Today I noticed that Google is testing some results in my browser. Two main things I noticed is that there is a little drop down available on all results with some more options. The options are “cached”, “similar”, and “share.” I don’t see “similar” on all results, just on a few first place rankings.
More importantly, I noticed that in this test the instant preview option is not available for organic results, only for PPC results. I’m sure Google likes the idea because instant previews cover up right-side PPC ads. I don’t like that the option is still available to PPC advertisers. It’s just one more thing to make the free organic listings less impactful.
The small drop down next to the URL offers some options, but more importantly the instant preview option is gone.
The Instant Preview option remains for PPC advertisers.
Not too long ago I reviewed a site for a client and discovered that all of their PPC campaign traffic was landing on 404 pages. It was happening because the links used in their PPC ads were broken. Their campaign was setup by another consultant who does PPC work. During the process, the consultant had created custom tracking URLs for the campaigns but somehow had forgotten to use ampersands to separate parameters! Instead of a properly formed URL like this:
Their URLs were all formatted like this:
This oversight broke every single link and each PAID visit landed on a 404 page. This was true across hundreds of ads and thousands of keywords and wasted a ton of my client’s money.
The moral of the story: test your URLs!
The chart below is a great way of illustrating why I don’t worry too much about how my clients rank on Bing. Bing has been a hot mess for months with constant flux in their results. The blue line below is how much Bing’s top 100 results change over time. Look at the wild swings compared to Google’s relatively steady line. You never know from one day to the next how, or more importantly, why your site ranks in Bing. Because Bing’s share of search is currently about 16.7%, and tactics to rank are so opposed to what works in Google (with 67% share of search), it’s just not worth the effort to me.
Another important factor in why I don’t care too much about Bing is because the results are highly susceptible to spam. This was especially apparent when I took Bing’s taste test. I tried very hard to do it as impartially as possible. The taste test allowed you to enter different queries and then compare two sets of results and chose your favorite. I chose Google nine times out of ten. Bing’s results were chock full of lead gen sites and link spammers. Google was not. Here’s a little taste test I just did on my own on the results for “kansas city internet marketing.” I’ll let you be the judge. (No secret here which set of results comes from which search engine.)
I offer my own little taste test between Google and Bing. Bing fails pretty miserably in my opinion. (click for a larger version.)
As much as we like to bash Google, they are doing a great job of keeping spam in check.
We were doing some research into the aggressive tactics of the lead gen world recently and found a site ranking on page one with cloaked keyword stuffed content. It’s working so well for them that they rank at #3 for “pay day loan”. Unfortunately for the City of Marietta Ohio, it’s their site that is ranking. It appears that their installation of Joomla was hacked and about 400 of their pages have had payday-related words injected and their content cloaked. Visiting the site directly or by clicking the link in Google doesn’t reveal the payday-specific text because the site is cloaking that content to Google only. You have to look at Google’s cache of the page to see the injected text. If you think about it, it’s a worthless effort because none of the traffic brought by the payday listing is converting because the links to the lead gen site are all in the cloaked content, therefore not seen by the users that the cloaking is attracting in the first place.
This is such an egregious instance of cloaking and keyword stuffing that I’m amazed Google is listing it. If this tactic works, even for a short time, it will be profitable for people like this payday lead gen person. Google, in all their sophistication, still can’t stop these old-school black hat tactics.
Google search showing the hacked site
The city’s page as you see it by visiting directly, or by clicking the link in Google
Google’s cache of the city’s page showing the cloaked, keyword stuffed content.