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https://relativityseo.com/seo-services/ Ginny Marvin – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tue, 28 Jan 2020 15:20:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.1 Updated (again): A visual history of Google ad labeling in search results /search-ad-labeling-history-google-bing-254332 Tue, 28 Jan 2020 13:30:00 +0000 http:/?p=254332 A look back at how Google has treated ads in search results, from blue shading to the latest version of today.

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This article has been updated to reflect the latest ad labeling changes on desktop.

Google rolled out a new treatment for labeling text ads in mobile search results in May 2019. What made this change different than past updates to ad labeling is that it came as part of a broader mobile search redesign that also introduced favicons for organic listings. This month, Google extended that ad labeling and favicon treatment to desktop and quickly faced broad backlash over the further blurring of ads and organic listings, which Google hadn’t seen with the change to mobile. The company almost immediately backtracked and began experimenting with several treatment variations on desktop.

The layout of the top of each ad and organic listing card are now the same with an ad label or favicon and the destination URL or site name displayed at the top. Quite arguably, ads have never more reflected the look of organic listings.

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noted a “decline in compliance” of search engines to clearly differentiate ads from organic listings and issued and called for clearer design treatment for ads suggesting: “(1) more prominent shading that works across monitor and device types, or (2) a prominent border, or (3) both.”

Six years later, ad markings are arguably more subtle than they were then. In 2016, Sundeep Jain, who oversaw text ads at Google, told the audience at SMX Advanced that the green ad label was chosen to simplify the colorscape on mobile. “We want to make it easier for users to digest information on the page, so we’re gradually trying to reduce the number of variations of colors and patterns on the page and bring a little bit more harmony to the page, which is why we reduced one of the color elements on the page,” Jain said.

While testing the latest mobile design update this spring, Google said a majority of users found it easier to identify websites and more than two-thirds said it was easier to scan results more quickly.

While the black ad label is only live on mobile, we’ve decided to update our visual timeline to reflect the change as it is yet another reflection of mobile’s dominance.

A timeline of Google ad labeling

In 2007, Google changed the long-standing shaded background indicating the ads section of the page from blue to yellow. In 2008, it then briefly tried a green background before reverting back to yellow. Google continued to test variations of background colors including bright blue and a light violet. In 2010, violet officially replaced the yellow, but only lasted about a year before yellow reappeared in 2011. In 2013, Google tweaked the yellow to a paler shade, which would close out the era of background shading.

At the end of 2013, Google removed the background shading and began testing a yellow ad label next to each text ad. The yellow “Ad” label rolled out globally in 2014 in a much smaller size than first appeared in the initial testing. In 2016, a new green label marked the first time the color of an ad demarcation matched the color of an element in both the ads and organic listings: the display URL. A year later, Google kept the green, but inverted the treatments so that the font was green with a thin green border on a white background. This past year’s update to the black label does away with the border altogether, further, the display URL is now black to match the “Ad” label.

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Google rolls out organic ‘Popular Products’ listings in mobile search results /google-rolls-out-organic-popular-products-listings-in-mobile-search-results-327651 Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:05:06 +0000 /?p=327651 The listing are powered by product schema and retailer feeds submitted to Google Merchant Center.

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Several years ago now, Google made the significant move to turn product search listings into an entirely paid product. Shopping campaigns, as they’re now called, have accounted for an increasing share of retail search budgets ever since. More recently, however, Google has been augmenting organic search results with product listings. It’s in a product search battle with Amazon, after all. On Thursday, the company announced the official rollout of “Popular Products” for apparel, shoe and similar searches in mobile results.

Organic product listings. Google has been experimenting with ways to surface product listings in organic search results, including Popular Products, which has been spotted for several months now. The section is powered by those organic feeds. Google says it identifies popular products from merchants to show them in a single spot, allowing users to filter by style, department and size type. The listings link to the retailers’ websites.

Popular Products is now live in Google mobile search results.

Why we care. This is part of a broader effort by Google to enhance product search experiences as it faces increasing competition from Amazon and other marketplaces as well as social platforms. Earlier this week, Google announced it has acquired Pointy, a hardware solution for capturing product and inventory data from small local merchants that can then be used in search results (and ads).

In the past few years, Google has also prompted retailers to adopt product schema markup on their sites by adding support for it in Search and Image search results. Then last spring, Google opened up Merchant Center to all retailers, regardless if they were running Shopping campaigns. Any retailer can submit their feed in real-time to Google to make their products eligible in search results.

Ad revenue was certainly at the heart of the shift to paid product listings, but prior to the move, product search on Google was often a terrible user experience with search listings often not matching what was on the landing page, from availability to pricing to even the very product. The move to a paid solution imposed quality standards that forced merchants to clean up their product data and provide it to Google in a structured manner in the form of product feeds through Google Merchant Center.

