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Google’s John Mueller On Link Velocity and Penalties

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googles john mueller on link velocity and penalties via martinibuster

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about getting links too fast and if that would trigger a penalty. The rate at which links are acquired is known in the SEO community as link velocity. John Mueller’s answer provided insight into the topic of getting links too fast and whether that results in penalties.

Background of Link Velocity

Some of the people who promote the idea of link velocity don’t cite patents or research papers to support their ideas. That automatically makes their claims speculative and not factual.

It’s important to point out that the idea of link velocity was created by the SEO community.

The idea is based on the discovery of a patent. The patent, among many things, mentions measuring the growth of links in the context of time. The patent is named, Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data.

This patent is about a lot of things. For example, it discusses understanding whether an older web page is outdated and if a newer page is more relevant.

Link velocity is the idea that a high rate of link growth is a bad thing. The patent describes how a new site with a high rate of link growth can be judged to be more relevant than an older site.

The patent contains information that contradicts the idea of link velocity.

This is what it says:

“Consider the example of a document with an inception date of yesterday that is referenced by 10 back links.

This document may be scored higher by search engine 125 than a document with an inception date of 10 years ago that is referenced by 100 back links because the rate of link growth for the former is relatively higher than the latter.”

See how that contradicts the idea of link velocity?

That passage highlights the propensity of some SEOs to pick which part of a patent they will believe because it fits their experience and which part they choose to ignore because it does not fit their narrative of how search engines work.

The patent has more to say about links:

“While a spiky rate of growth in the number of back links may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine 125. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine 125 may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.”

There it is. That’s where the idea of link velocity originated. Except it isn’t actually proof that link velocity exists.

The patent doesn’t explicitly say that the rate of growth is the reason why the search engine might lower the rate of growth.

It says that a “spiky rate of growth” in backlinks could cause the search engine to lower the score.

That’s not just semantics. The patent uses the word “spiky” one more time in the context of web graphs. Web graphs mean a map of the Internet as connected by links.

This is what the patent says:

“Naturally developed web graphs typically involve independent decisions.

Synthetically generated web graphs, which are usually indicative of an intent to spam, are based on coordinated decisions, causing the profile of growth in anchor words/bigrams/phrases to likely be relatively spiky.”

What that patent is really talking about is the smooth natural rate of growth versus a spiky and unnatural rate of growth.

A spiky rate of growth can manifest over the course of months. That’s a big difference from the link velocity idea that proposes that a large amount of links acquired in a short period will result in a penalty.

A site that attains sudden popularity and a lot of links fast could be indicative of increased topicality. In that case Google would actually promote that page higher. That’s part of the Query Deserves Freshness update.

A Google update from 2011, Query Deserves Freshness, promotes new content that is topical which can be signaled by an increase in recent links.

So to wrap up:

  1. The patent does not mention link velocity. The word velocity isn’t mentioned.
  2. The patent describes a “spiky” rate of growth as a spam signal.
  3. It discusses rewarding sites that obtain links quickly.
  4. The patent is from 2003.

Yes, that’s an old patent. So, apart from the fact that the patent discusses rewarding quickly obtained links and talks about spiky rates of growth and not link velocity, it’s an old patent.

That makes it less likely to still be a significant part of today’s algorithms. Even PageRank was replaced in 2006.

So all of that is the background on link velocity.

This is What Mueller Says About Link Velocity

Will Link Velocity Cause a Penalty?

This is the question:

“If I build 200 backlinks in two days and didn’t perform any link building for years will Google still see this as black hat and penalize me?

What about link velocity?”

John Mueller answered:

“From my point of view if you’re jumping in with a question like this and you’re saying I’m going to get 200 backlinks in two days… then that sounds a lot like you’re not getting natural backlinks.

That sounds a lot like you’re going off and just buying them or having someone buy them for you. And that itself would be kind of the thing that we would not be happy with.”

Whether a Link is Natural is What Counts

Mueller is setting aside the link velocity question and focusing on how natural the links are.

He specifically says that the quality of the links being purchased is what will cause Google to take action, not the speed of the link acquisition.

Google’s John Mueller Addresses Link Velocity

Mueller then circles back and addresses the so-called “link velocity.”

This is what John Mueller says about link velocity:

“So it’s not so much a matter of how many links you get in which time period. It’s really just… if these are links that are unnatural or from our point of view problematic then they would be problematic.

It’s like it doesn’t really matter how many or in which time.

That is a clear statement that the quality of the links, whether they are natural or unnatural is what counts.

Mueller states that the rate of link acquisition and the time period those links are acquired in are not a factor.

Some in the industry will continue to hold on to the idea of link velocity. Many will say that their experience proves it exists.

But what one sees is one thing. What caused what is seen is something else. Two different things.

I have provided the background showing where the idea of link velocity came from and why it’s never been an accurate SEO theory. John Mueller’s response seems to confirm that the concept of link velocity is not a factor. More importantly, Mueller confirms that it’s factors specific to the link themselves that matter.

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MARKETING

YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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