Search Engine Land https://searchengineland.com News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Wed, 23 Jun 2021 18:33:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.4 Google Search releases spam update on June 23 https://searchengineland.com/google-search-releases-spam-update-349848 Wed, 23 Jun 2021 17:13:31 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349848 If you notice ranking changes today, it might be related to Google's spam fighting efforts.

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Google has announced yet another Search update they’re calling a “spam update.” The spam update runs today, and Google said it will also officially “conclude today.” The company also said it will once again run another spam update next week and will inform us when that update has started and concluded. These updates are one-day updates and do not roll out over a multi-day period like Google’s core updates typically do.

More details. “As part of our regular work to improve results, we’ve released a spam update to our systems,” Google said, although it did not say much more outside of these two Twitter posts. “This spam update will conclude today. A second one will follow next week. We’ll add to this tweet thread when that happens,” Google added.

Google added links to existing documents where it talks about its spam prevention and web admin guidelines, here are those tweets:

Lots of updates going on. In the past three months, SEOs have had multiple Search updates roll out:

Why we care. If you notice ranking changes today, it might be related to Google’s spam efforts and this spam update, so ensure your site is playing by Google’s rules and guidelines.

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Ask the expert – Your top FLoC questions answered: How Google is testing cohorts, what FLoC means for B2B and how it works with cross-device browsing https://searchengineland.com/ask-the-expert-your-top-floc-questions-answered-how-google-is-testing-cohorts-what-floc-means-for-b2b-and-how-it-works-with-cross-device-browsing-349843 Wed, 23 Jun 2021 16:34:34 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349843 Advertisers can make their voices heard regarding FLoC in forums and at open meetings.

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In his highly-rated SMX Advanced session, “FLoC and the future of audiences,” Frederick Vallaeys, Co-Founder & CEO at Optmyzr, dug in to the technology behind Google’s privacy initiatives FLoC, FLEDGE, and TURTLEDOVE. The session also covered how to build strategies to layer on top of Google’s targeting technologies and how to find new opportunities to get an edge over the competition.

After the sessions, Vallaeys took questions from attendees who wanted to know more about how FLoC will work for B2B advertisers, how Google is testing FLoC cohorts, and how advertisers can have their voices heard by big tech in these privacy initiatives.

FLoC cohorts for B2B. FLoC is tougher because in a way it’s less specific. Cohorts are about how to group people together based on similar behaviors. There’s such a wide range of behaviors and the problem here is that I’m going to visit websites about the sports teams that I’m interested in, the cars I’m interested in, fitness activities I’m interested in. But then I’m also going to go and research things that are related to my business PPC, and so that kind of gets mixed in together. The problem is that a cohort by nature is less precise than an individual. The unfortunate answer is, no, we’re not going to be able to do some of these things. We’re at this juncture here where I think we still have the old ways and, as imperfect as they may be, how much can we pull out of it and make that third party relationship, the first party relationship, because then we can actually do something meaningful with it.

What to expect from Google with FLoC. Google has started to test this cohorting mechanism, and I think one of the biggest unknowns at this point is, how exactly do you build the cohorts? You have these two groups of people, and you can cohort them based on the category that they’re interested in (say bikes or cars), or you can cohort them based on the websites that they visited. And one of these cohorts is useful, and the other is less useful, right? And so how exactly do you cohort? 

How Google tests cohorts. Google is testing this all the time. They did one of these tests with cohorts and basically said, we have this courting algorithm, we’re going to put people in these cohort buckets. And we’re going to split test it. In one part of the split test, they used third-party cookie data. So where we know you, as an individual, unique, one user who’s done all these things. In the other, we only know every browser is part of exactly one cohort. But then there are many cohorts that Google could say, were targeting. In that test, they saw that there was actually a very close performance in terms of cost per conversion. And that was the metric they looked at, which is actually good news for us as advertisers, right? It wasn’t primarily about how much money Google makes. It was about how successful are we as advertisers. It’s still getting those conversions that we presumably care about. So that’s kind of how Google did it and saw pretty close results. 

How to improve the measurement of ads and FLoC. Let me get on my soapbox here for a minute and talk about the thing that’s really huge now. The thing that we can immediately do something about and that too many advertisers do wrong, is they don’t communicate to Google what a conversion is. Yeah, you do conversion tracking, but you don’t really tell Google what it is that you truly care about. Is it a conversion when somebody fills out a form on your page? Or is that conversion but that person who filled out the form was a qualified lead and actually purchase something, right? If we can find ways to put that back into Google, that we’re in good shape because then Google is going to do these tests. And then if they tell us, hey, the results cost per conversion or ROAS is pretty close to what it used to be then we know that it’s actually based on what we care about. But if we’re saying, okay, cost per conversion is good for people filling out lead forms, but our B2B company now sees that half of these people thought they were buying a printer for their home instead or for their enterprise company, then that’s bad, right? But that’s kind of on us to communicate to Google what we really want.

Cross-device browsing and FLoC cohorts. In Chrome, you have the ability to sign in and enable a syncing feature so that your bookmarks and your browsing history basically syncs between all the devices and computers that you have. I thought that this meant, in the weekly process when the cohort gets generated, you would basically come out to the same cohort number. That is not the case, because Chrome does have this wall between itself and the ad system. And any syncing that you do is hidden from the ads system. So it is very well possible that if you use your mobile device in a very different way than your user desktop computer, that you’re going to be cohorted differently. If you use your work computer for work, you might actually get ads that are specific to your kind of work persona. And then on your mobile device or your home computer, you get a different persona, because you fit in a different cohort because you do different things on those computers.

Audience targeting limitations vs. traditional personalized marketing. Microsoft has this proposal called PARAKEET, and Google has FLoC. The fear from advertisers is that so much is going to change that we have to change how we operate. PARAKEET is very explicit about saying all the heavy lifting is going to happen on the ad platform side. As an advertiser, you’re still going to do what you did before. But now instead of targeting an individual, you target a group of individuals. But really, when you dive into FLoC, it is pretty similar. A lot of the heavy lifting has to happen on the ad platform side, I think where Google is maybe a little bit fair is that FLoC is a proposal, it’s evolving quite a bit. So we don’t know exactly what the ad platform is going to build in the end.

Targeting will still be fairly precise. When I started writing this presentation, I had information that said that advertisers would no longer be able to target people who were interested in cars, but you would have to target cohorts. As an advertiser, I’m scared, right? Like, that’s such a fundamental change. How do I even figure out what that cohort IDs as? But by the end of me writing that presentation and talking to Google, they were like: Well, actually, we’ll probably just figure out that certain of these interest categories that we used to have correlate highly to certain of these cohorts, and not precisely. So it’s not gonna be as precise as it was, but it’s still going to be a relatively high index. It’s going to index higher against certain of these targets that we used to have, so we’re still going to pick these targets, and Google’s going to figure out who the ads need to be sheltered. So I mean, I think a lot of that is just it’s going to be handled by the engines.

How advertisers can have their voices heard in these proposals. Visit privacysandbox.com. Google is involved in all the W3C standards and goes to meetings related to ads. We as advertisers can give feedback in the forums related to that. So, understand what’s happening. Put your point of view in because a lot of the people attending these meetings are big players with big vested interests. So the small people amongst them, the small players, we have to put our voice out there too. And we can’t really do that unless we understand kind of what’s happening.

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Google rankings, quality and relevancy; Wednesday’s daily brief https://searchengineland.com/google-rankings-quality-and-relevancy-wednesdays-daily-brief-349832 Wed, 23 Jun 2021 14:00:00 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349832 Also, non-AMP content now in top stories carousel.

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Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, with all these ranking algorithm changes, I thought it would be fun to chat a bit about them.

As you might already know, we had the June 2021 core update roll out between June 2 and June 12, then the page experience update started to roll out on June 15. That one will continue to roll out through the end of August. We are also expecting another core update next month, the July 2021 core update. Even over the weekend we saw a bit of a ranking tremor, which I doubt was related to the page experience update.

Why are core updates so much more impactful than the page experience update? Well, core updates are about quality and relevance whereas page experience is more about how the site is built, and it doesn’t look to see if the site may be relevant or the best to answer the query — it just measures the technical makeup of the site, but not the content.

