You can report indexing issues directly to Google now; Plus, in-person events back in 2022; Thursday’s daily brief
Google updates in-SERP travel planning tools as well
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, and are you the kind of person who needs background noise to work?
I’m the kind of person who relishes working in absolute silence. Maybe I need to hear the cogs of my own brain turning in order to sort things out, but there’s nothing like listening to just … nothing. My partner, on the other hand, is a verbal processor. In order to work through things, he has to talk through them. Opposites attract?
And thanks to COVID work from home, we have been working from the same townhouse for over a year now. We’ve made it work by separating our working spaces by an entire floor (yes, I shoved him in the basement) and by setting boundaries about when he can come up and work through his work ideas via word waterfalls.
I can’t help but think that people like him will be some of the FIRST in line when in-person events are open and safe again. And, I’ll admit, even I, president of the official introverts club, kinda can’t wait to see some in-person sessions and chat with real humans face-to-face in giant, sunlit expo halls (even if only just for a few moments). I’m not alone, according to our Events Participation Index survey. Check out the details below.
Director of Search Content
Google announces travel advisory notices and updates to its trip planning tools
Google continues to push towards making itself an all-in-one travel planning resource with the addition of more COVID-related travel advisory information in search, a redesigned Explore section within google.com/travel and road trip support for Maps on desktop. This endeavor dates back over a decade to when Google purchased ITA Software to create its flight search engine. Now, users can comparison shop for flights, plan road trips and stay informed about travel restrictions all in one place.
When users search for travel-related queries, Google will show advisory details for their destination (shown above), such as whether visitors must provide their immunization records, proof of test results or if they must quarantine once they arrive; signed-in users can also opt-in to receiving email notifications for advisory updates. The revamped Explore section now shows more destinations on the map, like national parks and smaller cities. And, road trip support in Maps on desktop enables users to select from different types of places to stop at.
These feature updates may help Google keep users in its ecosystem, making it more difficult for the company’s competitors in the online travel industry. There may also be trickle-down effects for marketers as we must leverage the platforms that our audiences use (in this case, Google) to market to them.
Google now lets you report indexing issues with your site
Google has added a new feature to report an indexing issue directly to their search team. You can access this feature in the footer of the URL inspection help document and indexing coverage report document. Google is “currently piloting this in the US only and it should be fully available to all in the US within a week or less,” the company said.
Why we care. One of the more common issues we have seen SEOs struggle with is indexing issues with Google Search. Most of the time, Google would say those issues are related to technical or quality issues with the website, but sometimes they can be issues with Google Search. In fact, we reported numerous confirmed indexing issues with Google over the years.
This form gives both Google and SEOs a method to escalate these indexing issues with Google Search.
Google Ads earnings up 32% while Microsoft Advertising earnings up 17%
Both Microsoft (Bing) and Alphabet (Google) announced earnings last night and both had pretty big uplifts with their search advertising revenues and earnings. Microsoft was up 17% for its search advertising revenue category and Google was up 32% for its search advertising revenue category, year-over-year.
“Alphabet reported strong year-over-year growth across all three of Google’s lines of ad business, with search and Network Members revenues up about 30% and YouTube up about 49%. This performance was at or slightly above our expectations for the quarter, meaning Google is on track for a forecast of 25.3% growth in net ad revenues worldwide for this year. Google’s Network Members revenue, in particular, grew faster than we expected, suggesting broad strength in the programmatic display ad market as well as at Google’s owned and operated properties. These results show Google’s digital ad offerings are continuing to attract more advertiser interest,” said Nicole Perrin, eMarketer principal analyst for Insider Intelligence.
In-person events for marketers may be back in early 2022
The majority of marketers are ready to come back to in-person conferences by the start of 2022. But improvements in virtual conferences and lingering uneasiness about the pandemic will likely mean smaller shows at the outset. The data derives from the March edition of the Events Participation Index survey, which we have fielded regularly since the beginning of the pandemic.
About 38% of the nearly 250 marketers we surveyed in March said it is extremely likely that they will attend an in-person show in the first half of 2022, while about 45% gave the prospect a moderate to somewhat likely possibility. The numbers shrink as you get closer to the present, with only 21% saying it is extremely likely they would attend in-person events in the fourth quarter of 2021 and an even smaller 17% saying it is extremely likely they’d attend in the third quarter.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave new life to digital events. The pivot from in-person also equalized experiences, as major trade shows and smaller regional conferences were generally reduced to video-based education and networking. It’s a medium that found an audience out of necessity, and it’s likely to stick around.
About 92% of marketers who took our survey said organizers should keep offering virtual events even when in-person events return. And the reasons are not surprising. Most cited the ability to attend more events and to more easily integrate them into their schedules. Others cited safety during the pandemic and the lesser environmental impact of digital shows. But most often respondents cited the expense.
