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Noteworthy paid media developments in April and May 2022

Staying on top of new digital tools, the latest channel updates, and user demands can be overwhelming, we know. Which is why we’ve assessed the latest paid media developments during April and May and put our heads together to evaluate what this means for the paid media landscape. 

Have your pad and pen ready (definitely worth taking note of), below our team of digital media specialists, share what the latest developments are and what this means for digital marketers. 

 

New Custom Columns in Google Ads
Google recently announced some major updates to custom columns in Google Ads. The biggest change is the inclusion of functions. These operate much like functions in spreadsheets such as excel, and allow for a whole host of new uses for custom columns not possible before.

Alongside this change, Google has also added the ability to reference custom columns within formulas, allowing for custom columns to work off of each other. This is useful with the new options functions have unlocked. We are also now able to pull text elements like campaign or ad group name into the columns. 

These changes are very welcome, custom columns have until recently been mostly used to segment-specific conversions into a column for optimisation purposes. The options available for calculation within the columns were just not complete enough to allow for many more use cases. With these changes, however, there are many more situations where custom columns could be useful in optimising an account.

Reference: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/12041700?hl=en  

Dan Biggs, Paid Media Consultant 

 

New Cookie Choices for Google in Europe

Google announced last month that they’ll be rolling out new cookie banners in Europe to anyone visiting Search or YouTube while signed out or in Incognito Mode. The update will give these users the additional option to ‘Reject All’ cookies:

 

The update began with a roll out across France and will soon be introduced across the rest of the European Economic Area. 

This is a big change for Google, moving away from a design made to make it difficult for users to opt out of cookies. With a continued commitment to “building privacy-preserving tools”, Google believes they can protect people’s private data while also giving businesses the tools they need to thrive in their digital environment. One thing’s for certain, it will be interesting to find out how this is all going to work.

Matt Hekkink, Paid Media Analyst 

 

Upgrades to Google Ads Extensions 

Starting this month, Google made some significant adjustments to ad extensions and upgraded all extension types (excluding image and location extensions).

So, what’s the difference? Well, it means there’s now a distinction between “extensions (upgraded)” and “extensions” for the new and existing extensions, making it clear which extensions are legacy and which will have the new features, allowing you to retain your historic data.

The new features include some very beneficial changes such as the ability to pause extensions, rather than outright removing them, and a “trickle-down” system for the different hierarchies of extensions.

This means that where previously higher-level extensions were limited by existing extensions at an ad group or campaign level, with the upgraded extensions all extensions can serve despite existing ones. For example, an Ad Group with existing sitelinks can now pull sitelinks from the Campaign or Account levels where they were previously restricted to just the Ad Group level extensions.

 

These features are definitely a big improvement but it’ll definitely be worth checking that your high-level extensions match with all of your ads just to be safe.

Ross Stratford, Paid Media Assistant

 

Updates to Google’s 3 strike system 

A new three strike disapproval rule is being implemented for google ads in June 2022 after being trialled in September 2021. The strike system will be for the following policies in particular: Enabling dishonest behaviour, Unapproved substances, Guns, gun parts and related products, Explosives, Other Weapons and Tobacco. A ‘strike’ will be added to your account if a policy is repeatedly broken. 

First Disapproval

The first stage will just be a warning and will result in a normal ad disapproval. Google wants to be fair and make sure that everyone is aware of the policy rules before they start blocking accounts. 

Strike One

The first strike will come if google deems policy to have been broken again within 90 days of the first warning disapproval, in this case there will be a full account block for three days in which no ads will be able to run. After three days the account will be enabled again but the offending ads will remain disapproved until they comply with policy.

Strike Two

The second strike is much like strike one but the whole account will be blocked for seven days, rather than three,  if google deems policy to have been broken again within 90 days of strike one.

Strike Three

The third strike is another violation within 90 days of strike two. This will result in the full suspension of your account and google doesn’t specify if there is any timeframe in which you will be allowed access to the account again.

You may appeal strikes but your ads won’t be able to show until either the block has been lifted and the appeal accepted or the temporary block time is over, you have fixed all policy violations in the account and completed an acknowledgement form. 

Whilst this may not affect many accounts it’s worth considering the reasons disapprovals may occur, we often have surprising disapprovals due to some content linked to the landing page we are promoting rather than the ads themselves, as there is now more at stake we recommend everyone keeping their eyes out for disapprovals and brushing up on the policies!

Reference: https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/10922738?hl=en-GB 

Brogan Carroll, Paid Media Analyst

 

Meta have updated their Facebook Ad’s Manager Objectives

Meta have started rolling out changes to their Objectives in Ads Manager, or at least how their Objectives are named and grouped together. 

Prior to the change, there were 3 broad categories of Awareness, Consideration and Conversions, with then 12 sub-category Objectives across these e.g. Reach, Traffic, Catalogue Sales etc. With the changes, Meta have now consolidated this to 6 core Objectives, which they say are “grouped together based on their expected business outcome”. It’s important to clarify that:

  • Objective names will change but you can still perform the same functions and access the features you’re familiar with.
  • Campaigns created before the update will remain with the previous Objectives, so there is no need to change these manually.  

We think the most significant change to be aware of, is to how conversion-optimised campaigns are now set-up, as there are multiple ways to ultimately reach the same outcome. For example, you can optimise for website conversions under either of these 3 Objectives: Engagement, Leads, Sales, but will need to specify the correct ‘Conversion Location’ for each.  

 

Engagement Objective: 

Leads Objective:

 

More details on the changes can be found here.

Will Rhodes, Paid Media Manager 

 

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    SEO Updates for March 2022

    March written in scrabble bricks

    SEO News Updates for March 2022

    With the weather warming up, we’re starting to see more spring cleaning! Our SEO news updates for March are showing it’s out with the old, in with the new, with some much-needed reorganisation along the way too. If you’d like to keep up to date on all the changes happening in the world of digital marketing, follow Uprise Up on Twitter: @upriseUPSEM.

     

    Google’s Retiring the URL Parameter Tool

    On the 28th March, Google announced it is going to be retiring its URL parameters tool in April. This tool basically allowed you to block Google from indexing specific URLs on your website.

    However, they have stated that currently only ‘1% of the parameter configurations currently specified in the URL parameters tool are useful for crawling’, and that Google has become more advanced in deciding which parameters are actually useful on a site. It is this perceived lack of value for both Google and Search Console users that will see us saying goodbye to the parameters tool in the next month.

    This removal shouldn’t affect websites negatively and there isn’t anything you need to do in preparation. Moving forwards, Google’s crawlers will learn how to automatically deal with URL parameters, so you won’t need to specify the function of URL parameters on your site.

     

    Google Search Rolling out more Visual Search Interface on Mobile

    Google is trialling a new mobile search interface using images to provide a richer visual representation in SERPs for select mobile search content (try searching ‘hand tattoos’ or ‘game room design’ on your mobile).

    It will be really interesting to see the impact this has on click through rates and site traffic levels as Google is yet to specify if the layout of this new grid means there will now be two position one results, or whether one result will still retain the position one ranking. Either way, this new visual layout is definitely something to look out for, as there may possibly be a more even split between the two top ranking positions.

    Structured Data Report Update

    Towards the end of the month, Google updated Search Console to add more context to its (as you can see in the before and after image below). This update won’t affect the number of errors received, but the error title will provide more details, allowing you to identify where the errors are straight off the bat, saving you time and speeding up the process of locating and fixing your site’s structured data.

    This will be impacting:

    • All Search Console rich result status reports
    • Search Console URL inspection tool
    • Rich Results Test

    This means all open issues that refer to nested properties will automatically be closed, and you’ll see new open issues with the additional context on the missing information. It’s also important to note that this update will not affect the number or how errors are detected, it will only enhance how they are reported.

    Further Rollout of Product Review Update

    As of March 23rd, Google began to rollout the third version of its search ranking algorithm update targeting product review related content. This update comes after the major update in April 2021 that focussed on the promotion of high-quality reviews and the subsequent December 2021 update.

    This most recent update is focussed on providing users with in-depth, authentic content reviews that distinguish themselves from the other standard templated information users commonly come across.

    Google are considering factors such as actual product use, unique information not provided by the manufacturer, informal competitor comparisons and in-depth details (such as pros and cons). This will make it easier for Google to get top quality purchasing advice for its consumers and will give a boost to creators who ensure optimal reviews.

    If you offer product review content on your website, it’s definitely worth taking note of these ongoing product review updates. For advice on publishing high quality reviews, check out Google’s Guidelines.

     

    Did we miss any SEO news updates for March?

    If there was anything else that happened in March that you think was noteworthy, or if you’ve got some thoughts you’d like to share on current SEO developments, we’d love to hear from you!

    Feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected] , or simply send us a message through our contact page.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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      SEO Updates for February 2022

      February proved to be an insightful month, with a lot of activity going on. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

       

      Core Web Vitals rolled out to desktop

      Arguably, the main news highlight of February for SEO was the roll out of the page experience update to desktop search results. On 22nd Feb Google took to Twitter to reveal the update was rolling out.

      Google tweet reading “the page experience update is now slowly rolling out for desktop. It will complete by the end of March 2022. Learn more about the update”

      When initially announced, the page experience update was a much anticipated update to the search algorithm. It sought to introduce new ranking factors to the algorithm, factors site owners now need to be aware of when optimising their sites.

      Compared to the roll out for mobile last summer the process this time round was much quicker, with the update fully rolled out by 3rd March; just 10 days after it started. With an increased speed in roll out, perhaps Google anticipated less of an impact this time round? With the majority of searches being conducted on mobile devices, this is plausible (though B2B sites may disagree!).

      The next few weeks will give an indication of any potential impact, but similar to the mobile update last August, we recommend checking out how your site is performing for Core Web Vitals; Google have a page quality auditing tool just for this, and speaking to your dev team where changes are required.

       

      Pay attention to People Also Ask for your Brand searches

      We know that People Also Ask (PAA) is a great feature to be aware of and utilise when looking to increase your visibility within search results. This month Search Engine Land published an interesting article highlighting the value PAA can provide brands, with branded searches.

       

      What is PAA?

      PAA is a feature commonly shown in search results. It contains a selection of questions related to a user’s current search that Google thinks the user will find helpful. The feature can also grow, increasing in size every time a question is engaged with. This means the feature can take up more space within the search results, pushing other organic results further down the page and below the fold.

       

      Why should you pay attention to the PAA?

      Brand reputation. The PAA can give you an idea of what users are searching around your brand. As the article points out, when people search for your brand, they are either searching directly for you, or for information about you. You want as much control over that information as you can get. FAQ content is an asset for these types of queries. It can help you answer relevant questions succinctly.

       

      As well as direct questions about the brand, the PAA also includes questions related to the brand – ones focused on the industry or topic the brand is associated with. Targeting these is a more long-term focus as it would require more of a strategic focus, considering the type of content Google wants to show and developing that for example.

       

      The PAA is a feature that’s been around for a few years now, it’s one everyone’s aware of and lightly tries to target to some degree for non-brand terms. There’s definite value in extending this to make sure your brand is coming across positively to their target audience when searched for.

       

      SEMRush buys Kompyte

      Industry-wise, SEMRush took a big business step and bought their first marketing tool that wasn’t specifically geared towards SEM. At the end of the month the company announced they’d bought Kompyte, a company that offers competitor analysis tools that look across different channels, enables product development and supports sales acquisition.

      This purchase will enable SEMRush to expand its offerings and begin targeting a wider audience. The acquisition of Kompyte will also support their current tools, enabling them to improve their trends feature within SEMRush.

       

      Did we miss anything?

