Good morning, you were right. 

Google confirmed Monday what many local search marketers already suspected: a local search update rolled out starting early last month. The big news from the now officially-dubbed “Nov. 2019 Local Search Update” is that it introduced neural matching to local search results globally.  

Google’s Danny Sullivan has said Google uses neural matching as “a super synonym system.” For local businesses, it means Google can better infer local searcher intent even when search queries don’t include exact business names or descriptions. 

Mention “close variants” to your fellow paid search advertisers and you may see them shiver. The changes to match types have caused havoc in many accounts. Brad Geddes discussed how to analyze the impact and handle search term management at SMX East last month. He laid out three primary challenges in this new match type world: The control that phrase match once offered is gone; Google often ignores its own hierarchy rules, resulting in duplicate queries; and there are often poor intent matches.  

The EU isn’t letting up on the internet giants. Now, Google and Facebook’s “collection and use of data” is being scrutinized, specifically “data related to local search services, online advertising, online ad targeting services, login services, web browsers and others,” Reuters and CNN have reported. Separately, comparison shopping engines in the EU have formally complained to the European Commission that Google’s practices continue to be in violation of its 2017 antitrust settlement. 

Read on for a Pro Tip on trimming unprofitable clicks with audience exclusions and more. 

Ginny Marvin

Pro Tip

Negative audiences can reduce budget waste

“As you build an audience strategy, identifying the people you don’t want to target is just as important as finding the people you do want to reach,” explains Tim Jensen of Clix Marketing. “Negative audiences help reduce wasted spend, ensure people see the right messaging at the right stage of the funnel, and prevent weary shoppers from being retargeted with products too many times.”

“For instance, if people are browsing support pages, they’re more than likely existing customers looking for help using your product, not shopping. You can build retargeting audiences based on URLs associated with the support section of your site and exclude these from campaigns. Of course, nuances apply. For example, people looking for support with one product could be upsold on an additional add-on. Or if you offer premium support you can promote that opportunity through remarketing.”

on visiting, your call-to-action extensions will still be visible on the page. Make your holiday messages, offers, sales, etc. appealing enough to gain more clicks from your YouTube videos even if your creative is the same.”

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Search Shorts

16 years, unnatural links and blank robots.txt

Unlikely natural links. If a site is unlikely to have natural links, Google may ignore all the links on that site, said John Mueller of Google.

Robots.txt – blank or allow all. Google’s John Mueller said in a Reddit thread that it doesn’t matter if you allow all or have a blank robots.txt file, it is the same.

16 years writing about search. Hey, this is Barry Schwartz. Just a note, I’ve been writing about search for 16 years — it is my sweet 16! Thanks so much to the wonderful and supportive search community!


What does it take to be a winning team?

Send your crew to SMX West 2020, February 19-20, for a rewarding and productive team-building experience. Attending together will equip your team with a common vocabulary and vision of success — connecting the dots between organic and paid search, content, and cross-channel attribution will become second nature. Plus… the more people you send, the greater discount you’ll get.

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What We're Reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

3 ways to bridge the gap between SEO and PPC – Vertical Leap

All About Fraggles (Fragment + Handle) – Whiteboard Friday – Moz

Apple and Google Maps accommodate Russia’s annexation of Crimea – TechCrunch

Google removed over 300 Trump ads for ‘violating company policy’ – The Next Web

Is Google Ignoring The rel=canonical For Syndication Partners? – Search Engine Roundtable

It’s not enough to ‘write content’. You have to publish resources. – Yoast

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey uses DuckDuckGo over Google – The Next Web

Why Are Title Tags Still Important for SEO? – Seer Interactive

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