Tag Archives: google

Pay Per Click advertising via keywords, UK and EU law

Bidding legally on competitors’ keywords on PPC

Pay per click advertising effectively reaps instant rankings and helps enterprises take up more of the SERP. Together this increases brand awareness through keywords alone. SEO, however, still gets more clicks compared to PPC.

Legally keywords fall under trade mark law as they provide huge economic benefits. In fact, collectively, intellectual property is the biggest investment any company has because your brand can, in itself, sell your product(s) and/or service(s).

A photo of a Google themed hat saying Noogle


Digital trade marks

The list of digital assets is extensive. Web pages as a single digital asset includes various elements, for example, store location pages, category pages, product pages, reviews, holiday promotions, sitemaps and semantic make up. Simply by knowing your digital presence you should also know a list of your digital assets which you can monitor and therefore protect.

Trade mark infringment can occur on organic search and pay per click advertising. Web search keywords, more specifically branded terms, are your digital trade mark and these can be infringed, just like traditional trade marks, such as, a logo, for instance, if best practices are ignored.

In the early days of SEO it was possible to include keywords in the keyword HTML tag to improve your rankings, in fact, Bing and Yahoo still place a very small weight on such keywords, however, Google now ignores this tag and any weight placed by Bing and Yahoo is only going to come into play if another web site has the exact same on- and off-page ranking factors. Legally you are not allowed to include your competitors keywords to rank for their brand name in organic results because it is misleading to the searcher.

Pay Per Click advertising systems must be clearly labelled as “ads” and it is legal in the UK and EU to bid for your competitors keywords because PPC’s system distinguishes their results as paid adverts. For this reason PPC systems will always have to distinguish ads, in the form of labels or typography, for example, however this area is growing in case law, as outlined in 3 legal, summarative, case studies below:

European Pay Per Click advertising legal case study
In Germany a court ruling, May 2014, concluded that trade marks with reputation should be more difficult to bid for by using PPC. The German court heard that Eis.de had dramitically reduced the prices of a rival brand, Beate Uthse, and advertised this through PPC. The Frankfurt court ruled that Beate Uthse’s trade mark may be percieved negatively to the average searcher and therefore proving reputational damage is key to taking such a PPC case to courts.
Amazon and an EU wide ban
Amazon was banned throughout Europe from infringing a UK cosmetic company, Lush, after bidding for Lushes’ products and stating they were on sale when in fact they were not on sale after redirecting search engine users to Amazon’s internal search engine and in Google’s sponsored search results. After an agreement could not be reached between Amazon and Lush the case went back to the High Court and a EU wide injunction was issued to overcome Amazon’s technical difficult counter-claim.
UK PPC competitor keyword bidding
A 2013 legal dispute between Marks and Spencers vs Interflora came to a firm conclusion under British law: Bidding for competitors’ PPC keywords is legal so long as the trade mark is not underminded by the PPC advert through searcher confusion over who is selling the item, in this case flowers.

Pay Per Click advertising, UK, EU law, and competitor keyword bidding

  1. Never mislead search engine users, for example, if you state on a PPC ad that product-a has 50% discount then that webpage must display productA as being half price on the referral web site.
  2. Avoid any confusion
  3. Put yourself in the situation. How would you feel? Is the PPC ad clear?

Bidding on competitors keyword using PPC is growing in case law and, therefore, must be continually monitored to find out the latest legal grounding.

Do you bid using PPC on competitors keywords? Tweet Gerald.

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Stop. Google is not a semantic search engine

Is Google a semantic search engine?

A semantic search engine understands each query and presents relevant documents based on this understanding. Google however is not a semantic search engine but it does display elements of a semantic search engine:

  1. “Searches related to” is officially known as semantic similarity and it is designed to guide a searcher towards their search goal
  2. Google AdWords offers a keyword generation which is also closely related to semantic similarity
  3. Computing engineers also analysed Google’s search engine in 2011 and found that several results, or snippets, provide incorrect or non-useful semantic information — including queries who ranked in the top results. Google is therefore not a semantic search engine
Popular semantic search is a good bit away

Semantic technology is not ‘new’. Copyright granted by DullHunk.

