IPO Twitter successfully overhauled the advertising interface and targeting functionality, launched TV ad targeting and created the impressive Lead Generation Cards.

Since the IPO in October, the Twitter development train has kept right on chugging. Now we have Tailored Audiences (remarketing), promoted accounts in timelines, and a true “broad match” for keyword targeting.

Now that Twitter is beholden to shareholders, expect this kind of rapid development in the advertising platform to continue. Ad revenue = happy shareholders.

Facebook Video Ads

TV advertising was (and still is) a fundamental piece to the modern advertising puzzle. Video has proven time and again to have significant impact on branding and purchasing decisions.

Now that the world is shifting their television habits online, this means that the video advertising model must shift with it. While the devices are different, the end customer will still be drawn to (good) video advertising.

YouTube is already killing it with their video ad campaign product. The InStream ad unit alone has so much potential. So, how does all of this tie in to Facebook? Videos are prominently featured in Facebook feeds organically. After they tested the “autoplay” video content organically, it was a natural progression to see this come to video ads.

This ad unit is still in testing at Facebook and the video plays on silent – so the impact won’t be quite the same as what is seen on YouTube. However, I fully expect this testing to expand and for video to play a bigger role in Facebook ads in 2014. If Facebook is successful with video, who knows what implications that will have across the social media world?

Ads on Google+?

A few years into Google’s gamble in social media and Google+ is still completely void of ads. Many people likely are quite pleased by this. Countless others (no doubt advertisers) are chomping at the bit waiting for the day that they can place targeted ads on this coveted real estate.

Will it happen in 2014? Well, just a few weeks ago it came to light that Google will begin testing +Post Ads. While this isn’tan ad unit on Google+, it allows brands to take quality Google+ posts and advertise them across the Google Display Network.

Could this be a baby step toward a larger advertising platform built around Google+? Maybe. In the meantime, all we can do is keep on wishing!

Fragmentation vs. Variety

New social media networks pop up nearly every week it seems. The vast majority of them burn out before they secure mass-appeal and adoption. A few maintain relevance and start to grow. Pinterest, SnapChat, and Instagram are just a few examples of those that have found staying power. (Instagram is owned by Facebook, so that’s not exactly a fair comparison)

With mass-appeal and adoption comes the added responsibility of creating revenue. Pinterest and Instagram are both experimenting with fledgling advertising platforms. Reddit, Foursquare, Tumblr and others are already providing self-serve ad campaigns.

Moving into 2014, this race to create new social media networks and advertising platforms to support them will create an interesting dilemma for advertisers. On one hand, you have a variety of channels that cater to unique targets and demographics. On the other hand, you have the issue of fragmentation. For every new social network and ad platform, you’re forced to deal with varied ad units (sizes, editorial policies, etc.) and management requirements.

The tools to consolidate management of these channels simply don’t exist – that or the channels themselves are not sophisticated enough to have APIs, etc. (looking at you LinkedIN Ads!). As the greater world of social media continues to grow and more networks take root in 2014, expect your role as an advertiser to only become more complicated. Good luck!

Blurred Lines Between Paid and Organic Content

The original Facebook ad unit (appearing on the right) was simple and straightforward. It followed the general format pioneered by the search engines through PPC. Safe. Predictable.

Then came Twitter and the promoted tweets for timelines – an ad that fit seamlessly into the organic construct of the social experience. Since then Facebook and LinkedIn have followed suit with newsfeed ad units that have boosted ad engagement and click-through rates while simultaneously blurring the lines of what is organic or paid social content.

There’s a precedent for this. Look at the search engines. Google, Bing and Yahoo all have conducted numerous tests to make the PPC ads look more like organic listings. Why? More people click on them.

Now social networks are up to the same tricks – only in a far more aggressive (nay, effective) manner. Promoted status updates blend in seamlessly save for a simple marker that says “sponsored.” From a mobile device the average user may never realize that the status update they just read and clicked on was actually an ad.

This trend is only going to grow in 2014. New ad units at Instagram and Pinterest are designed to blend into the natural landscape of the user’s social feed. Facebook is concerned with dwindling usage and has gone so far as to suppress organic content – effectively forcing advertisers to promote their content.

