Why is Netflix Hiding Their Non-Original Content from Google?

There has been a lot of recent news regarding Netflix and their new business model, particularly centered around the company’s release of original content like ‘House of Cards’ and the much awaited new season of ‘Arrested Development.’

Despite all of the buzz, Netflix’s stock fell 5 percent yesterday after the new season of Arrested Development garnered mediocre critical reviews, while the company also dealt with a backlash from removing specific children’s programming from their library.

So just how vested is Netflix on their new original content push?  Is producing their own shows simply a phase or does this truly represent the future of Netflix?  One indicator beyond the news and official statement is a peek at the Netflix robots.txt file.

A robots.txt file is utilized to instruct search engines robots (primarily Google) what to crawl and what to not include in their index.  For example, if your website had a specific page that was under construction, you might consider ‘disallowing’ it via the robots.txt until it was finished.

A look at the Netflix robots.txt is very interesting:  Netflix is preventing all non-original content from being indexed.  The robots.txt file instructs web crawlers to only index pages for original series like Arrested Development, House of Cards,  Lillyhammer, and Hemlock Grove, while blocking all other content.

For example, if you Google ‘New Girl Season 1′ the Netflix specific page cannot be found.  If you search for ‘Netflix New Girl Season 1′ the link will pop up, however it will include a meta description reading: “A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt – learn more.”  Hardly a positive message to push a potential customer to click the link.

Overall, this SEO strategy doesn’t seem to make much sense.  Netflix still makes the majority of their revenue via their subscription service.   They could very well gain new subscription customers who are Googling shows or episodes that they want to watch.  The customer ends up on the corresponding Netflix link, and starts their free month to see the show – simple.  How many new customers are they losing to companies like Hulu or Amazon who are doing everything they can to be found?

Although seemingly a minor adjustment to their site, the robots.txt file is entirely rewiring how people find Netflix content online via search, which is a major statement about the company’s intentions.
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Small businesses can often become quite overwhelmed with everything that comes along with running pay per click, search engine optimization and social media campaigns.  Beyond the massive amount of information out there on the subjects and the constantly evolving landscape, simple things like abbreviations can add to the confusion.  SEM, SEO, PPC, CPC, CTR, SERPs, A/B, ROI are just a few of the many abbreviations and industry terms that are thrown around on a regular basis.

Our goal at Insight Forge is to handle projects for our clients from seed to plant to harvest.  We’ll gladly share our knowledge with you about how everything works, but if you’re a busy small business owner (like many of our clients are) you may not have time to learn the ins-and-outs of the industry.  That’s fine – that’s why we’re here.  Don’t sweat the abbreviations (or anything else).

Posted in Adwords, Adwords Guide, Google, Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adwords Zip Code Targeting for Local Businesses

Many local businesses that provide professional services have a specific ‘market area.’ Whether it be a cleaning service, moving company or franchise business, each might only be able to serve a specific territory depending on how far they are willing to travel from their base of operations.

This is why the Google Adwords Zip Code Targeting feature is a great addition to the platform’s location specific tool set. Previously, Google only enabled geographic targeting via city / major metropolitan area, as well as via radius targeting. Zip Code targeting enables a local business to really hone in on their specific market area. With the ‘bulk upload’ feature, a small business can turn a massive list of zip codes into a tidy market area fairly easily.

This feature comes especially useful in the case of a franchise businesses that has been assigned a specific geographic territory by their franchisor. Often, these geographic areas break down by zip codes that prevent nearby franchises from competing with one another. With Adwords zip code targeting, multiple franchises that border the same geographic area can easily split their targeting based on their market area.

There are a few downsides to zip code targeting in the US for local businesses.   One problem is not all zip codes are included yet- about 20% of zip codes are not yet in Google’s database as of August – hopefully these will be added to complete this coverage.

Another current issue is that zip code targeting is not always representative of the area / population you actually will end up serving ads to. Although the map display of your zips may look like complete coverage in a specific area, this isn’t always the case. For example, if you are targeting a zip code within a specific city, but aren’t targeting the city itself, your ad won’t necessarily be showing there.  We tested this with Google’s Ad Preview Tool; there were a few instances where the map display looked like a zip code was covering a specific city/area, but a test search in that specific location did not trigger our ad.  This problem was solved by adding a city or radius on top of the zip code.

Because the zip code feature is still relatively new, these types of bugs / problems should be somewhat expected.  We would always suggest using zip code targeting in conjunction with another form of targeting to ensure that you’re getting the full search volume that you set out to obtain.  Hopefully, Google’s improvements to the zip code targeting feature will make it far more reliable.

Posted in Adwords, Franchise Adwords, Franchise Marketing, Franchise PPC Marketing, Google, local SEO | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Start a Partner Links Program for SEO

One important factor in the organic ranking of your website are the number of links from other external sites that direct back to your website. In the ‘old days’ of search engine optimization, Google used to take this into account as one of the primary factors for organic ranking with very little policing, which lead to widespread ‘cheating’ where SEOs and webmasters would create thousands of ‘spam’ backlinks on comment forums, directories, and fake sites that pointed back to their target site.

Over the past several years Google has made great efforts to squash ‘black hat’ back-linking practices, and they’ve made quite a bit of headway. Even major companies like JC Penny were caught red handed utilizing some of these illicit link schemes, and punished thoroughly with demoted organic rankings and the loss of millions of dollars in business. There is, however, still a big SEO benefit to having external links pointing back at your site.  The key is that these links should be natural and relevant to your site’s content and industry.  This is why creating a partner links program is a great strategy to boost your site’s organic ranking. It’s as simple as creating a list of your business partners – clients, charities, companies you collaborate with, or other local businesses that you have relationship with.  Next, determine which of these businesses have a website.  If they do have a website, or even better, a page specifically devoted to business partners or resources, make contact and ask if they might put a link up to your website. Creating anchor tag keyword links is SEO best practice, however, in the case of most local businesses the easiest path is often the best taken. If they agree to put a link up, simply ask your contact to list your business name and link it to your site URL, along with a basic description of what you do alongside that. You should provide them with all of the details. If you think you might do better with a ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ approach; the best strategy is to create a partner / resources page on your own site where you can list and link to other businesses.  With this approach you can contact the business with a link to their site already in place on your page; saying something to the effect of: “Hello, I’ve listed you on my site as a local business partner, I was wondering if you’d do the same for us.” Keep in mind – the staple of this strategy is that you don’t want to go overboard.  Determine your link partners based on logic:  who would you actually want to have up on your site as a partner, even if you didn’t have any SEO targeted goals?  Whose site would you want your business to be listed on?  Also, when you are contacting your potential partners – be sure to keep your emails fairly personalized – we’ve all received annoying messages in our inbox that seem like they were written by a robot.
Posted in Franchise Marketing, Google, SEO, SEO Basics, link building, link exchange program, local SEO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Adwords Auction Insights Goes Live

Google has added a great new tool to their Adwords platform – the ability to closely examine auctions for individual keywords to flesh out the competitive field. The tool is called ‘auction insights‘ and appears under the ‘keywords’ tab. To access auction insights for a specific keyword: look for any keywords with a little bar graph icon next to them, click the corresponding checkbox, drop down the ‘keyword details’ button, and click ‘auction insights.’  Only keywords that have accumulated enough data will have this function enabled.

The data Adwords provides for auction insights is both informative and valuable for any Adwords marketer.  The following columns are highlighted, with data from a list of competitor websites provided under each column:

Impression Share: Impression share percentage displays what each competitor (and yourself) has received as far as total impressions.  Essentially, it equals the total number of impressions the site received for the keyword, divided by the estimated number of impressions the site was eligible for.  This statistic is a great overview on how you are performing in your market – a low impression share means you aren’t bidding high enough, your budget is too low, or your keyword quality score isn’t up to par.

Average Position: Average position is pretty much what is says – the average ad position of each competitor for a specific keyword.

Overlap Rate: The percentage of overlap rate displays how often a competitor’s ad received an impression while your ad was also displaying during an auction.  This is a great statistic to determine who you are really competing with most often; the competitor with the highest overlap rate  is the site whose ads are going head-to-head with yours most often.   It would be a good idea to take a look at what kind of ad copy, site links, and discount deals this competitor is utilizing to determine how to get the better of them.

Position Above Rate: The position above percentage is closely related to overlap rate; it shows those same competitors whose ads were shown during the same auctions as yours.  This time though, the percentage is based on how often the competitor’s ad was shown at a higher position than your ad in an auction.

Top of Page Rate: The top of page percentage displays how often your ads and competitor ads were shown in the top 2-3 ad positions.

Overall, the auction insights tool can be utilized in conjunction with standard keyword statistics (CTR, CPC, Quality Score, Cost per Conversion, Avg. Position, etc.) to further help determine where you stand in your competitive market.  For campaigns that are having some trouble – perhaps not getting enough clicks, or with very low CTRs, this tool is a great way to help diagnose the problem and make some corrections.

Posted in Adwords, Adwords Auction Insights, Google, keywords, ppc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Reason for Google’s Push for Autonomous Cars: Advertising

A very interesting story recently broke regarding the legality and politics of autonomous vehicles. From CNN: “Nevada became the first state on Monday to approve a license plate for prototypes of “autonomous vehicles” that drive themselves.” This, of course, is referencing Google’s initiative to develop a fully autonomous vehicle; highlighted by a blind man ‘driving’ the Google car in this CNN video as he exclaims, “look ma, no hands!”

This is a huge step for Google, despite the story being more of a publicity stunt via Google and the State of Nevada than any sort of actual technological breakthrough.  However, the fact that Nevada is willing to back such a controversial initiative is telling.  There has always been quite a bit of backlash to the thought of humans legally getting driven by a ‘hands free’ vehicle within the next ten years.  Questions about safety, legality, and feasibility have all been thrown into the mix by detractors.  However, these types of questions have never deterred Google (or Nevada) in terms of pushing a controversial project that can potentially become a cash cow.

In fact, Google and Nevada are perfect partners.  For Nevada, and more specifically, Las Vegas, the revenue generation options for autonomous vehicles are appealing.   Picture slot machines in your rental car so you can get an early jump on the gambling even prior to arriving at the casino. Perhaps even some complimentary libations to loosen a patron’s wallet strings prior to arrival.

For Google, everything often circles back to their primary source of revenue: advertising.  Currently, Google faces some legal / ethical boundaries in regards to serving ‘full fledged’ advertising to drivers. How would it look if a driver crashed their car because eye captivating ad imagery suddenly flashed across their windshield?  However, take away the primary problem in that advertising equation – the driver – and you have yourself a magnificent form of marketing.

Businesses will literally gain the ability to pull cars into their premises as if they had a tractor beam. Imagine this:  an ad splays across a autonomous vehicle’s windshield, perhaps touting the best burger in San Francisco, as the car whizzes down 101. The human ‘operator’ decides it looks appetizing, and simply clicks the display, which immediately re-routes the car directly to the restaurant parking lot.

Of course, there are quite a few hurdles to be crossed – legal, political, and technological – in order for this scenario to become a reality.  However, Google has been known to work the ‘long tail’ strategy in order to achieve their goals;  building an entire platform from the ground up to indirectly create an advertising eco-system doesn’t seem so unfamiliar.  Perhaps Google is telling us that, for them, there really is no difference between the internet highway and the real highway.

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Google Glasses Advertising Update

Google recently released a video emulation of what it would be like for a wearer to experience the world through it’s upcoming product – Google glasses. The video is complete with the wearer checking the weather when looking out the window, getting directions as he walks down the street, meeting a nearby friend through Google+, and even letting his girlfriend see the sunset through his eyes as he watches it from a rooftop. It all sounds very romantic – however, there is one thing currently missing from the ‘vision’ that is ubiquitous to most Google products and certainly their primary business model – advertisements. Where are the PPC ads laid out by Google Adwords? After all, reaching out to users as they literally are looking at products & services could be an extremely effective platform. Although there are surely some kinks to be worked out (such as how a user might click on an ad, as well as preventing potential hazards from blocking your field of view) Google’s ad team is surely working hand in hand with the team at Google X for seamless integration. There are also quite a few worries that have come up as far as the injection of advertisements into this new world of augmented reality. The vocal community over at Reddit even re-tuned a shot from the video with some interesting injected ad placements and also have been having a lively conversation about the topic.
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Franchise Marketing Tip of the Day: Adwords – Making Use of Your Trademark

Many franchise companies as well as most businesses have proprietary names and brands that are trademarked. This tool can be utilized very effectively through Google Adwords and any other pay per click marketing platform that includes ad titles and copy.

Including a ‘TM’ or ‘®’ symbol within your ad title or copy can visibly improve the click through rate of your advertisement. From a customer’s perspective, this adds credibility to your advertisement and lets you stand out from your competitors. Especially given the fact that you have very limited space to convey a message in your ppc ad, this simple symbol can convey a world of meaning in only one character.

If you are bidding on your own brand name, this is the perfect place to utilize a trademark symbol to separate yourself from competitors that might also be trying to bid on your name and related keywords. Although in the past there was some debate over whether or not to bid on your own name, the general thought today is it’s probably a good practice in most industries and markets. Although there is the chance you could be cannibalizing clicks that would otherwise go your free organic listings, that in general is better than your competitor stealing clicks when high potential customers are specifically looking for your services. In addition, bidding on your brand name and utilizing a trademark symbol in your ad copy can bolster your overall ‘page presence’ which can have a huge effect on a customer’s ‘purchase psychology’ (and therefore improve click through rates and conversion rates overall)

For more information on Franchise PPC or SEO Marketing, feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to answer your questions.

Posted in Adwords, Franchise Adwords, Franchise PPC Marketing, Franchise SEO, Pay Per Click Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Will Google Adwords Incorporate Augmented Advertising?

The big news from Google this week came out of the company’s secret Mountain View ‘Google X’ laboratories that work on long term R&D projects. The New York Times reported that Google’s rumored ‘augmented reality’ glasses would be released to consumers by the end of 2012.  The glasses will run on the Android OS as well as attach to an Android smart phone or tablet, imbuing its wearer with the magical ability to see a different digital dimension as he looks at the world around him.

Augmented reality isn’t new – there are already a plethora of Android and iPhone apps that enable a user to point their phone’s camera at storefronts and historical landmarks to pull up relevant facts and reviews. However, the glasses add an invaluable ingredient to the augmented reality stew – the option to completely ‘plug in’ to a different world.   Although the difference between holding a phone up and wearing a heads up display seems logistical at most, the change is literally worlds apart.  Imagine walking around downtown and seeing digital edits everywhere – notes from friends,  city street soundtracks, construction notices, public transportation estimates, and advertising.

The last note is clearly why Google is moving to become the emperor of augmented reality.  Adwords advertising already reaches users through search results, display network websites, YouTube videos and mobile sites – the next major foray is the real world.  The effectiveness of placing customized ads into the real world – ala ‘Minority Report - would be unquestionable.  Privacy and ethical concerns are obviously an issue, but then again they’ve always been an issue with the internet and that hasn’t stopped advertising from spreading to every corner of the web.

The real question is how Google will fuse augmented advertising and its Adwords platform.  The company’s most successful and lucrative programs have always been Pay-Per-Click (PPC) driven.  Will users be served ‘tidbits’ on their heads up display that entice them to ‘click’ to find out more?  Or will augmented advertising be primarily impression driven; almost a step backwards to the old world style of billboards and paper pamphlets.

This new realm of advertising could actually become a bridge between the primarily data driven digital marketers who work with PPC and SEO and ‘old-school’ advertising agencies who create expansive visual brands.  For a user that is ‘plugged in’ to augmented reality for a large portion of their day – simple text ads floating around probably won’t cut it.   A user will require a more elegant advertising experience that seamlessly works into their line of sight.

 Those advertising agencies that are at the cutting edge of both worlds and can also be open to new creative solutions, will likely be the next generation’s leaders.

Posted in Adwords, Google, Marketing, augmented advertising, google glasses, ppc | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PPC & Adwords Campaigns for New Movie Releases

Pay-per-click campaigns, and more specifically Google Adwords campaigns, are continually becoming utilized in more industries to garner attention for upcoming products.  One industry that appears to be catching on to usefulness of Adwords lately is Hollywood.   I recently searched for the MMA movie ‘Warrior’ (made by Lionsgate) and was greeted with a well-made Adwords ad front and center:

It’s a sure thing that the Lionsgate online marketing team realized that a large portion of their ‘Warrior’ audience would be fans of mixed martial arts, which has a well known demographic between the ages of 16-35.  That is also the type of audience that would be searching for most of their information online – which provokes good reason to utilize Google Adwords to capture that demographic.

Adwords is the perfect addition to a standard Hollywood marketing campaign: it enables an adept PPC management team to launch an effective online campaign in a matter of days while a film is in its pre / early stages of release.   Whether a potential movie-goer is searching for movie times, trailers, reviews, actors or general information about the film, they will have the potential to getting exposed to the Google ad.

Another reason why a PPC campaign can be an effective release tool for movie-makers is due to it’s ability to provide control in an otherwise unstable search engine landscape.  A movie release can be peppered with professional critiques, user reviews, mash up videos and other forms of bad press that could potentially deter people from going to see the film.  Although none of these forms of content are ‘official,’ they could potentially reach a customer’s eyes prior to branded materials.  An Adwords ad shows up on top of a search results page (SERP), and if created in an attractive manner, will direct a user to a film studio’s landing page of choice (official movie site, trailer page, fandango, etc.).  Having this type of movie advertising control is essential to a successful release.

An Adwords campaign also allows a great deal of user targeting for a movie studio.  Let’s take the upcoming film ‘The Hunger Games,’ made by Lionsgate.  The studio  might want to send specific users interested in different actors within the film to different web pages that are tailored to fans of those actors.  Those typing ‘Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games’ would get a different ad / landing page combination than those searching for ‘Elizabeth Banks Hunger Games.’  These ads would likely perform and convert much higher than standard ‘Hunger Games’ ads because of the specific fan demographic.

Insight Forge is experienced in marketing films through online distribution channels, specifically Adwords and Facebook PPC campaigns.  For more information, feel free to get in touch with us at contact@insightforge.com.
Posted in Adwords, Google, Movie Adwords, Movie Marketing, ppc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment