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SEO Highlights in April

April 2021

April was a good month for SEO. With deadlines extended and the 2020 Spam Report published, there’s been a lot of information to digest. For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and Uprise Up, you can sign up to our Newsletter.

Rollout of the Page Experience Update delayed to June.

No doubt many website owners breathed a sigh of relief when Google announced their decision to delay the rollout from May to mid-June. Time pressures have been eased as websites have longer to ensure their pages provide a good page experience. Search Console has also updated to include a new Page Experience Report, which makes it much simpler to see how your site currently performs and understand the areas you need to prioritise.

The rollout will now be a more gradual process, with Page Experience not expected to be a full ranking factor until the end of August. This change in tactic will make it harder to measure the impact of the update, as the ranking factors slowly merge with the search algorithm. This change does mean there won’t be any drastic changes to results, which for some sites should soften impact and give them a better chance of resolving any ongoing issues with their performance before the update has any serious detrimental effects.

 

What does the update include?

It’s been previously revealed that the Page Experience Update  will consider several signals for page experience, including the metrics included in Core Web Vitals (FID, CLS, LCP).

 

We can see Google is making a clear move away from favouring AMP, with the update set to bring regular non-AMP pages into the results more. AMP will no longer be required to feature in the Top Stories Carousel; once the update goes live all news content will be eligible for this feature. The AMP badge will also be removed from AMP results, removing that distinction. So, if you’re a site that relies on AMP I’d suggest really focusing on guaranteeing your non-AMP pages have similar load times on mobile, because from June onwards AMP is unlikely to provide you the value it once did.

 

Webspam Report 2020.

Another year, another Webspam Report was published! As expected, the presence of spam has only continued to grow over the past 12 months, from 25 billion pages being discovered daily in 2019 to 40 billion in 2020.

 

This growth includes increasing levels of hacked spam. Big or small, there’s no discrimination when it comes to being hacked. All sites are vulnerable. In fact, Google found that sites Search Consoles’ were being hacked, with the culprit posing as the Owner and using the ‘request indexing’ feature to get the spammy pages crawled and indexed. A good tool being misused. Whilst Google can take action against hackers, websites can also help through the practice of good security.

 

In the report more emphasis was placed on fighting spam ‘smarter’. As a part of this we can see the continued evolvement of AI, as Google developed a spam-fighting AI. They consider this to be a revolutionary update to their approach to spam and as a result, have reduced sites with auto-generated or scaped content appearing in the SERPs by more than 80% (compared to a few years ago). This advancement definitely highlights the clamping down on low quality content; spam or even content that fails to serve the needs of the user will not be shown.

 

Google has also been focusing their anti-spam efforts more on important topics, such as queries related to Coronavirus. Having spent most of last year in a global pandemic, it was pretty crucial that everyone had access to the right information. Whilst this meant ensuring spam wasn’t given the opportunity to distract and waste the time of users, it also meant curating the SERPs so only high quality up to date information was shown.

 

Though the figures don’t show any big surprises, the latest webspam report does give an indication of Google’s continued restrictions on content they deem low quality. Maintained, high quality content continues to be placed at the forefront of searches.

 

Content Case Study.

Towards the end of the month a case study was published that highlights the need to place users at the centre of any SEO strategy. Conducted by Sterling Sky, the case study examines the performance of a local injury law firm in Canada. They had not been ranking well for their target keywords and wanted some help boosting results.

 

The case study flagged that the issue lay in the strategy that had been implemented to date. The site had multiple templated pages, each targeting a different city and service. The content was difficult to access and very similar owing to the template approach. It’s clear this content was built with a focus on ranking, but not on being useful to those that landed on it. By creating content for search engines rather than users, the content didn’t meet expectations.

 

I found this article to be valuable in its takeaways, one being that publishing lots of content can be a bad thing. Quality will always override quantity, websites need to ensure that the content they publish serves a purpose outside ranking in the search results. If the user experience is poor and leaves visitors unfulfilled, then it provides no value to your site.

 

The case study also highlights the need to measure your strategy continuously. Just because you’ve agreed and begun implementation of a strategy, doesn’t mean the strategy is done. No strategy is finite. Measuring and adapting a plan is vital to ensure you stay on track and meet your established objectives.  By testing different tactics you can start to understand what will work for your site. In the case of this example, removing the templated content and redirecting to other built out, informational pages on the site helped the client meet the ranking requirements and increase their levels of organic traffic. A simple, but effective solution.

 

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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SEO News Round Up: February 2021

SEO Round Up February 2021

What happened in the world of SEO in February?

February was a calm month for SEO, with just a few changes announced. However, I suggest you keep an eye on results, as these announcements seek to continue Google’s aims of diversifying our search results.