So when it comes to wanting to really do well in Google Search, organically that is, you want to make sure that your site is of the highest quality and that your content is better than everyone else’s. How fast or smooth your site loads is important, but it is not even close to as important to Google’s relevancy and quality algorithms.

Barry Schwartz,
Director of Quality Management

We are now seeing the Top Stories carousel on Google mobile search results show non-AMP content. Google did tell us this would happen last Thursday, but it did not seem to show up until Monday afternoon. Now that the page experience is live, Google no longer requires AMP for the Top Stories news section. You just need to make sure your pages do well in terms of page experience scores, but AMP is not a requirement.

Why we care. This change enables more publishers to be able to show up in the Top Stories carousel section on mobile. That means more competition for your traffic and your keywords. But it also means that you can optimize your non-AMP pages to do well in the mobile Top Stories section and outrank your competitors that may have decided to use AMP. It also means that if you dislike using AMP and maintaining AMP pages, you can do away with them and have your normal mobile pages rank in the Top Stories section.

Read more here.

Google may suspend merchant sites that show invalid product availability

Google Merchant Center has a new policy named “Inaccurate availability” that is caused “due to inconsistent availability between the landing page and checkout pages on your website,” the company said. This policy replaces the existing “Delivery issues” policy violation and goes into effect on September 1, 2021.

Google explained that a Google Merchant Center account can receive a warning or a suspension when “one or more of your products show as unavailable for purchase at checkout even though they’re displayed as being in stock on your landing pages.” If you are showing users that a product is in stock on the product landing page but when they click to add it to the cart and it becomes unavailable, that can lead to violating this policy.

“It’s a bad customer experience if product availability changes from “in stock” on the landing page to “out of stock” or “unavailable” after the product has been added to a cart, and customers will be less likely to try and purchase from your store in the future,” Google said.

Read more here.

I had the opportunity to speak with John Shehata, the global vice president of audience development strategy & CRM at Condé Nast. Below is just under 40 minutes of video content of the two of us geeking out on SEO and related topics. John Shehata goes way back in the SEO space, so the amount of depth and knowledge he has makes for a great conversation.

We spoke about the early days of SEO, tips on ranking in Google News and Discover, a bit about his Newzdash software, some about Google AMP and how to advance your career in SEO.

Watch here.

Quality, quality and robots

Google Ads missing quality score metrics. Ginny Marvin from Google said there are two possible reasons why Google Ads may not show quality score metrics on your campaigns: The keywords don’t have enough exact match impressions and the keywords need recent exact match impressions to maintain a quality score and may turn back to null when there isn’t enough recent traffic.

Robots and structured data help docs updated. Google has made several changes to the robots.txt help document and various structured data help documents over the past few days. You can see the full list of changes documented on June 18th over here.

Quality changes take time. John Mueller of Google said it can take several months for Google to reprocess quality changes made to a site, so keep that in mind with core updates.

We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.

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The future of digital advertising: Personalization through agility and automation https://searchengineland.com/the-future-of-digital-advertising-personalization-through-agility-and-automation-349836 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 21:08:02 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349836 Get your customers to take action by using an agile approach to digital marketing.

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Building great ad creative is more important than ever to grab your audience’s attention and drive better business results. As a result, agility in digital advertising is becoming a crucial strategy to take advantage of real-time creative opportunities and deliver the most relevant ad to the right customer, even as third-party cookies crumble.

Join Ad-Lib.io — along with marketing experts from Estée Lauder and Shell — and learn why you should not only look at tools but also at marketing processes to encourage collaboration between stakeholders and bridge the gap between creative and media teams.

Register today for “The Future of Digital Advertising: How to Deliver Personalization at Scale with Agility and Automation” presented by Ad-Lib.io.

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Google is pushing hard to make it easier to create ads; Tuesday’s daily brief https://searchengineland.com/google-is-pushing-hard-to-make-it-easier-to-create-ads-tuesdays-daily-brief-349804 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 14:00:00 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349804 Plus, Shopify site owners can finally edit their robots.txt files.

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Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I moderated a number of Q&A sessions at SMX last week and I noticed that quite a few participants were asking about how they could craft content that might show up in search results as part of passage ranking.

Improving your visibility in the search results is generally a good thing, but going out of your way to do so may backfire, especially if you’re sacrificing user experience. Passage ranking is supposed to help users discover information that’s within your content, but not necessarily the main topic of that content — Google SVP Prabhakar Raghavan even used the term “needle-in-a-haystack information” in the company’s official announcement.

If your content incidentally answers niche questions and you’re getting more SERP visibility for it, that’s a nice bonus. But to structure your content in pursuit of that may be a mistake. Here’s why: If your content is surfacing due to passage ranking, that may mean that no one else is really answering that question, which is also likely to mean that search volume is low for that query. And, emphasizing what would otherwise be tangential details in your content (by breaking it out into its own H2, for example) might disrupt the user experience for your main audience, which you should be prioritizing, instead of confusing them with formatting typically reserved for more relevant information.

This doesn’t just apply to passage ranking, though. Always evaluate how a change in favor of more search visibility might impact your audience’s experience before implementing it at scale. After all, all the position ones in the world won’t mean a thing if you just end up alienating your visitors.

George Nguyen,
Editor

Google simplifies YouTube ad creation for SMBs

Examples of the simplified video ad creation workflow on mobile
The new mobile YouTube ad creation workflow (left) and campaign metrics (right).

Google has introduced a new YouTube ad creation workflow designed with SMBs in mind. Now available globally on desktop and mobile, advertisers can create a campaign by simply uploading a video, selecting the audiences they want to reach and designating a budget. Along with the new workflow, the company is also launching a simplified campaign metrics dashboard.

Why we care. Until now, advertisers had to access the full functionality of Google Ads to launch a video ad campaign on YouTube, which may have been an intimidating prospect for SMBs working with fewer resources. This new workflow makes it easier for advertisers to get their campaigns up and running with a user interface that may be more appropriate for their needs and experience level.

Read more here.

Ads Creative Studio will consolidate Google’s various creative advertising tools

Google is attempting to streamline the asset creation process for advertisers working across different mediums. Yesterday, the company announced Ads Creative Studio, a central hub for its creative advertising tools. It’s set to roll out in beta to Display & Video 360 customers at the end of July and to select YouTube Ads customers in September, with additional features being made available to a wider group of users in the months to follow.

When it becomes available, Ads Creative Studio will include Director Mix, Audio Mixer and dynamic display and HTML5, although the company does plan to build out more capabilities over time. Having these tools in one location may help advertisers improve operational efficiency, but it can also make it easier to work across teams as Ads Creative Studio enables multiple users to work on the same project, which might be especially useful when another team is responsible for asset creation.

Read more here.

Finally, Shopify site owners can edit their robots.txt files

Shopify now allows site owners to edit their robots.txt files, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke announced via Twitter on Friday. For Shopify sites, the robots.txt file can be edited through the robots.txt.liquid theme template.

Why we care. Robots.txt files tell search engines which pages of your site they can access. While this is a basic feature, some SEOs and Shopify merchants have been waiting years to receive this capability. “Robots.txt was our most requested SEO feature and we believe opening up access to edit this file will enable store owners to take control over how their content is crawled,” Jackson Lo, SEO lead, growth at Shopify, told Search Engine Land. Now, Shopify store owners can edit their robots.txt files to disallow certain URLs from being crawled, add extra sitemap URLs, block crawlers and so on.

Learn more about Shopify SEO.

Hot takes on CLV, the future of paid media and Google’s wishy-washy explanations of page authority

Guess your customer lifetime value. Tom Fishburne, otherwise known as the Marketoonist, likens estimating CLV with a carnival game, but he also drops some wisdom about how to approach customer acquisition decisions.

Step aside paid media, and make way for the future. Frase’s Bill King is convinced that budgets will shift away from paid ads and to affiliate and influencer marketing. What’s your take? Respond to the thread and feel free to tag me, I’m @geochingu.

Google doesn’t have a notion of page authority. Barry Schwartz unpacks a seemingly simple tweet by Google’s John Mueller. In short, Google seems to require an understanding of the overall site.

Could Google operate an ad exchange that works on behalf of both advertisers and publishers?

Could a lawyer represent both the defendant and the plaintiff? Could a real estate agent represent both buyer and seller? These examples are obvious conflicts of interest. And they’re what Dina Srinivasan, antitrust scholar and consultant with the Texas attorney general’s office on its case against Google, likens Google’s ad exchange business to in her opinion piece for the New York Times.

When federal regulators approved Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, it didn’t require Google to separate the department that helps publishers sell their ad space on exchanges from the department that helps advertisers buy ad space, or from the department that operates the exchange. “The consequence of all this: Websites, apps and advertisers providing consumers with everything from news, games and consumer goods make less money selling ads and have to fork over more money to exchanges and other intermediaries,” Srinivasan wrote.

Right now, antitrust regulators are responsible for correcting competition. Some have been successful, but the litigation process typically takes years. “Lawmakers could solve these problems by giving a federal agency like the Federal Trade Commission the power to police conflicts of interest and pass rules against self-dealing in emerging exchange markets like advertising,” Srinivasan suggested as an alternative. “The approach aligns with recently released draft legislation in the House, which looks to force the biggest companies to divest assets or stop self-preferencing. After all, Congress did this for the stock market, and it may do so with cryptocurrency.”

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Google may suspend merchant sites that show invalid product availability https://searchengineland.com/google-may-suspend-merchant-sites-that-show-invalid-product-availability-349830 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 12:27:19 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349830 Google Merchant Center has a new policy for Inaccurate availability due to inconsistent availability between the landing page and checkout pages on your website.

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Google Merchant Center has a new policy named “Inaccurate availability” that is caused “due to inconsistent availability between the landing page and checkout pages on your website,” the company said. This policy replaces the existing “Delivery issues” policy violation and goes into place on September 1, 2021.

What is the inaccurate availability policy. Google explained that a Google Merchant Center account can receive a warning or a suspension when “one or more of your products show as unavailable for purchase at checkout even though they’re displayed as being in stock on your landing pages.” If you are showing users that a product is available on the product landing page but when they click to add it to the cart, it changes that availability as not available, that can lead to violating this policy.

Google said “it’s a bad customer experience if product availability changes from “in stock” on the landing page to “out of stock” or “unavailable” after the product has been added to a cart, and customers will be less likely to try and purchase from your store in the future.”

Reasons you may have violated this policy. Google laid out some common reasons why you may have violated this policy, they include:

  • Use of IP detection / geolocation. Don’t change the availability of your product based on a user’s location. If you only target certain locations within a country, use regional pricing and availability.
  • Non-functional buy button. The product appears to be available on the landing page, but after pressing the buy button, it shows as out of stock or unavailable.
  • Product cannot be shipped to a home address. During checkout, after providing the shipping address, the product is no longer available and cannot be directly delivered to a user’s doorstep, excluding PO Boxes. If you have a product that’s only available for in-store pickup or that ships to a pick-up point, check the shipping cost guidelines to see whether these options are allowed in your country of sale. Otherwise, ensure your product is excluded from online offers by using the excluded destination [excluded_destination] attribute. Alternatively, you may consider trying local inventory ads.
  • Products are not available to check out within the whole country of sale. If you sell products that are only available in some of the regions of the country of sale, check to see whether regional availability and pricing is available in your country of sale.

Pricing changes also. In February, we reported that Google can also suspend merchants that show higher prices in the cart than they show on the product landing page.

Receive a violation. If you received a violation for this, you can learn more about to handle it over here in this help document.

Why we care. If you run an e-commerce site or have a client that runs an e-commerce site, you should ensure that the product availability that is displayed at checkout matches what is displayed on the landing page.

Do not upset your users by telling them a product is in stock and only after clicking over to the cart page, show that product is no longer available.

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Google top stories carousel now showing non-AMP listings https://searchengineland.com/google-top-stories-carousel-now-showing-non-amp-listings-349826 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 12:13:47 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349826 Are you noticing your non-AMP pages showing up in this spot now?

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When Google announced the rollout of the page experience update a week ago, Google told us that last Thursday Google would allow non-AMP pages to show in the top stories carousel.

Many of us were checking to see if we could spot non-AMP content in the top stories carousel and then on Monday some of us started to see this happening.

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot I was able to capture with the help of Glenn Gabe:

Notice, there is no AMP badge on these articles.

History. Back in 2016, Google said that only AMP pages could show up in the Google mobile version of top stories in Search. LastMay, Google let some local news providers for COVID-19 related stories bypass this requirement.

Now that the Page Experience is live, Google no longer requires AMP for the top stories news section. You just need to make sure your pages do well in terms of the Page Experience scores but AMP is not a requirement.

AMP still can show in top stories. AMP can and will still be displayed in the Google Top Stories section after this update. In fact, Google’s Rudy Galfi told us that the majority of AMP pages already perform very well across all the page experience factors. But if you do not have AMP, then those non-AMP pages can now also rank well in Top Stories.

Google added, “alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories.”

Why we care. This change now opens up more publishers to be able to show up in the Top Stories carousel section on mobile. That means more competition for your traffic and your keywords. But it also means that you can optimize your non-AMP pages to do well in the mobile Top Stories section and outrank your competitors that may have decided to use AMP. It also means that if you dislike using AMP and maintaining AMP pages, you can do away with them and have your normal mobile pages rank in the Top Stories section.

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3 tips for optimizing your clients’ SEO in 2021 https://searchengineland.com/3-tips-for-optimizing-your-clients-seo-in-2021-349699 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 11:00:58 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349699 Helping your clients stay on top of their SEO strategy has never been easy. But it’s getting harder.

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Keywords used to be the be-all and end-all of SEO. If your clients’ sites contained enough keywords, you’d consistently drive traffic. Simple. Unfortunately, that led to companies trying to game the system with keyword stuffing.

That’s why Google has spent the last few years placing an increased emphasis on behavioral analytics instead of just keywords. 

This trend has now fully come to a head, meaning it’s crucial that you focus primarily on your clients’ behavioral analytics when seeking to optimize their SEO. Even more so today because of COVID — as online competition increases, clients are turning to SEO as a revenue lever.

So, where do you start? And what should you focus on to build strong SEO strategies for your clients? 

We answer these questions and more in our eBook,Why you need to re-think your SEO approach in 2021.’ Here’s a preview of the insights you can expect.

The rise of behavioral analytics

Over the past decade, Google has been shifting its goals towards understanding search intent and prioritizing personalized SEO. RankBrain, released in 2015, helped Google better understand search intent. 

It analyzes complex, unknown long-tail queries and links them to other search queries that it has previously encountered — tying an unknown search to known phrases (and the topics related to these phrases).

When a searcher clicks on a particular link, RankBrain assesses various metrics like ‘bounce rate’ or ‘time spent on page’ to discern how satisfied they were with the results they interacted with. 

If the user didn’t appear satisfied, the algorithm will take this on board and adjust the results it displays the next time the searcher has this particular query. Over time, sites perceived to be the most valuable rise to the top. 

BERT, unleashed in 2019, took this one step further. For each search, it analyzes both the keywords themselves and the surrounding words that were included. This helps it better understand the context behind these words (the meaning of the entire phase) so it can provide searchers with more accurate, more valuable SERPs. 

Google’s January 2020 update showed its continued commitment to transitioning away from keyword-based SEO. It explained that companies looking to rise to the top of SERPs should follow the E.A.T approach (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) in favor of keywords alone. 

Those that ignored this advice not only fell behind in the eyes of Google’s latest update but, more critically, failed to provide searchers with valuable information  —  and so rapidly fell behind their more SEO-savvy competitors. 

Simple keyword optimization started to deteriorate with the release of Hummingbird and has been in slow decline ever since. If your agency has typically relied on age-old keyword-based SEO tactics, then you’ve probably seen your clients’ traffic steadily decline before your eyes. 

If this sounds familiar, you can still flip the script for your client’s SEO strategies. Here are three tips to get you started while using Google’s push for behavioral analytics to pull it off. 

Tip 1: Focus on ROI, not traffic 

When it comes to modern SEO, traffic is no longer the gold standard.

You might be thinking: “Wait — what? I mean, driving traffic is the whole reason why you invest in SEO in the first place”. Sure, that used to be true. Nowadays, however, analyzing traffic on its own will see you miss valuable insights.  

Think about it. Would your clients rather that a landing page attracted 100 visitors, none of whom ended up converting, or would they rather attract five visitors, with three of them converting?

