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Good morning, Marketers, and happy Monday!
It’s spring break week for many, so if you’re here we’re assuming you really love search marketing or maybe you’re enjoying a staycation. Feel free to put on your sunglasses and a floppy hat while you read if it helps make you feel a little more tropical.
To start the week, we’re talking about the intersection of automation and creativity–and how search marketing is the best of both. We’ve also got recommendations for those working for SMBs on how to best handle the dreaded 1-star, no-comment review (the bane of a local business’ review strategy). Plus, you’ll find ways to increase your ecommerce conversions (hint: turn that frown upside down), info on Google’s new dynamic exclusion lists for brand safety, and the latest jobs in search.
Director of Search Content
Automation isn’t about what machines can do for you, it’s about what you can do together
At SMX Create last week, we presented a keynote on how automation has changed the way we work and why it’s necessary to think of automation as an extension of our own capabilities.
This is especially important because new advancements are often accompanied by a loss of data, manual controls or an uncomfortable period of adaptation. Below is the framework of responsibilities they provided to help marketers take stock of their role in an increasingly automated industry:
- Chart a course. Before any automation can be applied, you must talk to stakeholders, set the campaign goal and determine what’s important to measure along the way.
- Fuel the machine. Ensure that you’re providing your tools with the right inputs — that will determine the quality of your automation’s outputs.
- Guide the campaign. Whether it’s due to a global pandemic, a competitor’s new strategy, a dramatic shift in audience priorities or just seasonality, marketers must know when to turn off or recalibrate their automated systems.
- Coordinate your data and efforts. Platforms aren’t going to talk to each other on your behalf. It’s still on you, as the marketer wielding the automation, to tie together data and information from disparate sources and create a cohesive journey for your customers.
One-star ratings on Google deemed not defamatory: Here’s why that’s a problem
We reported a while back on a case in Michigan where a law firm had a 1-star review left that had no text in it. The law firm claimed that the user posted the wordless one-star review to their Google My Business listing with the intent to cause damage to their reputation or profession and to dissuade potential clients from doing business with them.
The court decided that the review was free speech, even if the review was left by a competitor and even if it violated Google’s policy.
What does it mean for SMBs? One-star ratings with no text offer little value to customers since they provide absolutely no context to support the rating. They are also the most difficult type of negative review to get Google to remove. Since there is no text, there is often absolutely nothing you can point to that will convince Google that it violates their guidelines.
Why we care. It’s critical that local SEOs set reasonable expectations with the small businesses they assist. Having a solid review management strategy in place is crucial to make sure that you are prepared for if and when you have the unfortunate situation that involves dealing with a 1-star review without text.
Google Ads to roll out dynamic exclusion lists in coming weeks
In an effort to make it easier for brands to show near unwanted content, Google is rolling out dynamic exclusion lists. Google listened as advertisers provided feedback on how difficult and time consuming maintaining brand exclusions lists was becoming. So the solution is a dynamic option that makes sure these lists stay up to date.
Before this update, the “advertiser controls” options in Google Ads allowed search marketers to exclude certain websites, content types, and entire topics from campaigns. However, in the current form, many advertisers — and especially smaller businesses — were unable to keep up.
With the new solution, “advertisers and agencies can create their own exclusion lists or use lists from trusted third parties, such as brand safety organizations and industry groups, which can be updated seamlessly,” tweeted Ginny Marvin, ads product liaison.
Why we care. As content across the internet shifts and evolves, it’s critical that advertisers keep up with any exclusions they need to ensure their brands don’t show near content that doesn’t match their message. Dynamic exclusion lists can make it easier for your brand to do just that while requiring less of the advertiser’s time and attention ongoing.
In a year of negativity, doom and gloom didn’t convert
In a bid to emulate the negative tone of news coverage in 2020, marketers appeared to deviate from the standard practice of staying positive and upbeat in their messaging. The result? Increased use of negative language in marketing campaigns across industries killed conversions, according to data from Unbounce’s Conversion Benchmark Report.
“In ecommerce, online sellers significantly increased their use of all types of emotional language, but especially language considered negative — anger (+8.9%), fear (+6.0%) and sadness (+8.1%). The increase in negative language (words such as ‘angry’, ‘ruthless’ and ‘depressing’) was seen in several industry sectors and frequently correlated with a decrease in conversions.”
Why we care. If you thought empathetic messaging was working over the last year like we did, this data may surprise you. But maybe the challenge is recognizing people’s situation and concerns without couching that in negative terms.
On the hunt for something new in 2021? Here are the latest career opportunities in search
Paid Acquisition Manager @ Bench Accounting (remote)
- Scaling Bench’s paid marketing program (FB ads, Google Ads, and other PPC channels)
- Sourcing, testing, and evaluating new ad channels and technologies
VP of Marketing @ Apps Without Code (remote)
- Create and maintain a 12-month growth roadmap to hit our yearly goals
- Identify creative opportunities to grow & scale
Paid Marketing Manager, B2B @ Codeacademy (remote)
- Develop B2B paid marketing at Codecademy, leading channel testing and experimentation
- Acquire new business customers by building and scaling channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Native, Display, and Offline
SEO Success Manager @ Conductor (London, remote)
- Responsible for using the Searchlight platform to create reporting dashboards and SEO deliverables to help drive growth and value for Conductor customers
- Proactively create and drive SEO strategies to help reach customer goals and KPIs.
Google Earth, UGC, and Partner Program requirements
Time flies in Google Earth’s biggest update in years. In the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, you can now see our planet in an entirely new dimension — time. With Timelapse in Google Earth, 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been compiled into an interactive 4D experience.
How do you use user-generated content for an SEO campaign? “We discovered that the expert in topics like “how to support someone who’s going through a cancer journey” doesn’t necessarily need to be a doctor. It’s actually the people who go through it every day whether it’s themselves or they are experiencing it in the loved one’s life,” Search Engine Land Award winner Abby Reimer told us.
Advertisers have until February 2022 to adjust to Google’s new Partner Program requirements. The changes were initially slated to take place June 2020, but due to the pandemic will now go into effect beginning in February 2022. Catch up on the new requirements for the Partner Program.
Conversion modeling through Consent Mode in Google Ads
Google announced Consent Mode last year, a beta for advertisers in the UK and Europe which adjusts the behavior of Google’s analytics and advertising tags if a user does not consent to have that data collected. “This enables advertisers to respect user choice while helping them still capture some campaign insights,” wrote Henrique de Freitas, Product Manager at Google in a blog.
However the lack of cookies often means advertisers don’t have visibility into user paths on their sites and also can’t measure certain things. “Now, Consent Mode will enable conversion modeling to recover the attribution between ad-click events and conversions measured in Google Ads,” said the announcement.
The idea behind conversion modeling is to help fill in the data gaps as best as possible when cookie consent in various regions prevents data collection. “Conversion modeling uses machine learning to analyze observable data and historical trends, in order to quantify the relationship between consented and unconsented users. Then, using observable user journeys where users have consented to cookie usage, our models will fill in missing attribution paths.”
Early results from Google Ads have shown that, on average, conversion modeling through Consent Mode recovers more than 70% of ad-click-to-conversion journeys lost due to user cookie consent choices. These are early but promising results in another privacy initiative from Google Ads.