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Google Tweaks AdWords To Give Landing Page Quality More Weight

Oct 3, 2011 at 7:19pm ET by 

After quietly testing in Brazil, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, Google will roll out a new algorithm globally that gives more weight to landing page quality when it comes to AdWords Quality Score. This means ads with landing pages that Google deems to be most relevant to the query will be able to rank higher for lower cost-per-click bids.

“What we’ve seen is that there are ads available in the auction that are as good a quality as the top ads. But the landing pages — the merchant sites, the advertiser landing pages — are of much higher quality than the ads that we see at the top of our auction,” Jonathan Alferness, director of product management on Google’s ad quality team told me. This, says Alferness, means the user experience isn’t what it could be. Hence the change to give more weight to landing page quality. “In the end, we believe that this will result in better quality experience for the users.”

Landing page quality has long been a factor in Google AdWords, but more as a negative signal. If an advertiser’s landing page was particularly terrible or misleading, advertisers could have their ads rejected or their accounts suspended or revoked — depending on how bad the policy violation was. The new change will assign landing page quality a positive value, incentivizing advertisers to make sure the landing page’s keywords and content are closely aligned with the keywords for which they’re bidding. Ads with high landing page quality will get a “strong boost” upward in the auction, according to Alferness.

Alferness says Google will crawl the landing pages associated with every ad and make a determination as to its quality.

“What we always ask our advertisers to focus on is relevance — choose a landing page or site experience that is both relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting and also a good experience for end users,” said Alferness. “This is just continuing to sort of push on those best practices. I gives us the ability to really reward those advertisers that have been doing this, whose landing pages really are some of the best in our systems.”

The change will roll out in the next week or two. Advertisers may see some variations in ad position and keyword Quality Score at first, but things should settle down within a couple of weeks, according to Google.

Related Topics: Google: AdWords | Top News


About The Author:  is a contributing editor for Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998, including a stint as managing editor of ClickZ. She’s also worked to help monetize independent publishers’ sites at Federated Media Publishing. She blogs about media and marketing at The River and about cooking, gardening and parenthood at Free Range. She can be found on Twitter as @pamelaparker

http://searchengineland.com/google-tweaks-adwords-to-give-landing-page-quality-more-weight-95488

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Top 10 Negative Google News Ranking Factors

Oct 3, 2011 at 1:28pm ET by 

Last week, I released the results of a survey of Google News Ranking Factors with some of the top news SEOs in the business. While there has been plenty of response regarding the Top 10 Most Important Factors, I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the Top Negative Factors. In my work with local news publishers, I have seen many of them doing a lot of things which hurt their rankings.

1.  Duplicate Content

Just as in traditional Web SEO, duplicate content was determined to be the biggest negative factor. And while plenty of news sites create duplicate content on their own, those surveyed focused on the use of other sources’ content on your site, particularly scraped or plagiarized content.

Google is getting better at determining the original source of the content and degrading the rankings of the sites that “borrow” it. And if you are distributing press releases on your site, make sure you separate your original news content from your press releases by creating two different sections on your site and adding “nofollow” tags to all links to press releases.

2.  Vague, Abstract Headlines

This is a fancy way of saying headlines that don’t target specific high value keywords. I remember when Eliot Spitzer got caught with the hooker and the NY Post ran the headline “Ho No!” Awesome headline. Amazing linkbait.

If you can write a headline like that, then go for it, but everyone else should stick to “Spitzer Caught With Hooker”. If you are writing headlines for a news site, you need to learn how to do keyword research.

3.  No Google News Sitemap

I am always surprised when I find a news site not using these. I have seen dramatic differences in crawling, indexing and rankings as a result of using a Google News Sitemap. It’s not particularly hard to implement. What are you waiting for?

4.  Poor Quality Content

Google News has ways of algorithmically and manually determining if your site tends to misspell words, use poor grammar, and generally produce poor quality content. There’s no excuse for bad writing!

5.  Blocking Googlebot Via Robots.txt

This is one of those classic SEO screw-ups that keeps a SEO consultant’s phone ringing in the middle of the night. If your organic traffic just tanked, one of the first things you should do is check your robots.txt file and make sure you don’t see these two lines:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

6.  Poor Site Performance

If your site is slow and/or produces a lot of 500 errors, your rankings are going to suffer. Google wants to send people to fast-loading pages. There are variety of tools you can use to monitor your site’s performance including the Crawl Stats and Site Performance reports in Google Webmaster Tools and Google’s Page Speed Tool.

My favorite technique is to use a script to track your server logs for when Googlebot gets 4xx or 5xx response codes, then send out an email to the team notifying them of the errors. Whomever is responsible for performance will have a heavy incentive to keep the site error-free and keep those emails to a minimum.

7.  Poor CitationRank

CitationRank is the measure of how well a story on a news site gets linked to from or referenced on other sites, particularly other news sites. These kinds of citations demonstrate that the story is authoritative on the subject. If you can’t get others to link to your story, it’s going to be harder to get it up on top.

8. Low PageRank Domain

If your site’s overall SEO program is not competitive, you will have a harder time ranking. Make sure you are at least getting the basics right. Make sure your site is accessible to search engine robots, targets high value keywords and regularly gets links from other sites.

9.  New Site

Just as new sites can have a harder time ranking in Google’s Web results, sites with low/no trust and/or history in Google News will have a harder time ranking well.

New sites must demonstrate trust by getting linked to from other authoritative sites, by getting well-shared via popular social media channels and by getting well-clicked-on relative to other sites in Google News for a particular story.

“Category Authority” was deemed by our panel to be the most important ranking factor, so new sites will likely have the best luck if they focus on a specific niche to be expert in.

10. All Syndicated Content With The Same Titles As The Source Site

While this is basically the same thing as Duplicate Content, the panel seemed to think this case deserved special mention as more and more news organizations put more reliance on syndicated content, without even bothering to rewrite any of it.

If you don’t put your own spin on the news, you are not going to do well in Google News.

For more information on various Google News Ranking Factors, check outwww.googlenewsrankingfactors.com.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Google: News | Google: SEO | Locals Only


About The Author:  is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, a local search engine optimization consulting company specializing in yellow pages seo and local directory search—the blog is pretty fabulous too. 

http://searchengineland.com/top-10-negative-google-news-ranking-factors-95012?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed-main

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migrant Remittances Still Lifeline to Bulgaria’s Economy

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Remittances – money sent by Bulgarian migrants to family members back home – continue to increase slightly, but steadily despite the global downturn, data from the central bank shows. The net sum of the remittances from Bulgarians permanently working abroad totaled EUR 473 M during the first seven months of 2011, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) wrote.

Bulgarian immigrants sent home EUR 68.6 M in July alone, slightly down from EUR 77.4 in May, which was a record-high level of transfers since the Bulgarian National Bank started collecting data about remittances back in 2004, the bank said.

The increase in the amount of remittances from Bulgarians working abroad has been firm over the last few years. Total funds transferred to Bulgaria annually have gone up from EUR 693.90 M in 2008 to a whopping EUR 759.6 M in 2010. Studies show that the actual money sent home are about 30-40% higher that the official figures.

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=132139

US Embassy Cables: Brussels Says Only Sticks Work with Bulgaria

Bulgaria: US Embassy Cables: Brussels Says Only Sticks Work with Bulgaria

Fresh diplomatic cables of the US Embassy in Sofia on WikiLeaks as published by theEl Pais newspaper

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 000325

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2019
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIA/EC MONITORING TEAM: “HOW DO YOU MAKE
THEM REFORM WHEN THEY DON’T WANT TO?”

REF: A. SOFIA 0225
B. 08 SOFIA 0365
C. 08 SOFIA 0499

Classified By: DCM Alex Karagiannis for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX (please strictly protect) confided that the Julyreport on Bulgaria‘s anti-crime and corruption efforts would be negative, but the EU political level would “water down” the tone of the final version. The report‘s release might be delayed until September because of the formation of a newCommission. In contrast to previous conversations, XXXXXXXXXXXX emotionally reflected Brussels, growing and by now extreme frustration with Sofia’s cosmetic fixes to get a “good report” while failing to undertake real reforms. He confirmed that the Dutch want to invoke the safeguard clause when the report is released and that others, including the Swedes who hold the next presidency, favor extending the Mechanism beyond its three-year mandate.

END SUMMARY.

2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX

——————————————
Judicial Reform — Fatigue and Frustration
——————————————

3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the monitors raised key issues with the GOB such as the appointment procedure for top judicial officials, vote buying, and progress in organized crime and high-level corruption cases. XXXXXXXXXXXX called the appointment/nomination procedure for the top judicial officials “non-transparent” because the vote on the nominees is secret and does not take into full account disciplinary actions against the nominees.

Furthermore, the process lacks real debate among the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members on the nominees’ qualifications and does not allow the members to release “opinions” on why they voted for or against a nominee. The non-transparent procedure permits the selection of corrupt and/or incompetent judges and prosecutors to the higher courts, perpetuating the cycle of incompetence and corruption in the Bulgarian judiciary.

XXXXXXXXXXXX said the entire team believes the Bulgarians only address issues in theCommission‘s report to get a “good report,” not to create a better judicial system.

For example, Prosecutor General Boris Velchev asked if his nomination of a certain person for a position in the prosecutor’s office would be recorded negatively in the upcoming Commission report. They replied to Velchev that if he thinks the nomination would be reported negatively, then it is a “good sign that it probably would be.”

XXXXXXXXXXXX added that Velchev often asks how he is perceived in Brussels when they discuss reforms in the prosecution service. Another example is that Sofia City Court has two courtrooms specifically available for hearing EU funds fraud cases, while available courtrooms for other cases are hard to come by.

4. (C) The Bulgarian government — especially PG Velchev and European Minister Passy — are lobbying heavily for a positive monitoring report, magnifying modest progress. The government keeps presenting the Commission a list of on-going high profile organized crime and corruption court cases (the number has grown from 30 to 52 over the last two and a half years) as “successes.” Incredibly, several of the “success” cases have been suspended. Several other cases, against notorious shady businessmen Angel Khristov and Plamen Galev AKA the Galevi brothers, and others can hardly be calledsuccesses as these defendants gained immunity by running for parliament. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the team found this “loophole” quite disturbing, along with how some Bulgarian officials vehemently defend the law that permits this phenomenon. Along with the “Galevization” of politics (referring to the Galevi brothers election campaign), Brussels is also concerned with vote buying and general election fraud.

————————
Only Sticks Seem to Work
————————

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the Commission feels they have “tried everything” to make the Bulgarians reform their judicial system, but concluded “how do you make them reform when they do not want to?” The government‘s defensive arrogance — and lack of political will — is intensifying enlargement fatigue in Brussels. He underscored that EC pressure via the monitoring reports and withholding EU funds are the only ways to produce results. He confirmed media reports that Dutch Minister of European Affairs Franz Timmermans requested the Commission to consider activating the safeguard clause against Bulgaria and Romania when the EC releases both reports. (Activating the safeguard clause in Justice and Home Affairs would mean that the European Union would not recognize Bulgaria‘s legal decisions and exclude Bulgaria from legal and police cooperation.) XXXXXXXXXXXX said currently only The Netherlands is demanding the safeguard clause, but others are increasingly fed-up with Bulgaria (and Romania’s) lack of progress. There is talk within the Commission about extending the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism beyond the three years stated in Bulgaria‘s and Romania’s EU Accession Acquis. Sweden, which holds the next EU presidency, favors extending the monitoring mechanism and is committed to pursue “rule of law issues” in both countries.

6. (C) The report‘s release date hinges on EU internal political maneuvering for the formation and nomination of the new Commission and the election of its next president – a process that begins in July. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the team is preparing the report to be released the last week of July, but it may be published the second half of September if the new Commission formation is drawn out. The team’s report will be critical, saying overall reform has stopped, but likely the final ECreport will be “watered down” as in the past for political reasons.

7. (C) COMMENT:

XXXXXXXXXXXX’s frustration with the Bulgarian government‘s lame and insincere reform efforts was striking. It appears to be spreading in Brussels where at least the working level appears to be feeling “buyers remorse” over letting Bulgaria and Romania into the club too early. According to reliable contacts, Brussels Eurocrats have dubbed enlargement fatigue the “Bulgarian Break,” further tarnishingBulgaria‘s bad image within the EU (REFTEL A).
END COMMENT.
McEldowney

 

A Case of Self-Destructive Behavior? – Bulgaria and Its Academy of Sciences

Don’t let yourself be fooled! – The government of Bulgaria is actually bent on destroying the country’s best research institution, no matter all protestations that it intends nothing of the sort.

A string of attacks stretched over more than a year is now coming to its crucial point. The law on the destruction of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) has been tabled to Parliament and is currently under review.

The draft bill is officially labeled an act of amendment of the previous Law on BAS and nowhere posits the explicit closure of the Academy. Although submitted under a thin disguise by ruling GERB party back-bench MP Rumen Stoilov, it reproduces intentions voiced over 2010 in turn by Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov, Minister of Education Sergei Ignatov, PM Boyko Borisov and Speaker of Parliament Tsetska Tsacheva. And those intentions were precisely radically dismember BAS and put it under the direct control of the central government.

The literal wording of the draft act may be consistent with the persistent assurances of the likes of Borisov and Ignatov that their proposals do not include closing down BAS. Once you throw a glance at the bill, however, you realize that those assurances are definitely not true. The bill involves the removal of the central governing body of BAS and the splitting of its many institutes into “independent” units. The latter are so independent as to be placed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, with their fate being sealed by a decision of the Council of Ministers.

The funding for those institutes and other bodies deriving from the former Academy is to be also set at the mercy of the Ministry, and is not decided upon by Parliament as part of the official Bulgarian state budget (thus turning the remains of BAS into so-called second-level spending units).

Talk about state-directed science. Talk about academic freedom and freedom of research. But that is not the worst. For unlike Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR – where science misshapenly suffered state control – the current Bulgarian center-right GERB cabinet doesn’t care much about knowledge.

Apart from the general worry of placing science under the inadequate (mis)management by bureaucrats, in this case we are facing a far more imminent life threat. The passing of BAS institutes under government authority means certain closure of a sizeable part of them. This is no scaremongering, if we bear in mind (1) the glee with which the GERB cabinet has been expending less and less funds for education and research, (2) the inexplicable hate-campaign against BAS carried out by the government since assuming power. Consider the following.

In the mid-year revision of the state budget for 2010 – the failure of a budget heralded by finmin Simeon Djankov as Europe’s best – education and research suffered a cut of some staggering 40%. In public statements, both Djankov and education minister Ignatov have been persistently seeking ways to argue for disburdening the state from the need to finance education and science.

More particularly, Simeon Djankov, that esteemed researcher of World Bank fame, is perhaps the most obvious reason for accusing the cabinet of BAS-hatred. In his loathing for the institution, the finance minister has not been shy to use expressions that hardly befit a senior statesman. Characterizing the country’s best research institution as a bunch of “feudal dotards” (whatever that meant) is sufficient ground for ensuing resignation.

As things stand, Djankov’s remarks have found resonance with a certain feeling of resentment among segments of the Bulgarian population. Overwhelmed by an ill-functioning quasi-capitalist climate that they still feel alien, many Bulgarians have formed equally ill-functioning notions of such things as “the market”, “the role of the state”, “individual initiative,” and “responsibility for the public good.” Faced with their meager salaries and hobbling businesses, they don’t see the need to finance an institution that they do not feel as contributing. Everybody wants use and profit – now. Science doesn’t work that way.

Add to that the wide misperception that the Academy is a creature of the Commies – one of the lasts behemoths remaining from the era of a regime allegedly responsible for Bulgaria’s present woes – and you have a feeling of what kind of attitudes the cabinet and its finance minister are exploiting.

Face it – BAS is Bulgaria’s top research institution. Period. The Academy is putting out 60% of the scientific production of the country. Closing the Academy means obliterating those 60%. And we’re not speaking only quantity here. At least as per the leading global scientometric rankings, such as those of Thomson Reuters or Scimago, BAS is by far the top research institution in the country in terms of the quality of its work.

Those facts notwithstanding, the powers that be have been trying to trick people into believing that the Academy is working at a tremendous cost to the state (the taxpayer!) and is not willing to reform. False again! In 2009-10 BAS staged a sweeping internal reorganization, reducing the number of its institutes from 69 to 42, which led to significant reductions in staff. And it has been continually introducing heroic steps to cut spending, such as asking workers to go for unpaid leave and similar measures unbefitting an EU member state.

In the “updated” 2010 budget BAS had EUR 30 M, against EUR 48 M in 2009. That is some 0.4% of Bulgaria’s GDP and won’t be any different in 2011 (in times when countries like e.g. Austria boosted funding for research as a strategic anti-crisis investment). Balancing off the meager financial input and the substantial research output, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences might well be the most cost-effective institution in the country.

Of course, this is not all. Research and learning boost economic development. The phrase “knowledge-based economy” is not the less apt for all its triteness. Some people seem to be unable to get across their minds that even non-applied, fundamental research boosts economic development. Science and culture are very much like wealth – like Adam Smith observed about the latter, it eventually “trickles down” to benefit all.

Such strategic thinking has never been a strength of recent Bulgarian rulers. But now we have what appears to be a concerted effort to achieve results counter to all strategic thinking. Bulgaria is attempting to cut off itself what little remains of its vital brains. Why, you might ask?

The reasons can be grouped into three. First, BAS’s assets. Second, an ideological motivation of sorts. Third, an effort to replace Bulgarian academia, as it exists now, with something else.

The first is the most obvious and widely discussed. Simeon Djankov is popular not only with his insulting statements about the Academy. He has also a strong record of speculating about the benefits of selling BAS’s many properties. This is put down in print, in Bulgarian newspapers, even before Djankov assumed the position of Minister of Finance. He has even estimated their worth – some USD 250 M. A tiny amount, you may think, for dooming Bulgaria to intellectual and economic backwardness.

And the World Bank guru has expertise in that field. As an advisor to the government of Georgia, he had proposed exactly the same scenario for the country’s Academy of Sciences, ostensibly to optimize spending. Academy was split, assets were sold. Georgia’s scientific production dropped tremendously.

Then we have the ideological motivation, which, being a matter of principles, is the most contentious. Some would rather think that the state should not be in support of research and education, which must rather be placed on a so-called “market principle.” This type of thinking can be seen as gaining strength not only in backward post-Communist Balkan countries, but also in strongholds of knowledge as Germany, the UK and the US.

But then think again. Think of the commitment that the US government has always been having towards research, development, and fundamental science, including humanities. Think of the level of donorship to educational and research institutions that the German businesses have always had. For them, this is a matter not only of supporting developments that might benefit them commercially – it is much more a matter of prestige and responsibility for the common good.

Then think about the level of commitment Bulgarian businesses, as they exist now, can be expected to allot to independent research.

This second argument is nevertheless tightly bound with the third. Circles around Minister of Education Sergei Ignatov have been pressing for an increased role of private education in Bulgaria. What’s wrong with that, you might ask. But then consider that Ignatov is not only a former president of, but has also retained strong ties to the New Bulgarian University – the country’s major private university. And that he has been pressing for the introduction of the unheard-of idea of support for private educational institutions with state funds.

To boot you have the Minister of Education’s attempts to implode the university system by introducing ill-advised legislative acts modeled on his NBU inner regulations, but that is another matter.

If state-fostered education is no longer a priority for Bulgaria’s rulers, then what can we say about an allegedly old-fashioned and rigid research institution that is educating no one, but is just producing science.

Fortunately, the political climate or just the general sense of rationality among other political parties in Bulgaria is not entirely unfavorable to BAS. Up to now, all parties represented in Parliament other than the ruling GERB have spoken up quite strongly against the legislative proposal. This includes not only the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement of Rights and Freedoms, but also the rightist Blue Coalition and the nationalist Ataka, as well as non-aligned MPs.

This is something remarkable, as it is the first time both the official opposition (BSP and MRF), and parties that usually support GERB have united against GERB, who have a large minority of 117 MPs out of 240 and have to rely on support from the Blues and Ataka.

While there are signals that reason may prevail this time over, yet we should not be overly optimistic. For instance, the Blue Coalition have tabled an alternative amendment bill that does not include the dismantling of BAS – but yet once again includes putting its financing in the hands of the Ministry of Education, instead of Parliament as it is up to now. MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party have proposed yet another draft bill that introduces greater financial accountability, but does not make the Academy dependent on the government.

In the meanwhile, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is suffering a string of paralyzing months. Researchers are facing the fact that no one might care much about their work. Already meager salaries are not paid in full. Uncertainty lingers.

Yet the situation raises depressing thoughts not only for researchers. Bulgaria is on its way of making one major step further in its lasting, self-imposed, deep economic and intellectual marginalization.

By Ognian Kassabov – novinite.com

The properties of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) are at the heart of the attacks on the establishment

The properties of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) are at the heart of the attacks on the establishment, said BAS in an open letter in connection with allegations by Education Minister Sergei Ignatov made during Question Time on Friday that the Academy mismanages its properties. BAS says that the findings contained in a report by the Public Financial Inspection Agency refute the allegations. The Academy yet again recalls that in 95 per cent of the cases BAS research institutes are housed at the properties that have caused a great deal of controversy whether BAS really needs them. BTA

Hacker Army Wikileaks continues to grow

More and more people are joining the hackers led by activist group Anonymous websites of companies and agencies cripple who would turn against Wikileaks. A spokesperson of the activist group said. There were now more than five thousand people in the hackers army.

According to his own words 22-year-old computer programmer more attacks to come. “I see this result in a war, but not your conventional war. This is an information war,” said the man. “We try to keep the Internet free and open to everyone, like the Internet always has been.”

Anonymous has Twitter threatened to be the next target, because the censors would have applied by the popular topic of Wikileaks’ not to be identified on the site. Twitter denies that this is the case. Even oil giant BP has warned of an attack using Twitter. “Wikileaks know what you’ve done. They reveal, we are subject to”.

Anyone can hack

The hackers and their associates use a so-called DDoS attack. Anyone wishing to attack a computer program installed, which connect to a server can be created, which controls the computers connected to a website shut down.

Including the websites of the credit card companies Visa and Mastercard, which accounts for Wikileaks to stop, have been shut down by a cyber attack. (Reuters)

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