Verizon is the latest to test a FLoC alternative
Privacy is the topic du jour, and it seems like almost everyone is in the race to figure out how to preserve the privacy of internet users by eliminating the need for third-party data while still being able to serve them targeted and customized ads. Google, of course, introduced FLoC, which plans to bucket consumers by interest and allow advertisers to market to those interest groups — which effectively cloaks individual data, according to Google.
“Verizon Media became the latest player to enter the space earlier this month with the launch of Next-Gen Solutions, a tool that helps advertisers and publishers target audiences without any online identifiers. Using artificial intelligence (AI) trained on first-party data from Verizon Media websites like Yahoo, Next-Gen Solutions infers audience characteristics based on context and real-time signals from devices. Similar to Google’s FLoCs, Verizon’s solution does not rely on cookies, mobile app IDs, or hashed email. What differentiates the product is that Verizon’s Next-Gen Solutions requires no user-level profiles, and it works across multiple Internet browsers,” wrote Stephanie Miles for Street Fight Magazine.
Why we care. “This is going to fuel the next generation of ad tech solutions,” said Patrick O’Leary, CEO of the publisher ad sales CRM Boostr. “Marketers will likely be confused and will need to run lots of experiments to find what gives them comparable or better ROAS than targeting solutions based on third-party cookies.”
What does hybrid mean to you?
As more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 the idea of going back to in-person events is becoming more realistic (see our survey data above). Although many events will remain online until 2022, it’s the time to start thinking about what events will look like post-COVID. I don’t expect an immediate return to what was considered “normal” before the pandemic. It’s likely that events as we knew them have changed forever.
More and more, I hear about hybrid events, but I’m realizing that hybrid means different things to different people. I’ve seen explanations describing hybrid events as in-person events with sessions that are live streamed at the same time. Another description of hybrid events is one larger in-person event with smaller virtual events on the same subject matter happening throughout the year.
Rising Media, producers of SMX London, SMX Munich, SMX Paris and others are trying an innovative hybrid event idea for SMX Advanced Europe taking place June 21-22 that has piqued my interest. Sandra Finlay, Conference Director at Rising Media explained their plan. SMX Advanced Europe will take place virtually. However, there will also be in-person hubs throughout Europe for a maximum of 10 people each depending on local COVID restrictions.
At these hubs, attendees will watch virtual sessions and will have the added benefit of interacting with others in-person. In some cases, there will be speakers presenting their virtual sessions from these hubs and a lucky few will get to witness the session in person. If Europe experiences more COVID restrictions that won’t allow for the hubs, the event will continue as planned virtually.
I loved this creative idea for a hybrid event that allows attendees an option for an in-person experience if they choose it. It feels like a step toward getting back to some definition of normal.
What do you want to see in a hybrid event? Let me know at email@example.com
Pinterest replaces mall visits, changing nav to improve SEO and addictive social media algos
Pinterest earnings show 30% YoY increase in users. “The sudden increase in focus on eCommerce saw Pinterest benefit from a significant surge, as it replaced regular mall visits for shopping, providing connection to a broad range of artisan goods aligned to user interests,” wrote Andrew Hutchinson for Social Media Today.
Can changing your header nav help rankings? Yes, according to a case study from Holly Miller Anderson. “Post launch, roughly 70 days until now (the early part of April), the new URLs in the header nav are contributing 35% of site Visits… None of the new URLs were previously in the header nav so that’s an additional 35% of traffic on top of the URLs that were contributing, on their own, roughly 56% of Visits. Not a bad return.”
Senators want more transparency into ‘addictive’ social media algorithms. At a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Senators signaled interest in increased transparency regarding how social media and video algorithms are built and work. “Misinformation is not in our interest. Our business relies on the trust of our users, but also our advertisers who on our platform advertise on single pieces of content,” said Alexandra Veitch, YouTube’s director of government affairs and public policy for the Americas and emerging markets.
The Black experience at work in charts: The pipeline is broken
McKinsey’s latest report on Black Americans’ experience in the US workplace pulled data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as 24 companies representing 3.7 million US employees. “The scale of the issues facing Black US workers is massive, and the roots of the problem are deep,” concluded authors Bryan Hancock, James Manyika, Monne Williams, and Lareina Yee.
One major issue, among the ten listed, is a lack of representation in management at leadership. “Companies often lack Black leaders and miss out on the known benefits of diversity. Those employees who do become managers rarely reach the very top levels,” said the authors. There are only four Black CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. If these companies represented the actual population density, this number would be closer to 60, the data points out.
It makes sense then, that Black workers report a lack of managerial sponsorship and allyship. “Research describes an “emotional tax”—a heightened feeling of being different that has detrimental effects on health—that Black employees experience at work. Sponsorship and allyship can diminish that feeling, but only one-third of Black employees report having even one sponsor,” according to the McKinsey data.
So what’s the solution? The study authors suggest companies redouble their efforts along five lines:
- Define your company’s aspiration for advancing racial equity
- Understand your company’s current state of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Strategically prioritize interventions
- Reinforce what works — and reimagine what doesn’t
- Track progress to increase accountability