The unofficial start of summer has arrived, but things don’t show any signs of slowing down in search marketing land.


First, big news out of Google: Google Places has been replaced by Google Local in Google+. We figured this would happen someday and here it is. New changes include a new “local” tab in Google+, Zagat reviews, and greater interactivity, and social integration. What do you think?


Using the AdWords “Auction Insights” Feature to Improve your Marketing Efforts from Search Engine Journal gives some great tips about how to use this new (and very cool) feature. Namely, for high quality keyword discovery, Auction Insights allows you to see what keywords some of your competitors are focusing on; for getting insight into your competitors’ media budgets, Auction Insights allows you to see how often competitors appear on Google for specific keywords and how often they are at the top of the page, and for identifying high performing competitor landing pages, check out websites with high impression shares & top of page rates. They probably have a really strong landing page that is driving conversions.


Not everyone is happy about the (nonstop) changes out of Mountain View. To: Google Founders, From: Advertisers, RE: AdWords Rotation & Other Flaws Need Fixing at Search Engine Land is an appeal to Google to give Google AdWords advertisers more of a heads up when major changes will take place. The author points out the removal of ad rotation as the biggest issue he has with the search giant. This is an interesting read that also covers some other issues like bolting the ad site links option to the campaign level and smarter ad scheduling. What’s your biggest beef with the AdWords platform?


Search Engine Watch offers up some tips on Using Personification to Boost Your PPC Ad’s CTR. The author makes an interesting case that searchers are more likely to click on ads that personify objects. The ad title text “1000+ Homes Are Waiting” against “[Phrase] Home Search” with the first ad attracting many more clicks. It would be interesting also to test this on a larger scale.


There are some nice general tips from Search Engine Journal in Avoid an Uphill Climb with Your Company’s PPC Internet Marketing. Useful especially for small business owners managing their own campaigns.


In other search marketing news….


In case you’ve been wondering whether Penguin will make an encore, Search Engine Land’s Google Releases Penguin Update 1.1 posts a tweet on 5/26 from Matt Cutts about a Penguin Update: “Minor weather report: We pushed 1st Penguin algo data refresh an hour ago. Affects <0.1% of English searches. Context:” Matt says that this is the first update since Penguin was launched April 24, 2012.


Search Engine Land’s Google Says Knowledge Graph Has Led to More Searches says that people are really using the Knowledge Graph to dig deeper. Also, the author points out that “more searches means more chances for search ads to show.” Smart, Google.


Search Engine Journal’s Three Crucial Aspects of Web Localization for Businesses is an interesting article about making sure that your website conforms to users in its target countries. The article notes imagery, design aesthetics, and social media localization as 3 of the top elements of appealing to customers in their respective countries.


Finally, Search Engine Land gives a First Report Of Google Penguin Recovery as well as Google’s New Stance On Negative SEO: “Works Hard To Prevent” It, and Why Enterprise SEO Shouldn’t Focus Solely On Keywords.


What’s happening in your neck of the PPC woods?  Have a great weekend!