You can now submit HTML directly to Bing via API, surpassing BingBot; Monday’s daily brief
Plus, the rebranding of local businesses for GMB advantage (and why it doesn’t work)
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Good morning, Marketers, and what do you think of testing in the age of automation?
I sat in on the #PPCChat Twitter Spaces conversation last Friday for a while (and lurked on the Twitter chat earlier in the week too) where paid search experts discussed how automation has affected their testing strategies and plans. When it comes to testing in automation environments in both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising, common complaints include muddy data, less visibility and control over tests, and more difficult implementations.
However, paid search marketers are making it work, designers. Many said they’re working on A/B tests involving ad copy, bidding strategies, landing pages, and audiences. Some are even testing social ads — mostly creative and audience. Check out the chat recap here and let us know what you’re testing and your testing complaints email@example.com.
Director of Search Content
Bing opens content submission API beta
After over two years of teasing us, Microsoft announced the beta release of the content submission API. This is in addition to its URL submission API, where you can submit URLs to Bing for crawling. With the content submission API, you can not only submit your URLs, but also all of the HTML on those pages. This will allow Bing to bypass crawling the page and help you save server resources by avoiding BingBot.
You will need an API key to participate and you can get that API key within Bing Webmaster Tools.
The real-world impact of keyword stuffing in Google My Business
Keyword stuffing has been a hot topic in the Google My Business world for a long time. Keyword stuffing or “adding descriptors” to your name on Google My Business is when someone adds words to their business name on GMB that aren’t part of that business’s actual legal name.
We also know that Google historically and presently takes action on GMB profiles that engage in adding “unnecessary” or “unreasonable” descriptors that don’t match the business’s real-world name.
What we have been observing over the last year is that some verticals, but mainly law firms, are experiencing what contributor Colan Nielsen refers to as a “local SEO phenomenon.” Law firms are legitimately rebranding in order to get keywords into their GMB name without violating Google’s terms.
But this is causing a completely separate ranking issue: Once you get to a point where the entire market is adding descriptors to their actual business names, the ranking power that the keywords provided will diminish — and you’re left with a branding nightmare.
As UGC gets a pandemic bump, brands need to leverage customer content now
Driving brand awareness and conversions through user-generated content isn’t a new tactic for digital marketers, but those methods are finding new levels of success during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Managing content and messaging on social, where audiences and buyers have long been found, isn’t new, but the global pandemic made online pretty much the only outlet for these important segments for marketers. With more time online came more engagement with UGC like reviews.
In fact, 2020 engagement with reviews, which includes searching for, filtering, and clicking to expand and read reviews, was up 50% on average in 2020, according to an analysis by Power Reviews, a platform for UGC management and analytics.
The increase is also driving higher conversions, Power Reviews found. About 5.3% of shoppers who interacted with reviews converted, compared to 4.25% pre-pandemic. At one point in the year, the conversion rate topped 7%.
“Consumers trust what consumers say more than anything else. People want to know what others are feeling and experiencing about a product,” said Keith Nealon, CEO of Bazaarvoice.
Pandemic-driven digital acceleration, Facebook takes on Nextdoor, and duplicate content across ccTLDs
Emerging trends impacting small businesses. “The pandemic drove acceleration to digital even more quickly than we might have imagined a year ago. In many ways, technology has been a saving grace, enabling businesses to drive innovative solutions across industries and stay connected,” wrote Stephanie Worley and Cristiano Ventura for Microsoft Advertising blog.
Facebook takes on Nextdoor with Neighborhoods tool. “Facebook is testing a new tool aimed at helping people get to know their neighbors and local communities, taking on social media app Nextdoor. The social network is testing the feature in Canada and four US cities first,” said Queenie Wong for CNET. This could be another way to target specific areas for social advertising (like many local businesses do on Nextdoor).
If you have multiple sites on different ccTLDs with the same English content, it’s not duplicate content. If you have multiple international sites registered with a .com for the US, .fr for France, .de for Germany, etc. and some or many of those pages have the same English language you find on the .com version that is not duplicate content, says Google.
What crossword puzzle tournament-winning AI tells us about our own brains
Did you know there is a national crossword puzzle tournament? I was unaware until I read this article by Ben Zimmer for Wired. This is the first year that AI has topped the human brain in the competition — completing crossword puzzles faster and more accurately than anyone else. The AI’s name, of course, was Dr. Fill. (lawlz)
If you’re wondering where this connects to marketing, just think about how AI-generated content is on the rise. We’ve got GPT-3, RSAs are now the default, broad match is now phrase match, and more. But just like we preached at SMX Create, automation is not here to take your job just yet.
Zimmer agrees. AI is only as good as the data we train it on, and there are still gaps in how machines connect “thoughts” and derive meaning versus how humans do it. “The human mind often navigates what’s called ‘multi-hop inference,’ in which different bits of knowledge are combined in a chain of reasoning. Teaching an AI to follow such leaps of logic points to the subtle ways that people find meaning in language that may be oblique or downright deceptive,” he wrote.
Machines may catch up one day, but it will only be because we were able to teach them how.