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Google Talks Mobile, Local and CPA At Goldman Sachs Con

Here are my notes on the interesting points in Google’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ Tech and Internet Conference. It’s noteworthy not just for seeing the trends in where they’re going, but for the principles that govern their thinking and the way they want to be perceived.

1) Google saw Japanese users paying relatively less attention to ads vs organics results. They moved the Roman characters to a third line so it interfered less with the appearance of the Kanji script (Japanese lettering). This resulted in users paying more attention, clicking more and raising revenue. This was a “better user experience.”

Naturally, the following question was regarding the line between user experience vs revenue. Specifically, charges that Google makes the background too light and indistinguishable such that people don’t realize they’re ads.

Answer: They’ve run tests and picked particular colors for the sake of making it sufficiently obvious, e.g. for users of a particular Mac laptop. (Around 6:30 – 8:00 minutes in.) Thought: Are they serving different style sheets according to device? Hmmm … sounds quite similar to things I’ve shared in my book regarding dynamic navigation on lead gen sites.

- The interviewer asked whether it’s the case whether intermediaries and destinations are now going to be competing for placement – takes some cojones to not just throw softballs :). The downside is that he doesn’t follow up and challenge any of the spokesperson’s comments but just accepts whatever is said. Not clear if he’s being too polite or is not sufficiently informed or if he feels the answers are satisfactory.

Google Places

“The focus is just on providing the best experience to the user,” “a place where they can find all the information they need on the business,” including reviews. “If that’s not the business’ site [responding here to complaints about displacing the organic listing for the business' site], then “that’s just the way it is.”

- But Google places ties into the ability to just click through and book a room, for instance…
- Google’s providing the opportunity to go to “OTAs” (online travel agencies? slang for booking sites a la Expedia I guess?) as well as the original site. Good for user experience [and for the auction's bids]. “We’re very clearly not doing the booking on Google itself, not entering into fullfillment.” [At least, until you fully integrate ITA Software and run a Google Comparison Ads type CPA auction? (G Comparison Ads are financial price-comparison ads that allow people to compare interest rates on mortgages etc.]


- Don’t shrink a desktop experience onto a mobile – design for the mobile experience itself.
- There are some points where mobile is outright better than desktop – knowing where you are, having a speaker/mic, GPS integrated, etc.

- Names two areas where click-to-call monetizes well on mobile: home insurance and home security and alarm systems…

- They’re not too excited about adding lots of salespeople for local, but prefer simplifying the ad product to get more SMBs on board.


He’s very bullish. Wants to get product inventories and companies’ CPA bids to match against their search inventory. Strategy has been to go after the top 500 retailers in the US and to grow that way.

- What about using flashier ads, essentially taking the integration of product ads’ images a step further?

- They tested banners in China and that worked very poorly. Their preference/paradigm is to include the relevant info on a page – be it pics, pricing, merchant reviews, product reviews etc.

- The ultimate goal is that they can have both higher CPAs as well as more transactions in absolute numbers going on – they can show the products that are most likely to convert. [I read this as Google's going to optimize AdWords to show ads from higher converting advertisers, further squeezing the fat out of the ecosystem - e.g. of dumb advertisers with deep pockets and low conversion rates.]

- Google Checkout is not something they’re forcing on companies who want to use Google CPA. [Of course not, they're just incentivizing it with notably higher CTRs. They can't openly say that they want to integrate this closely because that would get them in hot antitrust waters.]

Local Search Tips From Israel’s Experts – Deadblogging SphinnCon

1) Interesting fact: You can get 1 listing per practitioner (defined by separate phone numbers) and 1 per office, according to Google’s TOS.

How about getting your restaurants multiple lines for each chef? Or as suggested at the show, for each librarian in your book store ;). (more…)

Ranking for Head Keywords by Optimizing for Local Search

This is a guest post by Brian Patterson, an SEO and Online Reputation Management expert at You can follow Brian on the Twitter at @brianspatterson.

Many businesses may be confused or worried with all of the changes that have been happening in Google’s local SERPs lately. ¬†Google literally turned local search on its head about two months ago, and as the dust settles, many of the long-term effects are becoming clear. ¬†One specific change which I’d like to cover here has many of our clients filled with pride, and has helped us close some new local SEO client deals. (more…)

3 Beautiful Examples Of Advanced SEO Thinking

Beautiful as in, a beautiful mind.

1. & 2. The good gents at Ontolo do it again. Their tools keep expanding, and one of their latest is based on co-citation analysis of phone numbers. Based on that initial idea, they’ve developped the first local citation finder. Genius!

3. Darren Slatten, aka the World’s Greatest SEO, has some fascinating snippet experiments to share.

In fact, he seems to be running one right now, as you can see from this remarkable snippet screenshot (his current listing in Google).

SEOMofo 5 line SERP listing snippet

Also check out his cool snippet optimizer tool!

If you like these advanced SEO ideas, you’ll probably enjoy my advanced SEO book. Preorder it now! Or get a free chapter if you haven’t already.

30 Second Tip For Phone Number Integrity In Local SEO Listings

Reading the curiosity-arousing article on SEL, “The Phone, Calling,” I noticed that the use and presence of call tracking numbers, toll-free numbers and other non-main-line phone numbers could cause trouble for search engines.

“First, these numbers throw a monkey wrench in business identification. Second, they could expire, inadvertently creating a dead-end for a consumer. Publishers today struggle with how to accurately identify an actual business when many phone numbers are involved.”

The easiest solution, imho, is (more…)

The Radically Changing Local Search Landscape

(A guest post…) Local search is a chance for businesses to connect with their community and gain local prospects. As the foundations of local search remain vital- things such as local listings, local on-page SEO factors, etc.- new developments are beginning to emerge as many of the biggest players online – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare – are now designing plans that will have a significant impact on local search. (more…)

Maps Guide Jen Suggested How to Demerge Listings; I’ve Just Been a Lazy Ass

Ok, I’ve actually been to SMX Advanced, where I spoke, celebrated my 21st birthday, during which I devoured delicious homemade cake (thanks mom!), been helping Jewelry fix their SEO issues, which meant auditing and now planning implementation, and handling other stuff too besides!

After regaling you all with the wonderfully exciting tale of what I’ve been up to for the past week and change, I feel I should also clarify that Google maps guide Jen has suggested a solution (more…)

Post #88 – Scratchpad

ScratchpadFormal writing is really frustrating because it requires you to dress up simple ideas in complete sentences, edit your work for grammar and spend an unholy amount of time writing what it would take you a few minutes to express verbally. When you come up with new ideas or discover new stuff as often as I do, that can get really frustrating.

So I’m hereby inaugurating what I hope will be a regular column here: Scratchpad (scratchpad picture courtesy of one eye fish). I’ll share my latest ideas, in a raw scratchpad type format and be paying even more attention than usual to your feedback. (The Post #88 reference was the pre-naming version of this post’s title and I found it quite appropriate to an informal column.)

For this first issue, I’ve got

  1. New uses for Google’s Keyword Tool External,
  2. Mined ideas from Google’s Press Days 06 and 07,
  3. Revelations of what the PPC arbitrageurs (more…)

Google Maps Folds Google Earth Booking Engine, Reviews, Own Pics Directly Into SERPs + A Big List of Hotel Review Sites

Google Maps has been doing a lot of testing and playing with its search engine results pages (SERPs) lately. I’ve seen the EarthBooker hotel booking engine tightly integrated with many hotels. At the same time, when I performed a longtail search for a hotel to stay at during the SMX West conference, I found some reviews (or other stuff Google seems to find relevant) folded directly into the SERPs (you used to have to click more info to see the reviews). And there’s also pictures being folded in from Google’s (more…)