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Microsoft Advertising to deprecate average position after all /microsoft-advertising-to-deprecate-average-position-after-all-327641 Wed, 15 Jan 2020 14:30:31 +0000 /?p=327641 The change brings position reporting in line with Google Ads.

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After Google Ads announced it would be sunsetting average position, Microsoft Advertising introduced impression share reporting metrics but said it would continue showing average poistion as well. That always felt a bit half-hearted, though, particularly when most advertisers mostly shrugged off the change.

Deprecating starting in April. Microsoft Advertising announced Wednesday that it will deprecate average position beginning in April. It introduced the slate of position metrics ( Microsoft refers to them as “prominence metrics.”)

  • Top impression share
  • Top impression share lost to rank
  • Top impression share lost to budget
  • Absolute top impression share
  • Absolute top impression share lost to rank
  • Absolute top impression share lost to budget

Why we care. It makes sense to let go of average position. After the removal of right-rail ads, the metric indicated very little about where on the page your ads actually appeared. Now in both Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads, advertisers can shift their focus to the newer position metrics that focus on impression share of positions above the organic results.

Be prepared to make changes prior to April if you’re using average metric in your current Microsoft Advertising reporting, scripts or bidding rules.

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Google Ads enables bid simulator for Target ROAS, budget simulator for Maximize clicks, conversions /google-ads-enables-bid-simulator-for-target-roas-budget-simulator-for-maximize-clicks-conversions-327560 Tue, 14 Jan 2020 15:50:27 +0000 /?p=327560 See the projected impact of making bid or budget changes in your campaigns that use these smart bidding strategies.

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Google is extending the availability of bid and budget simulators to more smart bidding strategies.

Bid simulator for Target ROAS. The bid simulator has been available only for manual and Target CPA bidding. It’s now available for Target ROAS campaigns. The screenshot below shows a bid simulator for Target ROAS portfolio strategy, but you can also see the simulator icon at the ad group level in Target ROAS campaigns that aren’t using a portfolio strategy.

Target ROAS bid simulators are now available in Google Ads.
Target ROAS bid simulators are now available in Google Ads.

The simulator works the same way it does in manual and Target CPA bidding campaigns. The projected impact of a change is based on your auction data from the past seven days and assumes all other influencers, such as your ads, landing pages, your competitors’ ads and bids, all stayed the same.

Budget simulator for Maximize clicks, Maximize conversions. Both of these bid strategies aim to spend your entire budget in pursuit of maximizing the number of clicks or conversions the campaign can generate on a daily basis. If you’re using these strategies and routinely running out of budget before the end of the day, you may see the budget simulator icon appear in the “Status” column. It shows the projected impact of changing your daily budget. These simulations are also based on your past-seven-day auction data.

Budget simulator for Maximize Clicks, Maximize conversions bid strategies in Google Ads.

Why we care. The simulators can be helpful directional indicators of the potential performance impact from making bid or budget adjustments. As always, keep in mind the projections are based on historical data and actual future performance can (and often does) vary from these projections.

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Responsive search ads available globally in all Microsoft Advertising interfaces /responsive-search-ads-available-globally-in-all-microsoft-advertising-interfaces-327518 Mon, 13 Jan 2020 19:20:30 +0000 /?p=327518 Microsoft recommends running up to five ads per ad group, including at least one RSA.

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After running responsive search ads in open beta for several months, advertisers in all available markets can now set up responsive search ads in their Microsoft Advertising accounts.

Recommendations for RSAs. Responsive search ads (RSAs) are available via the web UI, Editor and Microsoft Advertising API, the company announced Monday. You can also import RSAs you’ve set up in Google Ads. Here’s a look at the RSA editing pane in Microsoft Advertising Editor with fields to enter multiple headlines and descriptions. The system then automatically serves headline/description combinations predicted to improve click-through rates. You have the option to pin headlines and descriptions if you have to ensure specific content always shows. If not, leave those empty and let the algorithms run.

Testing combinations. The more assets you enter, the more combination possibilities you offer the algorithms. Microsoft suggests creating a combination of eight to ten short and long headlines to account for device context with two to three of the headlines closely relating to your ad group’s keywords and one using the brand name. The company also suggests using one dynamic keyword insertion.

Be sure your titles and descriptions aren’t repetitive. You’ll want to make sure they read well and offer features and benefits and calls to action in any combination.

Five ads max per ad group. Microsoft also recommends running no more than five ads per ad group with two to three expanded text ads (ETAs) and at least one RSA. (Standard text ads will stop serving at the end of March.)

