Google users experienced a widespread disruption to services including the company’s email, YouTube and Google Drive.

In addition, the outages seemed to affect corporate customers of Google’s cloud computing service.

Google did not immediately respond to questions about why the services were experiencing problems.

Original Article Here

People were already making home their headquarters

As COVID-19 sweeps around the world, the virus could accelerate a trend that was already under way. Even before social distancing and sheltering in place, home was becoming the logistical headquarters for busy people looking to make better use of their time, writes Justin De Graaf, head of research and insights at Google.

Telecommuting and remote work have been on the rise for years now. Prior to the pandemic, mobile searches for “remote jobs” had increased by over 210% over the last two years. And a Global Workplace Analytics analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data between 2005 and 2018 found that working at home has grown by 173% between 2005 and 2018.

Meanwhile, pre-outbreak mobile searches for “grocery delivery” grew over 130% in the past two years. And according to NPD, the number of U.S. consumers 18 and older who shopped online for groceries, whether delivery or pickup, increased by about 51 million from the quarter ending November 2018 to the quarter ending February 2019.

In the short term, marketers will need to find ways to be helpful to people trying to meet their most basic needs. And in the long term, we’ll all need to adapt to this “new normal” and work to understand what it means for all aspects of our industry when home becomes people’s new headquarters.

Has Google killed SEO?

Has Google killed SEO?

Ahh, the good old days. Online marketing used to be so much simpler.

I have fond memories of clean websites with proper structure. I remember when assigned
keywords on the right pages complemented branding campaigns that could rank effortlessly in the SERPS. Oh how times have changed.

Today, the current state of our industry offers a stark contrast to those straightforward beginnings. Yes, times do change, but some of the latest updates have created a cause for genuine concern amongst my clients who wonder what the future holds. Could recent ‘advancements’ in online marketing potentially have a negative impact on our business?

In the past year, Google has added countless new ‘features’ designed to enhance the user experience. Google decided these features are necessary for the future of its platform, but along the way, managing a website is becoming more complex for SEO’s and more expensive for businesses to implement.

As Google continues to roll out changes through the years, it’s easy to be blinded by expectations. The industry simply follows and quickly implements Google’s suggestions. Meanwhile, we ignore that these “new features” offer a quick pat on the back (like CTR boost or higher rankings) while allowing Google to use our content and branding to help create a “pay to play” model within its search engine and platforms.

Is our inability to see past the Google “Gospel” allowing Google free reign to force its own regulations on us while manually choosing which sites should rank on top of the SERPS?

Digging Deeper in Search of Answers

Prompted by concerns from my own clients in the drug rehab and restaurant vertices (whom I believe to be particularly vulnerable to these changes), I recently dug a little deeper into the current SEO situation and discovered that some “features” in the SERPS are clearly having a negative impact on free organic traffic.

It appears that Google’s promise to provide the best results for its users may, in reality, be providing the best PAID results for its users.

Could it be that Google’s current SEO structure and strategy is creating a money grab?

I believe there is cause for concern. So let’s take a closer look at some findings based on my SEO work with drug rehabilitation centers and restaurants

Example 1 – Drug Rehabilitation Centers

The drug rehab industry is a confusing and a unregulated market. A fluctuation of rehab facilities owned by investor firms is causing a stir with insurance companies — resulting in massive costs for online advertising. Meanwhile, Google’s most recent regulations for paid advertising in this competitive market has weakened many of the “certified facilities”, rendering them unable to make sufficient changes needed to overcome these issues.

After seeing an abundance of deceptive and misleading ads for unregulated drug rehab services, Google and Facebook now require mandatory “certification” for any drug rehab that wishes to participate in any form of paid advertising services within their platforms.

Even though these certifications are approved and vetted by the National Association of Addiction and Treatment Providers and the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse, the cost for certification is steep.

Following is a screenshot from LegitScripts, a third party vetting these certifications.

 

Original Article Here

Google debuts Shoppable Image ads, video in Shopping Showcase ads

Google debuts Shoppable Image ads, video in Shopping Showcase ads

The new formats, introduced for the holiday season, are intended to help advertisers attract new customers.

This week, Google announced two new ad formats for retail and brand advertisers ahead of the holiday shopping season that deliver shopping experiences on third-party sites, in Google Image search and in Google Search.

Add video in Showcase Shopping ads

Now, Google is rolling out another space for retail and brand marketers to extend the footprint of their video assets.  This time in Search with videos in Showcase Shopping ads.

Showcase ads are the multi-image Shopping format that Google rolled out last year. When users click on the ads, they go to a Google-hosted landing page that features promotions, descriptions and select products from the advertiser’s product feed. They typically display on brand and broad queries.

Videos are displayed in the featured image position. After clicking on the ad, the video plays in full at the top of the Google-hosted landing page that features a selection of products from the advertiser’s product feed.

Google touts Showcase Shopping ads as a vehicle for attracting new customers and should be thought of as top-of-funnel consideration formats. The top Showcase slot drives 3.6X higher than average CTR, and Showcase receives 20 percent more conversion credit with first-click attribution, according to Google.

The option is currently available to advertisers already running Showcase Shopping ads.

Original Article Here

Keyword research strategies in a close-variant world

Keyword research strategies in a close-variant world

Revisiting your keyword research approach is essential to preparing for imminent match type changes. Here are some considerations for a successful keyword research strategy in a close-variant world.

Google once again has disrupted the search marketing community by announcing exact match close variants will now include same-meaning variations. As a result, marketers putting all their chips into exact match keywords will have to shift their bidding, structure and keyword strategies to avoid wasted spend. The writing has been on the wall since 2014, and while the motive and benefactors are debated, the importance of focusing on intent rather than granular, exact keyword sets is clear.

Revisiting your keyword research approach and tactics is not only a suggested regular optimization task but also an essential step in preparation for match type changes rolling out in October. The process of keyword research is already changing, as it’s no longer necessary to launch with a hefty keyword list full of variations.

Rather, keyword research has become iterative and more valuable post-launch as needed. Following are some pertinent points of consideration when conducting keyword research for more effective spend and results.

Reviewing your PPC structures

For pay-per-click (PPC) practitioners, exact match becoming less important can seem discouraging. It can also bring challenges surrounding intent in B2B spaces. The new reality is that as Google improves its machine learning, marketers must adapt by combining keyword sculpting and research with many other available corresponding intent-centric signals. Think demographics, site engagement or browser history, location or proximity, time of day, income targeting and so on.

First and foremost, you should review performance within accounts and revisit your management approach. If accounts contain predominantly exact match, look to understand how close variant changes could affect performance or intent based on:

  • Keyword order.
  • Multiple-word keywords.
  • Addition of a location or preposition within a keyword.
  • Synonyms, close or similar-word variants.

Findings and responses will inherently dust off the topic of how the current campaign structure strategy aligns with performance and match type deviations. Remember, Google’s optimization levers work best when sufficient data is flowing through.

Don’t fret over giving Google the full reign over an account. Instead, focus on how consolidation (paired with “safety nets”) could bring benefits to the overall program. Single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) are powerful for personalization, granularity and quality scores, but be careful the contextual changes haven’t made you compete against yourself.

Original Article Here

Google is right; click-through and conversion rates kinda don’t matter

Google is right; click-through and conversion rates kinda don’t matter

Say what? Turns out you may be focusing on the wrong things if you’re fixated on click-through and conversion rates. Here are a number of reasons why.

Google has told CNBC that “there is very little search personalization” going on in the Google search results ranking right now and that the personalization that is currently used is limited to “user’s location or immediate context from a prior search.”

Fading fast: Personalized search for search rankings was a big deal several years ago, but now you barely see cases of it in the search results. You do see it in other Google products, but not too much in core web search. Google said that after a lot of testing around personalization, they found it didn’t really help searchers find the content they are looking for and it very rarely helped improve search results.

Pandu Nayak, who leads ranking at Google, said, “A query a user comes with usually has so much context that the opportunity for personalization is just very limited.”

What happened? The last time Google wrote a detailed case on how they use personalization in search was in 2011. And in 2012, it started getting a bad rep, and competitors like DuckDuckGo used it as ammo against Google.

CNBC has pointed out that Google’s step back on personalization has helped them stay out of some of the controversy that sites like Facebook or Twitter have seen with their news feed algorithms.

Why should SEOs care? Many SEOs track search results, and without much personalization taking place, it might make it easier for SEOs to report on their ranking success or failures. Of course, localization is a heavy factor, and that plays a role in ranking. Google Search Console does provide ranking reports, as do many other tools.

Original Article Here

Google admits it’s using very limited personalization in search results

Google admits it’s using very limited personalization in search results

Outside of a searcher’s location or immediate context from a prior search, Google doesn’t personalize the search results.

Google has told CNBC that “there is very little search personalization” going on in the Google search results ranking right now and that the personalization that is currently used is limited to “user’s location or immediate context from a prior search.”

Fading fast: Personalized search for search rankings was a big deal several years ago, but now you barely see cases of it in the search results. You do see it in other Google products, but not too much in core web search. Google said that after a lot of testing around personalization, they found it didn’t really help searchers find the content they are looking for and it very rarely helped improve search results.

Pandu Nayak, who leads ranking at Google, said, “A query a user comes with usually has so much context that the opportunity for personalization is just very limited.”

What happened? The last time Google wrote a detailed case on how they use personalization in search was in 2011. And in 2012, it started getting a bad rep, and competitors like DuckDuckGo used it as ammo against Google.

CNBC has pointed out that Google’s step back on personalization has helped them stay out of some of the controversy that sites like Facebook or Twitter have seen with their news feed algorithms.

Why should SEOs care? Many SEOs track search results, and without much personalization taking place, it might make it easier for SEOs to report on their ranking success or failures. Of course, localization is a heavy factor, and that plays a role in ranking. Google Search Console does provide ranking reports, as do many other tools.

Original Article Here