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Monthly Archives: July 2016

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SearchCap: AdWords reports, CTR data & Google Maps ads

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By Barry Schwartz

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

  • Merkle’s early data on expanded text ad CTRs: Results are mixed
    Jul 29, 2016 by Ginny Marvin

    The agency looked at expanded text ad performance from both brand and non-brand traffic.

  • Excited about Google’s new map ads? You should be!
    Jul 29, 2016 by Will Scott

    Google Maps ads are changing to help local businesses become more visible. Columnist Will Scott discusses the four features you should be most excited about.

  • 9 things most people don’t understand about SEO
    Jul 29, 2016 by John E Lincoln

    New to the world of search engine optimization (SEO)? Columnist John Lincoln explains some things you might not know about this online marketing discipline.

  • Search in Pics: NBA players at Google, Pokemon Go gamers & Google koolaid
    Jul 29, 2016 by Barry Schwartz

    In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Google’s Gary Illyes in scary clown mask Source: Twitter Real Google koolaid: Source: Google+ NBA players […]

  • AdWords gains 3 new cross-device attribution reports
    Jul 28, 2016 by Ginny Marvin

    Based on AdWords cross-device conversion data, the new reports show device influence through the full conversion path.

  • Don’t lose track of leads once they pick up the phone
    Jul 28, 2016 by Digital Marketing Depot

    The internet, combined with the rise of mobile devices, has created a telephonic boom. But while measuring online conversions has become standard practice for most businesses, many companies have a conversion blind spot surrounding their inbound phone calls. The solution to this blind spot lies in the application of call intelligence. This white paper from […]

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:


Local & Maps

Link Building



Search Marketing

The post SearchCap: AdWords reports, CTR data & Google Maps ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Merkle’s early data on expanded text ad CTRs: results are mixed

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By Ginny Marvin

Merkle has released early results on click-through rates of expanded text ads relative to standard text ads in its Q2 Digital Marketing Report. The agency began participating in the expanded text ads beta in April and analyzed the longer ad format’s impact on click-through rate (CTR) across thousands of ad groups.

When Google first announced that expanded text ads (ETAs) were coming, the company touted as much as a 20 percent lift in click-through rates on expanded text ads. Merkle looked at ad performance for non-brand traffic and brand traffic.

For non-brand queries, early results showed expanded text ads drove a 16 percent lift for the median site and ad group on desktop. Mobile phones, however, saw just a 4 percent bump in CTR and tablets an 8 percent increase overall. Merkle added that individual results did vary widely, with several advertisers seeing lower CTRs from expanded texts on non-brand traffic from some devices.

Source: Merkle

On brand traffic, expanded text ad click-through rates were nearly in line with, or slightly worse than, standard text ads. ETA click-through rates were 4 percent lower than standard text ads on mobile phones, flat on tablet and off one percent on desktop.


Source: Merkle

Merkle points out a few caveats when looking at this data. Little is known about the auction conditions for ETAs, such as how many expanded text ads display on a results page, how often product listing ads showed with expanded text ads and whether there is a difference in the queries that trigger ETAs versus standard ads during this period when both ad formats are running simultaneously. Another thing to note is the frequency and mix of extensions that show with ads can vary significantly with each impression.

ETAs were receiving 47 percent of total impressions in the ad groups in which they were included, Merkle reported. Merkle’s client base skews large retailer.

These are early results, and more analysis will be forthcoming as ETAs are now available to all advertisers, but they raise questions about both the testing environment advertisers are supposed to be making decisions in over the next couple of months, as well as the long-term upside of ETAs. Google has said the key impetus for the new longer format was the idea that giving mobile users more information upfront will give them more confidence to click. With that it’s surprising to see these phone CTR results, and to see desktop outperform phone.

It’s also worth pointing out that distinct mobile (preferred) ad copy is not supported with expanded text ads, meaning the same messaging is served across all devices.

