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Monthly Archives: November 2016

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Goal based bidding: aligning your SEM strategy to business goals

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By Digital Marketing Depot

Last year, over one million advertisers spent more than $81.5 billion on search ads worldwide. For many enterprises, SEM is a strategically important discipline.

As such, SEM requires careful alignment with display advertising and the other elements of your marketing program. It also is vital to match your SEM strategy with your company’s business objectives.

In this white paper from [24]7, you will learn how to:

  • set goals and optimize your bidding methods to meet your business objectives, whether in growth or profit mode;
  • automatically adjust and increase the frequency of your bids to respond to your goals and ever-changing auction; and
  • apply learnings from different business models and unique KPI’s.

Vist Digital Marketing Depot to download your copy.

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SearchCap: Google drops feature phones, Sitemap file size increases & videos in panels

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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:

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

Search News From Around The Web:

Local & Maps

Link Building

Searching

SEO

SEM / Paid Search

Search Marketing

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How Google is tackling fake news, and why it should not do it alone

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By Ian Bowden

Fact-checking and preventing fake news from appearing in search results will remain a big priority for search engines in 2017.

Following the US election and Brexit, increased focus is being placed on how social networks and search engines can avoid showing “fake news” to users. However, this is a battle that search engines cannot — and more fundamentally, should not — fight alone.

With search engines providing a key way people consume information, it is obviously problematic if they can both decide what the truth is and label content as the truth. This power might not be abused now, but there is no guarantee of the safe governance of such organizations in the future.

Here are five key ways Google can deal (or already is dealing) with fake news right now. They are:

  1. Manually reviewing websites
  2. Algorithmically demoting fake news
  3. Removing incentives to create fake news
  4. Signaling when content has been fact-checked
  5. Funding fact-checking organizations

1. Manually reviewing websites

Google does have the power to determine who does and does not appear in their various listings. To appear in Google News, publishers must meet Google’s guidelines, then apply for inclusion and submit to a manual review. This is not the case with the content that appears in traditional organic listings.

Understanding how each part of the search results is populated, and the requirements for inclusion, can be confusing. It’s a common misconception that the content within the “In the news” box is Google News content. It’s not. It may include content from Google News, but after a change in 2014, this box can pull in content from traditional search listings as well.

In the News

“In the news” appears at the top of the page for certain queries and includes stories that have been approved for inclusion in Google News (shown above) as well as other, non-vetted stories from across the web.

That’s why Google was criticized last week for showing a fake news story that reported a popular vote win for Trump. The fake story appeared in the “In the news” box, despite not being Google News (so it was not manually reviewed).

There needs to be better transparency about what content constitutes Google News results and what doesn’t. Labeling something as “news” may give it increased credibility for users, when in reality it hasn’t undergone any manual review.

Google will likely avoid changing the carousel to a pure Google News product, as this may create concerns with news outlets that Google is monetizing the traffic they believe is being “stolen” from them. Unless Google removes any ads appearing against organic listings when a news universal result appears, Google has to make this carousel an aggregation of the net.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet at time of writing, but there is speculation that Google is planning to reduce the ambiguity of the “In the news” listings by replacing it with “Top stories” (as seen in its mobile search results). Like content from the “In the news” box, these listings have been a mashup of Google News and normal search listings, with the common trait being that these pages are AMP-enabled.

Top Stories Screenshot

“Top stories” consists of AMP web pages.

In my opinion, “Top stories” still implies an element of curation, so perhaps something like “Popular stories from across the web” may work better.

Manual review isn’t viable for the entire web, but it’s a start that items from Google News publishers are manually reviewed before inclusion. The opportunity here is to be more transparent about where content has been reviewed and where it hasn’t.

2. Algorithmically demoting fake news

Traditionally, search engines have indirectly dealt with fake news through showing users the most authoritative search results. The assumption is that domains with higher authority and trust will be less likely to report fake news.

It’s another debate whether “authority” publications actually report on the truth, of course. But the majority of their content is truthful, and this helps to ensure fake news is less likely to appear in search results.

The problem is, the very ranking signals search engines use to determine authority can elevate fake news sites when their content goes viral and becomes popular. That is why, in the above example, the fake news performed well in search results.

