Here are thoughts on three topics this week (that are coincidentally all from Google):
Google gives natural search optimization its blessing with the SEO Starter Guide. Google has released an SEO Starter Guide, which is 22 pages long, and covers many of the basics about natural search engine optimization. While the document itself is a short foray into basic best practices for search-friendly design, it speaks volumes in that it validates natural search optimization as an important business practice, which is something that Google has danced around in the past. One other subtext is the acknowledgment that good SEO helps the engines find relevant content.
The guide covers titles, URL structure (which contradicts something else they wrote a few weeks ago), meta descriptions, anchor text, internal and inbound links, image optimization, robots.txt, no follow link attributes and other items.
Google Mobile Apps with voice search released for the iPhone. Executive Googlers have stated in the past that in addition to providing an alternative 411 information service, Goog 411 was also a learning platform for future speech-to-text models. And now we are seeing some of the benefits of those learnings in Google Voice Search (Google Mobile Apps for the iPhone).
Whether iPhone users pick up on Voice Search or not, Google has made a significant leap in adding a voice interface to search results. I've downloaded and tested the iPhone voice search app, and while it may take a little bit of practice to ensure that your query is picked up (though I'm resigned to the fact that some queries are just not worth the trouble of trying to correct), it generally does an excellent job of transposing on the fly and delivering the search results. I enabled my location and searched for broad local dining choices, and maps and phone numbers appeared for establishments within several blocks. I previously would balk at any search over a word or two because of the typing, but voice search makes longer navigational queries much simpler (again, it will not pick up everything). Use voice search to calculate a simple math problem, get stock quotes, pull up a map or phone number, and if your queries are clever enough, you can find answers to questions within the search results, without having to go to a site.
Are YouTube Sponsored ads the gateway to Google Adwords Video on the SERPs? YouTube is now offering paid video ads in their search results, and the placement is very similar to what Google was testing on the SERPs earlier this year. The YouTube text ad specifications are the same as an Adwords ad (25/35/35 characters for the title, and description lines 1&2), though there is no placeholder for a URL (easily fixed with a link directly to the video on YouTube).
My prediction is that we are going to see Google Adwords video and image ads in the sponsored search results open up in the near future. Google has no choice but to do so. Organic Universal assets are cannibalizing the cash cow, and eye-catching paid video icons may be the way to make the paid placement more profitable without taking away natural Universal placements.
So the good news for YouTube advertisers is that they will be ready to launch into the paid search results when it does go live, and Google will have plenty of PPC video ads to kick things off, provided that existing YouTube advertisers are seeing the value. It is hard to tell at this point how many advertisers will adopt YouTube Sponsored, but paid video and images in the Google search results will challenge marketers in the way think about search advertising.