      If there was anything else that happened in February that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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        SEO Highlights for January

        Calendar showing January 2022

        After a busy year on search, we’re looking forward to another year of flurry and activity in 2022. January kicked off our SEO highlights nicely, with some interesting new features dropping on Google search. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

         

        New Robots Meta Tag: indexifembedded

        Google have revealed the introduction of a new robots meta tag. The tag in question? Indexifembedded (index if embedded). The tag should be used to tell Google when you want content to be indexable if it’s embedded on a different page using an iFrame, even when the original page has a noindex tag in place (blocking it from being indexed by Google).

        This tag is supported only by Google for now, but we’re sure if it proves valuable other search engines will catch on and adopt it.

        The intention behind this new tag is to make it even easier for websites to have control over which parts of their content is indexed. However, we’re unclear as to when this tag would be used or required. And from checking out Twitter, we can see we’re not the only ones questioning this. There’s call for Google to provide case use for this new tag. So hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

         

        People Search Next: the new mobile feature

        Mobile search results in the US are getting a new feature that will be shown alongside other assets such as People Also Ask and People Also Search For. Confirmed by Google with Search Engine Land, People Search Next is used to show users what previous users have gone on to search following a particular query.

        As it’s US based at the moment it’s not a feature we can test our ourselves yet on UK search results. This feature seems fairly similar to other additions Google have been adding to the search results. Like predictive text, it will provide a guiding influence on how users interact with search. Whilst it shows practical value, I’d like to know how much it’ll affect the space within search results, whether it is pushing traditional organic results further down, impacting their impressions and clicks. This might be something to be aware of when the update is rolled out more internationally.

         

        Recipe Markup now requires specific times

        Google has made a few announcements or changes regarding Structured Data this month. But one that interests us is the change to Recipe Markup (Schema). For each of the core markups you can use in Search, Google has accompanying documentation websites can use as a guide. In their documentation for Recipe Schema, all references to timings have been updated from ranges to specific times.

        On their updates documentation, Google state on 18th January:

        “Removed guidance about specifying a range for the cookTime, prepTime, and totalTime properties in the Recipe documentation. Currently, the only supported method is an exact time; time ranges aren’t supported. If you’re currently specifying a time range and you’d like Google to better understand your time values, we recommend updating that value in your structured data to a single value (for example, “cookTime”: “PT30M”).”

        This is worth noting because Recipe Schema can have a big impact on how Recipe content performs in the Search Results. Pages with this Schema in place can target enhanced search results; whether they just pull through aggregate ratings to their traditional search result, or double up and appear in the Recipe Carousel at the top of search results pages. You need Recipe Schema to do that. Therefore, always worth making sure your Recipe Schema is up to scratch and accurate. It’s a competitive world for Recipe Queries; you want to make sure you can compete!

         

        Yoast SEO launches on Shopify

        Calling all eCommerce sites! Your time is here, for Yoast SEO have revealed they are on Shopify. Already available for WordPress sites as a plugin (in fact, it’s the most popular app used on WordPress for SEO), the Shopify app is designed to make optimisation of your site easier and quicker.

        There is a cost for Yoast SEO on Shopify, whereas WordPress sites can use a free version if preferred (albeit with restricted features). At $29 a month, the cost isn’t too high and Yoast SEO presents an exciting prospect for those on Shopify. It’s an app to be considered.

         

        Did we miss anything?

        If there was anything else that happened in January that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

         

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          Facebook to remove targeting options around ‘sensitive causes’ – how will this impact non-profits?

          A laptop with the user looking at Facebook

          As you might be aware, Meta have announced that certain targeting options available on Facebook Ads around ‘sensitive causes’ have been removed as of 19 January 2022. Any activity which is currently using them can do so until March 17 2022, however any new or re-enabled campaigns post-January 19th will not be able to use this targeting.

           

          The targeting options being removed includes those referencing causes, organisations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation. This also includes those interested in cause-related events such as: ‘World Alzheimer’s Month’ and ‘Cancer Awareness’.

           

          Meta says it is removing them because they “want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.”

           

          To most advertisers this seems like a reasonable move. However, it is my view that this recent string of changes is incredibly damaging to non-profits who (in Meta’s own words) use Facebook and Instagram to “connect people to charitable causes they care about”. The removal of these targeting options makes it much harder to reach new users who would benefit from their support and would champion new campaigns. Off the back of social advertising being hit so heavily by the iOS 14.5 update, I know this will mean more non-profits questioning their Facebook activity going into 2022.

           

          I’m hoping that Meta considers the impact on non-profits. I’m not asking for a Google Ad Grant type scheme for Facebook (although I’m sure we’ll all agree that would be great!) but perhaps some way that Meta can allow exceptions for charities. A programme or certification scheme which means that those who qualify can use targeting like this to enable them to continue their great work.

           

          It would be great to hear your thoughts, what changes you’re now making and the impact these will have. And ultimately if you think a certification type scheme for non-profits would be a good move?

           

          Over the next month we will be working with our clients on ways to utilise the Facebook Ads platform’s other targeting options and tools to mitigate the damage. If you’re interested in discussing a potential approach for you and your organisation please don’t hesitate to reach out.

           

          Link to Meta’s announcement: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/removing-certain-ad-targeting-options-and-expanding-our-ad-controls

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            SEO Highlights for December

            December stamped on a piece of paper

            As the holiday season approached, SEO continued at its normal pace. A couple of updates were finalised in December; where felt their impact was quite extensive.  If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

             

             

            Local Search Update Complete

            Google took to Twitter on 8th December to confirm their update to the local search algorithm had finished rolling out. An update they omitted to tell us about in November (a mistake said Danny Sullivan).

            Google Search Central tweet on completion of the local search update rollout

            First rolling out in November, the update sought to tighten up its algorithm by re-distributing the weighting placed on different factors Google considers when creating search results pages. The impact has been widespread. The user’s proximity to a business is a factor that has become more important, with businesses dropping down in rankings the further they are from their address.

            Keywords in the brand name has historically been a factor that possessed a strong weighting, rewarding businesses that did include their target keywords. Interestingly, with this update that weighting has reduced. Since roll out started businesses that include keywords in the name have seen a drop in rankings, whereas those that don’t include keywords in the name have been rewarded by this update. In the past business listings have used this strong weighting to include keywords as descriptors, which goes against Google’s Guidelines. Looks like this is a method that will now go out of style, if it hadn’t already.

            Overall, a shake up to the rankings for businesses, but one that could prove beneficial to new businesses starting out.

             

             

            Product Review Update

            Following a major update in April, Google have released another product reviews update. The April update was designed to promote high quality reviews; that is, reviews that are deemed useful by search users. The December update was considered by Google likely to have an impact on organic rankings – especially where sites have made changes in response to the April update. Google does note however, that their assessment of review content is just one factor taken into consideration when ranking a site’s content.

            The impact of this update was pretty big and volatile; it affected rankings much more than the April 2021 update did. For advice on publishing high quality reviews, check out Google’s Guidelines.

            As a result of user feedback Google revealed they will be introducing two new features in a future update as well. These features are:

            • Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
            • Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

            So, the next step to improving reviews is to provide different types of content within the review, not just text. This helps prove the authenticity of the review, as well as improving its usefulness. The latter, however may not be the most helpful to merchants, with links to competitor sites being offered to users alongside their own.

             

             

            Did we miss anything?

            If there was anything else that happened in December that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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              iOS 14.5: The Impact on Facebook Advertising

              A phone showing the Facebook logo.

              If you advertise on Facebook, you’ve probably heard about the iOS 14.5 update and the apparent havoc it’s wreaked.

              In the latest move towards championing user privacy and first-party data, Apple introduced the iOS 14.5 update to limit third-party data and tracking.

              We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the iOS 14.5 update and its impact on Facebook advertisers.

              Keep up to date with the latest industry news and trends by following us on Twitter.

               

               

              What is the iOS 14.5 update?

               

              In April 2021, Apple released a software update that requires Apps in the App Store, like Facebook, to show a prompt to users in accordance with their ‘App Tracking Transparency’ framework.

              The prompt asks users if they would like to allow third-party cookies or ask the App not to track.

              iOS 14.5 notification on an iPhone. Allow Facebook to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites.

              If users opt-out of third-party cookies, certain data collection and sharing is prohibited.

               

               

              What are third-party cookies?

               

              Cookies are text files that hold small pieces of data about a user and their interactions on a site.

              First-party cookies are ones created by the website you’re currently on, usually for their own digital purposes, like analytical reporting or saving your preferences such as a password.  Website cookie policies often refer to strictly necessary cookies, functionality cookies or performance cookies, and these are usually first-party cookies.

              Importantly, first-party cookies can’t track your behaviour across different sites they visit.

              Third-party cookies are created by other websites and these can track your activity across different sites. For advertisers, these third-party cookies are extremely useful. For instance, they allow the creation of retargeting lists of past visitors or people with similar interests. These are often referred to as targeting, tracking or advertising cookies.

              The industry is increasingly moving towards first-party-only cookies, in an attempt to prioritise user privacy.

              In January 2020, Google announced that it would scrap third-party cookies by late 2023. The technology giant followed the lead of other web browsers including Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

               

               

              How has the iOS 14.5 update impacted advertisers on Facebook?

               

              If a user asks Facebook not to track them, their data cannot be shared or collected by third parties.

              This means that there’s less data being sent to Facebook pixels, which is the code used to record conversions and optimise campaigns for specific actions.

              With less data gathered, Facebook’s algorithms will be less efficient and effective, and campaign results could suffer.

              Remarketing pools will also be smaller, lookalike audiences less reliable and reporting capabilities limited

               

               

              How much data is actually being lost?

               

              It’s difficult to say exactly; Facebook/Meta hasn’t published official figures on opt-in rates, and it will likely vary from advertiser to advertiser, depending on the region and audience demographic for example.

              To clarify, data is only ‘lost’ for users who are using the Facebook or Instagram App on an Apple mobile device with iOS 14.5 or later installed and have opted out of tracking.

              To give a ballpark of how much of your audience this equates in reality; around half the users on Facebook and Instagram use Apple mobile devices, and around 40% (and rising) of these are on iOS14+.

              Then there is the question of how many users actually opt-in to the tracking. Initial estimations showed that only 2% of these users opted into tracking. However, more recent estimations have put this figure higher, at around 15 or 25%.

              So in essence, not all user data is being lost, but potentially enough to make a noticeable and lasting impact on your results.

               

               

              What has Facebook done to ease the impact of the iOS 14.5 update?

               

              Facebook has tried to ease the impact of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update by implementing a protocol that allows for the measurement of web events in iOS 14+ devices.

              This is called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’. However, only up to 8 conversion events can be prioritised for conversion optimisation per domain.

              To set up event configurations and use your conversion events for ad optimisation, you must verify your domain – another setup process within the Facebook Ads interface.

               

               

               

              Summary

               

              It’s clear that Apple want to be seen as the industry leaders on increased privacy and putting users, rather than platforms such as Facebook, first.

              It’s likely that this is just one update that advertisers will have to navigate in the journey towards increased user privacy and scrapping of third-party cookies.

              We can’t foresee any major moves away from advertisers using Facebook ads – as long as Facebook continues to be a widely-used social media platform, there will be the opportunity to effectively target relevant audiences.

              In the follow up blog we will delve deeper into how advertisers can respond, watch this space and subscribe to our email news to get the next article sent directly to your inbox.

              We’d love to hear your thoughts on the iOS 14.5 update and the industry trend towards prioritising first-party data. Send us a message through our contact page or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

               

               

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                SEO Highlights for November

                As ever, there was plenty of change going on in November, with a Core Algorithm update released just weeks before Christmas.  If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                 

                 

                Core Algorithm Update

                Google’s Twitter announced another algorithm update in November! With the last update released in July, it’s been a few months since Google made any big changes to their search algorithm. Having got back into the rhythm of regular updates to the core algorithm, November saw the arrival of one of these updates. Roll out started mid-month and finished on the 30th, but any volatility to rankings was recorded right at the start of roll out.

                Search Engine Land accumulated data from several sources, all of which fed into the same narrative: the rollout hit hard in the first day or so, but then impact slowed down quite quickly. For example, SEMRush record ‘very high’ volatility on the 18th, one day after rollout. This then drops down to ‘normal’ the next day.

                SEMRush SERP volatility for the last 30 days in November 2021 after Google Core Algorithm update graph
                Source: SEMRush

                 

                SEMRush’s sensor defaults to US search results, however when compared against the UK volatility levels aren’t too disimilar.

                This is equally very similar to how rankings reacted to the July update, but with an even quicker cool down. So despite it being the worst timing for ecommerce sites, this update hasn’t caused too much upheaval. Within our charity clients, we also haven’t seen any massive changes.

                SEMRush SERP volatility for the last 30 days in November 2021 after Google Core Algorithm update graph
                Source: SEMRush

                 

                This is equally very similar to how rankings reacted to the July update, but with an even quicker cool down. So despite it being the worst timing for ecommerce sites, this update hasn’t caused too much upheaval. Within our charity clients, we also haven’t seen any massive changes.

                 

                 

                Disavowal Files: they may take longer to update than you think

                In a recent hangout session, Google’s John Mueller touched on the topic of disavowal files. Specifically, how long it can take them to affect search rankings.

                 

                What is the disavowal file?

                The disavowal file is a list that is submitted to Google. It contains pages or entire domains that link to your site, that you don’t want Google to associate with you. It’s intention is to help Google avoid associating your site with spammy websites, although Google has gotten better at recognising these types of links itself (and ignoring them).

                The disavowal file is not a tool to be used lightly; if used incorrectly it can do a fair amount of damage to your organic performance. This happens when you accidentally disavow links that were giving your site authority, and therefore good value opposed to bad.

                Rather than disavowing random links you think look bad, Mueller said you should be using the disavowal file for links where you are potentially responsible (through outreach activity).

                 

                How quickly can it impact rankings?

                Mueller actually confirmed on this hangout that the file is only taken into account when they re-process the links pointing to your site, which isn’t an everyday occurrence. It also isn’t all done in one go, so incremental change occurs rather than a singular update. Meaning, the impact of the disavowal file is ongoing over several months.

                So, if you update the file and see an immediate change to your rankings days after, you might want to look further afield. The disavowal file is unlikely to be the cause.

                 

                 

                Better Job Descriptions, better visibility!

                Google have revealed they have ‘uncovered an opportunity to improve your job posting pages, and it only takes a few changes to the description field’.

                If you publish job vacancies on your site, then through the application of JobPosting Structured Data you can target Google’s job search. This can help your site gain higher visibility in a competitive search environment. Google uses the data you include in your JobPosting Structured Data to populate the listing, so it’s worth ensuring it’s as informative and relevant as possible.

                To help make this possible, Google have published a little extra guidance to make the description contains everything a user may need to know to make a decision. That guidance is to review the description field in the JobPosting Structured Data and ensure it contains all information you’ve included in additional, specific fields (like the qualifications listed under the qualifications property). Essentially, duplicate information included in other fields so description encompasses it all.

                By doing this, the description box on Google’s job search becomes a much more insightful place! This sounds like a useful little tip to us and is one we look forward to testing in the future.

                 

                 

                Did we miss anything?

                If there was anything else that happened in November that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                  SEO Highlights for September and October

                  SEO written on paper with pencils

                  Autumn is here, bringing with it thick jumpers, PSLs and SEO highlights galore. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                   

                   

                  Continuous scrolling on mobile

                  Continuous scrolling has rolled out to mobile search results in the US. Now, when you reach the end of page 1 more search results load automatically without you needing to do anything. In fact, you can scroll through up to 4 pages of results before needing to click a ‘load more’ button. If your pages are ranking just off page 1 at the moment, then your visibility just got the opportunity to be greater.

                  Continuous scrolling is an interesting change as it does open up the competition between search results. Users are given more options to browse before needing to click anything. There’s some debate over how much this will affect CTR and traffic, though we can’t see this update stealing too much traffic from the top positions at this stage. Though we’ll understand more when this update is released more worldwide.

                   

                   

                  12 Structured Data Fields no longer used by Google

                  In October Google removed 12 Structured Data fields from their help documents, claiming the fields removed were ‘unused by Google Search and Rich Results Test doesn’t flag warnings for them’. In other words, they no longer do anything for your SEO.

                  For those not in the know, Structured Data is a piece of code embedded in the head of a page. Visible to search engines only, it is used to provide search engines with the key details they need to know from that page, helping them understand the page much quicker during crawls.

                  The fields being removed are:

                  1. Structured Data type: HowTo

                  Field: description

                  1. Structured Data type: QAPage

                  Fields: mainEntity.suggestedAnswer.author, mainEntity.dateCreated, mainEntity.suggestedAnswer.dateCreated, mainEntity.acceptedAnswer.author, mainEntity.acceptedAnswer.dateCreated, and mainEntity.author

                  1. Structured Data type: SpecialAnnouncement

                  Fields: provider, audience, serviceType, address, and category fields.

                   

                  Do you need to do anything in response to this?

                  As Google is simply ignoring these fields now, you don’t need to worry about removing them, though please be aware that Google equally won’t inform you of any issues with these fields either. Instead, we recommend simply refraining from using these fields in any future Structured Data added to your site.

                   

                   

                  Core Web Vitals: What was the impact?

                  As one of the most anticipated changes to search this year, there’s been discussion in the SEO community as to how extensive the impact of the Page Experience Update is since it finished rolling out for mobile in August.

                  The result is disappointingly, but not unexpectedly, vague. Many sites responded to the planned update by having their developers focus on improvements that would enable their sites to fall inline with target scores for the Core Web Vital metrics. Where site changes were deployed with the specific intention to improve scores for Core Web Vital metrics, it is almost impossible to isolate the impact. Summer 2021 saw a lot of change on Google Search, with many confirmed and unconfirmed updates going live, leading to a search landscape that was already full of temperamental rankings (see Mordy Oberstein’s Tweets on ranking volatility in 2021). And with the update release taking several weeks, the introduction of Page Experience was also too gradual for any ranking changes to be attributed to the release of the Page Experience update.

                  From a data perspective, this has proven to be quite frustrating, with clients wanting to know the impact of putting time and resource into improving the page experience of their site. An impact we can’t honestly provide at this stage.

                  Discussion is also revolving around how we measure this impact too. Though an organic change would be reflected in rankings, this update looks at the usability of the site. Usability affects all channels, at which point metrics such as conversion rate perhaps become more telling. Though indicative of UX improvements generally, conversion rate won’t tell you if Core Web Vitals are affecting your organic performance in search results, just that you’re converting well with the audience you do attract. So a telling metric, but not one that gives the full story for SEO.

                  Though some tools claim they can see improvements in sites which pass the CWV assessment (meaning your site meets criteria for all 3 metrics), that improvement still appears to be quite minor, with Sistrix seeing a 3.7% improvement in visibility by the end of the update rollout (this is just for domains that pass CWV). And even then they admitted they couldn’t isolate it from other ranking factors.

                  So, the advantage of optimising for CWV, from an organic sense at least, still remains unclear. As others have argued, page experience helps with conversions, making it a factor you still need to consider outside of your SEO. Perhaps the desktop rollout planned for February 2022 will provide more insight?

                   

                   

                  Google Chrome testing new features

                  Google took to their Chromium blog last month to reveal two new features they’re testing: Side Search and Journeys. Both are designed to help users engage with search results and find the information they want.

                   

                  Side Search

                  Side search is a feature that means the user can now access the search results page for their query whilst viewing one of the pages, seeing both at once. The search results are shown in a side panel, enabling the user a more fluid ability to jump between different pages. Google claim the intention behind this feature is to enable better comparison of search results. It’s a feature I’d imagine will be utilised more with transactional queries – people looking for a restaurant or gift hunting for example.

                  With this feature I think bounce and exit rates will be the metric to monitor – it’ll suddenly become a lot easier, and perhaps more tantalising, for the user to jump around. Engagement will also become much more paramount – capturing the user’s attention quickly and efficiently will be necessary to reduce the distraction side search will offer.

                  To try this tool yourself, you need the Chrome OS Dev Channel on your desktop. Happy jumping!

                   

                  Journeys

                  Google also revealed Journeys, a tool which will help group together your search history into relevant groups. This can make it easier for you to re-visit pages, rather than needing to sift through your search history or trying to recreate your original search journey. Though this isn’t a feature I can see impacting organic search for individual sites, it is a change likely to impact UX in search as a whole.

                  This will only work for searches on a given device, Journeys doesn’t work across devices yet. Google speculate there may be potential for that adaptation down the line, but for now Journeys is restricted. To try Journeys for yourself, Google are rolling it out as an experiment on Chrome Canary on desktop. I’d imagine pending on feedback this will be rolled out more widely soon.

                   

                   

                  Did we miss anything?

                  If there was anything else that happened over the last few months that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                    SEO Highlights in August

                    SEO New Round Up August 2021

                    Has everyone been enjoying the summer holidays? Whilst we might have taken time off to relax over the past few weeks, SEO has continued to be hard at work. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                     

                     

                    Page Experience is live!

                    The roll out of the long-awaited Page Experience update is complete! Starting in mid-June, Google took to Twitter to announce the update was complete 2nd September.

                     

                    Impact?

                    Since the roll out began we have yet to see any significant changes to rankings for any of our clients. This isn’t surprising, as Google deliberately released this update gradually to prevent any abrupt changes to results. Though page experience is important, it is but one of many ranking factors Google considers. This is helpful in some ways, but it does make the impact difficult to isolate. Despite the lack of apparent change we’re still pushing for clients to update their sites and meet Google’s targets. After all, page experience doesn’t just affect organic traffic – there’s an omnichannel benefit to having good page experience.

                     

                    Search Console data glitch in August

                    Google admitted to a little mishap on 23rd-24th August, where:

                     “An internal problem caused a data loss in Search and Discover performance during this period. Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console.”

                    The performance report is a key Search Console report used in SEO. It gives us insight into how the site is performing and provides a lot of data around keywords such as clicks, impressions, CTR and the ranking position. All integral information to knowing what’s working and what isn’t.

                    Frustratingly, this isn’t data that will be backfilled; that data is permanently lost. This means that performance data for that period should be taken with a pinch of salt. Where you might see a drop on those days, there’s a good chance the data simply hasn’t been recorded and the data is incorrect.

                     

                     

                    Page Titles

                    Page titles seem to be getting some headline space this month!

                     

                    An update to Page Title generation

                    First, Google published a blog where they announced changes had been made to how they generate page titles for search results. Google usually does this when they believe the page title you’ve provided doesn’t describe the page well.

                    Previously, titles could be changed depending on the search query. So where a page title is optimised for Keyword A and shown for Keyword A, Google might generate it’s own page title for Keyword B, which it believes better helps the user. The new system doesn’t have this approach.

                    The new system focuses more on the on-page copy and content visible to users. To be specific Google “consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments”.

                    Use of generated page titles shouldn’t affect rankings. John Mueller confirmed this following SEO chatter on Twitter. Though the title displayed changes, Google does not take anything different into account when ranking the page. CTR, however, may still be affected and is something to monitor.