Why we care. Responsive search ads have been in the wild for more than a year and a half now. It’s clearly where ads are moving, but while adoption has increased, enthusiasm has been somewhat tempered because they are a radical departure from ETAs in terms of control and analysis. When analyzing performance, Microsoft recommends looking at overall ad group metrics to understand the impact of RSAs when you have 5,000 impressions (or a minimum of 1,000 if necessary). One challenge is being able to evaluate assets and combinations at scale. You can see impressions per asset in the “View asset details” link under each RSA in the web UI. “Assets with the lowest impressions should be updated for potential improvements in performance,” Microsoft suggests.

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Google Ads testing custom dimensions to enable reporting based on your business structure /google-ads-custom-dimensions-for-reporting-beta-327413-327413 Fri, 10 Jan 2020 21:34:02 +0000 /?p=327413 Group and report on campaigns with a hierarchical structure to see performance by business category or marketing strategy.

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If you manage large or complex accounts or have extensive campaign naming taxonomies, Google Ads custom dimensions might help simplify your reporting efforts and campaign naming systems.

What are custom dimensions? Not to be confused with custom dimensions in Google Analytics, custom dimensions in Google Ads allow you to append annotations to your campaigns to report on categories and subcategories aligned with your business structure and goals.

For example, you could set up and run custom dimensions to see aggregated campaign performance by product line and department. It’s in beta now and accessible from the “Tools” dropdown in Google Ads when enabled.

Screen capture provided by Steven Johns.

Why we care. If you are using labels, extensive campaign naming taxonomies, have VLOOKUP templates built in Excel or some other method to help you achieve this type of reporting, custom dimensions might make your life simpler. Unlike labels, custom dimensions are designed to apply to all of your campaigns and stay consistent for the long term. Secondary dimensions allow you to add a hierarchical structure to your reporting and drill down from department to product line, for example.

UK-based consultant Steven Johns spotted the feature in an account this week. However, it is in beta and availability appears to be quite limited at this point. You’ll find it under the “Tools” dropdown in your account when it’s enabled. Google has more details on the help page here.

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Microsoft Advertising’s PromoteIQ integration for retailers, brands is now in beta /microsoft-lays-out-its-commerce-plans-with-microsoft-promoteiq-and-microsoft-bing-for-commerce-327366 Fri, 10 Jan 2020 05:33:21 +0000 /?p=327366 The on-site search product Microsoft Bing for Commerce is also becoming available to retailers.

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Retail has become a significant focus of Microsoft’s efforts to support companies’ digital transformation. It bolstered the promotion and advertising segment of its tech stack for retail with the acquisition of vendor marketing platform PromoteIQ in August. Now, the awaited integration with Microsoft Advertising is in beta, Microsoft announced Thursday. The company is also starting to make its new on-site search product Microsoft Bing for Commerce available to retailers.

Microsoft PromoteIQ. The commerce marketing platform, now dubbed Microsoft PromoteIQ, enables retailers to build out and control their own digital vendor marketing programs for brands selling on their sites.

Retailers can configure a broad range of native ad placements and products on their sites through the Microsoft PromoteIQ dashboard. The platform allows retailers to customize programs, targeting and inventory for individual brand partners. The brands running programs with a retailer can log into a white-labeled interface to see shopper behavior on the retailer’s website and use their campaigns to influence behaviors and support the goals for their products with that retailer.

The Home Depot reported customer engagement increased by 35% and promoted products grew by double-digits year-over-year since it launched with PromoteIQ in early 2019. Office Depot, Kohl’s and Kroger are among the other retail chains using the platform.

Microsoft Advertising integration. The Microsoft Advertising integration is the first of more to come with the Microsoft stack, PromoteIQ’s former CEO and now business lead Alex Sherman said in a phone interview Thursday. It opens up a new source of advertising demand for retailers. The integration is currently in beta.

Participating retailers can opt to open a portion of their ad inventory to select brands via the Microsoft Advertising platform. Permissioned brands can then set up distinct Shopping campaigns to run on the retailer’s site through their Microsoft Advertising accounts. Sherman said this is just the start and more features and functionality will be coming with the integration.

Retailers remain in control of their vendor programs — they choose the brands that can participate and can control the level of inventory and placements available to them. “Retailers don’t want to be faceless supply that someone else is using to build an ad business,” Sherman said. “When there are gaps where the retailer doesn’t have direct connections with a brand, they can plug into Microsoft Advertising to make those a bit more turnkey.”

Why we care. “In last few years, vendor marketing has switched to a must-have,” said Sherman. And many retailers like Walmart, for example, have been moving this business in-house. Microsoft can now offer retailers a customizable, enterprise-level solution that they can manage without having to build out and support proprietary tech — and will natively integrate with other Microsoft solutions.