The full Digital Marketing Report includes more on paid and organic search, comparison shopping engines, and display and is available for download (with registration).

The post Merkle’s early data on expanded text ad CTRs: results are mixed appeared first on Search Engine Land.



#SEJThinkTank Recap: The Search Marketer’s Guide to Turning Online Browsers into Buyers by @dantosz

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By Danielle Antosz

This recap of Patrick Hutchison’s webinar is filled with strategies to turn browsers into buyers. If you sell products online, this is one webinar you won’t want to miss!

The post #SEJThinkTank Recap: The Search Marketer’s Guide to Turning Online Browsers into Buyers by @dantosz appeared first on Search Engine Journal.



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Excited about Google’s new map ads? You should be!

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By Will Scott

As an avid Google Maps user on both a personal and business level, I’ve often wished for a more interactive and all-inclusive experience. For instance, wouldn’t it be great to get suggestions for options like the closest coffee shop or lunch spot while I’m driving from Point A to Point B? Sure, I could pull over, open up Google and search for these things separately, but who wouldn’t welcome a truly responsive and local experience within Google Maps?

If you’re like me, then Google’s recent announcements for local businesses are good reason to celebrate. These revamped Maps ads are primarily focused on helping local businesses drive more traffic to their physical locations. According to Google, its new Maps ads will help businesses increase their visibility at times when consumers are specifically searching for somewhere to shop or eat.

As a consumer, marketing professional or business owner, why should you be excited about these new Google Maps ads? Because they’re valuable to both consumers and business owners: The new ads will not only help consumers find the businesses they’re looking for, they’ll also get additional information about each business. The ads are designed to give local businesses additional opportunities to feature their brands with the goal of increasing traffic, particularly when consumers are searching on a mobile device.

For example, if a consumer is driving on the freeway following a Google Maps route and desperately needs a caffeine fix, they could look for a “coffee shop near me” in the Google Maps app search bar. A coffee shop that paid to have an ad appear would come up first in the search results list, and its logo would appear on the map in its physical location.

These company logos, also called promoted pins, are one of the most exciting new features. If this isn’t enough to make you jump for joy, please take a few moments to explore in greater detail the following four reasons why Google’s new Maps ads will thrill you.

1. New local search ads

Google’s new local search ads are currently available to advertisers using location extensions in AdWords. These ads will appear on Google Maps for desktop and the Google Maps mobile app. For those of us who work in the marketing world, this is extra exciting, as the Google Maps app alone has over one billion downloads and thus reaches vast numbers of potential consumers.

When users search on Google Maps for desktop, they will see Google Maps ads in the Local Finder above all other map results, this time with purple ad labels. The map also will note these locations with purple pins.


Similarly, users with the Google Maps mobile app installed will see the purple ad labels and map pins for businesses using local search ads. Like the organic listings, these local ads may include “Call” and “Directions” buttons.

This can be extremely impactful for small businesses that are looking to rank locally for relevant searches but have not been successful in trying to rank organically in local maps results.

2. Promoted Pins

In a recent blog post, Google explained that the primary goal of its Maps changes is to help marketers bring together the digital and physical universes, particularly because location searches on mobile devices have grown an astounding 50 percent more quickly than all other types of mobile searches.

This next part is where you should really get excited. Google is completely optimizing the entire Google Maps adventure with promoted pins, or more simply, company logos that will indicate physical locations on Google Maps for companies that buy ad space. Users will see these pins when they have a Google Map pulled up, when getting directions, and even during navigation while they’re driving. The pins will be designed to be simple and unobtrusive to avoid distracting drivers behind the wheel.

Walgreens Promoted Pins

In the app, ads will show up with distinctive purple ad labels and will be prominently featured in the first spot above organic search results. If you’re searching within Google Maps, no more than two ads with purple ad labels will make it to the top of the results, so getting that top placement is significant.

3. In-store promotions

Now that I’ve established why I’m so excited about promoted pins, let’s take it a step further so you can learn about another user-friendly feature for in-store promotions. With promoted pins, businesses are able to feature specials that are happening right now at that location, displaying the in-store promotion below the logo on the map itself.

For example, the logo for Starbucks could come up while you’re driving, following your on-screen directions, displaying a $1-off coupon. Thinking about how tired you are, you tap on the logo and the business page will come up on the bottom of your screen, displaying coupons, specials or in-store promotions happening right now at that location. The potential to bring in new customers thanks to this feature is unlimited, as the right promotion could easily propel more store visits.

4. Customizable business pages with local inventory

Even better, for advertisers using promoted pins, local business pages can be customized with the same goal to increase physical visits to stores. Consider the potential of having the flexibility to highlight offers towards customers who are in your area and looking for exactly what you sell. Local business pages will still include essential business information such as operating hours, address and phone number, but now they can feature the in-store promotions previously mentioned.

Customizable business pages will also highlight searchable local inventory. Google’s research found one out of every four people will avoid visiting stores when they don’t know if the product they’re looking for is in stock, which propelled them to add this useful feature. So now customized business pages can be set up to allow users to search for items in a store’s inventory. How does this work? Businesses will provide Google with their inventory feed, and customers will be able to do searches of that inventory to determine what is in stock.

Since in-store traffic is the goal of these local maps ads, Google is working to enhance accuracy of tracking store visits conversions using beacons. While currently only available to select businesses (There are certain requirements), they are hoping to be able to allow all advertisers to attribute ad dollars to offline metrics to better determine ROI of online efforts.

So what can you do now while the excitement builds for these changes? If you haven’t already, claim your business page on Google My Business and ensure the information is accurate and complete. Inaccurate information will make it much more difficult for people to act on their shopping instincts and visit a physical location.

Then, set up location extensions for your Google AdWords search campaigns so your ads will be eligible to appear on all Maps results. Until store visit metrics are available for all businesses, the information provided about your location extensions, such as clicks on the “Get Directions” link, can be an indicator of how well your ads are working to drive traffic to your store.

What do you think about the new Google Maps ads? Let me know on social media.

The post Excited about Google’s new map ads? You should be! appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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9 things most people don’t understand about SEO

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By John E Lincoln

SEO is a complicated discipline. There are many components to it, and best practices change from time to time. Add to that the fact that Google updates its algorithm frequently, causing ranking shifts that are known to make digital marketers lose sleep.

Additionally, Google often releases new technologies that offer alternative ways to rank. That makes the lives of SEOs even more complicated, as they have to overcome a learning curve to properly serve their clients.

One day, it might be easier to become a doctor than an SEO — kidding! (But not really… )

Even now, though, there’s a lot of misinformation (and missing information) about what it takes to rank a page in organic search results. Here are nine things most people don’t understand about SEO.

1. Bigger really is better, in most cases, for big terms

In some niches, Google favors larger sites.

If you’re launching an e-commerce site that sells men’s jeans, it’s not likely that you’re going to rank at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the search phrase, “men’s jeans.”

Why? Google “men’s jeans” right now and see who’s at the top.

Means Jeans - SEO

Disregard the sponsored ads, and you’ll notice names like Macy’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Levi, and Kohl’s. Do you really think you have the SEO power to knock any of those brands out of their position?

Spoiler: You don’t.

Google will generally favor brands that are household names over new startups when it comes to ranking. That’s because the search giant wants to provide the best possible experience for its users.

So does that mean all hope is lost if you’re running a new company that wants to sell men’s jeans online? Not at all.

First of all, you can optimize for your own brand name. That way, once you’ve got some reputation in your space, people can still find your site by searching for your name.

Also, you can run paid ads. They can put you at the top of the SERPs, but keep in mind that advertising can be costly. As of this writing, the suggested bid for “men’s jeans” is $2.09 per click, according to Keyword Planner, so your margins had better be spectacular.

