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David Angotti wrote a great post on this on Jan 4th detailing that Google paid bloggers to post reviews; it’s a great post that describes the situation in detail. This news shocked my world a little bit and we had some clients raise some concerns. As an agency we execute sponsored post reviews for many […]

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Google announced via Twitter that Panda Updates have ceased for 2011 and will resume after the New Year.  Perhaps this is an early Holiday gift to webmasters that need to cultivate content and links on their existing webpages.  The last update came in November and all have been considered “minor” updates, each time affecting less […]

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It is the weekend and that means you might have 45 minutes to be entertained and get great tips from the fabulous Matt Cutts. This video is a recording of a live Q&A on September 21, 2011. If you haven’t seen it you may want to sit back, relax and maybe take some notes. Follow […]

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With the rise of Google and the power of Search, online reputation management (ORM) has become an extremely hot topic.  Let’s face it, after hearing about a person, brand, company, or product, most people Google it.  As a result, and as many of you know already, the number people (and companies) needing help with online […]

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Google Offers, the new offering being molded to compete with the likes of Groupon, is expanding and in the process, hoping to make an impact in the increasingly crowded deal space. Google recently started presenting deals from 14 new partners, including localized businesses such as Juice in the City, Plum District, and PopSugar Shop. It […]

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There’s been a lot of fearmongering talk lately about Google’s human quality raters and just exactly what they’re used for and how their ratings are used internally at Google. Discussion was running rampant at Pubcon where I witnessed several SEOs grill Matt Cutts about the subject, and seems to have spread like wildfire across the […]

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My search marketing career started in 2003, back when the keyword meta tag rained superior and search engine submissions still counted for something. Back in 2003 if someone asked me if Google would be around in two years I would have laughed. Fast forward to today, and the same question is asked, I’d pause and […]

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As geo-location and real-time mapping begin to play a larger role in online advertising, a distant fear looms on the horizon. For quite some time, publishers have been granted the benefit of supposed “free” products such as Bing Maps or Google Analytics, with little thought to the real cost of these services. However, all of that will soon change. With usage charges for services like Google Maps set to begin in January, exploring alternative solutions that are free, or in some cases paid, have taken top priority.

For publishers who operate a high volume site on which they depend for a major source of income, new charges like those announced by Google, can make or break their business. Google officially rolled out new usage limits for the Maps API, with extra usage charges of $4 to $10 occurring for every additional thousand maps loaded over the 25,000 impression allotment.


Alternative Solutions

Based on projections, publishers who load 500,000 map impressions per day could expect to pay from $1900-$4750 in usage charges each day. Publishers currently using Google Maps would have two options to avoid such charges:

  • Transition away from map units and potentially lose the higher margin and added utility
  • Continue using map units and acquiesce to the higher costs

A third option would be creating maps in-house. Open Source Maps is a tool that allows developers to utilize free geographic and street mapping data – although this comes at a price. Open source options require significant investment of time and capital to get up and running, but will serve as a viable alternative to some of the 4,000 websites affected by the change.

Another solution would be to use a service like Chitika Maps, one of the only free alternatives which comes packaged and ready to implement with much of the same functionality and aesthetics offered by paid map services. These new map units have been tried and tested and are currently called over one million times per day on Chitika’s vast publisher network. Furthermore, Chitika Maps provides an opportunity for publishers to enjoy new revenue streams by opting to include ads within map units for local advertisers, helping to monetize websites. (Full disclaimer: I am a Data Solutions Engineer for Chitika Insights, the independent research arm of Chitika. However, Chitika Maps is currently the only free and paid maps alternative on the market).


What’s Next?

As the site monetization landscape continues to develop and be affected by shifting forces in the industry, it is becoming ever more important for publishers to be able to react in real time and adapt monetization strategies to minimize cost and create new revenue.

Whether or not businesses choose to seek out alterative map solutions, it’s important for everyone to be aware of looming usage charges that will impact thousands of sites come January.

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And now, for something completely obvious: Google owns the lion’s share of US search traffic. But could the Goliath of Search be eclipsed by the currently David-sized combo of Bing and Yahoo… in as soon as the next 18 months?

Experian’s Hitwise reports that Bing continues month over month to chip away at Google. Search agency Rosetta shows that Bing + Yahoo (Yahoo uses Bing to power its search) has a respectable 37% of retail search. If your SEO strategy has primarily Google in its sights, now may be the time to diversify.

Gains aside, the race ahead is still steeply uphill with many skeptics on the roadside. Let’s take a look at how Yahoo, Microsoft and Google stack up in a high-level company overview, as well as search trends hinting that 2012 could be a game changer for all involved.

This is part of a special infographic series by Search Engine Journal. 

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