Google’s ability to algorithmically determine “facts” has been called into doubt. Last week, Danny Sullivan on Marketing Land gave several case studies where Google gets it wrong (sometimes comically) and outlines some of the challenges of algorithmically determining the truth based on the internet.

Google has denied that TrustRank exists, but perhaps we’ll see the introduction of a “TruthRank.” There will be a series of “truth beacons,” in the same way the TrustRank patent outlines. A score could be appended based on the number of citations against truth-checking services.

3. Removing the incentive to create fake news

There are two main goals for creating fake news websites: money and influence. Google not only needs to prevent this material from appearing in search results but also needs to play a role in restricting the financial incentive to do it in the first place.

Google AdSense is one of the largest ad networks, and it was one of the largest sources of income for authors creating fake news. One author of fake news around the US election was reportedly making $10,000 per month.

Earlier this month, both Facebook and Google banned fake news sites from utilizing their ad networks. This is a massive step forward and one that should make a big difference. There are other ad networks, but they will have smaller inventory and should receive pressure to follow suit.

A Google spokesperson said:

“Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content or the primary purpose of the web property.”

Google can do little to reduce the incentive to create fake news for the purpose of political influence. If the effectiveness of producing fake news is reduced, and it culturally becomes unacceptable, it is less likely it would be used by political organizations and individuals.

4. Signaling when content has been fact-checked

In October, Google introduced a “Fact Check” label for stories in Google News, their objective being “to shine a light on [the fact-checking community’s] efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin.” The label now appears alongside previously existing labels such as “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.”

Fact-checking sites that meet Google’s criteria can apply to have their services be included, and publishers can reference sources using the Claim Review Schema.

The kind of populism politics that has surfaced in both America and the UK is cynical of the establishment, and this cynicism could very easily extend to any fact-checking organization(s).

Trump has claimed the media is biased, specifically calling out sources such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Any attack from influential people on the fact-checking organizations could quickly undermine their credibility in the eyes of populists. It needs to be communicated clearly that the facts are not defined by Google and that they are from neutral, objective sources.

Fact check label

Google has introduced a new “Fact Check” label.

These labels only apply to Google News, but it will be interesting to see if and how Google can expand it to the main index.

5. Funding fact-checking organizations

Of course, Google should not be defining what the truth is. Having the power to both define veracity and present it back to society concentrates power that could be abused in the future.

Google, therefore, has a large dependency on other organizations to do this task — and a large interest in seeing it happen. The smart thing Google has done is to fund such organizations, and this month it has given €150,000 to three UK organizations working on fact-checking projects (plus others elsewhere in the world).

One of the UK organizations is Full Fact. Full Fact is working on the first fully automated fact-checking tool, which will lend scalability to the efforts of journalists and media companies.

Full Fact caps the amount of donations they can receive from any one organization to 15 percent to avoid commercial interests and preserve objectivity. This is the counter-argument to any cynics suggesting Google’s donation isn’t large enough and doesn’t represent the size of the task.

Google needs accurate sources of information to present back to users, and funding fact-checking organizations will accelerate progress.

To wrap up

Casting aside all of the challenges Google faces, there are deep-rooted issues in defining what constitutes the truth, the parameters of truth that are acceptable and the governance of representing it back to society.

For Google to appear to be objective in their representation of truth, they need to avoid getting involved in defining it. They have a massive interest in this, though, and that’s the reason they have invested money into various fact-checking services.

Over the past decade, it’s possible to point to where the main focus of search engines has been, e.g., content or links. Going forward, I think we will see fact-checking and the tackling of fake news as high a priority as any other.

Google needs to act as a conduit between the user and the truth — and not define it.

The post How Google is tackling fake news, and why it should not do it alone appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Removing duplicates in Yext: still a hands-on process

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By Corey Barnett

A recent case study by Yext shows the impact of duplicate listings on local rankings in Google. Coordinated by local search expert Andrew Shotland, the core research evaluates Yext duplicate suppression for a national restaurant chain.

I’m not here to dispute the research or results. Having consistent NAP (name, address and phone number) has long been regarded as a priority for local businesses. However, there are limitations to using Yext for finding and removing duplicates.