Will the users of these social sites continue to be OK with this? Time will tell.

Summary

It has been an incredible year of growth for social media advertising, with new features, targeting options, and channels to explore. But 2013 has merely been a preview of what is to come. Here’s to an exciting 2014!

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Role & Benefits of Business Intelligence Services in Current & Small Enterprises and Databases

With the regular ups and downs in the economy, businessmen have to look for the better and effective business solutions. Business intelligence services are one of them. A business intelligence service is the service in which all the processes of the business are joined together to present a unified development for the entire organization, by using current technology. Business and technology have been working together for quite some time now so that they can contribute in the growth of the nation with the growth of the organization as a whole.

Business Intelligence ServicesThe needs of the business and the companies keep on changing with time. It is essential to have the latest technology and machinery so that a particular company does not lag behind in the race of becoming number one. It can be better software, finances, machines, better resources, cheaper storage options and data usage for the entire organization. Data storage and its easy availability is a must for the development of the company.

Technology firms who provide business intelligence services are aware of the need of data storage for business houses, thus they provide online data storage services. By opting for these services you can store data of your entire organization in form of bytes as digital files so that you can save as much data as possible. To have these services it is not necessary to upgrade all the systems. Business process automation system will take care of it. All data files will be available online to every employee of the company. To make sure that the data is safe and secure you must get it locked and accessible to anyone only with id and password.

Data can consist of the details of the new project, clients, what is currently happening in these projects, who all are working on them, financial details of the company and the details of the resources. All the different departments can save their data online from where other departments who reԛuire the data can access it easily with their id password.

Moreover the business intelligence services are affordable and cheap. For small scale companies, they provide custom web applications and software. The entire program or the software will be customized as per your requirement so that unnecessary charges can be avoided. Use this business intelligence program intelligently with help of the technological firm and find out what more they can do to make your company generate more profits.

It wont be exaggerated to say that technology has intervened in every part of our life and business world, both online and offline also are witnessing new concepts everyday which promises to make business better and easier as well.

It is a lot economical these days to outsource data warehousing due to firm competition between numerous online firms offering the services at very competitive rates and the trend is still on increase. While talking about data warehousing one cannot simply avoid the possibility of data integration problems in case it couldnt be done in improper manner or order. So, the need of services of data integration consultants gets inevitable who have effective as well as economical solutions to the problems of a business.

Matt Cutts: Don’t Stitch Copied Content from Multiple Sites

While many marketers and site owners understand the importance of quality, original content in their marketing plans, there are still those who are testing the boundaries of what that actually means. In a recent Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts talked about the line between spam content and original content, once again.

The question was: Can you copy small portions of content from multiple websites and combine it to create one new web page, and compete in Google with that?

Matt Cutts - Stiching Content

“I fear you may be heading for heartbreak,” Cutts replied in the video. He added that if this is something you’re considering, you should really be asking yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. For example, are you trying to automate?

Cutts began explaining the practice in question by talking about Yahoo’s distaste for it in days past. Yahoo referred to this tactic as “stitching” and “they really considered that spam,” said Cutts. Continue reading

Matt Cutts: Larger Websites Don’t Automatically Rank Higher on Google

Matt Cutts

Webmasters have always gone by the rule that the more pages you get indexed on a website, the better it is for Google. Not only do you have a larger website overall, but you can also capture a lot of long-tail search traffic from visitors who end up on one of those many internal pages.

But does Google really bring sites higher or better if the website has more pages indexed in the search results? This is the topic of the latest webmaster help video. Continue reading

Updated Facebook Graph Search Now Lets You Search for Posts, Status Updates, Check-ins, Comments

Facebook’s Graph Search has been updated to allow people to search in greater depth on Facebook. The new Graph Search now allows users to search for not just the usual people and places, but also to search posts, status updates, check-ins, and comments on Facebook.

Yet users also now allows you to search within a period of time, such as posts within the last month or year:Facebook Graph Search

You can also search for comments made by people posting from a specific location. Users can also search specifically for posts that they have commented then and search their own posts, and narrow those searches within a specific time period. Continue reading