Good morning, Marketers, the first SMX conference of the year certainly set a high standard.
There’s a particular feeling you get when attending an industry conference; something along the lines of, “This is a lot of information. I hope I can make the most of it all. I NEED to ask that speaker a question after this session.” I felt those same feelings at SMX Report yesterday. Though, I was able to pull myself together and jot down a few outstanding quotes from our speakers. Check it out in the Heard at SMX section below.
There’s so much more beyond those takeaways, like the keynote from our own Carolyn Lyden, featured speaker Colleen Harris’ talk on using Google Analytics data to map digital strategy success, and more. If you’re interested, you can still catch the sessions on-demand by registering right here.
Check out some of our main takeaways from SMX Report
- “Striking distance really gives you a sense of . . . the current visibility of our site,” Brett Snyder said during his session on configuring SEO measurement tools and identifying issues to resolve, “Rather than just looking at a ranking or traffic report, this is one of the areas where we can start looking at these things together.” I loved this because identifying small opportunities can eventually mean big gains overall.
- “As a paid search marketer, you should know which competitors are always bidding on your terms, which competitors outbid you in each campaign, and which competitors have a better message/offer than you do,” Tamara Westman from Bounteous told us. She keeps these data points at the forefront of her mind to ensure she can answer client questions about competition at any time.
- “Often SEM and SEO teams work in silos and can create content targeting the same search queries. While not always the case, providing them a route (e.g., /lp/nike-shoes/) which is blocked in robots.txt to create landing pages will keep this content from competing with your SEO content.” This tip, courtesy of JR Oakes, speaks to the challenge of communicating effectively so you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.
- “Don’t be afraid to highlight things that happened to grow this campaign that were outside of your control. If you don’t, it can create a sense of distrust.” Miracle Inameti-Archibong is right. If market prices increased or there was another external factor, the truth can help you set proper expectations moving forward.
- “Pageviews and sessions are no longer the fundamental building block of analytics… the focus has shifted toward user and events,” Ken Williams said in his detailed walkthrough of Google Analytics 4. In legacy Google Analytics, sessions have been the main metric. In the new GA4, we’ll use an event-driven data model. So go dig in now!
- “Think of schema markup as a dataset and add it into your analytics in order to get business insights.” Martha Van Berkel was talking about using schema markup and analytics to identify, for example, which authors were attracting the most traffic and using that data to inform your decisions.
Advertisers have until February 2022 to adjust to Google’s new Partner Program requirements
Just over a year ago, Google raised the bar for its Partners program, doubling the 90-day spend threshold and requiring half of users with admin or standard access to pass relevant certification tests. Little did any of us know, the pandemic was right around the corner, and Google postponed the changes until 2021.
Now, the company is postponing once again to February 2022. It also integrated the following feedback from Partners:
- The 90-day spend threshold will remain at $10,000 across all of a partner’s managed accounts.
- Partners can either dismiss or apply recommendations to achieve a 70% optimization score.
- Advertisers can tell Google the number of account strategists in their agency, and at least 50% of account strategists (instead half of total users with admin access) will need to be certified in Google Ads.
Nearly a year after the pandemic first upended everything, we’re still dealing with it, so this announcement may provide some much needed breathing room.
Yelp’s Waitlist, analytics and POS updates aim to address shifting consumer preferences
Yesterday, Yelp expanded its Waitlist feature to support takeout as well as dine-in customers. Hosts can use Waitlist to input takeout orders, add supporting details and text customers when their food is ready, which can help everyone maintain social distance throughout the process.
The platform also rolled out enhanced analytics for multi-location restaurants. Metrics include number of customers seated, number of customers seated via Yelp, seating conversion rates (the percentage of Waitlist parties that were eventually seated) and wait time accuracy.
Guest profiles and a new POS integration facilitate front end operations by auto-filling customer info and updating hosts when a check is paid, but they also provide marketers who work for restaurants with data on the amount spent, what was ordered and who the server was. Yelp says these two features also support targeted marketing opportunities, but did not provide more details in its announcement.
Instead of attempting to reach parity with Google My Business, Yelp’s latest features update seeks to differentiate by pulling it into a SaaS-like direction, while bolstering the platform’s revenue stream outside of advertising. I think businesses that compete with Google, such as online travel agencies or other search engines, need to add values in ways that Google can’t. But then again, they’re probably doing just that; it’s just harder to generate awareness when you’re constantly in Google’s shadow — perhaps Yelp’s growing list of SaaS features will help it step out of that shadow.
Down for everyone or just me? Google Ads Manager outage yesterday
Google Ads saw a short outage yesterday. According to the Status Dashboard, the platform was experiencing issues beginning Monday. Search marketers convened on Twitter to make sure it wasn’t just them. Some were eventually able to log in, but were met with the notification, “You do not have any Google Ads accounts. Would you like to create a new one?” Sure to make any PPC professional’s heart jump to their throat! The issue was resolved just before 4pm yesterday, but it caused quite a few nervous tweets–and some jokingly speculating if it was related to the new Partner Program update.
Google algorithm update, shards, mobile-first indexing and redirects
Weekend Google ranking update. Since the weekend, some in the SEO industry have been noticing ranking fluctuations in Google Search. This is not a confirmed update and the chatter and signs are not as strong as most of these updates but there may have been a Google search ranking update rolling out since the weekend.
Serving index and shards. In the latest Search Off the Record podcast episode from Google, Gary Illyes spoke about Google’s serving index in somewhat detail. It gives you a fundamental understanding on how Google surfaces what you see in the search results, there is also some talk of shards, not sharks.
Mobile first indexing March deadline. As the deadline approaches for the mobile-first indexing switch over this coming March, we are getting ready for the switch over for the sites not yet moved over. But don’t think it will all happen on one specific day. John Mueller of Google said on Twitter “that’s approximately the target. We don’t have a critical reason to reach any particular cut-off date, so it could be that the remaining sites are a bit spread out, some earlier, some a little bit later.”
Too many redirects. Google does not have a penalty for having too many redirects, said Google’s John Mueller.