You should also look for alternative keywords that you can use to promote your brand. You might come across some golden opportunities that even your biggest competitors haven’t noticed.

For example, you might be offering a specific style/color combination of men’s jeans. Optimize your site for a search term that includes that style and color.

2. Websites are broken up into segments

The reality is that you’re not trying to rank a site. You’re trying to rank pages within a site.

Unless you have a site that’s a just a single landing page, then ranking a page and a site aren’t the same thing. It’s more likely that you have various segments on your website, including a home page, a contact form, a blog, a categories page, a price table, an FAQ and possibly other parts. For example, if you take a look at the Levi’s website, they have a structure that breaks the site up into sections for Men, Women, Kids and so on.

Some of those segments are more valuable than others. For example, you’re probably not interested in ranking your contact form. However, you certainly want to rank the content on your blog. Focus on ranking pages that will reel in potential customers from the SERPs. Then, use your favorite method to capture their contact information and add them to your email list.

3. You might just need to rank for a few terms

You might think that to be successful in SEO, you have to rank for dozens of search terms in the top three positions. That’s not necessarily the case.

If you’re in a micro-niche or your target market is very narrow, it’s likely that you can get away with just ranking for one or two terms. For example, if you’re selling “disc profiles,” you are going to make most of your revenue from a few core terms.

Disc Profile Example

The main point here is that for some sites, ranking for lots of terms makes sense. For others, you can make great money just targeting a few core terms.

4. Content marketing is very competitive

You’ve probably heard “content is king.” Unfortunately, so has everybody else in your niche.

That’s why you need to be at the top of your game when it comes to inbound marketing. Invest the right amount of time and money into keyword research, hire the best writers, update your blog consistently, and pull out all the stops to create attention-grabbing headlines with amazing content.

I recommend using BuzzSumo and Moz Content. Both allow you to analyze a site’s content, uncover their strategies, track the new content they create and search the most popular content. Both create some pretty nice reports, too.

Take a look at your competition — then make a better page for your site.

5. Early adoption pays off

As we’ve seen, Google is known to release new technologies from time to time. Some of those technologies can help you rank in the SERPs.

That’s why you should be an early adopter.

For starters, take a look at accelerated mobile pages (AMP). That’s an open-source project backed by Google that enables webpages to load lightning-fast on a mobile platform. AMP pages can appear at the very top of mobile search results in carousel format. You can see a visual of this in the video below:

Speaking of mobile, make sure that your site is fully mobile-friendly. Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile search results, so if you expect your site to rank there, it had better behave well for a mobile audience.

Finally, be an early adopter when it comes to using HTTPS on your website instead of HTTP. Even though Google announced back in 2014 that it was giving secure sites a ranking boost, a lot of sites have still stubbornly refused to make the switch. If you want to potentially have an edge on your competition, use HTTPS.

When it comes to SEO, you need to be the first to market with new technology. These are just a few examples. It takes time to plan, develop and execute, so it is always a good idea to start when the news of new tech breaks.

6. SEO can be used to target different global markets

Did you know that you can rank your site in different countries? If your product or service is something that can be appreciated by people outside the United States, you should optimize your site for an international audience.

One way to do that is by offering a country-specific domain — for example, if you’re targeting people in France, you can use the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) of .fr. You can also host separate content for each different country on a directory or a subdomain.

When targeting other markets, don’t forget to translate your content into the appropriate foreign languages. After all, you can’t expect your content marketing efforts to be successful if people in foreign countries can’t read your articles in their native language.

You should also register your business in foreign countries, list your business in web directories specific to those countries, and even have your site hosted in those regions.

Here is a client we recently pushed into 27 different countries and languages. Check out this growth in Italy alone.

SEM Rush Italy

7. There are lots of ways to be visible in Google results

You might be under the impression that the only way to rank in Google is by building backlinks and using on-site SEO so that a page ends up as high in the SERPs as possible. However, there are other ways to gain visibility and visitors from the SERPs.

