Tips from the pros at SMX Create; Wednesday’s daily brief
Plus, competitors and regulators are sounding off on FLoC.
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Good morning, Marketers, I’d like to share a bit about the mindset I try to adopt — perhaps it’ll help if anxiety sometimes gets the better of you (as it does for me).
In researching and writing as well as programming and attending our SMX conferences, I come across a lot of information that feels like it just goes way over my head. When that happens, I focus on the long game: the goal isn’t to learn something as a one-off but to master it and build on it. And, while there may be tons to catch up on, that will not always be the case if I chip away at it. Similarly, earning the top position for a keyword usually doesn’t happen overnight, so my career development won’t either.
That’s what I was thinking about during SMX Create yesterday, and that’s why we established this year’s series of SMX learning journeys: to give professionals a way to incrementally advance themselves, discover new topics, ask questions and, hopefully, feel invigorated about what they do for a living. Keep on reading for some insights from our speakers that helped me feel that way, I hope they do the same for you!
Check out some of our takeaways from SMX Create
- “Reporting on success is not reporting the numbers, it’s really reporting on goals and KPIs and making sure there’s a direct connection between your KPIs and your goals,” said John Shehata during his session on analyzing content success. John also emphasized the distinction between KPIs and what he refers to as “levers”: “KPIs are company-wide metrics and ‘levers’ are team-specific metrics . . . Each team could have their levers, and these levers can influence the KPI.” Knowing which is which can help you keep your campaigns on the right track and moving towards your ultimate goal.
- “As PPC managers, we need to balance two conflicting realities: Our algorithms need time and an investment in data, but we also need to ensure that our clients don’t go out of business while waiting for an algorithm to learn,” said Patrick Gilbert. His suggestion? Reduce the size of the learning environment and increase the quality of data that exists in that environment–you can speed up the rate at which the algorithms provide accurate predictions.
- “As SEOs, we often tell writers what to create based on what’s already ranking, which makes sense, but then what you publish is exactly like what already exists,” Aja Frost said, “So, finding a way to match what’s already there and then take it to the next level will really help your content perform.” Your business is unique and so are your audience’s needs; tune into those needs to create content that also stands out.
- “[The client] started putting reviews on the sales associates’ bio pages and that created some really healthy competition within the sales team because they all really wanted to have as many reviews about them as possible . . . and so it really incentivized the sales associates to start asking for reviews and create that culture,” Alli Berry said, pointing out a creative way to further your reputation and local SEO. Soliciting reviews can be difficult, but there are gains to be had for businesses that can find a creative way to get them.
- “Speak to your or your clients’ customer service teams and ask about the common questions, problems, and complaints that they get,” Charlie Byrne suggested, “And then preemptively address those [in your ad copy]. This tactic can also be used with positive feedback to showcase your product’s strengths.
The 2021 Search Engine Land Awards are open for entries
Once a year, we highlight the industry’s most innovative professionals and campaigns with the highest honor in search marketing — the Search Engine Land Awards.
This year’s awards are now open for entry and it’s easier than ever to apply: We’re no longer requiring metrics and campaign stats; you can simply send us an executive summary (750 words or less) that showcases your team’s award-worthy performance during the last year.
In 2020, we introduced the inaugural Search Engine Land Award for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Search Marketing, and this time around, we’re adding three new categories: Boutique Agency of the Year (for both SEM and SEO agencies) and Freelancer of the Year.
As a judge, I can tell you the competition is tough, but it’s worth it for a shot to earn an accolade that can distinguish your business from competitors and to recognize your team’s efforts.
Niche players move to block FLoC
Brave’s stance on FLoC is exactly what you’d expect. Brave, the privacy-focused browser company, has announced that it’s removing FLoC, Google’s replacement for third-party cookies, on its desktop and Android versions. In the announcement, the company made a number of arguments as to why FLoC is harmful to both users and publishers — here’s my favorite quote: “For the Web to be trusted and to flourish, we hold that much more is needed than the complex yet conservative chair-shuffling embodied by FLoC and Privacy Sandbox.” Those are some zesty words, but they’re also what you’d expect from a Chrome competitor seeking to differentiate based on privacy.
DuckDuckGo also chimes in. For users who want to continue to use Chrome but aren’t on board with Google’s new ad targeting tech, DuckDuckGo is promoting its Chrome browser extension to block FLoC. Both Brave and DuckDuckGo cite privacy concerns as justifications, but Google is also pushing user privacy as a reason why people should embrace FLoC, yet here we are. The landscape isn’t as simple as Google’s word vs. its competitors’ — keep on scrolling to learn why Google may also face regulatory pressure as FLoC rolls out.
Google Marketing Livestream is set for May 27. After skipping 2020, Google Marketing Live is back with a slightly tweaked name to reflect the digital nature of the event. The company has a history of making big announcements and introducing new products here. You can register and watch it live or head on over to (you guessed it) Search Engine Land, where we’ll cover all the announcements that are important to search marketers. And, with all the controversy surrounding FLoC, my money says the company will present some interesting findings to counter its opponents.
Is it an illegal monopoly if user privacy improves, but competition suffers?
“What Google is doing is trying to not rethink its business model,” said Carissa Véliz, author of Privacy is Power. “In Spanish, we would call it a refrito—something you cook again, trying to make it look like a different dish.” That’s my favorite quote from Wired’s article “Antitrust and Privacy are on a Collision Course,” because it’s funny and because I believe it’s accurate — which either makes it funnier or more tragic.
The piece discusses how Facebook and Google are facing legal scrutiny for seemingly contradictory reasons: a coalition of states filed suit against Facebook for weakening user data protection, and another coalition of states has accused Google of anti-competitive practices related to increasing user privacy protections (yes, that’s right, we’re talking about FLoC). However, the truth is that Google isn’t taking flak because FLoC will reportedly insulate user data from advertisers, it’s because FLoC is Google’s closed ecosystem.
The question then becomes, if a business puts forth a new initiative to improve their services for users, but the business also gains a competitive advantage as a result, is it an illegal monopoly? If the answer is “no,” then I think businesses like Google will have their playbook handed to them: as long as they take care of their users, they’ll be able to obfuscate potentially anti-competitive strategies. If the answer is “yes,” then perhaps we’ll see a cascade of regulation that attempts to address the nuances that have now become commonplace in our industry.