Launched in June of 2014, duplicate listing suppression has been a selling point for the Yext platform. Different from deletion, suppression redirects search engines and customers to the correct information on a particular website. The suppression happens as long as a client or the agency is a paid subscriber to Yext.

Full disclosure: I am Yext-certified and currently manage 60 unique clients in Yext. It is a powerful platform and useful for scaling citation management. Yet when it comes to duplicate suppression, there are many areas where Yext can improve.

The platform isn’t created to find all duplicates

Doing a Yext Scan is a fun way to show clients all the issues with their local listings. But it isn’t set up to show multiple duplicates for a single citation, and it includes only 53 sites. It appears to me that Yext cherry-picks to create a report with the goal of showing as many mistakes as possible.

Once client details are added to Location Manager and PowerListings have started to sync, Yext will crawl online for duplicates. The possible duplicates tab are those Yext has automatically found in their network.

duplicate listings

The platform does look for name, address and phone duplicates, although it isn’t comprehensive. Yext especially has difficulties where a business name has changed or is using multiple assumed names. Data where only the phone or only the address is a match to a duplicate business are frequently missed.

A user of Yext can also submit duplicates through the platform, which is a common occurrence. Yext requires a URL of the duplicate, but what happens next is where the platform could really be improved.

remove duplicates yext

Not all duplicates can be suppressed

A client of mine had two duplicates in CitySearch, which Yext didn’t find and required manual submission. A month later, the duplicates were still not flagged in the system.

Sometimes, Yext reveals which duplicates are being processed, and other times it doesn’t. Even worse, it can sometimes tell you a duplicate is being suppressed when it isn’t. For the same client, two duplicates in Superpages were shown in Yext as being suppressed. However, these listings were still live on Superpages and being crawled by Google.

suppression error

Another option is to submit duplicates to Yext support. Below is a quote from a support agent, on my request to remove duplicates for a client that purchased a previously used phone number.

“The listings that only match the phone number do not follow our 2/3 guidelines. We are not able to submit another business’ listing for suppression. It is the responsibility of that business to correct the phone number on their listings if they are no longer using it.”

Yext does not suppress at the source

Not all local citations are included in the Yext PowerListings Network. Even sites in the network, such as Factual, don’t allow for duplicate suppression. A user is still required to submit a manual duplicate ticket for Factual.

In addition to Factual, data aggregators Express Update/InfoUSA, Neustar Localeze, Axciom and Dun & Bradstreet are excluded from the Yext network. These are often the source of duplicates in Yext and many other sites online.

An SEO consultant should still catalog correct and incorrect NAP in a spreadsheet and check Google and important citations for more duplicates. Moz Local can be used to scan data aggregators.

Yext could be pushing incorrect data

It doesn’t happen as often, but there are some scenarios where Yext could be pushing duplicate and inaccurate data.

The first is not having access to an existing Yext account. An existing PowerListing subscription could be sending incorrect data. You will not be able to add a location to a second Yext account until it is removed from the original.

For removal, Yext tends to require permission from the account owner. I have been unsuccessful at this in a few cases. One was for an HVAC client partnered with Lennox, which automatically subscribes all authorized dealers to a PowerListings subscription. Unfortunately, Lennox required that a tracking phone number and their own landing page be published in place of the client’s local number and website.

The second scenario is NAP accuracy. Yext has some checks on the data entered in Location Manager, but it doesn’t check against a business license or a registered office address. In a recent test, I was able to add a company twice to the PowerListings Network, but with a different phone number.

Despite these flaws, Yext is still in my arsenal for local listing management. If you choose to use Yext to suppress duplicates, understand the strengths and gaps in using the platform to do so.

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Jagdish Chandra Bose Google doodle marks 158th birthday of biophysicist, botanist & crescograph inventor

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By Amy Gesenhues

Today’s Google doodle honoree has a long list of scientific accomplishments. Born in Bangladesh on this date in 1858, Jagdish Chandra Bose’s professional tenure was spread across several scientific disciplines, including biology, physics and botany.

According to the Google Doodle Blog, Bose’s work included radio and microwave science research, and he is credited with wireless telecommunication innovations. His accomplishments in the field of wireless communication earned him the honor of having a moon crater named for him – the Bose Crater located on the far side of the Moon.

Bose’s crescograph invention – which is highlighted in today’s doodle – measured plant growth and movement, making it possible to identify similarities between animals and plants.

Marking Bose’s 158th birthday, the doodle illustration shows him at work with a plant and his crescograph. The image leads to a search for “Jagdish Chandra Bose” and has a sharing icon to post the doodle on social feeds or send via email.
jagadish-chandra-boses-158th-birthday

As if the study of plants and radio science and physics wasn’t enough – Bose also published “The Story of the Missing One,” a short story that is known as one of the first Bengali science fiction stories.

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How brands can win with omnichannel discovery

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By Adam Dorfman

Omnichannel marketing is not new, but the concept continues to fascinate writers and practitioners alike, myself included. That’s because consumer behavior keeps changing, and businesses need to be responsive to these changing behaviors so that they can continue to be found.

While brands used to worry about coordinating their marketing across different channels, now they need to respond to the reality that people are using multiple channels, devices and communication modes to get what they want in an increasingly on-demand fashion. For instance, you can now order a pizza with a voice command to Amazon Echo or with an emoji on Twitter.

Welcome to the world of omnichannel discovery.

As I noted in a previous Search Engine Land column, consumers long ago graduated from Google searches on desktops and mobile phones, with an explosion of devices and technologies continuing to shape how and where we search.

According to Nielsen, “Americans now own four digital devices on average, and the average US consumer spends 60 hours a week consuming content across devices.”

Consequently, as Forrester Research noted in a private report, people discover brands and transact with them in a variety of ways, ranging from social networks to apps.

Google calls these touch points micro-moments because people decide what to do and what to buy through rapid moments of decision-making — which can be challenging for brands trying to figure out how to turn omnichannel micro-moments into business at a location level.

Businesses can win in a world of omnichannel discovery by leading consumers through a smooth journey across channels. Doing so means creating the right experience for the right channel and customer. A mobile wallet offer might be perfect for connecting with a consumer doing a mobile search using Google, but not so much for someone using Snapchat to have a playful experience with a brand.

Some brands are giving us a glimpse of how to manage the omnichannel journey by creating experiences appropriate for each channel and device. Here are a few:

Disney

Disney guides Disney World visitors through an omnichannel journey that ranges from the desktop to mobile to wearables. Disney understands that searching for and booking a vacation is a complicated task that usually occurs on the desktop.

Accordingly, the My Disney Experience website contains myriad functions appropriate for planning a visit, ranging from choosing lodging to buying tickets. Click-to-call functionality and live chat make the potentially complicated process a lot easier.

From there, Disney transitions users to the Disney Experience app for discovering things to do and checking crucial information such as wait times for attractions while visitors are on-site.

Disney also offers the increasingly popular MagicBand RFID wearables that make it easy for guests to manage transactions during their stay, such as purchasing food. By storing information about guests (including their locations throughout a day at the parks) through MagicBands, Disney can design more personal experiences based on their preferences.

Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s operates over 5,200 stores in the United States and gets more than 50 percent of its sales through digital channels — with half of those coming from mobile.

Domino’s thrives in an on-demand world by adapting to consumer behavior. Ordering pizzas with emojis and voice commands are not gimmicks because voice-related searches and the use of emojis reflect how people are interacting with each other and with brands in the post-digital age.

I think it’s telling that Domino’s CEO, Patrick Doyle, transitioned the company to the smartphone age by famously tasking his Information Technology team to “Make it so a customer could order a pizza while waiting for a stoplight.” He understood intuitively that mobile was, and remains, rooted in this kind of behavior.

Nowadays, you can also order Domino’s pizzas through a growing number of channels and devices beyond Twitter and Echo, including mobile apps, Facebook messenger bots, your Apple Watch and smart televisions. Domino’s is a great example of creating the right experience for the consumer, channel and device.

What you should do next

Succeeding in a world of omnichannel discovery requires businesses to take stock of their customers’ journeys, develop an omnichannel location data strategy and share content and experiences that turn discovery into commerce. Here are three steps you can take now:

  1. Develop an omnichannel location data strategy. Once you understand every touch point your customer uses, ensure that your brand is visible on each one through location data. In an omnichannel world, it’s not enough to possess accurate data on your stores’ location pages. You’ll need to distribute your location data across all the places where discovery is occurring, ranging from Facebook to mobile apps such as Google Maps.
  2. Understand your customer’s omnichannel journey. Examine the entire journey your customer takes from home to store. Ask questions such as how many touch points do they encounter, and what devices are they using to interact with your brand? Understanding your customer’s omnichannel journey will require you to employ tools such as journey maps, which designers use to research and depict the customer experience journey.
  3. Create next moments appropriate for each channel. As I have discussed previously, a “next moment” is the action that occurs after someone finds your brand through a search. A next moment for a Google search on a mobile device might consist of a mobile wallet offer. A next moment on Instagram or Pinterest might consist of sponsored visual content or promoted pins that encourage shoppers to visit brick-and-mortar stores to take advantage of a sale. In all three cases, the next moment needs to maximize and capitalize on the unique attributes of each channel and device (e.g., highly visual content for Instagram).

The next frontier of omnichannel discovery for businesses will involve using advanced analytics and consumer measurement tools to anticipate consumer discovery and either positioning themselves with the right solution before a search begins or pre-empting the search completely.

By deploying a location data strategy that involves being visible and creating next moments where consumers are conducting “near me” searches, you’ve set up your brand for success as the nature of omnichannel changes.

The post How brands can win with omnichannel discovery appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google drops their feature phone crawler & error report in Search Console

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By Barry Schwartz

Google has announced they have dropped support for crawling the web as a feature phone and has also removed the crawl error reports in Google Search Console.

Google said “most websites don’t provide feature-phone-compatible content in WAP/WML any more.” Google said that because of this change, they have “made changes in how we crawl feature-phone content.” This does not impact how Google crawls or indexes smartphone content, just feature phones. Feature phones are those old Nokia phones that let you access web sites in a text based interface.

Google won’t be using the feature-phone user-agents for crawling for search going forward. So you will no longer see those in your logs.

Which means that if you do have a feature phone support on your web site, you need to use “handheld” link annotations for dynamic serving of feature-phone content. Here is what that code looks like:

<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="[current page URL]" />

You can learn more about that in the updated documentation at Google’s developer site.

Finally, since Google is no longer crawling the web as a feature-phone, the crawl error reports for feature phones has gone away. Google said “without the feature-phone Googlebot, special sitemaps extensions for feature-phone, the Fetch as Google feature-phone options, and feature-phone crawl errors are no longer needed.”

Here is a before and after of that report, notice the “feature phone” option is gone now:

Before:

google-smartphone-crawl-errors-wmt-1386164828

Now:

google-featured-phone-errors-gone-1480507432

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5 Types of Google Penalties (And What You Need to Do to Recover) by @IAmAaronAgius

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By Aaron Agius

Google has a lot more in its arsenal than just algorithms to encourage you to follow their Webmaster Guidelines. Here’s an explanation of possible penalties, and how you can recover fast.

The post 5 Types of Google Penalties (And What You Need to Do to Recover) by @IAmAaronAgius appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Google & Bing increase the file size limit of Sitemaps files

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By Barry Schwartz

Both Google and Bing announced jointly that they have increased the file size limit of Sitemaps files from 10MB to 50MB.

That means, the uncompressed version must now be under 50MB, no longer under 10MB.

Fabrice Canel, Principal Program Manager at Bing, said “while most sitemaps are under this 10 MB file limit, these days, our systems occasionally encounter sitemaps exceeding this limit.” “Most often this is caused when sitemap files list very long URLs or if they have attributes listing long extra URLs (as alternate language URLs, Image URLs, etc), which inflates the size of the sitemap file,” he added.

The 50,000 URL limit per Sitemaps file has not changed, you can still only have up to 50,000 URLs in a single Sitemap file. But the file size has increased significantly.

Here is Google’s tweet about that this morning:

We’ve updated the Sitemaps protocol with Bing! Sitemaps & indexes can be considerably larger now. More at https://t.co/uygpuywUEh

— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) November 30, 2016

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