                    However, Google say they’re making this change to help provide relevant page titles to users, which they don’t believe is consistently achieved by websites at the moment. I don’t find this explanation to be particularly helpful. When developing page titles keyword research, target audience and page contents is taken into consideration; by myself and countless other SEO individuals. So it would be useful to know how Google decides your page isn’t clear enough.

                    Google’s generated meta data often reads quite fragmented too, with bits of text cobbled together. Here’s hoping their generated copy reads more fluidly with this update.

                     

                    A Twitter Study

                    A couple days later, SEO-er BowTiedWookie took to Twitter to share their findings in a little page title study they had conducted. The study looks at ten sites and five hundred keywords – a small scale experiment but the takeaways piqued our interest. Particularly the following: If Google changes the title it is pulling in the H1 >50% of the time.

                    This places even more emphasis on optimising your H1s and getting them right, which Google themselves have done in their latest statement on Page Title Generation. H1s shouldn’t be exact matches of your page titles – page titles may not provide good UX in a heading function. But it’s an ideal spot for the target keyword and should provide contextual relevance.

                     

                    Spam is Nullified

                    Another update Google completed in August was the spam update. Originally planned to take 2 weeks, the roll out ended up extending across 4 weeks.

                    In part of their bid to cleanse our browsers of spam, Google release this latest update, designed to nullify spam. So rather than penalise sites that partook in dodgy link schemes or had built up spammy backlink profiles, they would simply ignore them. This has been an ongoing focus of Google’s since 2016. Spammy sites beware.

                     

                     

                    Did we miss anything?

                    If there was anything else that happened in August that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                     

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                      SEO Highlights in July

                      SEO News Round Up July 2021

                      After a month of updates July wasn’t much quieter, with updates to search continuing to rollout. Google also released more details around their roadmap and plans for MUM, so all in all a month of exciting news for SEO! If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                       

                       

                      Core Algorithm Update Part II

                      In our June round up we discussed the introduction of the June Core Algorithm Update and the planned follow up rollout to follow in July. Google again took to Twitter to announce the launch of this update bang on the 1st. Roll out completed on the 12th.

                      As usual Google said no specific site or factor was targeted with this update. It was considered to have less impact to rankings and performance than its June counterpart, which saw a higher level of volatility in the rankings. Of all the updates over the last year July sat in the middle in terms of impact to rankings, having had a higher impact than the December 2020 update. Generally, the consensus seems to be that those investing in good on/off-page SEO practice are reaping the benefits by maintaining stable rankings throughout and after the update, a statement we agree with whole-heartedly.

                       

                       

                      Spam Update Part III

                      On the flip side, there’s also conversation around more spam results rising to the top ranking positions in search. Google has already been taking action to remove spam from search results, with 2 spam updates preceding the July update. Despite these actions is seems some spam is continuing filter through to the search results, though with the amount of spam out there that is unsurprising.

                      Google has now taken further action and released a third spam update; this one aiming to fight link spam more broadly and across multiple languages. The update will nullify link spam – meaning rather than penalise a site for having spammy links, the spammy links will simply be ignored. This will render any efforts to build links through questionable methods (such as link schemes), pointless.

                       

                       

                      MUM’s Roadmap Revealed

                      Back in May Google announced a new AI being introduced to search: MUM. In July Google’s VP of Search, Pandu Nayak, spoke to Search Engine Land about the short and long-term plans for the development of the AI.

                       

                      Short Term: Removal of language barriers

                      One of the early insights we had into MUM is its capability to go through all content, regardless of the language, and serve us the pieces that will best serve our needs. As part of this it can translate articles written in languages that aren’t the users native tongue. By being able to transfer knowledge across language barriers, MUM will open up a lot more content to global prospects. In fact, many of Google’s internal teams are using MUM in their own projects for this insight.

                       

                      Medium Term: Multimodality

                      Moving further down the line, the focus then moves to include multimodality functions. This will see image and text results and search queries become more intertwined and informative. He’s also suggesting it would reduce the number of 0 click searches that are cropping up, by providing more information for users to dig into. As 0 click searches provide minimal value to SEO, this is an exciting prospect.

                       

                      Long Term: Connect the dots

                      The longevity behind MUM will be its ability to provide users with a more detailed and satisfying search journey. At the moment restricted, with MUM Google will be able to tackle more complex queries and provide users with more detailed and diverse results that pertain to their needs. So, rather than a user breaking down their question into several sub-questions to get all the information they need, they should be able to search their initial question and have all the information available in one go.

                       

                      No dates put to any of these different elements yet, but MUM looks set to bring some big changes and catch up with how users want to interact with search.

                       

                       

                      Did we miss anything?

                      If there was anything else that happened in July that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                       

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                        Paid Media Highlights in July

                        The last few months have seen a variety of changes to the paid media world. From Google announcing a new 3 strike system for ad policy violations to LinkedIn updates, there’s been a lot of change in the paid media sphere in July.

                        If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                         

                        Google Image Extensions

                        The image extension feature within Google Ads is now out of beta and it can be implemented across all accounts!

                        However…in reality, we are still finding that not all accounts have this feature enabled yet. It appears to be quite hit or miss as to which accounts have this functionality and which ones don’t.

                        The ability to attract more customers by enhancing text ads with images is appealing, with this potentially increasing both quality score and CTR. Advertisers should know, however, that these images are dynamically inserted, so keeping on top of what types of images are showing for each ad is important!

                         

                         

                        Ad Account Certifications Audit and the New ‘Strike’ policy

                        At the end of June, we were notified by Google that they were performing an audit of restricted verticals for which they require certification. Essentially, we were warned that any accounts that have certificates in a variety of restricted areas, such as healthcare or financial services, could be impacted or have their certification revoked. Since then, we, along with the rest of the digital marketing community, have seen an increase in ad disapprovals as Google have tightened up their compliance policies.

                        To take things even further in the coming months, Google announced in July that they are planning on piloting a new ‘strikes’ system to address repeat ad policy violations. From September 2021, strikes will be issued for violations of Google’s Enabling dishonest behaviour, unapproved substances and dangerous products or services policies.

                        Each time your account violates a policy within 90 days of their first policy warning, Google will apply sanctions of increasing severity. On the first warning, only the relevant ads are removed. Strike two sees your account placed on a temporary hold for three days during which ads are not eligible to run. This increases to seven days on strike two before account suspension on strike three.

                        Based on the tightening of policies over the past few months, the introduction of this new strike-based system is quite intimidating… It will be interesting to see how Google plans to couple these strikes with their existing appeals system.

                         

                         

                        Covid-19 Ad Grant Funding Continued

                        A pleasant surprise that we experienced at the beginning of July was that the additional Covid funding for Google Ad Grant accounts has remained in place. Despite the fact that it was expected to run out in June, all of our Google Ad Grant accounts that had received additional funding still have it.

                        Google have yet to announce when this funding will come to an end, but we are grateful for the additional opportunities that it is providing to our accounts.

                         

                         

                        Ads Creative Studio

                        At the end of June, Google introduced its new creative management tool; Ads Creative Studio. Google heralds the software as ‘a unified home for Google’s creative advertising tools, to help you build compelling experiences for video, display, and audio ads’, but what does this actually mean?

                        In Essence, Google is unifying aspects of its products to create a more cohesive and easily manageable platform for creative teams. So, features that were previously only available within certain products and to limited advertisers, such as Director Mix, are now available in one place.

                        Google claim that it will ‘create one process across display, video and audio’ as well as ‘improving collaboration across teams.’ We would love to hear from anyone who has been using Ads Creative Studio to see if it has improved the unity of your processes and teams.

                         

                         

                        New Google Partner Badge

                        In June, Google responded to the calls of Google Partners who already believed that they meet the February 2022 Partner Requirements. Google have now allowed Partners who already met the new requirements to gain early access to the new partner badge.

                        Partners still need to spend $10K across managed accounts for 90 days and ensure that 50% of account strategists are certified by Google ads, but now, advertisers also have to maintain a 70% optimisation score.

                         

                         

                        LinkedIn Introduced Event Ads

                        LinkedIn recently introduced the Event Ad Format to its users. Like events in Facebook, the event appears in a user’s feed if a user’s mutual connections have shown an interest in the event and gives them the option to register themselves.

                        In conjunction with this, they have also revealed that they will soon be launching an Event analytics Tool where you can measure the performance and return on investment of an online LinkedIn Event that you have organised. We’re excited to see these developments in the advertising options available within LinkedIn and we are looking forward to see how this new events feature will change the LinkedIn landscape.

                         

                         

                        Did we miss anything?

                         

                        Tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or send us a message through our contact page if you think we missed something important. We would love to hear what’s got you thinking this month!

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                          SEO Highlights in June

                          SEO news highlights in June

                          Google kicked it up a notch in June, with updates being released left, right and centre! There’s a lot to keep track of as we start to measure the impact of these updates to SEO over the upcoming months; no lazy summer for us. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                           

                          Core Algorithm Update Part 1

                          At the start of June Google unveiled plans to release not one, but two updates to their core search algorithm. This is the first algorithm update of 2021, following the December update 6 months previous. Roll out of the June update started on the 2nd June and completed 12th June, taking just under 2 weeks.

                          Be aware that this update is to be followed up with another core update in July. Google said they chose to do this owing to some updates not being ready for June. Seems there was some changes Google wanted live sooner rather than later. This does mean there’s a slight chance that any impact websites saw to performance in June could be reversed. So we’ll be waiting with bated breath for a few more weeks yet.

                          Generally speaking, early data indicated that impact was predominantly felt in the first few days of the roll out. The depth of impact of the update seems to be up for debate; some claim it was bigger than the last update in December, yet others only saw an impact to a small collection of niches. In fact, the difference with this update was that the SEO community was relatively quiet the first 24 hours following the announcement. Many didn’t notice a change, suggesting this update wasn’t as big as some claim.

                          At Uprise Up we have a strong focus on the charity sector, though we do also have non-charity clients. So far, we’ve seen minimal impact to the performance of our clients, with no drastic changes to rankings or traffic, as a result of the June update. With a sub-focus on health and YMYL, out data suggests these niches saw little impact from the update.

                           

                          Page Experience began rolling out

                          The long-awaited Page Experience update began rolling out this month, on 15th June to be precise. Changes have already happened on search, with non-AMP pages now eligible to feature in the Top Stories carousel. It’ll be interesting to see how many sites continue to use AMP, as its benefits start to be pushed onto regular pages.

                          This update will see a continual slow roll out with all Page Experience elements, including Core Web Vitals, set to be full ranking factors by the end of August. If you’re still in the process of updating your site, that’s your deadline.

                           

                          Introducing Search Console Insights

                          Google have a new report live: Search Console Insights.

                          The report itself seems to act as an accumulation of key insights available on Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA) in one place, with some insights around Social Media as well. Google stated the report is designed to provide ‘an easier way to understand how your content resonates with users’.

                          The report essentially pulls out the key stats from your GA and GSC property to show website owners what their top performing content pieces are, how people are finding them – from top performing channel to insights within these channels – and the time people spend engaging with the content.

                          It does require a bit of set up to work; if your GSC and GA property aren’t linked then you won’t receive the full benefits of this report. So, it’s not a seamless start if you don’t have your GSC and GA properties associated.

                          This tool is currently in beta; no doubt we’ll see further adaptations to the interface in the future. For me, there is value in the interface; if you want to get a quick understanding of site performance it provides just that. However, there’s no individual feature that stands out as being new and intriguing.

                          But I don’t think this tool was built for me. This report seems more targeted to people that aren’t as a familiar with GA and GSC, and therefore would benefit from having a single interface that allows them to see the content and keywords that perform best for them.

                          A nifty interface for some, I want to give this tool more time to grow on me in the upcoming months.

                           

                           

                          Did we miss anything?

                          If there was anything else that happened in June that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                           

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                            SEO Highlights in May

                            SEO News May 2021

                            After being relatively quiet for several months, Google announced a broad core update and their plans for a new language model, called MUM. That’s a lot to digest from an SEO perspective! If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                             

                            Rollout of the June and July broad core updates

                            On 2nd June, Google announced a core algorithm update. This is a general update to Google’s search algorithm, with no indication provided of what could be affected. This time, the announcement mentioned that this update was being split in two, resulting in the June Core Update and the July Core Update, as not all of their planned improvements were ready for a June based rollout.

                            Over the next few weeks, Google has warned that although most sites won’t experience any changes, some could experience drops or gains as the update rolls out. However, they also noted that a few sites may notice changes this month that could then reverse in July due to the two-part nature of this core update.

                            Technically, this update was announced at the beginning of June, but we thought that this announcement was worth mentioning now so that you can be on the look-out for any changes to your content’s performance over the coming weeks. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you notice any particularly interesting side effects of the algorithm update!

                             

                            Google announced their new language model: MUM

                            If we didn’t know it already, Google have confirmed this month that MUM’s the word. In this case, MUM stands for Multitask Unified Model and the technology has been designed to understand more complex search queries so that in future, it will take fewer searches for Google to understand the User’s intention.

                            At the moment, we don’t have a definitive date when MUM will be implemented, but Google has stated that it will ‘bring MUM-powered features and improvements to our products in the coming months and years.’

                            How will MUM work?

                            MUM uses Transformer Information and builds on the BERT update. Designed to be 1000 times better than BERT, Google claims that the technology will be able to understand and generate language. MUM is also multimodal, so it understands information across text and images. In future, Google also hopes that it will have the capacity to understand audio and video. In layman’s terms, this essentially means that Google will be more able to understand the language and context surrounding a search query, with the aim of being able to answer more complicated user queries in fewer searches.

                            Another aspect of the product that could have a dramatic impact on SEO in years to come is the fact that MUM aims to remove the language barriers that currently exist in search. As MUM can understand multiple languages, when a user submits a query, it will look for the most relevant content in any language. Therefore, SERP results could now show webpages written in different languages and translated back into the into the User’s native tongue. The impact of this could be huge, especially for companies seeking to attract an international audience!

                            What does this mean for SEO?

                            It is unclear how the SERP will be affected by these changes overall. MUM will use the most relevant content, whether that’s images or articles written in multiple languages to inform the different aspects of its answer. We don’t yet know how this will affect the search results page. For these complex searches, how will MUM determine which source of information or which part of the answer is the most relevant to the user? Is our current model of having 10 ranked answers becoming outdated?

                            After the MUM update was announced, users took to Reddit to voice these concerns. However, Google’s John Müller tried to alleviate worry by stressing that he didn’t ‘really see how this would reduce the need for SEO. Things always develop… and yet the SEO people still have enough to do.’ So, whilst the impact of MUM is still uncertain, what is for certain is that SEOs should be prepared for the changes that MUM could bring in the future and adapt their processes accordingly.

                             

                            Google continues to roll out ‘About this result’ worldwide

                            Google announced its intentions to make us all more judicious in February 2021 with the ‘About This Result’ feature. The tool is designed to help Users determine credible and reliable information at a time when ‘fake news’ hides around every corner. ‘About This Result’ has been rolling out since then but in May, Google officially announced that they had started implementing this feature to all English results worldwide.

                             

                            About This Result Google

                             

                            They have also promised to implement this feature to other languages in the future and they have teased more details that will be included within the tool later in the year, such as related articles, what other sources say about the site and how the site describes itself. We are excited to see how the expanded use of this tool will help or hinder websites based on Google’s added votes of confidence or concern.

                             

                            Did we miss anything?

                            If there was anything else that happened in May that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                             

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                              Paid Media Highlights in April

                              Want to find out the latest news in the world of paid media? Grab a cuppa and let us bring you up-to-date on some of the key highlights across paid search and paid social during April 2021. 

                               

                              There’s been some interesting developments with Apple’s introduction of iOS14 updates and its’ subsequent effects on Facebook advertising. We’ll also take a look at the latest news involving Microsoft Advertising, as well as some changes to bidding strategies within Google Ads.

                               

                              iOS14 Update

                              What does it mean for paid media?

                              The iOS 14 updates scheduled during the first half of 2021 has been a hot topic for advertisers across the industry, but particularly for those advertising on Facebook. We have seen some of these changes start to take effect on Facebook, with accounts being equipped with a ‘Resource centre’ to help house a number of tasks that need to be actioned as a result of the update. 

                              These range from verifying your website domain to reviewing the number of website events across pixels installed in an account to reviewing affected automated rules. We’ll be tackling this topic in a soon-to-be-released blog, so do stay tuned for more content on this key issue!

                               

                               

                               

                              Streamlining of target ROAS and target CPA bidding strategies

                              Bidding on Google Ads continues to change in a push towards greater automation on the platform. From now onwards, Target ROAS and Target CPA will no longer be their own bid strategies, but instead will be options within the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value bidding strategies instead. 

                              The upshot is that this is unlikely to have any actual impact on performance, think of this as more of just a streamlining of strategies within the interface. But given that more emphasis is now placed on the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value strategies, we may expect more users to take up these options, with or without the target constraints. To get the best out of these strategies, do ensure that you have sufficient conversion data available in your campaign for the bid strategy to optimise towards.

                               

                               

                              Dynamic placement exclusion lists

                              What are they and why do I need them?

                              Google Ads currently has the capacity to block display network ads from being shown in particular placements, however, this is something that you would normally have to implement manually. Now, Google has introduced dynamic exclusion lists, which gives advertisers the ability to use exclusion lists created by third parties such as advocacy organisations and industry groups. Any updates to the list by these third parties can then be automatically updated to your own Google Ads account, helping to save time by not having to go through this process manually. We hope this will be a good time-saver!

                               

                               

                              Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier also apply to Microsoft Ads

                              This is fairly unsurprising news, given the close alignment between Microsoft Ads and Google Ads, but Microsoft have given the go-ahead to remove broad match modifiers from ad accounts. From August 2021, “you’ll no longer be able to create new BMM keywords”, but  “your existing BMM keywords will continue to serve under the new phrase match behaviour”. The changes also encompass the tweaks made to phrase match keywords too, with those terms now also showing for searches that include the meaning of your keyword. Check out our blog from earlier this year for more information on what we think the effects that these changes (on Google, and now Bing) will have for advertisers.

                               

                               

                              Video ads and Facebook imports for Microsoft ads

                              Following on from Microsoft’s update to keywords, they have also released a bunch of new features to their ad platform. This includes video ads launching in the Microsoft Audience Network in the UK and US, with 6-to-120-second videos that can be used to reach an audience of 300m daily users. Interestingly, Microsoft is also enabling the function of being able to import single-image ads directly from Facebook into Microsoft Ads, functioning in a similar way to the Google Ads import function. This may prove a handy time-saving tool for multimedia campaigns.

                               

                               

                              Did we miss anything?

                               

                              If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                                SEO Highlights in April

                                April 2021

                                April was a good month for SEO. With deadlines extended and the 2020 Spam Report published, there’s been a lot of information to digest. For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and Uprise Up, you can sign up to our Newsletter.

                                Rollout of the Page Experience Update delayed to June.

                                No doubt many website owners breathed a sigh of relief when Google announced their decision to delay the rollout from May to mid-June. Time pressures have been eased as websites have longer to ensure their pages provide a good page experience. Search Console has also updated to include a new Page Experience Report, which makes it much simpler to see how your site currently performs and understand the areas you need to prioritise.

                                The rollout will now be a more gradual process, with Page Experience not expected to be a full ranking factor until the end of August. This change in tactic will make it harder to measure the impact of the update, as the ranking factors slowly merge with the search algorithm. This change does mean there won’t be any drastic changes to results, which for some sites should soften impact and give them a better chance of resolving any ongoing issues with their performance before the update has any serious detrimental effects.

                                 

                                What does the update include?

                                It’s been previously revealed that the Page Experience Update  will consider several signals for page experience, including the metrics included in Core Web Vitals (FID, CLS, LCP).

                                 

                                We can see Google is making a clear move away from favouring AMP, with the update set to bring regular non-AMP pages into the results more. AMP will no longer be required to feature in the Top Stories Carousel; once the update goes live all news content will be eligible for this feature. The AMP badge will also be removed from AMP results, removing that distinction. So, if you’re a site that relies on AMP I’d suggest really focusing on guaranteeing your non-AMP pages have similar load times on mobile, because from June onwards AMP is unlikely to provide you the value it once did.

                                 

                                Webspam Report 2020.

                                Another year, another Webspam Report was published! As expected, the presence of spam has only continued to grow over the past 12 months, from 25 billion pages being discovered daily in 2019 to 40 billion in 2020.

                                 

                                This growth includes increasing levels of hacked spam. Big or small, there’s no discrimination when it comes to being hacked. All sites are vulnerable. In fact, Google found that sites Search Consoles’ were being hacked, with the culprit posing as the Owner and using the ‘request indexing’ feature to get the spammy pages crawled and indexed. A good tool being misused. Whilst Google can take action against hackers, websites can also help through the practice of good security.

                                 

                                In the report more emphasis was placed on fighting spam ‘smarter’. As a part of this we can see the continued evolvement of AI, as Google developed a spam-fighting AI. They consider this to be a revolutionary update to their approach to spam and as a result, have reduced sites with auto-generated or scaped content appearing in the SERPs by more than 80% (compared to a few years ago). This advancement definitely highlights the clamping down on low quality content; spam or even content that fails to serve the needs of the user will not be shown.

                                 

                                Google has also been focusing their anti-spam efforts more on important topics, such as queries related to Coronavirus. Having spent most of last year in a global pandemic, it was pretty crucial that everyone had access to the right information. Whilst this meant ensuring spam wasn’t given the opportunity to distract and waste the time of users, it also meant curating the SERPs so only high quality up to date information was shown.

                                 

                                Though the figures don’t show any big surprises, the latest webspam report does give an indication of Google’s continued restrictions on content they deem low quality. Maintained, high quality content continues to be placed at the forefront of searches.

                                 

                                Content Case Study.

                                Towards the end of the month a case study was published that highlights the need to place users at the centre of any SEO strategy. Conducted by Sterling Sky, the case study examines the performance of a local injury law firm in Canada. They had not been ranking well for their target keywords and wanted some help boosting results.

                                 

                                The case study flagged that the issue lay in the strategy that had been implemented to date. The site had multiple templated pages, each targeting a different city and service. The content was difficult to access and very similar owing to the template approach. It’s clear this content was built with a focus on ranking, but not on being useful to those that landed on it. By creating content for search engines rather than users, the content didn’t meet expectations.

                                 

                                I found this article to be valuable in its takeaways, one being that publishing lots of content can be a bad thing. Quality will always override quantity, websites need to ensure that the content they publish serves a purpose outside ranking in the search results. If the user experience is poor and leaves visitors unfulfilled, then it provides no value to your site.

                                 

                                The case study also highlights the need to measure your strategy continuously. Just because you’ve agreed and begun implementation of a strategy, doesn’t mean the strategy is done. No strategy is finite. Measuring and adapting a plan is vital to ensure you stay on track and meet your established objectives.  By testing different tactics you can start to understand what will work for your site. In the case of this example, removing the templated content and redirecting to other built out, informational pages on the site helped the client meet the ranking requirements and increase their levels of organic traffic. A simple, but effective solution.

                                 

                                Did we miss anything?

                                If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected]eup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                                  SEO News Round Up: February 2021

                                  SEO Round Up February 2021

                                  What happened in the world of SEO in February?

                                  February was a calm month for SEO, with just a few changes announced. However, I suggest you keep an eye on results, as these announcements seek to continue Google’s aims of diversifying our search results.

                                   

                                  Featured Snippets showed a decline in Feb

                                  There was a decline in the percentage of queries including a Featured Snippet in the SERPs. Across all tools the decline starts from 18th February.

                                   

                                  SERP Feature History MozCast
                                  Source: MozCast

                                   

                                  Broken down, similar declines have been recorded across desktop and mobile devices. It’s unclear whether this is permanent or Google will increase the percentage back up. Queries impacted are thought to be the shorter, more competitive terms and specific industry categories. Industry-wise, Health, Finance and YMYL were impacted most, though other industries have also seen notable change.

                                   

                                  Top Featured Snippet Losses by Industry
                                  Source: Moz

                                   

                                  This is an important reminder that whilst Featured Snippets can be golden nuggets when you have one, they are a double-edged sword. You get a boost in visibility and traffic when you have them, but they aren’t permanent. They come and go; losing one can then lead to a reduction in visibility and traffic for that keyword.

                                  It’s worth remembering that when you lose a Featured Snippet you don’t drop down to the next position as you do with regular rankings. You drop back to where you were originally ranking, which is typically further down the page (think positions 4-7). Your visibility, therefore, drops more dramatically than you expect.

                                  Whilst Featured Snippets are unlikely to disappear completely, this is something to monitor. It’s likely Google updating their algorithms to closer match the intent behind search terms, so this is a percentage that could grow again. We’ll find out.

                                   

                                  New Association feature on Search Console

                                  Search Console has a new Associations feature available. This function allows you to link up your Search Console property with properties you have in other Google Services.

                                  Associations can link up your Search Console with the following:

                                  • Google Analytics
                                  • Google Ads
                                  • YouTube
                                  • Play Console
                                  • Action Console
                                  • Chrome Web Store

                                  Association is a function worth utilising, it’s a great way to link up your data and see more in one place. The effect of the association does depend on the properties you’re linking up. For instance, linking up your Search Console with your Analytics means you can see organic query data with the Analytics dashboard.

                                  To access the Associations feature, go onto the Settings Menu on your Search Console property.

                                   

                                  Metric Boundaries updated for Core Web Vitals

                                  Google has made a minor change to the metrics used to measure Core Web Vitals. The boundaries previously only looked at ‘less than’ the given number. Now, the defined boundaries have been updated to be ‘less than or equal to’. A small change, but one that could make the targets for each metrics more achievable.

                                  The new boundaries for each metric are as follows:

                                  New Core Web Vitals metric boundaries
                                  Source: Search Engine Land

                                   

                                  Passage Ranking has gone live in the US

                                  Passage Ranking, first announced in October 2020, went live in US search on Wednesday 10th February. Expected to only affect 7% of searches initially, it’s a change to rankings that is likely to expand in the future-  to affect more searches and more countries.

                                   

                                  What is passage ranking?

                                  Passage ranking is where Google indexes passages within your page. The aim is to help Google find information that might be buried in your content. By understanding specific passages within a page Google can then rank that page for more specific queries, thus improving the relevancy of search results and diversifying the results.

                                  We look forward to seeing what the impact is to US search in the coming months.

                                   

                                  Did we miss anything?

                                  If there was anything else that happened in February that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                                   

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                                    SEO News Round Up: January 2021

                                    SEO Round Up January 2021

                                    What happened in the world of SEO in January?

                                    With competition between search engines growing, new ranking factors being introduced and new tools becoming available, 2021 is going to be a busy year for SEO! For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and our campaign you can sign up to our Monthly Newsletter.

                                     

                                    Coverage Data got an Update on GSC

                                    The Search Console coverage report has always provided valued insight into the errors on a site. However, it isn’t perfect. It would seem Google have taken feedback on the report into consideration, and made some changes.

                                    Of these, my favourite change without a doubt is: ‘Removal of the generic “crawl anomaly” issue type – all crawls errors should now be mapped to an issue with a finer resolution’. I don’t find “crawl anomaly” to be a particularly revealing error, so to know more detail will be on offer from now on is reassuring.

                                    A new ‘warning’ has also been introduced: Indexed without content. From now on, this will identify pages on a site that are empty or where Google was unable to read the content. Again, a useful insight to have.

                                    There are still some issues to be addressed, but the changes are a notable improvement.

                                     

                                    New Report: Google News Performance

                                    Similar to Discover, data on how your site’s articles perform in Google News can now be found in a bespoke report on the Search Console dashboard.

                                    Google News, for those out of the loop, is separate to Google Search. Accessed via an app or news.google.com, it serves users with a curated feed of news content based on the publishers and topics they are interested in. Therefore, news publishers can rejoice, for they’ll now have access to even more data around the performance of their content and the preferences of their audience.

                                     

                                    Google introduced Subtopics as a ranking factor in November

                                    If anyone was able to attend Google’s On Search Event last October, one topic that was discussed was Subtopics. In January, Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that Subtopics had gone live as a ranking factor mid-November.

                                    What are Subtopics?

                                    In the words of Google, Subtopics are ‘neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad’.

                                    This means that for some of the search terms, Google is showing a range of search results that are focused on the topics related to the original query (Subtopics). This won’t affect all searches, but will focus on broader terms where there is more subtopics variety.

                                    What does this mean?

                                    It’ll be interesting to see how this affects SEO in the long-term. From a strategic perspective, SEOs should cater to this update and start shifting focus from individual keywords and more onto a broader topic focus. Some SEOs already do this, others will be starting to.

                                    Google wants to diversify their search results by offering users a wider range of content that differs from each other, aiming to cater to the different needs of users. This likely means broader keywords are going to come much more competitive. Long-tailed variations are going to become more important as intent is scrutinised even further. It also means there’s a growing, pressing need for unique content that will make your site stand out. Understanding your topic, and any subtopics, in detail will be crucial.

                                     

                                    100 Million Searches a Day for DuckDuckGo

                                    DuckDuckGo has hit a new record in January as it finally reached the milestone of attaining 100 million searches in a single day. The search engine was on track to achieve an average of 90 million searches a day for the whole month. Compared to January 2020, this is a 73% improvement year on year. This shows that DuckDuckGo’s prominence is continuing to grow and they pose a growing threat to Google’s position.

                                     

                                    They continue to thrive on mobile as well, as they became the second used search engine on mobile in the U.S. As DuckDuckGo boasts of its privacy features, the growth spurt signals an incoming shift to private platforms.

                                     

                                    Chrome 88 includes Core Web Vitals metrics

                                    The recently launched Chrome 88 is proving valuable to developers and SEOs as it includes elements that enable you to see the Core Web Vitals metrics along with pre-existing ranking signals. A useful amendment for those preparing for the upcoming Page Experience update.

                                    One element they’ve actioned is to provide the Web Vitals, LCP, FID and CLS, with their own reporting lane in the dev tools. This has also been given more space for more detailed reporting.

                                    Additionally, Chrome 88 now supports a CSS property called aspect-ratio. This allows you to define ratios for certain elements, which can contribute to an improved Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) score.

                                    Some useful additions we look forward to utilising.

                                     

                                    Did we miss anything?

                                    If there was anything else that happened in January that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                                     

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                                      Paid Media News Round Up: January 2021

                                      Paid Media Round Up January 2021

                                      Paid Media News January 2021

                                      A new year means new news in the world of paid media. We take you through the latest updates at the beginning of 2021!

                                      Keep reading for news on automated bidding, new Microsoft Ads features, as well as some industry news from across the pond and across the world in Australia.

                                      If you want to check out our round-up from the end of last year, you can view last month’s summary here.

                                       

                                      Data exclusion controls for Smart Bidding on Google Ads

                                      Smart bidding is becoming an increasingly key component of Google Ads, with a wealth of different strategies now available to marketers. Those using Google Ads will now have more control over automated bidding strategies through new data exclusion controls. Google have specified that you can exclude particular date ranges to prevent interference with conversion rates that help calculate auction-time bids for smart bidding

                                      This will be particularly important for when conversion tracking breaks on a particular campaign (eg. tagging issues or website outages). While this may not be something that would be worth doing for very short outages or for small campaigns, we do see this being a useful tool for larger campaigns and longer periods of time where there is inaccurate data, to help maintain consistent performance.

                                      Google Ads Data Exclusion Controls Smart Bidding

                                       

                                      New optimisation tools for Microsoft Advertising, including optimisation score

                                      Since Bing Ads launched the Recommendations tab back in 2018, it was only a matter of time that they would launch an ‘optimization score’ in a similar fashion to Google’s own. The new feature appears as though it will operate in an almost identical way to Google’s, with a percentage score from 0% to 100%, based on the number of recommendations applied to individual campaigns. As with Google’s feature, we’d look to implement some of these recommendations to help improve optimization score (like automated responsive search ads, for example), with other recommendations (like raising budgets) needing more consideration as to whether they’re appropriate to apply or not. 

                                      Bing are also going to introduce target impression share as a new bidding strategy too. This will be particularly helpful for awareness campaigns and for enabling an easier way to achieve great visibility for brand terms too.

                                       

                                      Microsoft Logo

                                       

                                      Trump gets banned from social media

                                      Just a couple of weeks before the end of his presidential term, Donald Trump was suspended ‘indefinitely’ from a host of different social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. The suspension took place as a result of hundreds of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol in an attempt to overthrow November’s presidential election result. Twitter deemed Trump’s Tweets to be a violation of their Glorification of Violence policy, as they believe he was inspiring people to incite violence.

                                      Donald Trump banned from Twitter

                                      At this stage, it is unclear how advertisers will be affected by Trump’s ban from social media. It could potentially result in a slight decline in traffic to these platforms, due to his supporters being deterred by the platforms as a form of boycott. Some say that social media companies shouldn’t have the power to remove people from their platforms as it could be viewed as censorship, however research suggests that online misinformation about the US election fell by 73% since the notorious #FakeNews spreader was suspended from the sites.

                                       

                                      Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

                                      In another move from governments around the world looking to impose more regulations on some of the large tech firms, the Australian government has asked Google to share some of its royalties with news publishers. This move is as a result of Australia’s competition regulator ruling that there was a “bargaining power imbalance” between the tech giants like Google and the newspaper industry. The newspapers have seen a rapid decline in revenues over recent years.

                                      Google’s response to this was threatening to withdraw their search engine from the country altogether, hardly a tentative response! The tech firms are naturally going to be worried about the immediate impacts to its revenues this might have. However, more worrying for Google is the precedent that these types of laws may have, if they get passed. We’ll have to see whether Google’s firm stance on this issue will be enough to persuade Australia’s lawmakers to reverse their decision.

                                       

                                      If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly enticing, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                        Paid Media News Round Up: August 2020

                                        Paid Media Round Up August 2020

                                        Paid Media News August 2020

                                        August was a quiet month for paid media, livened up by the Google responsive search ad test which creeped in at the end of the month!

                                        If you want to check out last month’s round-up you can view our summary here. Here are our highlights from the past few weeks.

                                         

                                        Google Tests Hiding the Option for Expanded Text Ad Creation

                                        In a potentially alarming move, some users noticed the ‘text ad’ option had vanished from the Google Ads interface on Friday 28th August. This was confirmed to be a test subsequently.

                                        This test prompted users to create responsive text ads (RSAs) by default, which is a format where Google decided which text assets to display with each other. Expanded text ads on the other hand display exactly what the advertiser chooses.

                                        Steps like these to take away control from advertisers who aren’t prepared to shift to RSAs are slightly worrying. Whilst most can agree this is the direction paid ads are going in, this new move from Google would be one made far too quickly. We’ve had good results with RSAs but they are still some way away from being able to outperform text ads on a regular basis.

                                         

                                        Bing Introduces Organic Product Listings

                                        Microsoft has followed Google in implementing an organic form of its product listing ads. The organic listings will appear on the Bing shopping tab alongside sponsored ads.

                                        These only require you to have a Microsoft Shopping Campaigns account with an active product feed, and can generate you free, high intent traffic from Bing. The volume of traffic from these listings will be less than Google, simply due to the relative sizes of the user base, but the barrier to entry is so low that this should be accessible to anyone with an online store.

                                        The organic listings are currently only live in the USA, but will shortly be rolled out to other markets, including the UK. When they arrive, we’re looking forward to testing them out and seeing what traffic can be generated for our clients.

                                         

                                        Bing Shopping

                                         

                                         

                                        Google Performance Planner Gets An Upgrade

                                        The Google Performance Planner is a tool in Google Ads that allows you to forecast and plan bidding strategies. Google recently announced three new features to the planner.

                                        • Sharing functionality – since the Performance Planner is often used to plan budgets throughout the year, the ability to easily share the plan among multiple users is definitely useful.
                                        • Improved forecasting of longer conversion windows – this is appreciated, but will only be a major improvement if your average conversion window was longer than a week.
                                        • Inclusion of shared budgets – this is the big one! Shared budgets are an integral part to the way Google Ad Accounts are managed, and their inclusion in the performance planner makes it far more usable in the majority of accounts.

                                         

                                        Shared Budgets on Google Performance Planner.

                                         

                                        Google extends lead forms to YouTube & Discovery Campaign

                                        Last year Google introduced Lead Form extensions, and have now said that these extensions are available in YouTube and Discovery Campaign. There will also be a rollout into Display campaigns by the end of the year. These work in a similar way to other platforms, letting users show interest without necessarily visiting the advertiser’s website.

                                        These extensions have proven a success and work well on mobile, so it’s no surprise to see their functionality expanded.

                                        YouTube Video on a Mobile

                                        Microsoft Advertising Editor Update

                                        This month, Microsoft announced a large update to their Advertising Editor platform, helping them stay competitive with Google’s Ads Editor. The updates included Al-powered recommendations and campaign-level audience targeting.

                                        Global users will now have a lightbulb icon in their interface recommending new keywords, highlighting fixes, and suggesting bid optimisations. The new feature will ensure advertisers maximises their potential traffic.

                                        The second new feature enables campaign-level audience targeting within the Editor programme, saving time, and maximising efficiency when working across numerous campaigns. It is worth noting that advertisers however are still unable to simultaneously target associations at the ad group and campaign level.

                                        Microsoft Advertising Editor Interface

                                        Did we miss anything?

                                        If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly notable, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                          Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

                                          Google 2% fee on all ads served in the UK

                                          Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

                                          Starting on Tuesday, Google have been emailing Google Ads users about the introduction of extra fees for ads served in the UK (NB: a few other territories are affected too, but we’ll be focusing on the UK).

                                          The help page clearly states that this is in direct response to the government’s newly introduced Digital Services Tax and will result in an extra 2% charge on top of any ad spend within the UK. This will start to take affect from November 1st 2020.

                                          This tax was aimed at the largest organisations, so it is disappointing (if not somewhat inevitable) that Google have decided to pass this cost directly onto their customers. Amazon have similarly passed this cost on recently, though that goes beyond just advertising. It will be interesting to see Microsoft’s response, as if they are able to not follow Google’s lead, advertising on Bing will become more attractive.

                                          So far, there has been no news from any Social Networks about any changes, but it will be something else to keep an eye on over the coming months.

                                          Advertisers will need to carefully budget for the end of 2020 and beyond. Costs within the Google Ads platform will remain the same, as the fee is added on top. This does create an added complication when calculating budget and so we advice thinking about this sooner rather than later.

                                           

                                          If you have any questions about how this new fee will affect you, we’re happy to help. Please do email us at [email protected], send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to have a chat and find out how we can support you.

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                                            SEO News Round Up: May 2020

                                            SEO Round Up May 2020

                                            What happened in the world of SEO in May?

                                            May started with a bang and has produced some great updates in the world of SEO. Read more to find out what our highlights are in SEO news this month.

                                             

                                            Google update: May 2020

                                            It happened! 4 months after the January update Google took to Twitter to announce the roll out of another algorithm update. Dubbed the May 2020 Core Update, it took 2 weeks to fully roll out. Many in the SEO community claim it’s the biggest update search has seen in a while.

                                             

                                            What happened?

                                            As usual, Google haven’t specified exactly what the update was targeting. Whilst core updates are intended to have a broad focus, content has been a key focus for Google and SEO in the last couple years. Recent Core Updates have focused on rewarding content regularly reviewed and updated, so it isn’t shocking to suggest that content is again the focus on the May 2020 Core Update.

                                             

                                            What impact did we see?

                                            Following the started release of the update we’ve seen a mixed impact to our clients, with some losing rankings and others gaining. There was a lot of volatility and fluctuations in rankings during the roll out process, but most of the change appeared to be off page 1 search results. Search results ranking on page 2 and onwards typically experience higher levels of volatility, so this wasn’t too concerning to us.

                                             

                                            What should we do?

                                            In their Twitter announcement Google link to their updates guidelines. There, they state that the updates aren’t about harming the performance of your content, but about rewarding good content that wasn’t getting the recognition, or rankings, it deserved in organic search.

                                            That being said, if you have seen some keywords dropping it’s still not good to drastically change your SEO strategy in light of a Google Update; particularly if your website has a history of yoyoing in rankings from update to update. It’s very likely that any ranking changes you see in the first few days may level out. Wait until rankings have had some time to stabilise before taking any precautionary actions.  Review your site, identify the weaknesses (whether that be technical or content) and feed those into your current strategy.

                                             

                                            Keep SEO and coding simple

                                            Search Developer Martin Splitt joined an indexing and crawling session at Search Engine Land, where he discussed how some websites can overcomplicate their coding to overcome non-existent issues.

                                            Internal Linking via JS

                                            It would appear in our desire to be better SEO and Web Developers can often overcomplicate a solution, or needlessly create an issue with clever coding. Interal linking is cited as a common issue that is overcomplicated. A number of links are still invisible to Google owing to the way they are implemented on a website. We’ve seen this ourselves on client websites, where we as users know the link is there, but search engines don’t. This is often because the link is added through javascript rather than a HTML link tag. Invisible links are harmful to your SEO, as they restrict visibility and can lead to crawl errors.

                                            We considered ourselves warned: clever, over-engineered shortcuts aren’t great, and can actually hurt our SEO more than help.

                                             

                                            Google suggests customised searches for users

                                            A new search feature update is being rolled out on Google. When a user does a search on Google will begin to use that search history data to suggest customised search results to you.

                                            This new feature does appear to be a restricted update at the moment; you have to be logged into your Google account to have access. Google is also only able to use search history data from your current search session. This means customised search suggestions won’t be influenced by your search activity from a month ago. However, it’s another step towards encouraging users to consider the language they use in search, following on from Google’s update to search results that don’t adequately answer a search query. We look forward to seeing how these features influence search habits.

                                             

                                            New Search Console Reports

                                            Another month, another update to Google Search Console reports. This month 2 new reports have been made available on the tool. The Speed report has also had an update.

                                             

                                            SpecialAnnouncement Enhancement Report

                                            One of the reports released is for SpecialAnnouncement Schema markup. This is a follow up action from the release of the markup last month. SpecialAnnouncement markup was released to help local businesses and communities make Covid-19 announcements via Google Search. Creation of the report will help these businesses see any implementation errors or issues with the markup.

                                             

                                            Guided Recipe Enhancement Report

                                            Additionally, Google has released a new report for Guided Recipe markup. This is a form of Recipe schema, designed to help your recipes be found and used on Google Assistant and by voice search technology. This is a good step in the right direction, as previously you had to wait for webpages to re-crawl a page before you could see any updates via Google Assistant. This report should speed up the validation process.

                                            You can also check your Guided Recipe markup via the Rich Results Test Tool. To use this tool you just need to add the markup to your page. Then you can submit the URL on the tool and it will test the page to see if it is valid for rich snippets (a search result with enhanced features) in search results. The tool will offer suggestions for improvement or show you any errors with your implementation.

                                             

                                            Web Vitals replaces Speed Report

                                            Google has swapped out the old Speed Report. Now, we have the Core Web Vitals report, located within the Enhancement reports section. Core Web Vitals is a Chrome Extension Google announced earlier in the month

                                             

                                            Core Web Vitals on Search Console Dashboard

                                             

                                            What’s changed? 

                                            The metrics Google uses for measurement has changed from the original speed report, which suggests Google is using certain speed metrics to judge the performance of a website. These metrics are: LCD, FID and CLS. All 3 give an indicate of how good the user experience (UX) will be on that page.

                                            • LCD (Largest Contentful Paint): measures loading performance by marking the point when the main content on the page has likely loaded.
                                            • FID (First Input Delay): measures when interactivity is working, as it tells you when a user first tries to interact with the page and the time when the page responds to that interaction.
                                            • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): measures visual stability. The more content doesn’t shift around unexpectedly the better the UX.

                                            URLs that don’t have enough data for these metrics are excluded from the report, so it won’t necessarily provide a 100% insight. But, it appears that ensuring your webpages perform well for all 3 metrics will be vital by name and nature if you want Google to deem you site as high performance.

                                             

                                            Bing says Yes (or No)

                                            Bing has also been busy developing new search features. There latest update means Bing can now answer your search queries with a simple yes or no. Bing then backs up their answer by citing different websites.

                                            This is just part of Bing’s development strategy to utilise AI in their search algorithms. Their algorithm is able to understand and cross-reference the language of multiple sources and deduce a yes/no answer, even if the sources used and reviewed by Bing do not explicitly state that.

                                            For SEO, it’ll be worth monitoring search queries where this is likely to affect the search results. With Bing providing clear, concise answers within the SERPs, there’s potential for the CTRs of these queries to be impacted by this update. As Search Engine Land also comments, we should also monitor impressions and visibility change.

                                            Bing’s Yes/No summary feature is live in the US and looking to roll out in other search markets soon.

                                             

                                            Page Experience Evaluation Changes Incoming

                                            Google have announced changes are coming to how they measure the performance of a page. Called the Page Experience Update, Google will be updating their ranking factors to take page experience metrics, such as the ones in Core Web Vitals, into consideration more.

                                             

                                            Stay Tuned!

                                            This planned update is a big step towards ensuring website’s produce pages that users like, and is something we’ll be exploring in much more depth next month.

                                             

                                            Did we miss anything?

                                            If there was anything else that happened in May that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                                              New AdWords Experience – The Journey So Far

                                              Google Search

                                              The New AdWords Interface: 10 Months On

                                              Back in May last year we wrote a blog on the announcement of the ‘New AdWords Interface’. 10 months later here is an update on our thoughts so far. Since last year Google have been slowly rolling out their New AdWords Interface to improve campaigns, save time and gain actionable insights, but our team here at upriseUP aren’t 100% sold on all the changes!

                                              I’ve decided to provide an AdWords update for those who might have missed some of the cool (and maybe not so cool changes) being made.

                                              If you want to know more about how paid search campaigns can transform your business, please email us at [email protected].

                                               

                                              All About The New AdWords Interface – What Features Are New?

                                              The new AdWords interface has a number of exclusive new features that aren’t available in the previous AdWords interface please see the chart below:

                                              2018 has shown some big changes in the world of Digital Marketing and adapting to the new AdWords interface is going to be a huge task for continued success this year.

                                              The new AdWords experience promised to make our lives easier: it introduced friendlier native reporting within the AdWords interface, cool new tools like promotion extensions, and an objectively easier way to navigate from campaign to campaign, ad group to ad group, and keyword to keyword.

                                              The reality is, change is mostly met with criticism, and when the old AdWords interface officially sunsets this year, the outcry could be fierce. But, that interface has more or less been around since 2008, which is an insane amount of time for something in the tech world, especially a Google product. In short, the new interface is going to be disliked – but with some time, not only will we get used to it, but it likely will be significantly more powerful than the decade old interface we’re currently familiar with.

                                               

                                              Some Big AdWords Interface Changes

                                              Overview

                                              When you first pop open the AdWords interface, you’ll be taken to the Overview/Home tab:

                                              At first it was a little overwhelming to look at and would give you lots of criteria for keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. Once you get used to this view you can quickly visualise some top-level data in your account.

                                              From here, you can select the dropdown arrows in tabs to add additional or varying lines to the graph. Which allows you to add up to 4 metrics (increased from the standard 2)

                                              You see a quick overview of biggest changes and campaigns – which I find useful.

                                              Further down, we can quickly visualise our top spending keywords, see what search terms and words triggered the most ads, what devices are contributing to our success, and what our most shown ad is. We love this!

                                              The left is a super helpful native analysis that will make it easier than ever to isolate search terms to make your AdWords accounts more granular.

                                              At the bottom of the Overview page, you can see how you’re performing per network and see what times and days you’re having success. But, most interestingly, you can also easily see your overall auction insights. Watch your competitors and see how you can perform better in the AdWords auction with insights.

                                               

                                              The Time Window

                                              Another important change is the improved time navigation window.

                                               

                                              You’ll find it in the top right, so not much has changed there. But I promise it can do cool stuff (two things, in particular). First, it’s now scrollable, so it’s easier to navigate a few months back without having to type in the date range you’re looking for (but this is still an option if you prefer).

                                              More importantly, how many times have you wanted to look at the “Past 90 Days” of history, but you were stuck with “Past 7,” “Past 14,” and “Past 30”? Same here! No more, as you can now change the date range in the bottom left of the menu to be 90 days up to today, or whatever other date range you want.

                                               

                                              The Navigation Bar

                                              In the old interface, your campaigns, ad groups, etc. were displayed left to right near the top of the screen. When you think about the layers of an AdWords account, you think about: Campaigns contain Ad Groups, which contain Keywords/Targeting/Ads, which are triggered by Search Terms.

                                              You’ll see that the new left-hand layout of the navigation bar flows more logically, with account level information (Overview) at the top, Campaigns and Ad Groups in the section below, while targeting options and ads are in their own self-contained sections below. So, perhaps, it’s not all bad — just different and will take a little time to get used to.

                                              As logical as this new interface layout may seem, there are some downsides. Table Appearance and Filters: They Just Don’t Pop like they used too!

                                               

                                              How the interface looked before with filters.

                                               

                                               

                                              How the interface looks now with filters. The Visuals in General: Just harder to read!

                                               

                                              Outcome so far

                                              Google has made a lot of changes to the AdWords interface that PPC managers are just beginning to discover and benefit from. While some features (such as Maximize Conversions and other automation opportunities) are designed with busy business owners in mind, others are just the kind of tools performance marketers need if they want to stay ahead of the PPC game.

                                              Basically, gradual progression, people can get used to — but busy PPC managers/executives find themselves having to learn and get familiar with an awful lot while still trying to provide the best service to their clients. Although big changes can create big buzz, sometimes your users prefer “baby steps” over a big leap. I know I do.

                                              Please do let me know your thoughts on the new interface, the good, the bad and the ugly! We would love to hear your thoughts on how you are getting on with it? As always if you have any questions on anything digital do get in touch or say hello on Twitter.

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                                                Google’s €2 Billion Fine for Shopping Ads

                                                Google 2 billion fine for Shopping Ads

                                                Google Shopping Ads

                                                 

                                                Google’s €2 Billion Fine for Shopping Ads, and Why it isn’t the Real Punishment

                                                 

                                                For years now Google has proudly had the company motto of ‘Don’t Be Evil’, and you’d think sticking to that would be easy. Today, however, that motto must feel like a bad joke, as Google has been hit with a record breaking €2.42 billion fine by the EU for antitrust practices regarding it’s shopping ads.

                                                 

                                                This story has been updated – see below for the latest news on Google’s response.

                                                 

                                                This fine comes as the sting in the tail of a seven-year investigation into Google’s search algorithms, which concluded that Google had placed its own shopping ads service above other price comparison sites “irrespective of [their] merits,” and accused the company of “abusing its dominant position by systematically favouring” its own ads.

                                                 

                                                Slide from EU commission presentation on Google

                                                A slide from the EU commission explaining their argument

                                                 

                                                Google have fired back at the decision in a statement, where they argue that their search algorithm shows the results it’s users want to see, and point to the rise of online retailers such as Amazon or eBay as the reason that some search comparison sites have dropped in the rankings. They finish by saying “Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal”. We feel it very likely that Google will file an appeal, at which point we will be in for a long and drawn out case between the tech giant and the EU.

                                                This would be the largest antitrust fine ever handed out in European courts, but the €2.42 billion still only amounts to around 2.7% of Google’s annual revenue. Though a very public blemish on Google’s record, this will not break the bank. The more long-term worry for Google is that the ruling has stated that they must end their antitrust practices within 90 days or face further fines. This would mean changing how Google ranks web pages on its search results page to more evenly weight non-Google comparison shopping services.

                                                If this ruling gets enforced, it could have a major effect on the performance of shopping adverts on the google network and, although it would be interesting to see how shopping ads performed on a truly level playing field, it would undoubtedly lead to an increase in cost per click at best, and a drop in conversions and return on ad spend at worst. It would also set an interesting precedent with dangerous implications for other digital marketing channels. If it is illegal to guarantee shopping ads a place at the top of search results, what about paid search ads in general?

                                                This is very likely to not be the final chapter in the story. Google look to be digging their heels in regarding the decision, and wish to clear their name in front of the world regarding their search practices. If they do appeal, and it seems likely they will, the resulting process could go on for years without a resolution, so do not expect big changes quickly.

                                                This is not the only point of contention between the EU and Google either. There are investigations ongoing into Google’s AdSense system, and their dealings with Android manufacturers. If this investigation is an indicator of things to come then it seems the EU isn’t going to let Google off easily, and this may simply be the opening salvo in a longer, larger war.

                                                 


                                                 

                                                UPDATE

                                                We have, in fact, been proven wrong! Google have agreed to make changes that will resolve the issues the commission raised, and they will have until September 28 to do so, or face further fines. Although we don’t know the specifics of what Google will do to appease the commission, we will let you know as soon as we do!

                                                 


                                                 

                                                UPDATE #2

                                                In a twist of fate, it turns out we were right after all! Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that a lower court had not given enough considerations to Intel’s defence of their use of rebates, which had been deemed as anticompetitive and the source of a $1.3 billion fine.

                                                 

                                                A few days later, and Google announce that they will in fact be appealing the €2.4 billion fine that they have been given for their antitrust practices. Although a company like Google likely do not make a decision like this in a few days, and their plan was probably in place before the news of Intel’s victory was made public, it is powerful new proof that the appeal process may not be futile.

                                                 

                                                Google will still be required to implement the changes to their system the commission called for in the initial report for the duration of the appeal. Since this process could stretch on for years we are still going to see a prolonged period of change for Google shopping, and the big news is still yet to break on how exactly Google will be changing their shopping system.

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Get In Touch

                                                What are your thoughts on Google’s €2 billion fine for shopping ads? Send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM or contact us today to see how you could transform your business or charity with shopping ads.

                                                 

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                                                  Missing AdWords Data: The Google Ship Springs Another Leak

                                                  Google Ship Springs Another Leak Missing Data

                                                  More AdWords Missing Data

                                                   

                                                  Google seem to have misplaced more data, but this time it’s the big fish. Today, AdWords suffered a major reporting error causing data to not be shown in the AdWords interface from noon. For those worried that their ads have not been showing since that time, you will be relieved to know that we have tested our ads on the Search Network and they are still running as usual. However, whether this missing data in AdWords is recoverable or not is still in question.

                                                  If you wish to see the issue for yourself, jump into AdWords and segment your campaign report by hour of the day, you will likely be greeted by the same results as those in the image below, normal results in the morning, low (and sometimes even impossible) traffic in the afternoon.

                                                  It has not been a good few weeks for Google, with Tag Manager containers mysteriously disappearing in late May. Those containers were restored to their rightful place within a day, and we can hope for a similar result here, but the frequency of data leaks is concerning. For a company who prides itself in its reporting capabilities and who, in 2011, received 96% of their revenue through AdWords, a loss of reporting data of this magnitude is disturbing.

                                                  One of our Marketing Executives, Robyn, asked about the issue, and got this response:

                                                   

                                                  AdWords Twitter Response to Data Leak

                                                   

                                                  Whilst there has been no official statement from Google about this missing data in AdWords, the Google AdWords twitter team has since responded to a further inquiry from twitter user @stockristian stating that the issue has now been resolved:

                                                   

                                                  adwords data delay fix response

                                                  We have checked our accounts and there doesn’t appear to be any missing data in AdWords from yesterday, which is a relief. Also, all AdWords data from today seems to be up to date, which hopefully means that everything is back to normal!

                                                   

                                                  Get In Touch

                                                  If you have any questions about paid search, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For regular updates, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.

                                                   

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                                                    Google update Penguin, and add a Possum to the mix…

                                                    Another Addition to the Google Zoo

                                                     

                                                    Not too recently I put together a post about the plethora of Google algorithms – most lovingly named after zoo animals – and ended with the closing remark that we’d be back to update you on any further changes from Google HQ. Well, they have been busy and apparently I’m a man of my word so let’s get started.

                                                     

                                                    Google Possum

                                                    It seems like most of the community are in agreement that Google have revamped the way they filter local search results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Specifically, businesses that fall outside a city boundary are being penalized less for ranking locally within that city. In a similar vein, the location of the searcher is becoming more prevalent for ranking within the 3-pack search.

                                                    Local business filters for look to be strongly improved with Google Possum. For example, there are currently more than 180 businesses registered at 33 St James’ Square in London. This is clearly not genuine, and Possum will now more aggressively penalize listings at addresses like this to provide legitimate, relevant local results.

                                                    possumGoogle Penguin

                                                    Google have officially confirmed that Penguin, one of their search algorithms, now runs in real-time. Historically, the rankings that Penguin assigned would need to be refreshed for any positive – or negative – SEO changes to be evaluated and for any search ranks to change.

                                                    Alongside this change is a slightly more confusing one. The official notes say “Penguin is now more granular”, continuing “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.” The general consensus is that this is a somewhat roundabout way of saying that Penguin now penalizes pages for spam heavy content rather than traditionally penalizing site-wide for individual page infractions.

                                                    Also included in their official blog post is the handy phrase, “it also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes”. This isn’t too much to shout about, it just means that every time sites get re-crawled and re-indexed, Penguin will automatically re-align its rankings instead of being manually refreshed. This puts Penguin in line with Panda, for which Google stopped commenting on once it was introduced into the core algorithm.

                                                    The blog post closed with the phrase “webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites”. This is a hopeful goal and maybe if more people and more work went this way over learning how to falsely maintain a good ranking on a poor site, Google – and the user – would be both be better off.

                                                     

                                                    penguin

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