Daily Search Forum Recap: January 29, 2016

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

Video Recap of Weekly Search Buzz :: January 29, 2016

This week in search was a bit calmer as the search results didnât fluctuation as much in Google. Googleâs Matt Cutts explained why he thinks there was so much fluctuation in January, because of a code freeze. Google published a new Google Webmaster Guidelines document and we documented the changes. Google said it can take a really long time for images to be updated in their index. Google said they plan to add JSON-LD for rich snippets. Google said valid HTML not required for ranking but helps with structured data and mobile friendliness. Google said they will step up structured data support this year. Google said links in footers and sitewides are weighted less. No need to nofollow the related post widgets on your site. Google said outbound links are not a ranking factor. Google will pick the shorter URL for canonicalization. Google said write your reconsideration requests in the web site language. Google is sending AMP notifications via the Search Console. Google AdWords added formula support to custom columns. Google AdWords launched their iOS app this week. Some Google AdSense publishers are still waiting to be paid. 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:

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Source: SEroundTable

Google To Step Up Structured Data Support Over The Year

Google’s John Mueller said in a Google Hangout this morning at the 55 minute mark saying that Google will be stepping up their efforts around structured markup throughout the year because it benefits them in how they understand a web page.

He said, “so I suspect over the course of the year we will definitely be seeing more structured data because it really helps us a lot to understand and discover.”

Here is the whole part:

(Q) Are there more plans for Google to work more with structured data?â¦

(A) On the one hand, it is very useful for us to understand the content better. It is kind of the nature to make sure we donât misunderstand it wrong. So from that point of view, I think it is really useful.

The other aspect of course is, the more sites use structured data, the more we can use it and highlight it more in the search results.

So I suspect that it is also an aspect there where the better we can understand these pages the more we kind of understand the details of where this page is relevant, the better we can show it in search.

So I suspect over the course of the year we will definitely be seeing more structured data because it really helps us a lot to understand and discover and it is also something that can be used by other services as well.

Here is the video embed:

Forum discussion at Google+.

Source: SEroundTable

Google: Valid HTML Not Required For Ranking But Can Hurt Structured Data & Mobile Friendliness

When Google updated their Webmaster Guidelines yesterday, one of the changed was changes was around valid HTML.

Before it read, “Check for broken links and correct HTML.” and now it reads “Ensure that all links go to live web pages. Use valid HTML.” Google links the “valid HTML” to the W3C validator.

Google said in 2009 Pages That Validate Do Not Get Ranking Boost. Google said in July 2015 that Bad HTML Validation Doesn’t Hurt Rankings But Can Impact Structured Data. So that is the same point here.

John Mueller of Google explained on Twitter after being questions about the guidelines change, “Invalid HTML causes more problems now than years ago: structured data & mobile come to mind,” he said. He added “but for the most part, we just wanted to rephrase it in a .. correct way :).”

So there is no real change here from what we covered back in July.

He also covered this in more detail this morning in a Google Hangout at the 1 hour mark saying:

This came up recently with the change of the guidelines, with regards to change made in the webmaster guidelines. We mentioned use valid HTML. The question here is Is the W3C Validation (Broken HTML) ranking factor or should we care about it?

It is not directly a ranking factor. It is not the sense that if your site is not using valid HTML we will remove it from he index. Because I think we will have a pretty empty search results.

But there are a few aspects there that do come into play. On the one hand, a site with really broken HTML, something that we see really rarely, then it is really hard for us to crawl it and index the content because we canât pick it up.

The other two aspects which are kind more in regards to structured data. Sometimes it is really hard to pick up the structured data when the HTML is broken completely. So you canât easily use a validator for the structured data.

The other thing is in regards to mobile devices and cross browser support is if you have broken HTML then that sometimes really hard to render on newer devices.

Here is that video:

Again, nothing new but he had to explain the wording change in the guidelines.

Forum discussion at Twitter & a Google+

Source: SEroundTable

Google Sending Notifications Via Search Console To Go AMP

Google has begun sending webmasters and publishers notifications via the Google Search Console that they should begin looking to make AMP (accelerated mobile pages) for their news site. The notification says “implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for…:

It goes on to explain that Google has detected that the site is news oriented and the site “might benefit from enhanced exposure on Google Search” if you go ahead and implement the AMP guidelines. It then goes through tips on how to do so and verification processes.

Here is the email Glenn Gabe got for one of his clients from Google with this notification:

click for full size

AMP should be launching in about a month and Google is pushing it really really hard. For more on AMP, see here.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Adobe: Paid Search Spend Growth Slowed In Q4, Mobile Continued To Eat Into Desktop


Paid search continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2015, but at a slower pace than in the previous year, according to the latest Adobe Digital Index report.

Spend among advertisers running campaigns on the Adobe Media Optimizer platform rose three percent year over year in Q4 2015, compared to the 12-percent increase seen in Q4 2014 globally.

Growth on Google slowed to five percent globally, down from eight percent the previous year. For Bing and Yahoo, growth rates declined sharply in Q4 to seven percent, down from 36 percent in Q4 2015.

Mobile Spend Share Rises, Clicks Remain Cheaper

Smartphone share of search spent grew to 23 percent of spend in Q4 2015, up from 15 percent the previous year. Desktop spend share dropped from 69 percent last year to 62 percent in Q4 2015. Tablet spend share fell from 16 percent a year ago to 14 percent in Q4.

Yet, even as desktop spend share falls and mobile click-through rates keep rising, mobile CPCs actually fell seven percent year over year globally.

Smartphone CPCs cost 26 percent less on average than desktop, yet mobile CTRs made significant gains in the final two quarters of 2015. CTRs were 40 percent higher on smartphones than desktop in Q4, up from the 20 percent seen the previous year and through Q2 2015.


Mobile Shopping Ad Spend Nearly Doubled

On smartphones, product ad spend jumped 95 percent among brand and retail advertisers. Desktop accounted for just 11 percent of the 37-percent spend gain seen overall in Q4 year over year.

The engines continued showing product listing ads on more queries. In North America, Shopping ads accounted for 64 percent of retail advertiser impressions in Q4, up 42 percent from the previous year. That was similar in the rest of the world, where 63 percent of retail impressions came from PLAs, up 78 percent year over year. (Adobe uses the term Product Listing Ads to include Shopping ads on both Google and Bing.)

google pla impression share

Gemini CPCs Rose Relative To Google

Looking at Yahoo’s upstart (or restart) effort into search, CPCs remain heavily discounted, but the gap compared to Google continues to shrink. CPCs on Gemini increased nearly threefold relative to the search leader, rising from just 17 percent of Google CPCs in Q2 2015 to 49 percent in Q4. google bing yahoo paid search q4 2015 - adobe

Bing CPCs also continued to rise relative to Google, increasing from 75 percent of Google CPCs in Q2 to 80 percent in Q4.

The post Adobe: Paid Search Spend Growth Slowed In Q4, Mobile Continued To Eat Into Desktop appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Google: Write Your Reconsideration Requests In Your Web Site's Native Language Or Else…

Google Penalty

Gary Illyes of Google posted on Twitter tip about reconsideration requests. In short, if your web site is in Hebrew and you get a manual action notice, write your reconsideration request in Hebrew. Don’t write it in English or a different language – write it in the language of your web site.

He wrote, “TIL: Writing a reconsideration request in English if the site is not English is a brilliant way to shoot yourself in the foot.”

Seems pretty strict on that. I mean, I don’t really see why it is so bad to write it in English, many webmasters who build sites in other languages also speak English fluently and most Googlers I know speak English fluently well. But this tip is coming from Google, so go with it.

Gary added later that they will end up processing the reconsideration request but it may take more time:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

PPC Geo-Bidding, Simplified


Recently, I came across a social media post that — honest to goodness — went on at length about the price the poster would be willing to pay for a new brand of ketchup.

“I’d need 50 percent off to give it a try,” opined the timid tomato tester. “If I turn out not to like the product, it’s just a whole lot of wasted time, and a waste of food .”

“This calls for snark!” some alien voice urged me.

I’m not proud of it, but there was only one possible reply: “Dude. It’s just ketchup.”

Unlike the man-child clinging to the safety of the almighty Heinz brand, some people actually get paid to overthink stuff. That appears to be the case in the marketing profession.

Despite some underlying complexity in the permutations, probabilities and platforms, there are many topics in digital marketing today that could use a little dumbing down — at the very least to overcome paralysis, but also to avoid doing fake work or engaging in “doctor that actually makes the patient sicker” activity (of the type Nassim Taleb has been so eloquent in calling out).

Bidding accurately on different geographic segments is one of those topics. Let’s go.

Dive In! See, You’re Already Swimming!

In AdWords, assuming you set up your main location (i.e., your nationwide “catch-all” — say, United States) along with a few additional sub-locations of interest (a handful of cities or states, using the +LOCATIONS button), you’re already geo-targeting.

Plus, you’re already geo-bidding as soon as you enter your first bid adjustment (adjusting your core CPC bids by some percentage, for ad viewers associated with that geo segment). That wasn’t hard, was it?

(Note: Bing Ads offers essentially parallel functionality.)

I consider this screen to represent the core of any AdWords geo-bidding strategy today; it’s available on the Locations tab as one of three prominent bid adjustment opportunities (alongside mobile bid adjustments and ad scheduling).

geo bids

Somehow this powerful, basic functionality gets lost in the shuffle of PowerPoint decks seemingly bent on adding complexity for its own sake.

One conference presentation I recently reviewed finally got to this screen on slide 34 of a 40-slide presentation. By this time, attendees were no doubt visualizing the complimentary samosas, fancy ketchup and drinks available at the cocktail reception, convinced they could never handle all the complexity of data manipulation required to be “good at geo.”

Worse, little to nothing was said about this important geo-bidding screen. What should you set up, and why?

What To Set Up, And Why? No One Is Really Saying.

The above AdWords screen, obviously, is no great secret. The question is, can you be doing more with it? Can you be doing that more effectively? And are people in Phoenix as stingy as I say they are? And if Pittsburgh is such a goldmine for my clients, why the heck can’t Pittsburgh be bigger? Do special features like demographics, places of interest, colleges, central commercial areas and ZIP codes really help? When?

Another question that nags at a lot of marketers is this: What if I do it improperly? Won’t things get worse?

Faced with a lack of resources and no clear methodology to manage from, many avoid the task entirely. Or they’ll throw a few (or all 50) US states into the mix, then abandon the effort.

I’m convinced there is a solid lift to be had from geo-bidding accurately. But so far, few of us in the industry have produced usable case studies to show clearly what kind of lift geo-bidding is capable of.

Given the difficulty of A/B testing campaign-level settings, most case studies would have to be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

Beyond a certain point, there is only wheel-spinning, busywork and regression to the mean, as with so many other marketing boondoggles.

Experiment. There’s Limited Risk.

It’s worth asking — to channel Taleb once more — is this something you’d fuss with if you had real skin in the game? Not as a technocrat, but as a business owner?

In the financial, medical and environmental realms, there are awful consequences to “blowing up,” even if blowups or meltdowns are rare (black swans). Yet fast talkers and advocates of shiny new things pursue slight gains too ardently. Taleb refers to that as “the convexity of risk.”

In AdWords, you don’t get quite the same potential for catastrophe. So if you can tune out the overly eager purveyors of shiny objects, use some of your spare time to tinker. You may find you can create incremental, reliable lift without endless effort.

The Cool Thing: Geo Data Gets Beyond Black-And-White Thinking

Many marketers aren’t aware of the power of the data we have at our fingertips today, and how easy it is to tap that power.

Last year, we worked with a client who told us to exclude a number of states from their financial lead generation effort because 30 years of direct mail had taught them those areas don’t perform for them.

We are generally against putting the cart before the horse in this way. If René Descartes himself sat us down and told us that logic dictates we should shut down potential goldmine states in favor of a highly convoluted and unproven theory about how certain personas might come up with a search query, we’d introduce him to David Hume and a pitcher of ale and return when he’d come to his senses.

Basic Principles: What Are We Trying To Accomplish?

To put the exercise on a solid foundation, consider the following basic principles:

  • The purpose of geo bid adjustments is to maximize PPC campaign volume and/or ROI by bidding accurately on some configuration of different geographic areas (a number of states and metros within the US, for example).
  • This “bid adjustments” functionality, called Enhanced Campaigns when first rolled out by Google, is a powerful advancement over the old methodology where you had to set up a separate campaign for every geo-specific bid strategy you wanted to deploy. Granted, bid adjustments may not be the only geo-strategy in many accounts. But for many PPC accounts — possibly the majority — it’s a great time-saver to lean more on bid adjustments and less on elaborate account structures, geo-specific ad copy and so forth.
  • At a certain point, you must accept that complex stories are irrelevant to this exercise because of what it entails: many of the resulting actions will be small bid adjustments of less than 10 percent. In much rarer cases, those adjustments may be 20 percent, 40 percent, or all the way up to 100+ percent if you are looking at a highly localized type of business. In all cases, what you are doing is fiddling with bids. It’s that simple. Hearing an elaborate story about neighborhoods and personas does zero to alter the course of events. Just normalize each segment to hit your target KPI on all of them.
  • Geography is not being used as a bid factor for its inherent characteristics, presumably, but because it is a good enough proxy for propensity to purchase. That propensity doesn’t derive solely from income, but from a mix of demographic and cultural characteristics, including the nature of employment or common pastimes.
  • For simplicity’s sake, it’s worth remembering that we are essentially on the lookout for differing conversion rates (though you can opt to manage to ROAS, CPA or whatever you like, of course). A greater search query volume, because “people like salty snacks in this region,” doesn’t necessarily translate into more dollars to the business, since we’re paying for clicks.
  • The behavior of the segments has to be significantly patterned in a manner distinct from just random data fluctuations to be worth adjusting your bids to. Put another way, long-term patterns that are distinct enough from the mean to build up a high statistical confidence level warrant attention. Stuff that just bounces around short-term but results in regression to the mean shouldn’t be “chased” — at best, you’re getting no farther ahead; at worst, you do even worse than if you had not managed it at all.
  • Following from that, I’ll save you some time: If you’re getting excited about how to best market to a bazillion ZIP codes, keep randomness and statistical confidence in mind. Maybe don’t bother unless you’re very advanced and have a very large account.
  • Behavior will vary from industry to industry, from account to account and from campaign to campaign.

