When SEO Fails: Single Channel Dependency and the End of Tutorspree

Postmortem on a high profile education startup that was dependent on SEO:

We acquired users for practically nothing by using the content and site structure generated as a byproduct of our tutor acquisition. However, that success was also a trap. It convinced us that there had to be another channel that would perform for us at the level of SEO…

…Then, in March of 2013, Google cut the ground out from under us and reduced our traffic by 80% overnight. Though we could not be 100% certain, the timing strongly indicated that we had been caught in the latest Panda algorithm update.

via When SEO Fails: Single Channel Dependency and the End of Tutorspree – Aaron’s Blog.

SEO consultants are busy these days sending emails asking for links to be removed

TLDR:  Because Google is penalizing spammy links (like in comments of blogs), companies are trying to SEO their websites by removing existing links that are low quality (spammy).

So the black hat spam folks who spread these links across the Internet have reversed course. The Awl, and other websites like it, receive email after email each day from companies requesting that we help them clean up their presence in the comments, deleting links posted by fake accounts, the log-in information for which has long been lost or never recorded.

via The Golden Era Of Spam Comments Has Ended – The Awl.

How Baidu Won China

Image representing Baidu as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Old but good link on Baidu:

In its early days, Baidu wasn’t modeling itself on Google. Li and Xu were much more interested in being the next Inktomi, a U.S. firm that powered search on other Web portals and was eventually acquired by Yahoo in 2002 for $235 million. Rather than host an independent site, Baidu licensed its search index to Sina (SINA) and Sohu.com (SOHU), then the dominant portals in China, and charged them each time a user conducted a search. Busy copying Yahoo’s portal business model, those companies didn’t realize search’s potential, concedes Charles Zhang, chairman and CEO of Sohu. “That’s how Baidu captured this opportunity while [we] were not paying attention,” he says.

via How Baidu Won China – BusinessWeek.

New Google Chrome Puts Search Box In New Tabs Page

Google put a search bar in the new tab page of their Chrome browser.  I guess it’s time to expect more volatility in GOOG shares.  When you’re at Google scale, changes like this have huge revenue consequences (see Bill Gurley’s excellent post on how small moves in conversion rate have enormous leverage on company profit).  Google seems to do this methodically and really understands the revenue impact of these small moves so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are backing into a number they need to hit for the quarter.

Google Chrome Redesign & New Tab Page Rolls Out To All | TechCrunch.

Google developing anonymous id for ads, or AdID, to replace third-party cookies

Interesting thing is that the word “mobile” is only mentioned once in the article.  The future is mobile and it’s dominated by the blocking of third party cookies.  A compromise like this makes that world more advertiser friendly, which benefits Google.

Google is developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, that would replace third-party cookies as the way advertisers track people’s Internet browsing activity for marketing purposes

via Google eyes big change in online tracking for ads.

Quote: “Google’s strategy is to get people to use the Internet more”

It’s actually a bit nuanced than this– it’s to get people the use the open internet.  This isn’t something we’re making up either.  Senior management and advisors I’ve talked to at Google speak about this openly.  It’s very advanced textbook tech strategy– something very few players in the valley have the option of following.

Helpful: Estimating Google Organic Search Visits Hidden by iOS 6 | RKG Blog

This is a helpful article from last month.  Why would you be interested in estimating Google organic search visits? Because of the new way that iOS (iPhones and iPads) implements Google search, which strips our referrer data.  The result is that Google organic doesn’t get credit for the actual amount of traffic it yields

A typical site that generates 25% of its traffic from mobile is already seeing its recorded Google organic search visits running about 12% lower than the actual volume. If iOS 6 adoption were 90%, that figure would increase to 16%.

via Estimating Google Organic Search Visits Hidden by iOS 6 | RKG Blog.

Confirmed: Google Moving Search Options Above Results

In case you haven’t heard, a format change for Google search results pages.

Confirmed: Google Moving Search Options Above Results.

Google has just confirmed that all U.S. searchers will soon be getting the new interface — one that highly resembles Google’s mobile search results pages. Options to search verticals like Images, News and Maps are moved from the left-side of the page up above the top search results.

If you’re wondering, below is the share of space dedicated above the fold to editorial search results vs sponsored results and listings: