Pew: The Majority of Americans Now Own Smartphones

For the first time ever, Pew Research Center can say that the majority of American adults own smartphones.

Not the majority of American adult cellphone owners, mind you. They mean that the majority of all American adults now have a smartphone.

56%, in fact. That’s quite the milestone.

Here’s how Pew explains it:

55% of cell phone owners say that their phone is a smartphone; 58% of cell phone owners say that their phone operates on a smartphone platform common to the U.S. market. Taken together, 61% of cell owners said yes to at least one of these questions and are classified as smartphone owners. Because 91% of the adult population now owns some kind of cell phone, that means that 56% of all American adults are now smartphone adopters.

35% of people have a cellphone, but not a smartphone and only 9% are total non-adopters, carrying no cellphone at all.

As far as the breakdown goes, men lead women in smartphone adoption (59% to 53%) and 25-34 year-olds lead (81% adoption) the age groupings. iPhone users make up 25% of the total smartphone user base, and Android leads with 28%. iPhone continues to lead with upper-income families – half of cellphone owners with a household income of at least $150,000 say they use iOS.

You can check out more demographic breakdowns here.

By | June 5th, 2013|Our Blog|Comments Off on Pew: The Majority of Americans Now Own Smartphones

Google Is Hiring For Google Fiber Projects In Canada

For the time being, Google Fiber is a strictly Kansas City affair. The company has said it would like to expand, but it probably wont do anything until Google Fiber is fully available to both Kansas Cities. That being said, the company is expanding its Google Fiber operations and that can only be a good thing.

The Financial Post reports that Google is currently looking for three people in the Kitchener, Ontario area to work on Google Fiber projects. The jobs currently available are a product manager, a test engineer and a software engineer. All three positions will be responsible for helping Google build mobile apps to complement its current Google Fiber service.

The product manager is the most interesting job posting because it definitely alludes to Google Fiber launching in more locations in the future. Here’s the responsibilities listed in the posting:

Identify unique experiences and use cases targeted for each local market Integrate with other Google properties to deliver these experiences Create detailed go-to-market plans for product launch(es) Research markets and competitors Define product vision, roadmap and future direction

So what’s the big deal here? Every product manager has those responsibilities. What does any of this have to do with Google Fiber expansion? In all honesty, it could just mean that Google is looking for people in Canada to help develop mobile apps for its current Google Fiber expansion in Kansas City.

We could, however, look into this deeper, and suggest that Google may be keeping an eye on the Canadian market as a potential location for expansion. ISPs in the country are generally disliked for using abusive data caps that make the use of services like Netflix all but impossible. Much like any city in the U.S., Canadians would welcome the advent of Google Fiber with open arms.

Once again, it’s worth pointing out that Google may not have any plans for Canada at all. The company is hiring employees for Google Fiber projects in New York, and there’s little chance that such a large city would get Google Fiber anytime soon. So it’s best to keep our expectations in check, and just be envious of our neighbors in Kansas City who are getting blindingly fast Internet.

By | February 22nd, 2013|Our Blog|Comments Off on Google Is Hiring For Google Fiber Projects In Canada

Comparing Desktop vs Mobile Usage

With so much interest and buzz around mobile and its impact on search, this recent study by the Harris Poll was telling and helpful from an SEO and link building standpoint. 

Harris asked smartphone users about their habits and which appliance they used when performing certain online tasks like reading email and researching goods.   They polled 2400 adults, 991 of whom use a smartphone.  Here are a handful of interesting results from the survey with potential to influence SEO:

Uses a computer (desktop/laptop)   %

Uses a smartphone   %





Take surveys


Take surveys


Research good or services


Research goods and services






Read work emails


Read work emails


Send work emails


Send work emails






Read social media on sites/apps such as Facebook & Twitter


Read social media on sites/apps such as Facebook & Twitter


Share social media


Share social media



The fact 81% of the people polled use a computer to research or take a survey isn’t surprising, both tasks are easier from a visual and aesthetics view when done on a large screen.   But… 45% mobile users is not a number to dismiss.  Both numbers reinforce a number of SEO points:

  1. Keep your visual and written content separate so anyone using a smartphone can easily click to what they want to find. Good case for building a presence on Pinterest or Flickr if you have a lot of visual products.
  2. Keep producing descriptive, informative and up-to-date content for your website. (Don’t send it away!)  Promote what you write through social media, email distribution lists and on your blogs, forums, etc.  
  3. Use a “social media” type press release when announcing new products and major content additions to your site.
  4. For affiliate marketers:  A growing number of shoppers use bricks and mortar stores as “showrooms” before going back online to make a purchase.   Keep your best promotions and discounts on your site rather than on sites like Coupon Cabin.  Create an app to alert people when new products and discounts are available. 
  5. Add RSS sign up options on all pages especially those with content and discounts.
  6. Promote new content through an app as well!