Slightly More Advanced Principles

Now consider the following slightly more advanced principles:

  • A thematically organized account may help, as long as the resulting campaigns are large enough. Poorly organized accounts — say, accounts that have unnecessarily large campaigns — may wind up “blending” interesting behaviors to a less interesting aggregate. This can mask interesting behaviors that break down by, say, type of product.
  • This stuff isn’t all that easy or common to automate, but there’s no doubt you can and should automate it, past a certain point of time being wasted.
  • Big-city dwellers may exhibit behavior that meaningfully departs from the “hinterland” (rest of the state); in this case, managing a combination of cities, metros and states may be important.
  • For your particular account, combined with your unique insights into how certain parts of the world “tick,” you might be able to hit on some clever approaches to geo-bidding in highly populated areas. Get creative. Pick a suburb you know, and add it as a geo-segment, along with the DMA and the state.

Don’t worry about data, though, if you don’t add a given segment. You can look up the past data at any level using “View Location Reports,” available from the same AdWords screen. That might be an awfully important place to research your strategy!

Sunset Superfluous Stuff

Finally, after a considerable period of time, consider sunsetting the pieces of your geo-bidding edifice that do nothing to further the cause. If a state or metro area is going to regress to the mean (for, say, the whole United States), then maybe you’re better off admitting that it isn’t interesting to enough to manage separately.

If you no longer want to manage a geo segment separately, simply “remove” it (not the same as excluding it). The “unmanaged” segments now simply pool in with the catch-all (e.g., “United States”) and should — if you’re adept at reading the data and making a solid prediction — make management simpler with no loss in performance.

With the time you save, you might just be in a good enough mood to pay full price for condiments. Pass the ketchup.

The post PPC Geo-Bidding, Simplified appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

iPhone Users, The AdWords App For iOS Has Arrived

adwords app for ios

The AdWords app for iPhone users is finally available for everyone. Google announced Thursday that the AdWords app for iOS is now available globally.

In early December, Google had invited advertisers to join the iOS app beta through the holidays.

With the app, you can get campaign performance stats and update budgets and bids on the go. You can also take action on campaign suggestions and get billing and ad status notifications from the app. And you can call an AdWords rep if you need support.

So the quartet is complete: This rollout means that there are now AdWords and Bing Ads apps for both Android and iOS devices.

You can download the iOS AdWords app from the App Store now.

The post iPhone Users, The AdWords App For iOS Has Arrived appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Daily Search Forum Recap: January 28, 2016

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:

  • The New Google Webmaster Guidelines Are Now Live

    Google has just replaced the Google Webmaster Guidelines document, known as the holy-grail of SEO guidelines for most in our community. It seems a lot of the content has been revised and updated, which may be part of the new webmaster home from Google…

  • What Changed In The Google Webmaster Guidelines

    Patrick Sexton asked if he can publish the new changes and additions made to the Google Webmaster Guidelines update I mentioned this morning. So here is his take on that. But first, Patrick Sexton is the author of Varvy.com and the co-founder of getlisted…

  • Google: Nofollow Unnecessary For Related Post Blog Links

    Many blog platforms let you automatically show “related posts” based on the category, tag or content of the blog post you just published. In many cases, this is all automated but in some, you can do them manually…

  • Google: Outbound Links Are Not A Ranking Factor

    In the Google Hangout from earlier this week, John Mueller filled us up with yes and nos to is this a ranking factor or not, hence all the stories here covering that hangout…

  • Google & Fox News Team Up For Tonights Republican Debate

    Google announced they have teams up with Fox News for tonight’s Republican debate, which should be missing Donald Trump.

    Google added search features to let the searchers interact more with this debate…

  • Google AdWords To Only Support Internet Explorer 11 Of All IEs

    Google quietly announced yesterday on Google+ that they will drop support for all versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer except Internet Explorer 11.

    Google said, “starting on March 7th, 2016…

  • Google Inside Out Post-It Art Work
    Moritz Tolxdorff from the Google Dublin office posted a picture this morning of some of the windows at the Google office done up with post-it artwork in the form on the Inside Out movie characters. P

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Source: SEroundTable