Search Kernel – May 2017 Search Marketing Round-up
Welcome to the May edition of Further’s Search Kernel
Welcome to the Search Kernel, Further’s Search Marketing round-up for May 2017. Search is a tough nut to crack, so on a monthly basis, we’ll be using our digital nutcrackers to make this fast-moving industry more digestible. We hope you enjoy reading our angle on search, and feel free to get involved in the comments below.
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So, what’s happened in SEO this month?
Google algorithm update in progress
At the time this Search Kernal is published, 26 May 2017, global ranking fluctuations remain high, according to a range online trackers. This appears to be some kind of algorithmic update from Google, although there’s no confirmation as yet beyond the usual ‘we’re always updating’.
Early signs link the fluctuations to the way Google has been testing modifications to answer boxes. This change was based on Google not allowing a given result to gain both a zero ranking (a result above the main 10 search results) AND inclusion in the existing ranking page in the same set of results.
Although, as ever, this will likely be linked to on-going testing and improvements related to common quality signals, as well as the mobile-index.
The higher levels of change started on the 18 May 2017, and are similar to the levels of flux and duration observed for the “Fred” update in March.
You can find more information on search engine roundtable.
Google delivers another warning shot against large-scale article link-building
Google has shared insight that it has seen an increase in spammy links. It lists a number of sources such as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, and syndicated posts.
While the new Webmaster Central post states that informative coverage tailored to an audience is acceptable – or, in Google-speak, ‘not discouraged’ – it offered a reminder of the areas it rightfully scrutinises within its guidelines, copied verbatim from the article below:
- Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
- Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
- Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
- Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)
The sea-change shift in the SEO industry’s yesteryear tactics of manipulation has meant many an agency and in-house team have had to sharpen up their output.
Further has actively developed a high-quality approach to content and outreach, qualifying its outreach methods to provide authoritative value to the web for clients. This has meant attracting in-house writing and outreach specialists to provide gold-standard copy editing.
Authoritative Search Results: a new Google patent
While Google’s algorithm is a well-kept secret, there are a few SEOs gleaming insight into new developments by analysing Google’s public patents. By reading into new patents we can understand how Google is developing their search algorithm, and how we can best meet the ever-changing requirements of search engine optimisation.
One person known for doing this is Bill Slawski, author of SEO by the Sea. His new blog post is an insightful dissection into Google’s newest patent, addressing what he calls ‘Authoritative Search Results’ and, specifically, how Google ranks pages when none with ‘authority’ have content matching a particular search.
So, what is ‘authority’ for a website?
The patent describes authority as “a site that the search system has determined to include particularly trusted, accurate, or reliable content”.
And what is this new Google patent doing?
We’re glad you asked! In Bill’s words:
“It describes how Google might surface authoritative results for queries and for query revisions when there might not results that meet a threshold of authoritativeness for the initial query.“
Let’s say you perform a search for which there are no hyper-targeted pages with high authority offering the relevant content. The new patent is developing a system that may apply query refinements, or modifiers, based on your original search.
This means that Google will return slightly augmented results from high authority sources over low-quality pages.
What does this mean for our content strategy?
If you’re focused on creating quality content and building up topical authority across your site, this shouldn’t be anything to worry about. The development only strengthens our understanding that long-term, quality rankings do not come from the quick wins.
What’s happening in paid digital this month?
Similar audiences tested for search and shopping campaigns
Google is carrying out beta tests for similar audiences for search and shopping campaigns. This will allow advertisers to reach users searching for the same things as recent site visitors – those added to remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA lists). Some early results from this beta product indicate a great potential for improving campaign click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rate.
Also, Customer Match targeting is now available for shopping campaigns. This means we’re now able to target existing customers with Shopping ads in addition to text ads.
Read more on this update here.
Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) bidding now has more flexibility
Rolling out in June, Google has announced that they will be removing ECPC bid caps to help advertisers secure more conversions. This means that the usual 30 percent bound on top of the maximum CPC will no longer exist, but the system will still try to keep the average CPCs below the max CPC over time.
Another important point here is that ECPC is not going to take device into account to allow manual bid adjustments.
Find out what effect this may have on your campaigns here.
More advanced keyword bidding suggestions by Adwords
Multiple users have spotted a new keyword bidding feature within the Adwords interface. When clicking to update the maximum CPC on a keyword, a new table pops up showing bid suggestions for an individual keyword for various page positions.
This will definitely give advertisers more insights and help with strategy formation. However, as we know, the bidding auction is very much real-time and nothing is set in stone, so it will be interesting to see how accurate this tool turns out to be.
Click here to read more on this update.
Google lets advertisers see keyword historical Quality Score
Google is finally giving out more information on its Quality Score by adding new columns to the Adwords interface. As such, advertisers are now able to see Quality Score, Landing Page experience, Ad Relevance and Expected CTR. All this is going to provide us with more insights, particularly when updating ad copies as well as when making CPC analysis.
For a broader read on this, have a look at this article.
In-market audience targeting coming to search campaigns
Targeting possibilities are expanding for search campaigns as Google rolls out in-market audience targeting. So far, this targeting approach has been available for Display Network and Youtube campaigns – but based on this announcement, we’ll be now able to target users based on purchase intent signals in search campaigns. This highlights Google’s intention of taking the user search history and using it to broaden the reach possibilities in a clever way. The rollout of this new feature has not yet been announced so we’ll need to stay tuned!
Have a look at this article to find out more.
Google plans to track credit and debit card sales
Google has announced their future plans of giving advertisers the ability to track offline sales by monitoring credit and debit card transactions. According to the source, they are already capturing around 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the US – a fact that has raised privacy concerns.
However, the level of information advertisers will be able to gain about their ad performance is impressive and will definitely inform future cross-channel, cross-device strategies. This feature is currently being tested in the US but is likely to hit European markets soon.
For more details, read this BBC article.
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