 

Featured Snippets showed a decline in Feb

There was a decline in the percentage of queries including a Featured Snippet in the SERPs. Across all tools the decline starts from 18th February.

 

SERP Feature History MozCast
Source: MozCast

 

Broken down, similar declines have been recorded across desktop and mobile devices. It’s unclear whether this is permanent or Google will increase the percentage back up. Queries impacted are thought to be the shorter, more competitive terms and specific industry categories. Industry-wise, Health, Finance and YMYL were impacted most, though other industries have also seen notable change.

 

Top Featured Snippet Losses by Industry
Source: Moz

 

This is an important reminder that whilst Featured Snippets can be golden nuggets when you have one, they are a double-edged sword. You get a boost in visibility and traffic when you have them, but they aren’t permanent. They come and go; losing one can then lead to a reduction in visibility and traffic for that keyword.

It’s worth remembering that when you lose a Featured Snippet you don’t drop down to the next position as you do with regular rankings. You drop back to where you were originally ranking, which is typically further down the page (think positions 4-7). Your visibility, therefore, drops more dramatically than you expect.

Whilst Featured Snippets are unlikely to disappear completely, this is something to monitor. It’s likely Google updating their algorithms to closer match the intent behind search terms, so this is a percentage that could grow again. We’ll find out.

 

New Association feature on Search Console

Search Console has a new Associations feature available. This function allows you to link up your Search Console property with properties you have in other Google Services.

Associations can link up your Search Console with the following:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads
  • YouTube
  • Play Console
  • Action Console
  • Chrome Web Store

Association is a function worth utilising, it’s a great way to link up your data and see more in one place. The effect of the association does depend on the properties you’re linking up. For instance, linking up your Search Console with your Analytics means you can see organic query data with the Analytics dashboard.

To access the Associations feature, go onto the Settings Menu on your Search Console property.

 

Metric Boundaries updated for Core Web Vitals

Google has made a minor change to the metrics used to measure Core Web Vitals. The boundaries previously only looked at ‘less than’ the given number. Now, the defined boundaries have been updated to be ‘less than or equal to’. A small change, but one that could make the targets for each metrics more achievable.

The new boundaries for each metric are as follows:

New Core Web Vitals metric boundaries
Source: Search Engine Land

 

Passage Ranking has gone live in the US

Passage Ranking, first announced in October 2020, went live in US search on Wednesday 10th February. Expected to only affect 7% of searches initially, it’s a change to rankings that is likely to expand in the future-  to affect more searches and more countries.

 

What is passage ranking?

Passage ranking is where Google indexes passages within your page. The aim is to help Google find information that might be buried in your content. By understanding specific passages within a page Google can then rank that page for more specific queries, thus improving the relevancy of search results and diversifying the results.

We look forward to seeing what the impact is to US search in the coming months.

 

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in February that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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SEO News Round Up: January 2021

SEO Round Up January 2021

What happened in the world of SEO in January?

With competition between search engines growing, new ranking factors being introduced and new tools becoming available, 2021 is going to be a busy year for SEO! For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and our campaign you can sign up to our Monthly Newsletter.

 

Coverage Data got an Update on GSC

The Search Console coverage report has always provided valued insight into the errors on a site. However, it isn’t perfect. It would seem Google have taken feedback on the report into consideration, and made some changes.

Of these, my favourite change without a doubt is: ‘Removal of the generic “crawl anomaly” issue type – all crawls errors should now be mapped to an issue with a finer resolution’. I don’t find “crawl anomaly” to be a particularly revealing error, so to know more detail will be on offer from now on is reassuring.

A new ‘warning’ has also been introduced: Indexed without content. From now on, this will identify pages on a site that are empty or where Google was unable to read the content. Again, a useful insight to have.

There are still some issues to be addressed, but the changes are a notable improvement.

 

New Report: Google News Performance

Similar to Discover, data on how your site’s articles perform in Google News can now be found in a bespoke report on the Search Console dashboard.

Google News, for those out of the loop, is separate to Google Search. Accessed via an app or news.google.com, it serves users with a curated feed of news content based on the publishers and topics they are interested in. Therefore, news publishers can rejoice, for they’ll now have access to even more data around the performance of their content and the preferences of their audience.

 

Google introduced Subtopics as a ranking factor in November

If anyone was able to attend Google’s On Search Event last October, one topic that was discussed was Subtopics. In January, Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that Subtopics had gone live as a ranking factor mid-November.

What are Subtopics?

In the words of Google, Subtopics are ‘neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad’.

This means that for some of the search terms, Google is showing a range of search results that are focused on the topics related to the original query (Subtopics). This won’t affect all searches, but will focus on broader terms where there is more subtopics variety.