Examples of semantic search engines

Sensebot and Sindice are examples of semantic search engines. Here understanding and relationships of keywords are key to producing results. That is not to say that other search engines do not understand queries but they rely on other technologies to do so rather than take a mathematical approach and rank queries based on meaning as supposed to, for example, saving and placing weight on keywords that appear in the title and header (term location in information retrieval). Search engines have just started to get smarter, thus a little semantic, with search, for instance, Google’s Knowledge Graph. But on the whole Google and other search engines are not semantic search engines; they just display elements of semantic search rather than be a complete and whole semantic search engine.

It is impossible to ask [photos of a flower with 5 petals and a yellow vase in the background] so Google is not a semantic search engine because it does not, unlike humans, understand a string of keywords to display relevant results.

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  • Xu, Z. Luo, X. Yu, J. and Xu, W. (2011) Measuring semantic similarity between words by removing noise and redundancy in web snippets. Concurrency and computation: Practice and experience. 23(2011) pp. 2496–2510

3 localised SEO tips

Local SEO tips

Location-based searching contains 4 main technologies: georeferencing; geotags; GPS; and an internet connection. Today other signals are also used to enhance this data, for example, Yelp or other localised web application services, least not forgetting, social media profile information, such as, Google Plus location data, for instance.

To begin a localised campaign a blended approach is required. Google Places, for instance, are key to helping you rank locally yet Google Places are, strictly speaking, not going to help your traditional SEO ranking because social media is not used, so far, for search algorithm rankings.

Search engine optimisation

What elements are involved in SEO? Copyright free image.

Localised SEO became stronger with Google’s Venice update. Together with Hummingbird, Google now has the capacity to regularly construct a universal SERP and, in particular, localised SEO results.

A thorough 2003 case study analysed localised search engines with global search engines and found that global search engines were more effective and sophisticated than specialist, localised search engines. Search engine market share is much higher on global search engines than it is on localised search engines, therefore, focusing your localised SEO campaign on large search engines is key to gaining the largest audience.

Local analysis

In 2000 half of the UK population had a mobile phone now that stands at 94%. Mobile search is different to desktop search because we generally search for broader keywords and we use 2 types of keywords: explicit and implicit. So a mobile search for [restaurant] is an implicit search because it does not state a location. Therefore local SEO is mostly based on implicit keyword intent. With the increase of devices also comes an increase in mobile web search: 16% to 25% of all Google searches are now on mobile meaning that more and more people are carrying out implicit searches. Local SEO is also more important than ever before.

Name, address and telephone (NAP) numbers are key to local SEO. These should be reflected, rather like your digital brand, on, for example, social media accounts. On your site you should include your NAP details on the footer of each webpage too. This is now noted on search engine’s 3D indexes.

Another localised SEO tip is to review your structured data rather than simply focus on your NAP details, above. Think about your UX as you do this. Maps, text, photographs all help to shape up your contact page and structured data.

Reviews, trust and authority also help localised ranking. Reviews are an effective tactic to increase the click-through rate of your site, as well as, boost your trust and authority. Search engines particularly favour popular, voted, sites because it shows a reliable source of information.

Localised information is not, however, anything new. 50 years’ ago for instance businesses used local information to determine the location of their new store or relocation. Local services are always valuable and, arguably, help you to obtain an added layer of research to your target audience data: Market research is key to localised SEO campaigns.

Ranking locally using SEO

  1. Review your Google Analytic data and use this data to make a localised SEO conclusion. This will narrow down your locations and make a local SEO campaign realistic. Target larger cities, initially, and think of strategic ways to implement the information above.
  2. Take a blended approach. Use NAP, structured data, social media, hyperlinks and think devices for your localised SEO campaign.
  3. Target, primarily, global search engines because localised search engines are a very small percentage of the total market share and global search engines are better at ranking localised web sites.


Smith, A.G. (2003) Think local, search global? Comparing search engines for searching geographically specific information. Online Information Review. 27(2) pp. 102 — 109

Why people use search engines?

In 2012 the world made 1.2 trillion searches on Google. What do we turn to search engines for information?

Why we ask search engines for information?

Everyone uses a search engine for one of two reasons. Hoping to resolve some problem, is the first, or, secondly, to achieve some goal which is usually linked with expanding knowledge. Choosing correct keywords to represent information, however, proves difficult for people.

Clay and Esparza take a different approach as to why people use search engines. They conclude that there are three categories:

This is linked to looking for answers to queries, as well as, finding data or information to make a decision.
Usually these transactional queries use phrases, such as, “best price” or “free shipping”, for instance.
The vast information on the addictive web means people will happily spend a long time on a search engine to find various entertaining sources.

One study analysed the impact of task phrasing and found that different phrases produces different results. This is important for digital marketers, for instance, because they need to think of the various ways people ask for the same information.

It is a good idea to think about the 4 types of web search queries (informational, navigational, transactional and connectivity) and match these to your website. Knowing about keyword searching allows you to make your website visible for more search queries. This, in turn, allows more people to discover your site which allows your organisation to grow organically.

Processed information allows us to have wisdom.

Data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

Presentation of SERP

  • Position and relevance of results changes how a searcher examines the information they asked for
  • Search queries and snippets go hand-in-hand because long snippets lead to better search performance for informational tasks but degrade navigational performance

It is also worth noting, through click-though rates, that we are biased towards highly ranked results. When we ask for information and the results appear to be relevant to our search query approximately 33% of us are likely to click the first organic link. It is a good idea to monitor the rank and position of your keywords.

If you are checking what position keywords appear remember to minimise personalised results by using, for example, incognito browsing mode, cookie removing software and sign out of your user account. Everyone’s results are different due to personalisation.

Analysing user’s search behaviour allows us to conclude that most people, on average, search for 2-3 keywords. Think about what your audience will write and see where you rank for these terms.

Why do you use search engines? Tweet Gerald.

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  1. Barsky, E. and Bar-Ilan, J. (2011) The impact of task phrasing on the choice of search keywords and on the search process and success. Journal of American Society for Information Science and Technology. 63(10) pp. 1987–2005
  2. Belkin, N.J. (2000) Helping people find what they don’t know. Communication of the ACM. 43(8)
  3. Clay, B. and Esparza, S. (2012) Search engine optimization all-in-one for dummies. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.
  4. Zeitgeist. (no date) 2012 Search Trends: The World.

Privacy and web search history

My last post, why do search engines store search history, looked at why search history is offered. This post examines the connection between privacy and search history.

Privacy definitions*

  • Right to be left alone
  • Limited access to the self
  • Secrecy
  • Control over personal information
  • Personhood
  • Intimacy

Since searches can be a personal experience having control over your search history may invade privacy. If you delete something from your search history is this permanently deleted from all your records? This is a grey area for privacy.

Privacy on a keyboard

Privacy written on keyboard keys. From g4ll4is

Sharing information

Allmer illustrated that privacy can be easily controlled by not sharing information and keeping it to yourself. Does a search history share your information with a search engine? Where else is this information stored? Is it matched to a personalised user profile?

Search history and cookies, for instance, collectively can build a lot of data, and thus breach privacy, because addresses and clicktrails can be monitored. We are a long way from finding out what information is stored and for what precise purpose. However, it is important to note that some entities are now standing up to large companies (for example Google and the European Union) which means that we are slowly making privacy progress.

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  1. Allmer, T. (2011) A critical contribution to theoretical foundations of privacy studies. Journal of Information, Communication Ethics in Society. 9(2) 83–101
  2. Frommkin, M. (2000) The death of privacy? Stanford Law Review. 52(5) pp. 1461–1543
  3. *Solove, D.J. (2002) Conceptualizing privacy. California Law Review. 90(4) pp. 1087–1155

Browsers, cookies and search engines

There are over 100 web browsers available today. Knowing a little about browsers is important because they are widely used today.

Macs, PCs and browsers

Browsers are used by most people. It is possible to search a Mac without a web browser, by using Blacktree Quicksilver or Objective Development’s LaunchBar for example, which reduces search engine personalisation. Macs may effectively safeguard against personalisation. Using Blacktree Quicksilver, however, can be unstable just like PC browsers are never perfectly secure from vulnerabilities.

Image of different browser logos.

Photo of browser logos. Source.

Cookies and browsers

It is possible to allow your browser to accept or deny cookies on your device, however, browsers are not recognised as being suitable to do this under EU regulations on cookies. This is why cookie notification bars are widely used today.

Browsers facilitate personalisation because search engines can communicate with browsers and vice versa. This communication allows search engines to build up a profile on your behaviour.

Is Google Chrome safe to use?

Ohngren (2010) found that Google Chrome invades privacy because they monitor browsing behaviour. Awareness helps you to monitor and review your tactics on a regular basis.

Internet Explorer, unlike Google Chrome, offers a tracking protection list option and gives a partial block on third party cookies (for more in-depth reading read reference #2 below).

W3C state that Google Chrome (52.9%) is the most popular web browser whereas Firefox (28.2%) and Internet Explorer (11.8%) are second and third, respectively.

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  1. Mlot, S. (2012) Firefox 14 encrypts search; Microsoft browser glitch; AT&T chargin for FaceTime? PC Magazine. pp. 1-1
  2. NSS Labs. (2013) 2013 Browser Security Comparative Analysis: Privacy. [Online] [Accessed on 12th September 2013]
  3. Ohngren, K. (2010) Google Chrome. Entrepreneur. 38(1) pp. 33–33
  4. Reis, C. Barth, A. and Pizano, C. (2009) Browser security: Lessons from Google Chrome. Communications of the ACM. 52(8) pp. 45–49

Pay Per Click: Hyperlinks and success

Directing PPC hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are key to any pay per click (PPC) campaign. Where will the potential customer be redirected to once they click a sponsored link? There are four main destinations to chose:

This is convenient because PPC campaigns would not require numerous webpages for individual keywords.
Search transfer
Clicks will be redirected to a specific, usually a product, search that is directly related to a PPC campaign.
Category browse
A user is directed to a category that matches the PPC ad.
Standalone webpages, for example, forms or generic pages promoting general messages, such as, “check this out” or “great deal”.

Adapted from Becker et al (2009) who also found that category browse and search transfer had a higher conversion rate compared to homepage or other pay per click redirects.

Location of PPC ads on Google's results page / SERP.

Photo showing the location of PPC ads on Google. Source.

4 things influencing PPC success

WordStream suggest the following elements must be included to make a PPC campaign successful:

  • Keyword research;
  • Organisation;
  • Keyword grouping;
  • And ad groups (both creation and management).

Successful PPC campaigns need to be well researched and documented.

Trust and PPC

PPC, compared to organic, search has some limitations. Trust, for example, may be lower in PPC whereas highly ranked organic websites are more likely to have more trust attached to them. PPC click-through rates vary. Big brands, for instance, receive higher click-through rates (3% upwards) compared to non brands (1% to 7%). This suggests that PPC and trust are linked.

PPC tips

Carry out keyword research. What product / service do you want to increase? Choose keywords directly related to your products or services. Set a realistic budget and monitor it. Get a responsive website to ensure mobile users can benefit from any PPC campaign. Have brilliant content and webpages. Think about writing call to actions on page content too. Hire a digital marketing agency if you want the most optimum results; they will manage your account regularly.

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  1. Becker, H. Broder, A. Gabrilovich, E. Josifovski, V. and Pang, B. (2009) What happens after an ad click? Quantifying the impact of landing pages in web advertising. CIKM. [no volume or issue number]. pp. 57 — 66.
  2. Kim, L. (no date) Pay-Per-Click Campaign Success Through Keyword Management. [Online] [Accessed on 02nd September 2013]
  3. Raehsler, L. (2012) What Is a Good Click-Through Rate for PPC? [Online] [Accessed on 02nd September 2013]