For example, if you can get into Google’s Knowledge Graph, your brand can potentially earn a prominent spot at the top of the SERP, to the right of organic listings. It’s quite an effort to get a Knowledge Graph entry, but once you do, you could give your brand a big boost.

You can also stand out from the crowd by using structured data markup to display rich snippets, which are visual enhancements to a SERP listing. Structured data markup is added to your website code to provide Google with more information about the content on your site.

If you Google “best pancake recipe” right now, you’ll see results that include aggregate ratings in the form of stars. You’ll also see calorie counts. Those are rich snippets, and they make the listing in the SERPs stand out.

By the way, you’ll also see that there’s a direct answer at the very top of many search engine results pages. That’s another way that you can achieve search visibility: by establishing your site as an authority in your space and producing content that Google determines to be a quick answer to a user’s query.

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can also rank within the local 3-pack. If you Google the name of your city plus the word “plumber,” you’ll see a map below the paid ads at the top. Just below that map, you’ll see three listings in your area. (To get started with local SEO, check out Marcus Miller’s “The big picture guide to local SEO: ranking in 2016 & beyond.”)

As discussed above, publishers can rank by appearing at the top of the mobile SERPs when they implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP).

Here is a list of common result types that appear in Google’s blended search results pages:

  • Organic listings
  • Knowledge Graph cards
  • The local 3-pack
  • Instant answers (also known as “featured snippets”)
  • AMP carousel
  • Google Images
  • Google Videos
  • Google News

SEMrush and many of the other SEO ranking tools actually report on these varying result types now, which is great.

SEM Rush Report

The main point is, there’s more than one way to win.

8. There are many different specialties in SEO

Search engine optimization is a broad online marketing channel that includes a handful of niche disciplines. There are SEO practitioners who specialize in technical SEO, link building, content marketing, local SEO, international SEO and more.

And guess what? Each requires a different skill set.

Bottom line: You need to determine first how you want to rank a site and then select the appropriate campaign strategy.

9. There are other search engines besides Google

Sure, Google is the undisputed leader in web searches. That doesn’t mean that other search engines don’t exist and that people in your target market don’t use them.

The most obvious competitor to Google is Bing. That’s Microsoft’s search engine, and as of this writing, its share of search traffic is growing faster than Google’s.

And don’t forget about YouTube. Believe it or not, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world behind Google.

Of course, there’s also Amazon. You might think of Amazon as more of an e-commerce giant than a search engine. However, it’s the starting point for 44 percent of consumers searching for products.

When you’re optimizing your content assets, make sure that you take into account the broad spectrum of search engines that exist online. Where you choose to focus your optimization efforts will depend on your goals online.

There is a lot to know

What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to SEO. Going forward, it’s important that you also keep up with the latest changes in SEO best practices — otherwise, your future optimization efforts might fall flat.

The post 9 things most people don’t understand about SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Search in Pics: NBA players at Google, Pokemon Go gamers & Google koolaid

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By Barry Schwartz

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Google’s Gary Illyes in scary clown mask

Source: Twitter

Real Google koolaid:

Real Google koolaid
Source: Google+

NBA players visit the GooglePlex:

NBA players visit the GooglePlex
Source: Google+

Google row boat inside the Google UK office:

Google row boat inside the Google UK office
Source: Twitter

Googlers John Mueller & Gary Illyes playing Pokemon Go:

google playing Pokemon Go
Source: Twitter

The post Search in Pics: NBA players at Google, Pokemon Go gamers & Google koolaid appeared first on Search Engine Land.



The 10 Most Important Metrics You Should be Tracking in Content Marketing by @IAmAaronAgius

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By Aaron Agius

With content marketing on the rise, it’s difficult to know which efforts are effective. Tuning into a few key metrics can provide the information needed to move forward with your marketing campaign confidently.

The post The 10 Most Important Metrics You Should be Tracking in Content Marketing by @IAmAaronAgius appeared first on Search Engine Journal.