Traffic might make you and your clients feel good — but it can often just be a vanity metric. The end goal is to attract visitors that provide your business with value instead of attracting a ton of non-converting visitors (even if your content does satisfy their search intent). 

The Point? Focus on ROI. And that means focusing on behavioral analytics to ensure you are attracting the ‘right’ kind of traffic. 

To get it right, you have to use behavioral analytics — data that provides insights into online consumer behavior – to reverse-engineer your clients’ SEO. 

Start by examining what high-value visitors are searching for and feeding this back into the content that you produce going forward. By focusing on ROI, you’re able to hone in on high-value SEO strategies. 

Tip 2: Replace keywords research with first-party data 

Look, we’re not saying keywords are useless — far from it. Keywords play an invaluable role in displaying subject matter expertise and building topical authority. 

If one of your clients wants to be known as their area’s preeminent orthodontics practice but fails to mention keywords like “Invisalign” or “retainer,” then searchers might not believe that they truly are experts.

That being said, keywords should not be your primary means of attracting high-quality, valuable traffic. 

This is where first-party data (i.e., data that your clients possess regarding their visitors) comes in. It lifts the lid on visitors, revealing what they’re looking for and how they interacted with your site  —  in other words, whether they found what it was that they were looking for. 

Let’s take the orthodontics example mentioned above.

Perhaps your client receives a huge volume of calls from prospects that want to find out more about retainers: how much they cost, whether you get them before or after braces, how they should care for them, and so on. 

By analyzing this first-party call data, you identify a massive gap in your client’s current content strategy —  so you work with them to create an all-encompassing retainers FAQ page. 

The results? They attract more traffic, rise up the SERPs, and win more clients.

Of course, you might think that manually pouring over your clients’ call transcripts is too time-consuming. You’re not wrong. Fortunately, call tracking tools (such as CallRail) allow you to automatically analyze call transcripts in just a few clicks.

Conversation Intelligence leverages AI to transcribe calls while Call Highlights reveals key terms the caller mentioned that might be valuable to your business. 

Tip 3: Prioritize retention 

It’s been said that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. That’s why it’s so important that your clients invest in creating post-acquisition content. 

Not only will they power up their SEO game, but it will also drastically boost their retention rates.

But how do you know where to start? Neither you nor your clients can simply push a button and miraculously redesign their site to prioritize retention. This requires lots of effort and, most importantly, means that your clients have to listen to their clients. 

They need to understand what it is that drove them to their site in the first place. 

They need to find out what customers don’t like about their site as things stand: what they’re struggling with, what frustrates them, and where they struggle to acquire key information that will help them solve their particular pain points  —  even after they’ve converted. 

Just because a customer has bought your clients’ products doesn’t mean they have solved all their problems. Nor does it mean that your clients have done all they can to retain this customer over the long run. 

The most successful companies focus just as much (if not even more so) on retaining existing customers over simply attracting new ones. 

And the best part is, the key to retaining customers at scale lies in one unexpected place: your calls. Tools like CallRail can instantly record and analyze thousands of calls, leveraging AI-based tools to rapidly unearth critical insights. 

This will show your clients what their customers are struggling with, what they’re looking for, and how they can ultimately retain them over the long run.

The effects will be profound. Your clients will attract more traffic as existing customers return to their site in droves to find answers to their post-acquisition questions. You’ll reduce inbound calls to agents, meaning they’ll be able to dedicate their energy to other customers. 

Most importantly, your clients will transform their retention rates — leading to an improved bottom line. 

The ‘new’ SEO normal 

Google’s recent changes might take some getting used to, but there’s no time to waste. You need to get up to speed with the new rules of the SEO game as soon as possible.

CallRail’s new guide spells out the precise steps that agency marketers can take to safeguard their clients’ SERPs going forward. It provides a roadmap on how to hone in your client’s SEO strategy, ensuring that they not only meet their searchers’ intent but that they retain customers long after they initially converted. 

Most importantly, it will demonstrate how you and your clients can flip the switch: focusing on satisfying your prospects and customers’ search intent rather than merely trying to satisfy Google.
Ready to get started? If so, download Why you need to re-think your SEO approach in 2021 to begin your journey.

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Ads Creative Studio will consolidate Google’s various creative advertising tools https://searchengineland.com/ads-creative-studio-will-consolidate-googles-various-creative-advertising-tools-349799 Mon, 21 Jun 2021 17:01:06 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349799 The new asset management hub will be available in beta to Display & Video 360 customers at the end of July and to select YouTube Ads customers in September.

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Google will launch a central hub for its creative advertising tools called Ads Creative Studio, the company announced Monday. Ads Creative Studio will unify tools previously found across YouTube, Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager 360, and will be available in beta to Display & Video 360 customers at the end of July and to select YouTube Ads customers in September, with additional features being made available to a wider group of users in the months to follow.

The features. Ads Creative Studio will include:

  • Director Mix, which can help advertisers create custom videos at scale by swapping out various elements to personalize the video for different audiences.
  • Dynamic display and HTML5 to generate interactive creative for Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager 360.
  • Audio Mixer, which can be used to build audio ads at scale for Display & Video 360.

Google will continue to build on the capabilities of Ads Creative Studio over time, the company said in its announcement.

The asset library. Ads Creative Studio will include an asset library (shown below) to help with asset creation and management.

Google Ads Creative Studio asset library
Image: Google.

Google is also introducing a new workflow that will enable users to specify which creative elements within an ad should be customized for individual audiences.

Why we care. Consolidating Google’s various creative advertising tools into one location may make those tools more useful for businesses than having to find them in different places, which can improve operational efficiency. This new hub will also enable multiple users to work on the same project, which can be important for teams that have to collaborate with other departments. The asset library may be especially useful for businesses in which a brand team is specifically responsible for asset creation. And, whether you’re creating a video, display or audio ad, the workflow for customizing creative is the same, Google said in its announcement, which can also help streamline the creation process.

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Attend SMX Convert for actionable tactics to boost conversions https://searchengineland.com/attend-smx-convert-for-actionable-tactics-to-boost-conversions-349787 Mon, 21 Jun 2021 14:30:00 +0000 https://searchengineland.com/?p=349787 Register by July 31 to secure your All Access pass for just $99!

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It’s an ever-escalating race for top positions on the SERPs. But how do you stake your claim in an increasingly competitive world?

Join us at SMX Convert — online August 17 — for a deep dive into organic and paid search conversion optimization that will equip you with the actionable tactics you need to drive search marketing success.

Your $99 All Access pass unlocks an exclusive two-track agenda programmed by the Search Engine Land experts that covers the latest, most essential SEO and PPC conversion optimization topics, tactics, and trends:

  • Paid search sessions will explore optimization strategies across the growing spectrum of search ad formats, from Shopping to Responsive Search Ads to Showcase Ads and more.
  • On the organic side, sessions will cover on-SERP elements like Featured Snippets, Image Packs, Map Packs, and People Also Ask — all of which can give your brand visibility far and above your competition.

After a few focused hours, you’ll be able to…

  • Identify target keywords to generate content that converts
  • Craft persuasive ad copy for every part of the customer journey
  • Design landing pages that compel visitors to take action
  • Boost organic visibility with SEO-friendly site navigation and CTAs

… and loads more. You’ll also…

  • Hear the latest from Google about user privacy, FLoC, and what that means for advertisers during the keynote discussion between Chetna Binda, Group Product Manager for Trust and Privacy at Google, and Search Engine Land’s Director of Content, Carolyn Lyden.
  • Connect with like-minded marketers during engaging community meetups.
  • Get your specific questions answered live by a panel of expert speakers during Overtime.
  • Soak up actionable tips and best practices during live clinics — real-world audits of content and landing pages.
  • Showcase your commitment to continued training by earning a personalized Certificate of Completion.

Hungry for more? Add a two-day, post-conference workshop to your itinerary and dive deep into landing page optimization or advanced CRO.

Register by July 31 to secure your All Access pass for just $99 — or bundle with a workshop for $209!

Can’t attend live? All sessions, keynotes, and clinics will be available for viewing on-demand so you can train when it fits your schedule. (Meetups not included.)

Psst… The more, the merrier at SMX. Bring your colleagues along for a unique team-building experience and unlock extra group savings while you’re at it!

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