Read/Send eMail

If you use email in any way to build links, know more people use computers to read and send work email than mobile devices. 

  1.  If you are contacting people for content or link placement and doing it after business hours, know more people will see your message on their smartphones.  Keep the email short and to the point, if you need to use images link out rather than embed.
  2. Keep in mind most people using smartphones do so when they are on the move or after business hours.  Either scenario means you need to hook their attention the second he/she opens the email.  Work hard to make subject lines pop and state your mission in the first sentence or two. 

Social Media

Based on the percentages shown here, people like their social media no matter what device they are on! 
  1. Include social media share elements on everything you publish (even PDF’s)
  2. Create a Google Plus account and establish authorship
  3. Use niche social media sites as well as the big boys
  4. Mix up the type of content you use, create contests for Twitter and polls on Facebook

Final Tip:

Although this wasn’t included in the Harris Poll, the fact people are using their smartphone 45% of the time to research goods and services  warrants a mention:  add a click-to-call option and/or telephone number on all your mobile pages as well as links to your full website and email.

The full version of this post can be found in our SEOBook forum.

Categories: publishing & media

By | February 10th, 2013|Our Blog, Support|Comments Off on Comparing Desktop vs Mobile Usage

Pew: 1 In 4 Plan To Cut Back On Facebook Use In 2013

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has released some findings from a survey about American Facebook users. The data comes from just over 1,000 adults in the continental U.S. via telephone interviews, so that’s roughly a millionth of Facebook’s user base. Stats are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies, Pew says.

According to the survey, one in four users say they plan to cut back on Facebook usage this year. 3% of them say they plan to spend more time on the site, 27% say they plan to spend less time on the site, and 69% say they plan to spend around the same amount of time on the site.

“Young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement,” says Pew. “Some 38% of Facebook users ages 18-29 expect to spend less time using the site in 2013, although a majority of users across age groups anticipate that their Facebook usage will remain largely stable in the year to come.”

Two thirds of online American adults are Facebook users, according to Pew, and 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from the social network for a period of several weeks or more. 20% of the online adults who don’t currently use Facebook say they used to. 8% of those who don’t use it say they’re interested in doing so in the future.

These are the most popular reason researchers were given for why people took breaks from Facebook:

Perhaps more telling are the verbatim reasons Pew shares:

“I was tired of stupid comments.”

“[I had] crazy friends. I did not want to be contacted.”

“I took a break when it got boring.”

“It was not getting me anywhere.”

“Too much drama.”

“You get burned out on it after a while.”

“I gave it up for Lent.”

“I was fasting.”

“People were [posting] what they had for dinner.

“I didn’t like being monitored.”

“I got harassed by someone from my past who looked me up.”

“I don’t like their privacy policy.”

“It caused problems in my [romantic] relationship.”

By | February 5th, 2013|Our Blog|Comments Off on Pew: 1 In 4 Plan To Cut Back On Facebook Use In 2013

Is Google Concerned About Amazon Eating Their Lunch?

Leveling The Playing Field

When monopolies state that they want to "level the playing field" it should be cause for concern.

Groupon is a great example of how this works. After they turned down Google's buyout offer, Google responded by...

adding offers ads directly in the search results partnering with over a dozen competitors in the space acquisitions that would later lead to layoffs.

The same deal is slowly progressing in the cell phone market: “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want."

Leveling Shopping Search

Ahead of the Penguin update Google claimed that they wanted to "level the playing field." Now that Google shopping has converted into a pay-to-play format & has opted out of participation, Google once again claims that they want to "level the playing field":

“We are trying to provide a level playing field for retailers,” [Google’s VP of Shopping Sameer Samat] said, adding that there are some companies that have managed to do both tech and retail well. “How’s the rest of the retail world going to hit that bar?”

This quote is particularly disingenuous. For years you could win in search with a niche site by being more focused, having higher quality content & more in-depth reviews. But now even some fairly large sites are getting flushed down the ranking toilet while the biggest sites that syndicate their data displace them (see this graph for an example, as Pricegrabber is the primary source for Yahoo! Shopping).

Some may make the argument that a business is illegitimate if it is excessively focused on search and has few other distribution channels, but if building those other channels causes your own site to get filtered out as duplicate content, all you are doing is trading one risky relationship for another. When it comes time to re-negotiate the partnerships in a couple years look for the partner to take a pound of flesh on that deal.

How Google Drives Businesses to Amazon, eBay & Other Platforms

Google has spent much of the past couple years scrubbing smaller ecommerce sites off the web via the Panda & Penguin updates. Now if small online merchants want an opportunity to engage in Google's search ecosystem they have a couple options:

Ignore it: flat out ignore search until they build a huge brand (it's worth noting that branding is a higher level function & deep brand investment is too cost intensive for many small niche businesses) Join The Circus: jump through an endless series of hoops, minimizing their product pages & re-configuring their shopping cart PPC: operate at or slightly above the level of a non-functional thin phishing website & pay Google by the click via their new paid inclusion program Ride on a 3rd Party Platform: sell on one of the larger platforms that Google is biasing their algorithms toward & hope that the platform doesn't cut you out of the loop.

Ignoring search isn't a lasting option, some of the PPC costs won't back out for smaller businesses that lack a broad catalog to do repeat sales against to lift lifetime customer value, SEO is getting prohibitively expensive & uncertain. Of these options, a good number of small online merchants are now choosing #4.

Operating an ecommerce store is hard. You have to deal with...

sourcing & managing inventory managing employees technical / software issues content creation marketing credit card fraud customer service shipping

Some services help to minimize the pain in many of these areas, but just like people do showrooming offline many also do it online. And one of the biggest incremental costs added to ecommerce over the past couple years has been SEO.

Google's Barrier to Entry Destroys the Diversity of Online Businesses

How are the smaller merchants to compete with larger ones? Well, for starters, there are some obvious points of influence in the market that Google could address...

time spent worrying about Penguin or Panda is time that is not spent on differentiating your offering or building new products & services time spent modifying the source code of your shopping cart to minimize pagecount & consolidate products (and various other "learn PHP on the side" work) is not spent on creating more in-depth editorial time switching carts to one that has the newly needed features (for GoogleBot and ONLY GoogleBot) & aligning your redirects is not spent on outreach and media relations time spent disavowing links that a competitor built into your site is not spent on building new partnerships & other distribution channels outside of search

Ecosystem instability taxes small businesses more than larger ones as they...

don't have as generous of terms with pushing items back on the supplier often get products at higher price-points due to delivering smaller volumes & not being "bigger than Japan" lack the offline sales channels to move product through when an animal from the plex hits their sites lack large capital reserves & generally don't have credit on as favorable terms can't bribe governments for special deals & can't rely on government subsidies for most of their profits

The presumption that size = quality is false. A fact which Google only recognizes when it hits their own bottom line.

Anybody Could Have Saw This Coming

About a half-year ago we had a blog post about 'Branding & The Cycle' which stated:

algorithmically brand emphasis will peak in the next year or two as Google comes to appreciate that they have excessively consolidated some markets and made it too hard for themselves to break into those markets. (Recall how Google came up with their QDF algorithm only *after* Google Finance wasn't able to rank). At that point in time Google will push their own verticals more aggressively & launch some aggressive public relations campaigns about helping small businesses succeed online.

Since that point in time Amazon has made so many great moves to combat Google:

opting out of participating in Google's PLAs creating brand-specific pages hosted on managed by 3rd party brands & tying into social channels quietly fleshing out their own ad network

All of that is on top of creating the Kindle Fire, gaining content streaming deals & their existing strong positions in books and e-commerce.

It is unsurprising to see Google mentioning the need to "level the playing field." They realize that Amazon benefits from many of the same network effects that Google does & now that Amazon is leveraging their position atop e-commerce to get into the online ads game, Google feels the need to mix things up.

If Google was worried about book searches happening on Amazon, how much more worried might they be about a distributed ad network built on Amazon's data?

Said IgnitionOne CEO Will Margiloff: “I’ve always believed that the best data is conversion data. Who has more conversion data in e-commerce than Amazon?”

“The truth is that they have a singular amount of data that nobody else can touch,” said Jonathan Adams, iCrossing’s U.S. media lead. “Search behavior is not the same as conversion data. These guys have been watching you buy things for … years.”
Amazon also has an opportunity to shift up the funnel, to go after demand-generation ad budgets (i.e. branding dollars) by using its audience data to package targeting segments. It's easy to imagine these segments as hybrids of Google’s intent-based audience pools and Facebook’s interest-based ones.

Google is in a sticky spot with product search. As they aim to increase monetization by displacing the organic result set they also lose what differentiates them from other online shopping options. If they just list big box then users will learn to pick their favorite and cut Google out of the loop. Many shoppers have been trained to start at even before Google began polluting their results with paid inclusion:

Research firm Forrester reported that 30 percent of U.S. online shoppers in the third quarter began researching their purchase on, compared with 13 percent who started on a search engine such as Google - a reversal from two years earlier when search engines were more popular starting points.

Who will Google partner with in their attempt to disrupt Amazon? Smaller businesses, larger corporations, or a mix of both? Can they succeed? Thoughts?

Categories: google

By | December 26th, 2012|Our Blog, Support|Comments Off on Is Google Concerned About Amazon Eating Their Lunch?