Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, what solutions dominate your search marketing toolkit these days?
As we celebrate the recent launch of our Enterprise Marketing Attribution and Predictive Analytics Martech Intelligence Report (MIR) I’ve been thinking deeply about effectiveness data. I find it fascinating that our industry continues to raise the bar in terms of what is possible to measure, innovating past hurdles like new privacy regulations and the deprecation of cookies. It’s one of the things that most energizes me about working in this space — it never stands still.
And speaking of not standing still, this is the first newsletter issue that embodies our new Tuesday focus — research. Each week, I’ll aggregate important and insightful research we’ve recently come across, and we’ll also do a bit of original research ourselves, asking our audience for their perspectives on subjects challenging the industry — from strategic thinking to today’s best practices. We’ll gather what you say and then share the results so we can all learn from one another — we hope you’ll participate and that you’ll find the conclusions valuable in your day-to-day work.
This week, we ask that you share how your search marketing stack has changed in 2021. We’re so curious how the events of 2020 have impacted your workflows.
Read on for more data on how searchers’ devices impact their likelihood of clicking on the first result, and for a look at trends in the call analytics space.
Video with Steve Marin and Barry Schwartz on SEO & Content
Barry Schwartz spoke with Steve Marin of Spark PPC about a slew of search marketing topics. This video was recorded a few months ago but covers topics on SEO, content development, how to help your clients write better content and how to come up with the right structure for your pages of content.
They also spoke about ranking for keywords to fill your ego needs and to prove a professional point. They ended their talk about the importance of proving your search marketing campaign assumptions with real hard data.
Telephone calls emerge as critically important in pandemic
Even before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted American lives and businesses, the telephone — particularly the smartphone — had become an integral part of the consumer purchase journey. More than 170 billion inbound mobile calls to U.S. businesses were forecast in 2020, according to BIA Advisory Services.
When faced with the worst public health crisis in more than a century, U.S. consumers used the telephone more than ever before. During the first half of 2020, Google My Business recorded a 61% jump in consumer calls, from inquiries about open hours to arrangements for curbside pickups. For the 12 months ending June 2020, call volume increased 35% and continues to track 27% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
New perspectives on the eternal question
Savvy search advertisers are continuously optimizing their campaigns to achieve the best results for the lowest spend, and new research published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) sheds light on the importance of one critical factor: the device upon which the ad is displayed. The study concludes that the device people are using when searching significantly influences whether they’re more likely to click on the first result or scroll further down — at least where non-branded queries are concerned.
Users on tablets or smartphones were more likely than those on desktops to click on the first result for unbranded queries. When tablets and smartphones were compared, interestingly, people using tablets were most likely to click on the top result for unbranded searches, which would seem to confound an interpretation that smaller devices = more reliance on the top results. For branded searches, the lure of the top result held steady when it came to tablet users, but there wasn’t a significant difference between desktop and smartphone users.
Why we care. The results add weight to what’s become a best practice for search engine advertisers — to use bid customizers and even break out devices into separate campaigns, so you can tailor placements to the characteristics of those users. For example, you could compete aggressively for the top spot in campaigns running on tablets and for non-branded campaigns running on smartphones.
The study’s authors, Chongyu Lu of Pace University and Rex Yuxing Du of the University of Houston, analyzed more than 20 million ad impressions from 13 different advertisers across a variety of industries.
Pinterest powers up creators during stressful times
In addition to helping its audience navigate a stressful time, Pinterest has also taken steps to grow and strengthen its community. Often, they have done so to distinguish themselves from other platforms like Instagram or YouTube, instead of following standard social media practice. On Pinterest, there is following and sharing, but for years they’ve emphatically denied that they are social media. They define themselves as visual discovery.
What they call themselves isn’t as important as what they help members of their community do. And this is important for marketers because last summer Pinterest topped 400 million monthly active users. It’s growing among millennials and Gen Zers, including a 50% boost year-over-year for men on the platform.
Strengthening Pinterest’s creator base powers the entire community and makes it even more valuable to brands. The moves Pinterest is making in this direction show how users and their preferences have changed.
At the end of September, Pinterest introduced Story Pins, the ability for creators to tell multi-page stories. This beta version also included a new creator profile and analytics tools to track performance. Pinterest is also giving creators access to analytics across the community through its trends tool.
At the heart the new Story Pins format is a wager against how other digital stories are told. For instance, the stories on Instagram expire after 24 hours. On Pinterest, they stay where they are. This feature leverages the evergreen value in Pinterest content, allowing Pinners to discover and rediscover what might have been overlooked in the past.
How to identify your products for Google
Making it easier for search engines and marketplaces to identify your products will also make it easier for your audience to find and, potentially, buy them. To that end, Google has published a list of best practices for manufacturers, retailers and publishers about how it identifies products and what they should do to ensure that Google understands what product is being referenced.
The most important, and repeated, piece of advice is to use the right Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Recycling or inventing GTINs can cause marketplace catalog data to become inconsistent and create confusion. Additionally, retailers and content creators should apply structured data whenever possible (including the GTIN); retailers should also submit structured data to Google via their product feeds. To some, this may sound like obvious stuff, but it’s important enough for Google to publish an entire post about, so make sure that your product data is accurate — sales could be depending on it.
Weekend Google search ranking update – unconfirmed.
Weekend Google search update. It has been turbulent times in February 2021 when it comes to unconfirmed Google ranking updates. This past weekend, to round out the month of February, there were signs of another Google Search ranking update – again, unconfirmed.
Add Return Policies to your Shopping Ads. Google is really doubling down on trying to make returns as clear as possible on Shopping Ads, says Duane Brown. “Google may show your policy information to help customers with their purchase decisions,” the screenshot says.
Be different with SEO. John Mueller of Google said on Twitter “the beauty of SEO (and lots of roles) is that people can have an impact in so many different ways. Sometimes, doing something different – *not* doing what others are doing – is the best way to have an impact. Try to make your case by the effect, not just through actions.”