What does this mean?

It’ll be interesting to see how this affects SEO in the long-term. From a strategic perspective, SEOs should cater to this update and start shifting focus from individual keywords and more onto a broader topic focus. Some SEOs already do this, others will be starting to.

Google wants to diversify their search results by offering users a wider range of content that differs from each other, aiming to cater to the different needs of users. This likely means broader keywords are going to come much more competitive. Long-tailed variations are going to become more important as intent is scrutinised even further. It also means there’s a growing, pressing need for unique content that will make your site stand out. Understanding your topic, and any subtopics, in detail will be crucial.

 

100 Million Searches a Day for DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo has hit a new record in January as it finally reached the milestone of attaining 100 million searches in a single day. The search engine was on track to achieve an average of 90 million searches a day for the whole month. Compared to January 2020, this is a 73% improvement year on year. This shows that DuckDuckGo’s prominence is continuing to grow and they pose a growing threat to Google’s position.

 

They continue to thrive on mobile as well, as they became the second used search engine on mobile in the U.S. As DuckDuckGo boasts of its privacy features, the growth spurt signals an incoming shift to private platforms.

 

Chrome 88 includes Core Web Vitals metrics

The recently launched Chrome 88 is proving valuable to developers and SEOs as it includes elements that enable you to see the Core Web Vitals metrics along with pre-existing ranking signals. A useful amendment for those preparing for the upcoming Page Experience update.

One element they’ve actioned is to provide the Web Vitals, LCP, FID and CLS, with their own reporting lane in the dev tools. This has also been given more space for more detailed reporting.

Additionally, Chrome 88 now supports a CSS property called aspect-ratio. This allows you to define ratios for certain elements, which can contribute to an improved Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) score.

Some useful additions we look forward to utilising.

 

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in January that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

 

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Paid Media News Round Up: January 2021

Paid Media Round Up January 2021

Paid Media News January 2021

A new year means new news in the world of paid media. We take you through the latest updates at the beginning of 2021!

Keep reading for news on automated bidding, new Microsoft Ads features, as well as some industry news from across the pond and across the world in Australia.

If you want to check out our round-up from the end of last year, you can view last month’s summary here.

 

Data exclusion controls for Smart Bidding on Google Ads

Smart bidding is becoming an increasingly key component of Google Ads, with a wealth of different strategies now available to marketers. Those using Google Ads will now have more control over automated bidding strategies through new data exclusion controls. Google have specified that you can exclude particular date ranges to prevent interference with conversion rates that help calculate auction-time bids for smart bidding

This will be particularly important for when conversion tracking breaks on a particular campaign (eg. tagging issues or website outages). While this may not be something that would be worth doing for very short outages or for small campaigns, we do see this being a useful tool for larger campaigns and longer periods of time where there is inaccurate data, to help maintain consistent performance.

Google Ads Data Exclusion Controls Smart Bidding

 

New optimisation tools for Microsoft Advertising, including optimisation score

Since Bing Ads launched the Recommendations tab back in 2018, it was only a matter of time that they would launch an ‘optimization score’ in a similar fashion to Google’s own. The new feature appears as though it will operate in an almost identical way to Google’s, with a percentage score from 0% to 100%, based on the number of recommendations applied to individual campaigns. As with Google’s feature, we’d look to implement some of these recommendations to help improve optimization score (like automated responsive search ads, for example), with other recommendations (like raising budgets) needing more consideration as to whether they’re appropriate to apply or not. 

Bing are also going to introduce target impression share as a new bidding strategy too. This will be particularly helpful for awareness campaigns and for enabling an easier way to achieve great visibility for brand terms too.

 

Microsoft Logo

 

Trump gets banned from social media

Just a couple of weeks before the end of his presidential term, Donald Trump was suspended ‘indefinitely’ from a host of different social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. The suspension took place as a result of hundreds of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol in an attempt to overthrow November’s presidential election result. Twitter deemed Trump’s Tweets to be a violation of their Glorification of Violence policy, as they believe he was inspiring people to incite violence.

Donald Trump banned from Twitter

At this stage, it is unclear how advertisers will be affected by Trump’s ban from social media. It could potentially result in a slight decline in traffic to these platforms, due to his supporters being deterred by the platforms as a form of boycott. Some say that social media companies shouldn’t have the power to remove people from their platforms as it could be viewed as censorship, however research suggests that online misinformation about the US election fell by 73% since the notorious #FakeNews spreader was suspended from the sites.

 

Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

In another move from governments around the world looking to impose more regulations on some of the large tech firms, the Australian government has asked Google to share some of its royalties with news publishers. This move is as a result of Australia’s competition regulator ruling that there was a “bargaining power imbalance” between the tech giants like Google and the newspaper industry. The newspapers have seen a rapid decline in revenues over recent years.

