Memorial Day: Google Tiny Flag, Bing Arlington Cemetery & More

Today is Memorial Day in the United States and many of the search engines have special logos and themes for the day. Google, on the other hand has a tiny little American flag to commemorate the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Bing goes big with a really strong photos of Arlington National Cemetery where there are 624 acres where the US armed forces have been buried, beginning with the Civil War, as well as reinterred dead from earlier wars. There are currently about 400,000 people buried there.

Here is Google’s home page that shows that tiny little American flat. Clearly a huge contrast to what you see on Bing:

Every year when Google doesn’t do a fully blown Doodle, it sometimes suggests to people that Google doesn’t care. Instead, Google places a small US flag under the search box. Google says that for somber days, they do not like to make fun and cheerful Doodles. So for Memorial Day, they use a small flag.

And even Dogpile is proud with their animated home page:

And here is our web site today:

I don’t think we will be posting any other stories here today out of respect for the day. We will continue tomorrow.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Daily Search Forum Recap: May 26, 2017

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Source: SEroundTable

Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Algorithm Updates, Link Spam Warning & Many Search Tests

This week in search, I go into more detail on the search algorithm and ranking changes we are noticing. I discuss how my original theory on featured snippets was wrong. I also talk about Googleâs stern warning and reminder that articles for links is a bad thing. Google said there is such a thing as over optimization and it can hurt. Google said not all ads above the fold are bad. Google Assistant is available on iOS as a standalone app but why not part of the main search app? Google said again, there is no sandbox. Google said there is no limit on the domain diversity. Google has launched a personal search filter. Google tests an âon this pageâ feature in the snippets. Google is testing a new design for people also search for. Google AdWords is launching the new interface to all advertisers by year of the end. Google Attribution launched this week, it is pretty cool. Google AdWords is beta testing search ads landing pages with AMP. Google is testing hotel price labels on the map. Google My Business will now notify you of when customers upload photos of your local business. Google Analytics is testing a new home feature. That was this past week in search at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed:

For the original iTunes version, click here.

Search Topics of Discussion:

Please do subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!

Source: SEroundTable

Google Warns: Don't Do Article Creation For Links

Yesterday, Google published a blog post named a reminder about links in large-scale article campaigns. Truth is, there is absolutely nothing new about what is written there. If you do guest blogging or article publishing for the purpose of link building, with the intent of manipulating Google’s search results – then that is something Google can and does penalize for. Sometimes those penalties can negatively impact your overall site’s ranking and sometimes it means that Google ignores the links on a site or to a site. Either way, it can hurt.

Google wrote “what does violate Google’s guidelines on link schemes is when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the authorâs site. Below are factors that, when taken to an extreme, can indicate when an article is in violation of these guidelines:”

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
  • Using or hiring article writers that arenât knowledgeable about the topics theyâre writing on
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=âcanonicalâ, in addition to rel=ânofollowâ, is advised)

Nothing new… This died in 2014 and has died several times since then.

But many folks are now expecting mass manual actions to follow this blog post from Google. Truth is, I am not sure. I did expect that last time Google did a reminder post and it did not happen, no mass manual actions hit after that.

So I asked Gary Illyes from Google if we will see new manual actions or penalties and I didn’t really get a response, here is what he said:

I do, but I can’t say. It was timed with a story from Danny Sullivan named Google warns against misusing links in syndication & large-scale article campaigns so read that. But again, I can’t say much.

Pedro Dias, a former Googler thought manual actions will flow after this:

So did Kaspar, another former Googlers:

But will it? I’ll keep an eye out and keep you all posted.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Google: No, Not All Ads Above The Fold Are Bad

I love John Mueller’s one word answers. The Google representative was asked on Twitter if all ads above the fold are bad and John said “no.” Of course, the specific example showed Google mobile results for a query where all you saw on the page were ads.

Here is the Q&A:

Here was the example given to John:

No organic results to be seen without scrolling past the ads.

We know Google has a top ad heavy penalty and has said time and time again, do not block your organic content with ads. Hence the interstitials mobile penalty and other algorithm updates hitting sites that make it hard to find your primary content.

So here you go, Google says not all ads above the fold are bad.

Google really needs to get the organic and paid policies on the same page ASAP.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Google Again: There Was No Sandbox…

It is like every now and then a Googler has to say Google never had any Sandbox algorithm. They said it as recently in December. The Google Sandbox concept dates back to 2004. However, many SEOs felt there still was a Google Sandbox. In fact, just a couple years ago, many thought there was a Google Sandbox 2.0 but that conversation died down a lot.

However in 2005, Google’s Matt Cutts said there is something like a sandbox. There was even a hack that worked to see sites pop out of the sandbox, it really did work back then.

But Gary Illyes posted on Twitter:

I am sure Google never called it a Sandbox which is why Google can deny it.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Google Adds Personal Tab To Search Filters

Google now lets searchers filter their search results by “personal” results. By that, it mostly means emails, flights, anything related to that Gmail account they are logged into. You should be able to see it if you are logged into a normal Gmail account and do a normal Google search. If you are logged out or logged into a Google Apps (GSuite) account, you won’t see it.

Here is a screen shot of the option:

click for full size

This was spotted first by Jessica Grammer and posted on Twitter. Here is what happens when you filter by personal results, at least for me:

click for full size

It shows me a bunch of emails. Note, I don’t use my personal Gmail account much, so it is mostly filled with spam.

Google first launched personalized results in search back in 2012 but it was included in your core results without the personal filter option.

I asked Google for a comment on this but I have yet to hear back. When I do hear back, I’ll post something here and at Search Engine Land.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Daily Search Forum Recap: May 25, 2017

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Source: SEroundTable

How to compare paid search and organic search without sounding foolish

Last week, I had the misfortune of encountering perhaps the most misguided thread on digital marketing I’ve ever seen on Twitter (which is saying something), in which an SEO declared unequivocally that “organic search traffic beats paid traffic for every single metric.”

To me, these statements seemed outrageous and even inflammatory. But much to my surprise, many SEOs caught onto this thread and were all about it. Et tu, Rand?

Realistically, I’m not sure what data can truly back up these far-reaching statements declaring dominance of organic search performance over paid search in every metric. And Rand’s caveat fails to address the real problem of this thread, which is its narrow-minded, one-versus-the-other premise.

In reality, some searchers will click on ads. Others will click on organic links. Marketers should be trying to capture both.

Let’s talk about the current landscape and dive into how there are better, more nuanced ways to look at performance comparisons between paid search and SEO — without all the bluster.

Paid search growth has long outpaced organic growth

It’s no secret to paid search and SEO managers that Google has steadily made updates over the past couple of years that have directly harmed organic traffic, including the addition of a fourth text ad above organic links on desktop, the addition of a third (and then fourth) text ad above organic links on phones, doubling the size of Product Listing Ads on phones, moving the Local Pack to the top of search results, and more.

As a result, overall organic traffic has declined Y/Y for the past several quarters, as shown in this chart from the quarterly Merkle Digital Marketing Report (registration required).

You don’t have to take our word for it — take a look at Google’s Q1 2017 earnings report, which showed a 53 percent increase in paid clicks on Google properties Y/Y. Even though that includes other channels, the vast majority is search, and if you think that isn’t coming at the expense of organic — well, you’d be wrong.

I don’t say this because I’m a paid search hack trying to butter up PPC. Our agency manages SEO as well — and does a fantastic job of it. I even lauded the strong organic growth we were seeing a couple of years ago in a presentation at SMX Advanced about Google’s declining paid search click growth at the time. If we were seeing big organic growth overall, I’d be screaming it from the rooftops and saying that every marketer needs to be throwing all their resources at organic.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case — because again, Google has been steadily making changes that directly harm organic search and help to keep paid search click growth strong.

So right off the bat, we have one metric that paid search has an advantage in. This is going to vary from brand to brand, but overall, this is the way things are moving for most marketers.

But what about all those other metrics that are supposedly amazing for organic and terrible for paid search? Anyone who understands how to do such comparisons correctly would be careful to provide nuance and specificity in explaining how performance metrics should be analyzed. Unfortunately, Twitter is ill-suited for such details.

Here are two tips for anyone looking to derive meaningful comparisons between paid search and SEO.

1. Segment query types and devices

If most of your organic search traffic is coming from searches for your own brand name, but a smaller share of paid search traffic comes from branded queries, performance is going to vary. Shocking, I know. As such, you should be segmenting traffic and conversion performance by brand vs. non-brand, as well as doing category-level segmentations within those buckets.

This was made harder by the rise of [not provided] obfuscating organic queries in analytics packages, but is still possible using tools such as Google Search Console.

Similarly, organic and paid search might derive different shares of traffic from different device types for a given brand. Device types tend to perform differently in all sorts of metrics, from click-through rate to conversion rate to bounce rate. Thus, this would throw off any overall performance comparisons and require that metrics be broken down by device.

In the case of analysis that declares some overall winner with zero nuance about how data was segmented, it’s almost guaranteed the individual didn’t bother making such segmentations. Declaring such overarching results apply to every brand in existence is just ridiculous.

2. Take advantage of both paid and organic, and measure incrementality

But it’s not just about measuring how paid and organic search metrics compare on any given day. It’s also important to understand how they work together.

Every marketer wants to rank organically for every keyword that they might consider bidding on in paid search, preferably in the top spot. But it’s simply not possible for every site to rank on the first page of organic listings for every single query that might drive value for them.

Similarly, every brand would love to have an ad at the top of the page for every relevant query, but the economics of paid search are limiting. It’s not financially viable to bid to the top position for every term, and in many cases it’s not even feasible to bid to the first page of results given the expected return for a particular query.

So we have a situation where brands would love to have both paid and organic listings (since users are inevitably going to click both types of listings), but in which it’s impossible to actually achieve perfect visibility in both. Understanding how these two types of visibility work together, then, is key.

In the case of brand keywords, it’s certainly possible that a site might be able to pick up all of the paid search traffic it’s getting from brand ads through its organic listings. Of course, this is going to depend on factors such as if competitors are bidding on brand keywords and how many first page organic listings are occupied by the brand, but it’s possible.

Still, we find that the vast majority of brand holdout tests show that organic links do not pick up all traffic that goes to brand ads, such that brand ads have some incremental value. There is no way to say that organic “outperforms” paid when it comes to talking about this incremental traffic — you’re either getting it through ads or you’re not getting it at all. Period.

In the case of a non-brand query in which a site doesn’t even rank on the first page, pretty much all traffic coming from a paid search ad is incremental. Should you try to rank organically for that query? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean you should forgo paid search just because you heard organic search is better in every metric.

Conclusion: Get rid of search partisanship

What I’m trying to get at here is that marketers should want to be “turned on” for as many different types of search visibility as possible, whether it be paid links, the local pack, the knowledge graph or plain old organic listings. Lauding one channel over another in sweeping statements is ridiculous and actually harms the discussion by completely ignoring important nuances.

What’s worse, pitting one channel against another is incredibly detrimental to moving the conversation forward on how the two channels work together. Given the complicated relationship between paid and organic search that varies from query to query, such search partisanship is only good for those who specialize in one channel to make the case for their specialty.

In that regard, I’m glad I work at an agency that manages both paid and organic search optimization, such that we can feel free to laud the benefits of both and talk about challenges and concerns in equal measure. We’re all about working across channels to squeeze every possible ounce of value out of search, whether it’s paid or organic, while single-minded folks clutch the pearls of the one channel they know how to manage.

In short: Be open-minded, think critically, and understand the nuances of comparing paid and organic search.

The post How to compare paid search and organic search without sounding foolish appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland