Demand Studios and the Impact from Google’s Algorithm Change

There seems to be some serious back-and-forth about the state of Demand Studios since the Google algorithm alteration. Initial impact indicated that they may have lost ground on the search driven traffic of some of their sites. Citing eHow.com as one of the locations where the change may have triggered a down-turn, Demand Studios initial statement indeed, indicated that even they knew that the new algorithm may have relatively lasting impact on their page views.

Demand Relies on SEO

Demand Media does rely heavily on search engine optimization to boost traffic to their content which is created by over 13,000 freelancers worldwide. So Google’s announcement that its change would impact almost 12 percent of search engine queries, was definitely destined to negatively affect Demands current page views by sheer numbers alone.

With sites like eHow being a large part of their company’s content, often ranking high on search engine queries before the change, and afterwards, there can be little doubt that the effect was in fact, a minor one for them. However, falling stock values are also a cause for concern for Demand. Some searches even provide Demand Studios content ranking higher than before the change.

Google Panda

Continued updates, codenamed Panda, have provided a different viewpoint altogether. Just over a week ago Google enacted the Pandora update worldwide. This time stating that two percent of Google queries in the U.S. would be affected.

Sistrix, a site that had previously released the results of impact on content farms after the first update, also released new information on the Panda change and how it has definitely affected the page views of eHow content. Although in general, the second update was not as search engine query altering as the second, or Panda update, it did land on eHow this time, even though it is rumored that it was actually one of the targets of the first update in February 2011.

Demand Demands Acknowledgement

While admitting a slight decline in search engine traffic on eHow sites due to the recent changed, Demand still insists that the Sistrix numbers are way off. Citing a predicted 2/3rds decline in eHow traffic, Demand reps responded that the numbers were greatly so grossly overstated that they must comment.

Demand CEO Richard Rosenblatt shared with MediaMemo that the relationship it shared with Google was a highly valued and mutually generous one.

They stated their relationship with Google made much sense for many reasons.

  • That they help to fill gaps in Google’s content when other high quality content is not available.
  • That they are the largest suppliers of YouTube videos.
  • That they are a huge Google Adsense partner.

Stating that the current losses are projected to cause them to suffer around 10 million dollars in lost revenue, they are assured that with projected sales this year reaching around $311 million, they do not consider it a substantial, nor a 2/3rds percent loss.

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Did Google Panda Change the Playing Field?

From time to time, when Google identifies a ‘gaming’ of their search engine results, its engineers open up the algorithms and tweak them, sending shudders in the world of e commerce and Internet advertising. Speculations run rampart until Google launches it to the world.

One such tweak happened lately; in February 2011, Google launched such a change and named it Panda. They called the tweak “A High Quality Sites Algorithms”. It came in reaction to what they call “Content Farms” and the blogosphere immediately filled in the name of one of the biggest player – Demand Media, who was gaining top listings with copied content.

In order to cut on the clutter of results you get from a query, Google is trying to root out the low quality sites either by checking content, enabling users (through a Chrome extension) to block sites from their searches, or by lowering the ranking of copies material. “The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.” Said Google’s Matt Cutts.

This changed impacted US sites only until April 11, 2011, when Google rolled this change to all English language queries and made a few changes. Their statistics show the change has impacted 12% of the queries in the United States. Most impacted were Mahalo.com, Wisegeek.com followed by Ezinearticles.com, Hubpages.com, Suite101.com, Superpages.com and spike.com. The gainers were news sources like Reuters.com, LATimes.com, CBSnews.com and information sites like Techcrunch.com, Blogpost.com, Mashable.com and even YouTube.

The new adjustment was meant to take care of a gap in their program that enables a site like eHow.com not only slide down but gain in ranking. Demand Media, the owner of eHow, was immediately impacted.

Some small businesses might have seen a change in their ranking. Google is said to be open to complaints that will be implemented, if found correct.

Online Publisher Association estimated that $1 Billion will be redistributed across the online publishing industry as a result of this change.

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Google Tags Calls it Quits

It seems as if April 29th will be the last day of existence for Google Tags. If you have ever used Google Maps or Places, you have likely seen the red tags that represent an ad campaign launched by Google in a testing phase about a year ago. This marketing attempt was created to allow business owners to enhance the representation of their businesses on any Google Maps or Places searches. If a viewer was browsing areas near the businesses location, this handy tag not only designated a landmark, but also provided a more detailed look at that business.

What Are Google Tags?

Once clicked on the tag can display a variety of information including:

  • Directions to and from
  • Zoom in and out
  • Street view
  • Save to map options

And even the options to send the tag information via email, GPS, and other car systems. In addition, when viewing Google Maps or Places in full screen, other options on the left-side panel also provide another great looking manner of business advertising by showing users:

  • Thumbnail photos of the location
  • Other nearby landmarks
  • Related Ads to nearby options that directly support the advertised business. I.E. resort sites are likely to show ads for lodging and travel nearby.

While some users appear to be feeling let down by Google for eliminating this advertising option, others are not so sure that they truly benefitted from it in relation to its cost per month of $25 USD to maintain.

Success Stories More Localized

Google had previously provided a video extolling all of the virtues, benefits, and advertising opportunities within their Tag system. Users, most especially those who live in extremely urban areas report that in a very competitive local war with other businesses offering the same services, Google Tags has helped to direct those most locally to their business once users locate their Google Tag on the map.

Why are Google Tags Going Extinct?

Google execs cite the extinction of Tags due in large part to the fact that it was mostly an advertising experiment to begin with. Back in September 2010, it was reported that Google was aggressively pushing their Tag system for advertising. However, in October, they then pulled their ability to utilize the website URL tag option, which suddenly rendered the system a lot less useful. So, in this past week, Google has announced an end to the Tag system.

Google developers then stated ,”We’ve made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial. To that end, we’ve now halted new signups and will be working with existing participating businesses over the coming weeks to help them meet their marketing needs with other Google products where possible.”

They also acknowledged that they had learned quite a bit from the Tags trial and that knowledge and understanding would be carried on with them as they strive to find the most accommodating ways to server their users as well as small and local businesses.

We’ve learned a lot from our Tags trial and will take that knowledge into account as we continue to find the best ways to serve users and local businesses alike. Lastly, we want to thank all of the businesses that were part of our Tags trial, and we hope we can meet their advertising needs with one of our existing products.

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Can Virtual Salespeople Increase the Bottom Line?

With the rise of digital media communications such as video advertising and remote access viewing, another element that has been showing promise for small and large businesses alike is the use of speaking avatars, or virtual spokes models.

SitePal is one of the websites taking advantage of the benefits of speaking avatars for business and education. Their features allow for detailed personalization such as the ability to upload your own photo in which to create the website avatar, as well as over two-hundred and fifty customizable pre-made examples to choose from or build upon.

Users can use their own voices or take advantage of the built-in version. The good news is that voice synthesis, or artificially produced human voices, have greatly improved since the early days of the internet. Instead of the droning monotone of old, voices now include fairly realistic inflections and the highs and lows of natural speech.

This fun and powerful tool has become more common and beneficial as seen on many of the sites that now use SitePal.

Global ranking for Sitepal is at #34,425. While around one-third of the site’s visitors are from the U.S., it is also very popular in Mexico.

LiveFaceOnWeb also offers an element of employing digital salespersons but with a bit of a more realistic slant than the average creatively constructed speaking avatars. LiveFaceOnWeb stands behind their belief that people relate better to real people, so that providing human models for their digital avatars can help to enrich the interactivity of any website.

LiveFaceOnWeb allows users to choose from a selection of live models to represent their services, products or other online opportunities. Creating the finished product gives the individual purchasing the service the ability to customize video length, shot parameters and the type of presentation.

Users will then create a script and submit it, and within a few days they will have a completed advertisement made with, and by, live professionals in their industries. They also offer packages with complete services for those who have little to no experience.

Whether due to these web sites’ ages or because users prefer the animated avatars to the human versions, may still be undetermined but global rankings show LiveFaceOnWeb at #58,595. The sites viewers are predominantly males between the ages of forty-five to sixty-five and older with some college education. 

The Bottom Line

So how can this form of advertising offer any benefits to your business or services website?

  • Results show that placing an avatar or live human communication element on your website’s landing page can greatly reduce bounce rates.
  • Beyond the aesthetic and the ability to keep readers on your page longer, avatars can also supply a marketing nudge by delivering short, precise sales pitches to the visitor while they are simultaneously browsing the text aspect of your site.
  • Digital advertising in this format has also shown to be effective in announcing discounts, specials and bonuses on your products or services that can lead visitors deeper into browsing your product or service line, as well as closer to becoming a new customer.
  • Custom avatars can also be used to help site visitors navigate your site. This can help users who may be interested in your products and services, but are not net savvy enough to navigate other sites that may be more confusing.
  • Personalized Avatars can also be configured to collect contact information from prospective customers before they exit your website. Attaching interactive contact forms help to make this an easy and flexible format for data collection.
  • Call-to-action buttons or prompts can be reinforced by a speaking avatar that makes the visitor aware  them.

A study conducted by Dr. Ralph Wilson, the CEO of WebMarketingToday, analyzed the influence of the speaking avatar against how long visitors spent on his website. The results showed that the speaking character had enormous impact. The average time spent on his site increased by an average of 33% with a 17% increase in page views for each visitor.

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Loopt: A Social Location Tool

Let’s say you step out of class or a business meeting or a long day at work, and you wonder; where are my friends right now and what are they up to? What fun activity am I missing?

Loopt, a mobile application, helps you see a clear picture of your social circle, without making a round of calls or texts. This virtual social application is meant to be a facilitator of the real social world.

Founded in 2005 and launched in 2008 as an iPhone app, Loopt is growing and incorporating other social media platforms. In January 2011 the site came up with a 4.0 update that changed the look, added new features and is applicable on all smart phones. At the moment, Loopt has more than 4 million users and have partnerships with Google Maps, Facebook Places and Twitter, among others.

Their application lets you see at a glance and in real time where your friends are hanging out. It will show you who is at a nearby place and wants company. It will show you where is this new place everyone is talking about and who’s there. You can text your friends and get a map how to get there.

Another service they provide are recommendations to places you have never been before. If you are on a business trip, in a new city, wouldn’t you want to get first hand recommendations about places to eat or hang out? Again, you might meet a tall dark stranger who is on your network of virtual friends.

In the latest update, out in April 2011, you can get at-a-glance recommendations about a place. Let’s face it, say the makers of Loopt. Most of the remarks are either very good – people loved it enough to write about it, or very bad – they were really unhappy with something. Who has the time to go through all those posts? Their Loopt Q, lets you see it in a graph form. Good reviews vs. bad ones. You don’t have to stand outside a restaurant for half an hour and read all the posts. This service is now available only in San Francisco, with a plan to roll it soon to other cities as well.

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