Daily Search Forum Recap: June 30, 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

Google says Dynamic Search Ad targeting will soon get better


Google announced it will be adjusting how Dynamic Search Ads are triggered over the next few months.

The goal is to improve ad relevance on queries. From the announcement:

For example, ads that point to a landing page about iced coffee makers will be less likely to show for less relevant searches like “iced coffee.”

As the updates roll out, performance may fluctuate, says Google. You’ll want to keep an eye on the search terms report even more vigilantly than usual with DSA campaigns during the transition period to see how query matching is affected.

The post Google says Dynamic Search Ad targeting will soon get better appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

What the heck is going on with Google Keyword Planner?


First there were the error notices that users have to have an active campaign, not just an AdWords account to access Keyword Planner. Then came combined search volumes for close variants.

A Google spokesperson has confirmed with Search Engine Land that users do not have to have an active campaign to use Keyword Planner. On social media, Google told users that the error was the result of a technical issue that was being fixed. When Keyword Planner launched inside AdWords in 2013, replacing the open Keyword Tool, it got a cool reception. So there was alarm when some users got the error message telling them they’d also have to have an active AdWords campaign to use it. The error didn’t affect all accounts; still it got people speculating whether it just a glitch or Google backtracking. Either way, for now at least we can move on.

So, to close variants and the resulting combined search volume results. Google isn’t commenting the move; we asked. Close variants grouping is not necessarily unexpected — Google replaced exact match targeting with close variants in ad campaigns in 2014 — and yet it is often inconsistent.  Sometimes plurals are grouped, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes acronyms and abbreviations are grouped with their full phrase, sometimes not. Sometimes search volumes for synonyms are combined, other times not. Sometimes combined words and misspellings are grouped, other time they are not. And apparently we search for dogs and cats at the same rate.

Here are just some examples of oddities I’ve found:

Scenario Search term Avg. monthly searches
Plural treated the same. cat 3,350,000
cats 3,350,000
 –  –  –
Plural treated differently seo service 6,600
seo services 27,100
 –  –
Same volume for abbreviation pay per click 135,000
ppc 135,000
 –  –  –
Then different volumes for abbreviation and synonym search engine marketing 12,100
search marketing 2,900
sem 368,000
 –  –  –
Some combined words get different volumes, some don’t car wash 550,000
carwash 550,000
dog walker 22,200
dogwalker 2,900
auto body shop 49,500
autobody shop 2,400
 –  –  –
Plural and abbreviations reported separately cfp 110,000
cfps 4,400
certified financial planners 480
 –  –  –
Spelling choice reported separately financial advisor 74,000
financial adviser 6,600
 –  –  –
Not measured as synonyms ecommerce business 8,100
ecommerce company 4,400
ecommerce firm 110
Synonyms and word order measured separately remarketing 22,200
retargeting 18,100
remarketing adwords 2,400
adwords remarketing 1,600

What does this mean for search marketers?

First, it’s a good reminder that the search volumes (and estimated CPCs) in Keyword Planner should be seen as directional signals, not hard facts. Second, if you’ve been benchmarking certain keywords and/or keyword groups over time, you’ll may or may not see shifts in historical reporting. Third, sometimes you’ll get granularity, sometimes you won’t. Which brings us right back to point number one: yes, it’s kind of annoying some keyword variations are grouped and some aren’t, but it might offer some directional insight into when granular targeting could make more of an impact in your efforts.

The post What the heck is going on with Google Keyword Planner? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

SMX Advanced recap: Using Paid Search & Social Together to Deliver the Ultimate Knockout Punch


As always, SMX was chock full of new ideas and actionable content. One of the struggles that many media teams face is the disconnect between the digital strategies that one team owns versus the strategies being implemented by teams that are responsible for other digital media types. This particular session brought together leaders in paid search and paid social to provide insight into:

  1. Proven ways to bridge the knowledge gap between teams.
  2. Building a cohesive strategy.
  3. Working in tandem to deliver results.

Maggie Malek, Head of PR & Social at MMI Agency

Malek kicked off the session noting that ad blockers are on the rise and that the key to getting around ad blockers is to put people before efficiency. In other words, putting in the time to create useful content pays off. In order to do that, Malek emphasized that search and social teams need to work together.

To truly maximize combined efforts, it’s important to understand the role of search and social in the buying cycle and to make sure that the teams work together closely. Her slides included a process for working together from an agency-partner kick-off all the way through launch, to ensure that both teams were in lockstep. In addition to the process, she also detailed the information that each team should plan to share throughout the project.

After covering project logistics, Malek underscored the importance of creating the best experience possible. Her approach is a three-step process: Discovery, Campaign Creation and Optimization.

The discovery phase is all about understanding the consumer. Malek suggested parsing out demographics from current followers and creating personas.

Second, campaigns are created based upon the personas and what each of the persona’s interests. Interests are important not only for targeting but for messaging, as well.

Once the campaigns have enough data, you can adjust your settings and audiences based upon your learnings (the optimization phase).

Jon Kagan, Sr. Director of Search & Biddable Media at Marc USA, and Tara Siegel, Sr. Director of Social at Pepperjam

Kagan and Siegel tag-teamed the second part of the presentation. They kicked off their talk by noting that search and social crossover is all about the audience.

Like Malek, they reiterated the importance of understanding your target market’s interests so that you can deliver the most valuable content possible. Siegel called social media an omni-channel optimizer and walked through the potential uses for leveraging social to improve performance in other channels and also highlighted social’s value throughout the buying cycle. In addition, she shared targeting options and noted that audience insights are a valuable way to learn about your consumers so that you can create your messaging.

Kagan reiterated the value of understanding the best-suited audiences to target, as well as excluding audiences that aren’t the right fit. He also illustrated the value of measuring and taking advantage of increased brand awareness created by television ads. Kagan and Malek went on to share case studies illustrating the lift in performance when search and social were used in sync.

The post SMX Advanced recap: Using Paid Search & Social Together to Deliver the Ultimate Knockout Punch appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Leverage the power of IBM Watson in your AdWords campaigns

watson-1920In 2011, IBM Watson competed on Jeopardy! against the two reigning champions and easily took the first place prize of $1 million.

While that was some amazing marketing, the real prize was the technology developed as part of that effort. I suspect IBM has slowly been working that technology into its products, but it is also available directly as an API. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know where this is going. Today, I’m sharing the script library I put together to leverage IBM Watson’s technology in my AdWords account.

One of the APIs available in the Watson Developer Cloud is called Alchemy Language, and it provides a set of endpoints to help you pull information and parse text from URLs. It can do things like automatically pulling dates, authors, concepts and keywords from a webpage with just a simple call. That last one sounds like it would be a great tool to add to our keyword research toolbox.

The example they give in the documentation is based on analyzing a Twitter feed for relevant keywords, but we can send in any URL we want. If you’re an agency, maybe you could leverage this API to make sure your customer’s keywords are relevant to the landing page they’re linking to. If you’re running your company’s campaigns, maybe you could analyze a competitor’s content to find keywords you might want to compete on as well.

One thing to note is that this is tool does not try to replace Google, so the keywords and topics Watson says are important will be slightly different than what Google says. At some level, both companies are trying to analyze text for topics and keywords, but there’s no doubt they are doing it very differently.

The Alchemy Language API is incredibly easy to use, but you will need to sign up for a developer token to call it. IBM has a free tier, which is plenty for what we are doing here, but of course, you can always pay for additional quota if you need to. At the end of the sign-up process, you will get something that looks like this:

Those credentials are what you pass to the library to make the calls. Here’s the library you can paste into the bottom of your AdWords Scripts for accessing this API. I’ll provide an example for using it at the end of the post.

It’s only a few lines because I am dynamically generating the functions for each endpoint. That means that anytime you see something like “POST /url/URLGetTypedRelations” in the docs, you can call it from your script code like “watson.URLGetTypedRelations(config)” and it will return the response already formatted as an object.

Here’s an example of parsing one of my old blog posts and finding the list of keywords that are related.

Running that code in your account won’t make any changes, but should print out something like this below to help you get familiar with the library.

And that’s all there is to it. Now you should be able to combine this with some of the other AdWords Scripts out there to find keywords related to your own landing pages or someone else’s. There are a few other endpoints on that list that might also be interesting, such as URLGetRankedConcepts or URLGetEmotion, but I haven’t played around with them too much.

The post Leverage the power of IBM Watson in your AdWords campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Spotted in Google PLAs: “Special Offers” filter & an ad that links directly to a new Google Shopping page


Google is constantly testing and iterating on how it displays product listing ads. The team at CommerceHub spotted two new variations this week. In one, a “with Special Offers” filter option appears in a product card unit. In another, a single product listing ad links to a landing page on Google Shopping that’s formatted like an expanded version of a typical product card unit — that’s what Google calls the product ad format that looks like Knowledge Graph panels).

“With Special Offers”

On a search result for [amazon fire], a “with Special Offers” option is selected by default. Oddly, the first listing for Best Buy has no offer associated with it. The special offers shown include free shipping, no tax and used – so these are not merchant promotions.

with special offers pla product card google shopping ad

Selecting “Item Only” from the drop down removes “with Special Offers” from the product title and a new product image is shown. The two products listings highlight “used” and “no tax”, so it’s unclear to me exactly how these are getting separated. Send me a tweet if you know of have ideas.

with special offers item only drop down google shopping

Google has included feature filters like the 8GB option in the Amazon Fire product card unit, and more elaborately for products like the iPhone; see below.

google pla product card units with feature filters

 Single PLA Links Directly To Google Shopping Landing Page

Another variation CommerceHub found was a product listing ad that doesn’t include any retailer listings and instead links to a Google Shopping landing page that is essentially an expanded version of the product card units like the ones shown above that show up on the main search results pages with retailer promotions and links, reviews, related products, maps to nearby stores and more. In fact, this page flows a lot like an Amazon product page.

A search for the EAN of a Prada perfume includes a title, reviews snippet and product image.

google pla that links to new google shopping landing page

Here’s what the top of the landing page from that ad looks like on Google Shopping on desktop.

google shopping landing page for specific product

On mobile, the experience is a little strange, but it prioritizes access to reviews above retailer links. Whereas on desktop, clicking anywhere on the ad unit brings you to the top of the landing page, on mobile, only the “Reviews” links are clickable. Here’s what the ad looks like when expanded. Click on the “Reviews” links and you’re taken to that section of the product landing page, below the retailer listings.

google pla product ad unit mobile

This isn’t the first time Google has tested driving brand searches directly to Google Shopping pages rather than to retailer or brand sites. In 2014, Google tested a PLA unit that showed category options for David Yurman jewelry, in one example. Clicking on any of the options brought users to a filtered page on Google Shopping.

The post Spotted in Google PLAs: “Special Offers” filter & an ad that links directly to a new Google Shopping page appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Google Maps Testing Video Verification For Businesses

As you know, you need to verify your business on Google My Business to be listed as a verified business in Google Maps results and the local pack nicely. You can do that via snail mail verification, phone verification, Google Search Console verification and more.

But now, Google is testing a video verification method – where you do a video call with a Googler who will verify you really exist.

There is a post about it in the Local Search Forums with a copy of the email sent to one local SEO:

Weâre glad to inform you that your listing is eligible to be verified via a new method weâre exploring: Video Verification.

Video Verification is an experimental method and youâre under no obligation to try it, but we hope that you will (and that youâll find it quick and convenient.) Video Verification can be completed via a video call with our specialist from either your workplace or your vehicle.

– Workplace – To show us where you get your work done. This will include showing our specialist around your workspace, your business logo, and the tools you use. If you meet customers on your premises weâll want to see your public space as well.

– Vehicle – To show us how you get to your customers. This will include showing our specialist the license plate of your registered motor vehicle (sorry, no public transit accepted at this time) and your business logo On the vehicle. If you carry tools or other instruments of your trade in your vehicle, thatâs ideal.

Whatâs next? A confirmation that youâd like to be a part of this test group, and the best time to get on a video call with you. Weâre happy to entertain requests outside regular work hours too.

Not excited about video verification? If youâd prefer to not take part in our video experiment, please let us know. (Weâll wait to hear back from you before taking any further action.) Weâre happy to share other ways in which you can provide us the required information via email, such as photos of your business and confirmation from a company domain.

Interesting method to verify a business exists, just look them in the eyes and see if you trust them. Or like it says, show them your office and make sure you have signage on your office and/or car.

It is a cool way to do it but it seems the Google Search Console or phone verification may be quicker.

Forum discussion at Local Search Forums.

Source: SEroundTable

Google: Product Pricing Is Not A Ranking Factor

Google does not look at how expensive or cheap your products are for organic search rankings. They don’t rank better deals higher in the search results. They don’t downgrade the rankings of rip offs either. The price of a product has no direct bearing on the organic rankings of your web page.

John Mueller was asked this pretty obvious question to you and I on Twitter. Here is what he said:

Pretty straight forward, no.

Of course, with Google Shopping, which is paid, you can sort by price.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

Google Tests Larger Font Sizes In Search Results & Expands Card Style Test

google test tubes

Google doesn’t stop testing different interfaces, in fact, we have hundreds of stories covering just some of those tests over the years.

Lauren Shriver spotted another test and posted about it on LinkedIn.

This test is Google testing a larger font size. She sent me screen shots and I made them into an animated GIF so you can clearly see the font changes:

Like I said above, Google is always testing different interface changes in the search results, here is one more for the archives.

Also, many many more people are seeing the card style interface that we saw back in May. The test has been lingering on and on and it seems more and more people are seeing it this week.

Forum discussion at LinkedIn & Google Web Search Help.

Source: SEroundTable

25,000 Google Engineers Commit 16,000 Code Changes Per Day

google code

Google’s John Mueller shared on Twitter a story at ACM named Why Google Stores Billions of Lines of Code in a Single Repository.

It says that of the Google employees, 25,000 Google software developers have access to some or all of the Google code repository. And on an average workday, those 25,000 developers commit over 16,000 changes – 16,000 code commits per workday! It also says “another 24,000 changes are committed by automated systems,” I wonder what those “automated systems” are?

In 2014, 15 million lines of code were changed, according to the report and this was done in about 250,000 files in the Google repository on a weekly basis. 95% of the engineers at Google use this single repository.

The article added:

The Google codebase includes approximately one billion files and has a history of approximately 35 million commits spanning Google’s entire 18-year existence. The repository contains 86TB of data, including approximately two billion lines of code in nine million unique source files. The total number of files also includes source files copied into release branches, files that are deleted at the latest revision, configuration files, documentation, and supporting data files; see the table here for a summary of Google’s repository statistics from January 2015.

So why isn’t Google busy with Penguin? Well, they are busy – probably with Penguin and 16,000 other things.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable