Joe Meloni

When a Friday the 13th rolls around, it can bring about panic in people, as they wonder if their superstitions will result in any unfortunate events. Earlier this week, market research firm comScore delivered some less-than-favorable news to former search giant Yahoo, reporting that the company has lost ground in the market for the 10th-consecutive month.

In its monthly analysis of the search market, comScore found that Yahoo dropped 0.4 percent to an even 13 percent of all search queries fielded in the month. This puts the company in an even more ominous position than it had been. Now trailing Bing by 2.6 percent, Yahoo is struggling to stay entirely relevant. While Bing and industry leader Google continue to innovate and bring users new features and capability, Yahoo moves forward without a CEO and nothing but questions arising from marketers and the general population wondering if the company’s services are worth using.

SEO campaigns are increasingly focused on Google and Bing. While Bing powers Yahoo’s results, an increasingly small percentage of the market is using Yahoo for search.

Meanwhile, Bing grew 0.2 percentage points in June, maintaining its successful year. Adding 0.1 percentage points to its share of the market, Google ended the month fielding 66.8 percent of all searches. Even as Bing continues to add to its market share, Google’s massive lead demonstrates its place in the mind of users.

Brafton highlighted a series of improvements Bing has made to its marketing tools recently aimed at helping companies inform their campaigns. These features, such as link disavowing and SEO analysis, will likely attract some to Bing for web marketing help.

However, Bing will need to do a lot more if it hopes to become as much of a resource to marketers as Google. This week, the search giant offered new insights, advising marketers on best practices for successful campaigns. Stone Temple Consulting released an interview with Matt Cutts detailing Google’s most recent efforts at rewarding high-quality website content. According to Cutts, Google has found issues within some infographics. Embedding links within infographics, whether intentionally deceptive or not, may result in the discounting of infrographic links from Google. Cutts and Google believe some organizations may be embedding these links in their visuals unethically to trick people who share the graphics themselves into generating inbound links. This should remind marketers to be transparent about links and create visuals focused on informing and entertaining users so they will willingly share links to the publisher.

Brafton has highlighted a number of the benefits of using infographics, reporting that the use of visual content can help companies drive traffic and demonstrate their position as an authority within their industryies. Infographics, like any other content designed to improve user experience, can be a great compliment to a website. However, unethical SEO practices will always be targeted by Google’s search algorithm updates.

More or less, embedding links within infographics is a shortcut to trying to win links. In his interview with Stone Temple, Cutts also advised marketers to avoid taking any shortcuts in SEO. As Google’s algorithms evolves, the company will snuff out unethical practices to reduce the rankings of webspam sites, as it has with Panda and Penguin.

For companies admirably and wisely following SEO best practices, Google released a new feature in its Webmaster tools aimed at helping companies fix issues that may be hurting their search rankings. Thursday, in its Webmaster Central blog, the company announced crawl error alerts, which detail problem pages.

Brafton reported that the feature could be invaluable for smaller companies using SEO, since they may not have the internal support required to assess every error on their sites. Google alerts to frequent 404 messages, slow-loading pages or problems also come with tips for fixing these issues.

With web marketing, any site errors can result in lost leads or frustrated customers. Given the increased focus on website content, addressing errors quickly is critical to the success of marketing campaigns. Moreover, competition is being increased on the web, with organizations across industries making steady investments in their web presence. RSW/US reported this week that more than half of companies will invest at least 30 percent of their marketing budget to the web.

Brafton reported that increased use of different web marketing channels across most demographics has necessitated the shift to the web. Among the most popular campaigns being rolled out are social and search marketing.

For those relying on social media marketing, the benefits of a strong presence in the channel stretch beyond greater website traffic and an expanded prospect base. A report from Market Publishers found that marketers have been able to save money within their budgets by using social, as well as develop a better understanding of their target audiences.

Brafton reported that social has also helped companies develop more direct lines of communication with prospects and customers.

However, a report from Social Bakers found that many are missing the mark when it comes to serving their customers on social networks. Using Facebook as an example, Social Bakers found that just two of the industries it measured respond to more than half of the Facebook correspondence sent by fans. Missing these opportunities to address concerns or answer questions can negatively impact a brand’s web presence. As Brafton has reported in the past, simply having accounts on these platforms isn’t enough to ensure success. Social’s emergence as the web’s version of word-of-mouth marketing makes its imperative that customer feedback is given response.

Moreover, managing a social marketing strategy has become an increasingly complex task. 33Across reported that 70 percent of companies spend 80 percent of their time on social with platforms other than Facebook.

Brafton reported that Google+’s user base has grown to more than 250 million active users, while Twitter counts 140 million users that regularly interact with the site. Managing presences on each of these sites is important, since more prospects and existing customers are using different social platforms.

In general, the web demands a well-rounded presence. Increased use of different social platforms is one thing, but developing a search strategy and ensuring a website is optimized for all users are equally important. Missing a chance to attract prospects through the conversion funnel from any of these touchpoints makes it more difficult to compete. This week, there was guidance from Google and several other companies on effective web marketing. Failing to do so is simply unacceptable for marketers, and it can make any day feel like Friday the 13th.