This also fits with Microsoft’s differentiated positioning from Google and Amazon as retailers’ partner rather than competitor.

Microsoft Bing for Commerce. When on-site search on retailer websites doesn’t give consumers what they’re looking for, it can drive up abandonment rates and hurt conversions. Microsoft Bing for Commerce uses Bing intelligence and Microsoft AI informed by “insights from millions of shoppers” to power customized product recommendations on retailer sites.

It is available in public preview for large retailers as a stand-alone offering and will be available soon as part of Dynamics 365 Commerce.

Don’t miss the two-day Digital Commerce Marketing track at SMX West in San Jose, CA, Feb. 19 and 20.

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Conductor launches SEO services marketplace for Searchlight users /conductor-launches-seo-services-marketplace-for-searchlight-users-327374 Thu, 09 Jan 2020 19:52:43 +0000 /?p=327374 Marketers can request analyses, content briefs and more directly through the interface.

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SEO technology firm Conductor is out with a new marketplace in its Searchlight platform. Agency and corporate customers can request managed services directly within the platform interface. The goal is to help alleviate some of the work for SEOs and make SEO tasks more accessible for marketers juggling SEO as just one of the channels they’re tasked with running.

Marketplace. With the new Marketplace solution, marketers can request analyses, educational materials, content briefs and more from Conductor’s team of success managers. “This is a way to streamline a lot of the grunt work of SEO and also make it more accessible to those without an SEO background,” Conductor VP of Digital Strategies, Patrick Reinhart said by phone Thursday. Conductor has more than 60 SEO specialists trained on the platform who are also available to help customers with SEO strategies.

The service is built into Conductor’s existing pricing structure. Silver-level customers can make up to four Marketplace requests in a month; Gold-level can make eight, and so on.

Why we care. This kind of managed SaaS functionality can help SEOs and marketers get more from the platform they’re already paying for while reducing friction in the request process. “Marketplace is way to get things done and execute on the work,” explained Reinhart, “This is us getting into people’s workflows without them having to send an email or phone request.”

This is the first significant new offering from the company since it became employee-owned after nearly two-years under WeWork.

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Standard text ads will live on a bit longer, Microsoft Advertising says /standard-text-ads-will-live-on-a-bit-longer-microsoft-advertising-says-327215 Mon, 06 Jan 2020 18:33:59 +0000 /?p=327215 The company announced a three-month reprieve for advertisers still holding on.

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Apparently, there are still quite a number of advertisers with active standard text ads in their Microsoft Advertising accounts. Their end date has been extended.

The change. Microsoft Advertising had said standard text ads would no longer serve after 2019. On Monday, the company announced existing standard text ads may continue to serve until March 31.

Why we should care. Advertisers have not been able to create or edit standard text ads in their accounts for two years. Some advertisers may not have touched their ads for two years while others may be running standard and expanded text ads (ETAs) against each other and still seeing strong results from those standard ads.

If you’re not running expanded text ads at all, it is time to start. Microsoft Advertising will eventually pull the plug on your standard text ads. You can import ETAs from Google Ads if you’re running campaigns. Microsoft Advertising has more information on migrating to ETAs here. (And you might as well start testing some responsive search ads while you’re at it.)

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Brands can now buy Walmart sponsored search ads via API partners /brands-can-now-buy-walmart-sponsored-search-ads-via-api-partners-327192 Fri, 03 Jan 2020 20:00:28 +0000 /?p=327192 Walmart Media Group named four initial advertising partners to support sponsored search campaigns.

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Walmart made another move in building out its e-commerce advertising offering Friday with the launch of Walmart Advertising Partners. The company named four initial ads API partners: Flywheel Digital, Kenshoo, Pacvue and Teikametrics.

Why we care

This signals a significant next step for Walmart Media Groups’ efforts to attract large manufacturer budgets. Companies that are already using one of those vendors to run Google Shopping or Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns, for example, will be able to switch on Walmart Sponsored Search campaigns with relative ease.

Like rival Amazon, Walmart Media Group offers advertising opportunities that reach people as they’re shopping and enables brands to target using its valuable online and offline shopper data. The selected partners’ specialties cut across search and marketplace advertising.

Join us for two information-packed days on digital commerce marketing at SMX West, February 19-20.

More on the news

  • Walmart Media Group, the company’s in-house agency arm, has been focused on establishing an advertising proposition for brands and retail manufacturers. (The company severed ties with its agency partner Triad in early 2019.)
  • Walmart Media Group acquired self-serve ad tech platform Polymorph in April and has integrated it into its existing ad targeting and measurement platform.
  • Walmart claims nearly 160 million people visit its stores and website weekly, with 90% of Americans shopping at Walmart annually.

This story first appeared on Marketing Land. For more on digital marketing, click here.

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