Google’s response to this was threatening to withdraw their search engine from the country altogether, hardly a tentative response! The tech firms are naturally going to be worried about the immediate impacts to its revenues this might have. However, more worrying for Google is the precedent that these types of laws may have, if they get passed. We’ll have to see whether Google’s firm stance on this issue will be enough to persuade Australia’s lawmakers to reverse their decision.

 

If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly enticing, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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Paid Media News Round Up: August 2020

Paid Media Round Up August 2020

Paid Media News August 2020

August was a quiet month for paid media, livened up by the Google responsive search ad test which creeped in at the end of the month!

If you want to check out last month’s round-up you can view our summary here. Here are our highlights from the past few weeks.

 

Google Tests Hiding the Option for Expanded Text Ad Creation

In a potentially alarming move, some users noticed the ‘text ad’ option had vanished from the Google Ads interface on Friday 28th August. This was confirmed to be a test subsequently.

This test prompted users to create responsive text ads (RSAs) by default, which is a format where Google decided which text assets to display with each other. Expanded text ads on the other hand display exactly what the advertiser chooses.

Steps like these to take away control from advertisers who aren’t prepared to shift to RSAs are slightly worrying. Whilst most can agree this is the direction paid ads are going in, this new move from Google would be one made far too quickly. We’ve had good results with RSAs but they are still some way away from being able to outperform text ads on a regular basis.

 

Bing Introduces Organic Product Listings

Microsoft has followed Google in implementing an organic form of its product listing ads. The organic listings will appear on the Bing shopping tab alongside sponsored ads.

These only require you to have a Microsoft Shopping Campaigns account with an active product feed, and can generate you free, high intent traffic from Bing. The volume of traffic from these listings will be less than Google, simply due to the relative sizes of the user base, but the barrier to entry is so low that this should be accessible to anyone with an online store.

The organic listings are currently only live in the USA, but will shortly be rolled out to other markets, including the UK. When they arrive, we’re looking forward to testing them out and seeing what traffic can be generated for our clients.

 

Bing Shopping

 

 

Google Performance Planner Gets An Upgrade

The Google Performance Planner is a tool in Google Ads that allows you to forecast and plan bidding strategies. Google recently announced three new features to the planner.

  • Sharing functionality – since the Performance Planner is often used to plan budgets throughout the year, the ability to easily share the plan among multiple users is definitely useful.
  • Improved forecasting of longer conversion windows – this is appreciated, but will only be a major improvement if your average conversion window was longer than a week.
  • Inclusion of shared budgets – this is the big one! Shared budgets are an integral part to the way Google Ad Accounts are managed, and their inclusion in the performance planner makes it far more usable in the majority of accounts.

 

Shared Budgets on Google Performance Planner.

 

Google extends lead forms to YouTube & Discovery Campaign

Last year Google introduced Lead Form extensions, and have now said that these extensions are available in YouTube and Discovery Campaign. There will also be a rollout into Display campaigns by the end of the year. These work in a similar way to other platforms, letting users show interest without necessarily visiting the advertiser’s website.

These extensions have proven a success and work well on mobile, so it’s no surprise to see their functionality expanded.

YouTube Video on a Mobile

Microsoft Advertising Editor Update

This month, Microsoft announced a large update to their Advertising Editor platform, helping them stay competitive with Google’s Ads Editor. The updates included Al-powered recommendations and campaign-level audience targeting.

Global users will now have a lightbulb icon in their interface recommending new keywords, highlighting fixes, and suggesting bid optimisations. The new feature will ensure advertisers maximises their potential traffic.

The second new feature enables campaign-level audience targeting within the Editor programme, saving time, and maximising efficiency when working across numerous campaigns. It is worth noting that advertisers however are still unable to simultaneously target associations at the ad group and campaign level.

Microsoft Advertising Editor Interface

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly notable, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

Google 2% fee on all ads served in the UK

Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

Starting on Tuesday, Google have been emailing Google Ads users about the introduction of extra fees for ads served in the UK (NB: a few other territories are affected too, but we’ll be focusing on the UK).

The help page clearly states that this is in direct response to the government’s newly introduced Digital Services Tax and will result in an extra 2% charge on top of any ad spend within the UK. This will start to take affect from November 1st.

This tax was aimed at the largest organisations, so it is disappointing (if not somewhat inevitable) that Google have decided to pass this cost directly onto their customers. Amazon have similarly passed this cost on recently, though that goes beyond just advertising. It will be interesting to see Microsoft’s response, as if they are able to not follow Google’s lead, advertising on Bing will become more attractive.

So far, there has been no news from any Social Networks about any changes, but it will be something else to keep an eye on over the coming months.

Advertisers will need to carefully budget for the end of 2020 and beyond. Costs within the Google Ads platform will remain the same, as the fee is added on top. This does create an added complication when calculating budget and so we advice thinking about this sooner rather than later.

 

If you have any questions about how this new fee will affect you, we’re happy to help. Please do email us at [email protected], send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to have a chat and find out how we can support you.

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SEO News Round Up: May 2020

SEO Round Up May 2020

What happened in the world of SEO in May?

May started with a bang and has produced some great updates in the world of SEO. Read more to find out what our highlights are in SEO news this month.

 

Google update: May 2020

It happened! 4 months after the January update Google took to Twitter to announce the roll out of another algorithm update. Dubbed the May 2020 Core Update, it took 2 weeks to fully roll out. Many in the SEO community claim it’s the biggest update search has seen in a while.

 

What happened?

As usual, Google haven’t specified exactly what the update was targeting. Whilst core updates are intended to have a broad focus, content has been a key focus for Google and SEO in the last couple years. Recent Core Updates have focused on rewarding content regularly reviewed and updated, so it isn’t shocking to suggest that content is again the focus on the May 2020 Core Update.

 

What impact did we see?

Following the started release of the update we’ve seen a mixed impact to our clients, with some losing rankings and others gaining. There was a lot of volatility and fluctuations in rankings during the roll out process, but most of the change appeared to be off page 1 search results. Search results ranking on page 2 and onwards typically experience higher levels of volatility, so this wasn’t too concerning to us.

 

What should we do?

In their Twitter announcement Google link to their updates guidelines. There, they state that the updates aren’t about harming the performance of your content, but about rewarding good content that wasn’t getting the recognition, or rankings, it deserved in organic search.

That being said, if you have seen some keywords dropping it’s still not good to drastically change your SEO strategy in light of a Google Update; particularly if your website has a history of yoyoing in rankings from update to update. It’s very likely that any ranking changes you see in the first few days may level out. Wait until rankings have had some time to stabilise before taking any precautionary actions.  Review your site, identify the weaknesses (whether that be technical or content) and feed those into your current strategy.

 

Keep SEO and coding simple

Search Developer Martin Splitt joined an indexing and crawling session at Search Engine Land, where he discussed how some websites can overcomplicate their coding to overcome non-existent issues.

Internal Linking via JS

It would appear in our desire to be better SEO and Web Developers can often overcomplicate a solution, or needlessly create an issue with clever coding. Interal linking is cited as a common issue that is overcomplicated. A number of links are still invisible to Google owing to the way they are implemented on a website. We’ve seen this ourselves on client websites, where we as users know the link is there, but search engines don’t. This is often because the link is added through javascript rather than a HTML link tag. Invisible links are harmful to your SEO, as they restrict visibility and can lead to crawl errors.

We considered ourselves warned: clever, over-engineered shortcuts aren’t great, and can actually hurt our SEO more than help.

 

Google suggests customised searches for users

A new search feature update is being rolled out on Google. When a user does a search on Google will begin to use that search history data to suggest customised search results to you.

This new feature does appear to be a restricted update at the moment; you have to be logged into your Google account to have access. Google is also only able to use search history data from your current search session. This means customised search suggestions won’t be influenced by your search activity from a month ago. However, it’s another step towards encouraging users to consider the language they use in search, following on from Google’s update to search results that don’t adequately answer a search query. We look forward to seeing how these features influence search habits.

 

New Search Console Reports

Another month, another update to Google Search Console reports. This month 2 new reports have been made available on the tool. The Speed report has also had an update.

 

SpecialAnnouncement Enhancement Report

One of the reports released is for SpecialAnnouncement Schema markup. This is a follow up action from the release of the markup last month. SpecialAnnouncement markup was released to help local businesses and communities make Covid-19 announcements via Google Search. Creation of the report will help these businesses see any implementation errors or issues with the markup.

 

Guided Recipe Enhancement Report

Additionally, Google has released a new report for Guided Recipe markup. This is a form of Recipe schema, designed to help your recipes be found and used on Google Assistant and by voice search technology. This is a good step in the right direction, as previously you had to wait for webpages to re-crawl a page before you could see any updates via Google Assistant. This report should speed up the validation process.

You can also check your Guided Recipe markup via the Rich Results Test Tool. To use this tool you just need to add the markup to your page. Then you can submit the URL on the tool and it will test the page to see if it is valid for rich snippets (a search result with enhanced features) in search results. The tool will offer suggestions for improvement or show you any errors with your implementation.

 

Web Vitals replaces Speed Report

Google has swapped out the old Speed Report. Now, we have the Core Web Vitals report, located within the Enhancement reports section. Core Web Vitals is a Chrome Extension Google announced earlier in the month

 

Core Web Vitals on Search Console Dashboard

 

What’s changed? 

The metrics Google uses for measurement has changed from the original speed report, which suggests Google is using certain speed metrics to judge the performance of a website. These metrics are: LCD, FID and CLS. All 3 give an indicate of how good the user experience (UX) will be on that page.

  • LCD (Largest Contentful Paint): measures loading performance by marking the point when the main content on the page has likely loaded.
  • FID (First Input Delay): measures when interactivity is working, as it tells you when a user first tries to interact with the page and the time when the page responds to that interaction.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): measures visual stability. The more content doesn’t shift around unexpectedly the better the UX.

URLs that don’t have enough data for these metrics are excluded from the report, so it won’t necessarily provide a 100% insight. But, it appears that ensuring your webpages perform well for all 3 metrics will be vital by name and nature if you want Google to deem you site as high performance.

 

Bing says Yes (or No)

Bing has also been busy developing new search features. There latest update means Bing can now answer your search queries with a simple yes or no. Bing then backs up their answer by citing different websites.

This is just part of Bing’s development strategy to utilise AI in their search algorithms. Their algorithm is able to understand and cross-reference the language of multiple sources and deduce a yes/no answer, even if the sources used and reviewed by Bing do not explicitly state that.

For SEO, it’ll be worth monitoring search queries where this is likely to affect the search results. With Bing providing clear, concise answers within the SERPs, there’s potential for the CTRs of these queries to be impacted by this update. As Search Engine Land also comments, we should also monitor impressions and visibility change.

Bing’s Yes/No summary feature is live in the US and looking to roll out in other search markets soon.

 

Page Experience Evaluation Changes Incoming

Google have announced changes are coming to how they measure the performance of a page. Called the Page Experience Update, Google will be updating their ranking factors to take page experience metrics, such as the ones in Core Web Vitals, into consideration more.

 

Stay Tuned!

This planned update is a big step towards ensuring website’s produce pages that users like, and is something we’ll be exploring in much more depth next month.

 

Did we miss anything?

If there was anything else that happened in May that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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New AdWords Experience – The Journey So Far

Google Search

The New AdWords Interface: 10 Months On

Back in May last year we wrote a blog on the announcement of the ‘New AdWords Interface’. 10 months later here is an update on our thoughts so far. Since last year Google have been slowly rolling out their New AdWords Interface to improve campaigns, save time and gain actionable insights, but our team here at upriseUP aren’t 100% sold on all the changes!

I’ve decided to provide an AdWords update for those who might have missed some of the cool (and maybe not so cool changes) being made.

If you want to know more about how paid search campaigns can transform your business, please email us at [email protected].

 

All About The New AdWords Interface – What Features Are New?

The new AdWords interface has a number of exclusive new features that aren’t available in the previous AdWords interface please see the chart below:

2018 has shown some big changes in the world of Digital Marketing and adapting to the new AdWords interface is going to be a huge task for continued success this year.

The new AdWords experience promised to make our lives easier: it introduced friendlier native reporting within the AdWords interface, cool new tools like promotion extensions, and an objectively easier way to navigate from campaign to campaign, ad group to ad group, and keyword to keyword.

The reality is, change is mostly met with criticism, and when the old AdWords interface officially sunsets this year, the outcry could be fierce. But, that interface has more or less been around since 2008, which is an insane amount of time for something in the tech world, especially a Google product. In short, the new interface is going to be disliked – but with some time, not only will we get used to it, but it likely will be significantly more powerful than the decade old interface we’re currently familiar with.

 

Some Big AdWords Interface Changes

Overview

When you first pop open the AdWords interface, you’ll be taken to the Overview/Home tab:

At first it was a little overwhelming to look at and would give you lots of criteria for keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. Once you get used to this view you can quickly visualise some top-level data in your account.

From here, you can select the dropdown arrows in tabs to add additional or varying lines to the graph. Which allows you to add up to 4 metrics (increased from the standard 2)

You see a quick overview of biggest changes and campaigns – which I find useful.

Further down, we can quickly visualise our top spending keywords, see what search terms and words triggered the most ads, what devices are contributing to our success, and what our most shown ad is. We love this!

The left is a super helpful native analysis that will make it easier than ever to isolate search terms to make your AdWords accounts more granular.

At the bottom of the Overview page, you can see how you’re performing per network and see what times and days you’re having success. But, most interestingly, you can also easily see your overall auction insights. Watch your competitors and see how you can perform better in the AdWords auction with insights.

 

The Time Window

Another important change is the improved time navigation window.

 

You’ll find it in the top right, so not much has changed there. But I promise it can do cool stuff (two things, in particular). First, it’s now scrollable, so it’s easier to navigate a few months back without having to type in the date range you’re looking for (but this is still an option if you prefer).

More importantly, how many times have you wanted to look at the “Past 90 Days” of history, but you were stuck with “Past 7,” “Past 14,” and “Past 30”? Same here! No more, as you can now change the date range in the bottom left of the menu to be 90 days up to today, or whatever other date range you want.

 

The Navigation Bar

In the old interface, your campaigns, ad groups, etc. were displayed left to right near the top of the screen. When you think about the layers of an AdWords account, you think about: Campaigns contain Ad Groups, which contain Keywords/Targeting/Ads, which are triggered by Search Terms.

You’ll see that the new left-hand layout of the navigation bar flows more logically, with account level information (Overview) at the top, Campaigns and Ad Groups in the section below, while targeting options and ads are in their own self-contained sections below. So, perhaps, it’s not all bad — just different and will take a little time to get used to.

As logical as this new interface layout may seem, there are some downsides. Table Appearance and Filters: They Just Don’t Pop like they used too!

 

How the interface looked before with filters.

 

 

How the interface looks now with filters. The Visuals in General: Just harder to read!

 

Outcome so far

Google has made a lot of changes to the AdWords interface that PPC managers are just beginning to discover and benefit from. While some features (such as Maximize Conversions and other automation opportunities) are designed with busy business owners in mind, others are just the kind of tools performance marketers need if they want to stay ahead of the PPC game.

Basically, gradual progression, people can get used to — but busy PPC managers/executives find themselves having to learn and get familiar with an awful lot while still trying to provide the best service to their clients. Although big changes can create big buzz, sometimes your users prefer “baby steps” over a big leap. I know I do.

Please do let me know your thoughts on the new interface, the good, the bad and the ugly! We would love to hear your thoughts on how you are getting on with it? As always if you have any questions on anything digital do get in touch or say hello on Twitter.

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Google’s €2 Billion Fine for Shopping Ads

Google 2 billion fine for Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads

 

Google’s €2 Billion Fine for Shopping Ads, and Why it isn’t the Real Punishment

 

For years now Google has proudly had the company motto of ‘Don’t Be Evil’, and you’d think sticking to that would be easy. Today, however, that motto must feel like a bad joke, as Google has been hit with a record breaking €2.42 billion fine by the EU for antitrust practices regarding it’s shopping ads.

 

This story has been updated – see below for the latest news on Google’s response.

 

This fine comes as the sting in the tail of a seven-year investigation into Google’s search algorithms, which concluded that Google had placed its own shopping ads service above other price comparison sites “irrespective of [their] merits,” and accused the company of “abusing its dominant position by systematically favouring” its own ads.

 

Slide from EU commission presentation on Google

A slide from the EU commission explaining their argument

 

Google have fired back at the decision in a statement, where they argue that their search algorithm shows the results it’s users want to see, and point to the rise of online retailers such as Amazon or eBay as the reason that some search comparison sites have dropped in the rankings. They finish by saying “Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal”. We feel it very likely that Google will file an appeal, at which point we will be in for a long and drawn out case between the tech giant and the EU.

This would be the largest antitrust fine ever handed out in European courts, but the €2.42 billion still only amounts to around 2.7% of Google’s annual revenue. Though a very public blemish on Google’s record, this will not break the bank. The more long-term worry for Google is that the ruling has stated that they must end their antitrust practices within 90 days or face further fines. This would mean changing how Google ranks web pages on its search results page to more evenly weight non-Google comparison shopping services.

If this ruling gets enforced, it could have a major effect on the performance of shopping adverts on the google network and, although it would be interesting to see how shopping ads performed on a truly level playing field, it would undoubtedly lead to an increase in cost per click at best, and a drop in conversions and return on ad spend at worst. It would also set an interesting precedent with dangerous implications for other digital marketing channels. If it is illegal to guarantee shopping ads a place at the top of search results, what about paid search ads in general?

This is very likely to not be the final chapter in the story. Google look to be digging their heels in regarding the decision, and wish to clear their name in front of the world regarding their search practices. If they do appeal, and it seems likely they will, the resulting process could go on for years without a resolution, so do not expect big changes quickly.

This is not the only point of contention between the EU and Google either. There are investigations ongoing into Google’s AdSense system, and their dealings with Android manufacturers. If this investigation is an indicator of things to come then it seems the EU isn’t going to let Google off easily, and this may simply be the opening salvo in a longer, larger war.

 


 

UPDATE

We have, in fact, been proven wrong! Google have agreed to make changes that will resolve the issues the commission raised, and they will have until September 28 to do so, or face further fines. Although we don’t know the specifics of what Google will do to appease the commission, we will let you know as soon as we do!

 


 

UPDATE #2

In a twist of fate, it turns out we were right after all! Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that a lower court had not given enough considerations to Intel’s defence of their use of rebates, which had been deemed as anticompetitive and the source of a $1.3 billion fine.

 

A few days later, and Google announce that they will in fact be appealing the €2.4 billion fine that they have been given for their antitrust practices. Although a company like Google likely do not make a decision like this in a few days, and their plan was probably in place before the news of Intel’s victory was made public, it is powerful new proof that the appeal process may not be futile.

 

Google will still be required to implement the changes to their system the commission called for in the initial report for the duration of the appeal. Since this process could stretch on for years we are still going to see a prolonged period of change for Google shopping, and the big news is still yet to break on how exactly Google will be changing their shopping system.

 

 

Get In Touch

What are your thoughts on Google’s €2 billion fine for shopping ads? Send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM or contact us today to see how you could transform your business or charity with shopping ads.

 

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Missing AdWords Data: The Google Ship Springs Another Leak

Google Ship Springs Another Leak Missing Data

More AdWords Missing Data

 

Google seem to have misplaced more data, but this time it’s the big fish. Today, AdWords suffered a major reporting error causing data to not be shown in the AdWords interface from noon. For those worried that their ads have not been showing since that time, you will be relieved to know that we have tested our ads on the Search Network and they are still running as usual. However, whether this missing data in AdWords is recoverable or not is still in question.

If you wish to see the issue for yourself, jump into AdWords and segment your campaign report by hour of the day, you will likely be greeted by the same results as those in the image below, normal results in the morning, low (and sometimes even impossible) traffic in the afternoon.

It has not been a good few weeks for Google, with Tag Manager containers mysteriously disappearing in late May. Those containers were restored to their rightful place within a day, and we can hope for a similar result here, but the frequency of data leaks is concerning. For a company who prides itself in its reporting capabilities and who, in 2011, received 96% of their revenue through AdWords, a loss of reporting data of this magnitude is disturbing.

One of our Marketing Executives, Robyn, asked about the issue, and got this response:

 

AdWords Twitter Response to Data Leak

 

Whilst there has been no official statement from Google about this missing data in AdWords, the Google AdWords twitter team has since responded to a further inquiry from twitter user @stockristian stating that the issue has now been resolved:

 

adwords data delay fix response

We have checked our accounts and there doesn’t appear to be any missing data in AdWords from yesterday, which is a relief. Also, all AdWords data from today seems to be up to date, which hopefully means that everything is back to normal!

 

Get In Touch

If you have any questions about paid search, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For regular updates, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.

 

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Google update Penguin, and add a Possum to the mix…

Another Addition to the Google Zoo

 

Not too recently I put together a post about the plethora of Google algorithms – most lovingly named after zoo animals – and ended with the closing remark that we’d be back to update you on any further changes from Google HQ. Well, they have been busy and apparently I’m a man of my word so let’s get started.

 

Google Possum

It seems like most of the community are in agreement that Google have revamped the way they filter local search results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Specifically, businesses that fall outside a city boundary are being penalized less for ranking locally within that city. In a similar vein, the location of the searcher is becoming more prevalent for ranking within the 3-pack search.

Local business filters for look to be strongly improved with Google Possum. For example, there are currently more than 180 businesses registered at 33 St James’ Square in London. This is clearly not genuine, and Possum will now more aggressively penalize listings at addresses like this to provide legitimate, relevant local results.

possumGoogle Penguin

Google have officially confirmed that Penguin, one of their search algorithms, now runs in real-time. Historically, the rankings that Penguin assigned would need to be refreshed for any positive – or negative – SEO changes to be evaluated and for any search ranks to change.

Alongside this change is a slightly more confusing one. The official notes say “Penguin is now more granular”, continuing “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.” The general consensus is that this is a somewhat roundabout way of saying that Penguin now penalizes pages for spam heavy content rather than traditionally penalizing site-wide for individual page infractions.

Also included in their official blog post is the handy phrase, “it also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes”. This isn’t too much to shout about, it just means that every time sites get re-crawled and re-indexed, Penguin will automatically re-align its rankings instead of being manually refreshed. This puts Penguin in line with Panda, for which Google stopped commenting on once it was introduced into the core algorithm.

The blog post closed with the phrase “webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites”. This is a hopeful goal and maybe if more people and more work went this way over learning how to falsely maintain a good ranking on a poor site, Google – and the user – would be both be better off.

 

penguin

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