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Hidden Google tool reveals GA4 and Google Ads discrepancies

Thursday, July 11th, 2024

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) contains a concealed report that allows users to compare conversions exported to Google Ads and explains discrepancies between the platforms.

Why we care. This hidden feature provides advertisers with a valuable tool to reconcile differences in conversion data, potentially improving campaign accuracy and performance.

How to access:

  1. Start with your standard GA4 property URL
  2. Append “/advertising/key-event-differences” to the URL
  3. The full URL should resemble: “https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/#/p153293282/advertising/key-event-differences

First seen. We first came across this from Brais Calvo Vázquez’s LinkedIn who showed us the shortcut that allows us to see this report:

Yes, but. The report isn’t accessible for all GA4 properties.

Between the lines. The renaming of “conversions” to “key events” in GA4 was meant to eliminate discrepancies with Google Ads. The report‘s hidden status may be due to its potential contradiction of this goal.

The big picture. Some users report seeing this feature for over a year, suggesting extended development or testing.

What to watch. Whether Google will officially release this tool or continue to keep it hidden, given its usefulness to marketers in reconciling data inconsistencies.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Amazon expands ad offerings for non-Amazon sellers

Thursday, July 11th, 2024

Amazon rolled out a new beta feature for businesses that don’t sell products on its platform, allowing them to generate leads through display ads across Amazon’s vast network.

Why we care. Amazon’s new lead generation ad type gives advertisers the opportunity to expand their customer base and tap into Amazon’s data-rich environment, even if they don’t sell products on the platform.

How it works. The new lead generation ads allow customers to sign up for information directly within the ad creative, without leaving the website they’re browsing.

First seen. We first were alerted to this update by Jeffrey Cohen on LinkedIn:

Amazon lead Gen

What came before. Amazon began exploring solutions for non sellers last year. Search Engine Land contributor Navah Hopkins, who wrote about the beta solution, confirmed that it’s now available for everyone and that before now customers weren’t able to fill out a lead form.

The big picture. Amazon is leveraging its extensive network and billions of user signals to help non-Amazon sellers engage with potential customers.

What’s next. Interested businesses can contact their Amazon Ads Product Development Manager (PDM) for details on accessing this beta feature through the Ad console.

Between the lines. This move signals Amazon’s push to compete more aggressively in the broader digital advertising space, beyond its own ecommerce platform.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Google AI Overviews only show for 7% of queries, a new low

Thursday, July 11th, 2024

Google’s AI Overviews now appear less than 7% of the time. This is one of 10 noteworthy findings from a new analysis of AI Overviews.

This data was shared with Search Engine Land by enterprise SEO platform BrightEdge and its BrightEdge Generative Parser, which has been tracking and monitoring AI Overviews (and formerly Search Generative Experience) since late last year.

AI Overviews drop. Google continued to reduce the presence of AI Overviews in June – dropping from 11% to 7% of queries, according to BrightEdge. However, there was also a slight increase in AI Overviews in mid-June before the big drop.

Here’s a screenshot showing the drop:

Education, entertainment, ecommerce. The presence of AI Overviews remained stable in many industries – but these three were not among them.

AI Overviews real estate shrinks. AI Overviews take up less pixel space on top of Google’s search results than ever. They are now 13% smaller, on average, according to BrightEdge.

Less duplication in AI, Classic search results. Google is less frequently citing the same sources in AI Overviews that appear in Classic Search. This is because Google is leaning into its concept of “Let Google do the searching for you” where Google brings in information that anticipates relevant follow-up queries.

Search query patterns. Search intent plays a role in whether AI Overviews appear:

UGC loses visibility in AI Overviews. Reddit and Quora lost a staggering number of AI Overviews citations – 85.71% and 99.69%, respectively, in June. Google must have recognized that these popular user-generated sites are unreliable sources of trustworthy information (at least for AI Overviews).

Less comparisons. Google cut in half the number of product comparison tables it showed in AI Overviews. This decline started June 1.

Less product viewers and carousels. Product viewers and carousels are two AI Overviews features that appear “significantly less” often in AI Overviews, BrightEdge reported. This decrease also started in early June.

Less lists. Ordered and unordered lists, which at one time were the most common SGE module, now appear “less often,” according to BrightEdge. This could be related to Google attempting to reduce the amount of space AI Overviews occupy.

More financial warnings. Google increased the number of financial warnings by 10% in June. Google already had a similar warning for healthcare queries.

Why we care. AI Overviews continue to be an area of extreme interest for SEOs, publishers and content creators because the search feature upends the traditional model of Classic Search. Since the arrival of SGE and AI Overviews, there have been huge concerns about Google making it harder or near impossible for some websites to get organic search traffic.

Even though AI Overviews are less visible overall, we don’t expect AI Overviews to go away. Google has told us it will continue to evolve in this direction and that it is resulting in more searches. Though Google has yet to share any data to back up this vague claim.

The report. BrightEdge continues to monitor and share updates as part of its AI Overviews guide.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Target audiences precisely to maximize reach and reduce spend by Edna Chavira

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

Save your spot today!

Save your spot today!

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This isn’t a dream. It’s Connected TV (CTV) advertising. Picture television’s massive reach, sharpened to a digital marketing laser.

Join MNTN for Everything You Need to Know About CTV Audience Targeting (in under 60 minutes) as they discuss everything there is to know about Connected TV audience targeting. They’ll explore time-tested targeting strategies and groundbreaking new tools that give you unprecedented control. You’ll learn the art of reaching the right people at the right time, maximizing television’s unmatched power.

Ready to dive in? Secure your spot!

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Amazon expands Sponsored TV ads to UK, mirroring U.S. success

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

Amazon is rolling out its Sponsored TV ads in the UK, currently in beta, following a successful launch in the U.S. market.

Why we care. This move opens new advertising opportunities for brands on popular streaming platforms like Freevee and Twitch, leveraging Amazon’s extensive data for targeted ad delivery.

The details.

Amazon connected TV

Between the lines. Amazon’s first-party shopping and streaming data allows for precise targeting, potentially increasing ad effectiveness.

Exceptions. Brands must review Amazon’s guidelines and acceptance policies before launching campaigns, as certain product categories are restricted.

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The big picture. This expansion reflects Amazon’s growing influence in digital advertising, challenging traditional TV ad models.

What to watch. How UK brands adapt to this new advertising avenue and whether it will impact their overall marketing strategies.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Internal linking for bloggers: 9 mistakes to fix immediately

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

9 mistakes to fix immediately

Internal linking is one of the most under-utilized arrows in the quiver of a site owner.

Although inbound link building gets all the press, it’s the correct use of internal linking that can really move a site algorithmically when done strategically.

Google has been vocal about the importance of Internal linking for years. 

Google’s John Mueller touched on this specifically in this Office Hours Hangout from 2022, calling internal linking “super critical for SEO success.”

As a site auditor who routinely touches multiple sites daily and hundreds of sites annually, I know first-hand how important internal linking is for site recovery and improvement.

In my experience, fixing these specific internal linking mistakes results in stronger sites, easier indexing by Google and higher rankings.

How many of these mistakes are you making?

Mistake 1: Non-descriptive anchor texts

One of the simplest things to understand about internal linking is the following: we link by what we want to rank for. 

Do you want to rank for “banana cream pie” and then use that anchor text or these close variations:

And yet, routinely, a link scan of a client site may result in large numbers of non-descriptive anchor texts like the following:

When possible, be descriptive with internal linking. Use anchor texts that accurately describe to the user and Google what exactly you’re trying to index and rank.

Not only is this good SEO, but it’s also a sound accessibility practice.

Nothing annoys someone using a screen reader more than hitting non-descriptive anchor texts that fail to communicate where the user is being sent via a click-through.

Mistake 2: Anchor text cannibalization

We know that having clear, descriptive anchor texts is important to users and Google. But what happens when you use identical anchor texts on multiple posts or pages?

Let’s say you have four different chocolate chip cookie recipes and used the anchor text “chocolate chip cookies” on all of them.

Congratulations! You have basically guaranteed none of them will rank as competitively as possible for “chocolate chip cookies” and, most probably, won’t rank at all.

This is where the concept of internal linking cannibalization comes into play.

Google routinely limits which results from a site rank for specific queries. This search diversity limit prevents any site from dominating the SERPs for the same target queries.

Fixing this, though, is not difficult.

Sticking with the “chocolate chip cookies” example, focus on differentiating the internal links by varying the anchor texts.

Maybe one of the recipes is an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, the other is a double chocolate chip cookie recipe, and still another is a chocolate chip cookie with brown sugar recipe.

By working methodically to map and differentiate internal links and corresponding anchor texts to prevent shared anchor text cannibalization, all these recipes can rank and rank competitively.

Mistake 3: Footer link spamming

It’s a known fact in SEO that all links are not created equal.

In-content links, sidebar links, footer links, etc., all count as links, but some are more important than others.

A good rule of thumb is this: a link that is clicked is always more powerful than a link that is not.

In the vast majority of cases, footer links are seldom clicked and don’t send much traffic. 

Footer links are best used to publicize About and Contact pages, links to main category pages, links to copyright and accessibility policies and links to social media and location-specific information.

Unfortunately, spamming footers is a recent trend that has gained steam by publishers using blog support companies who are struggling to recover their sites from recent HCU, Core and Spam Update hits.

If you encounter a footer stuffed with anchor text-rich links to posts and pages, it’s probably because the publisher was incorrectly advised that footer links are a great way to increase authority sitewide.

The truth about footer links, though, is clear: they look spammy and do not remotely send a positive signal to Google.

Bottom line: Only place links in the footer that users will expect to see. That seldom will be anchor text rich text in multiple columns.

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Mistake 4: Linking to noindexed content

In the early Wild Wild West days of digital marketing, we had a concept called PageRank sculpting.

The concept involved controlling the amount of link equity passed through pages on a site by selectively nofollowing links on those pages.

That practice, however, has not worked in over a decade. Instead, when Google crawls a page and notices that a link on a page is nofollow, those links are ignored for algorithmic purposes.

Think of those nofollow links as a black hole on the page that just sucks up the link equity and PageRank to nothingness. You can’t get it back.

As such, it’s important for internal link building and topical discoverability that we try not to link to noindexed content on a site.

Otherwise, we are wasting that internal link authority.

Mistake 5: Not fixing 404s and 503s

Nothing is more annoying to a user than visiting a page and hitting a 404 or 503.

If a user navigates through your site and repeatedly hits a 404, one thing is guaranteed: that user will not come back.

Although Google has said for years that 404s are not a sign of low quality, if the issue is widespread and systemic, 404s can absolutely hinder the flow of PageRank and link equity through your site content.

Fixing 404s and 503s is not difficult. Your SEO guide to finding and fixing broken internal links covers the issue in detail.

If you are a blogger, I recommend using the Broken Link Checker plugin or use tools like Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, Clarity or dozens of other options to crawl your site internally and fix these issues when they arise.

Mistake 6: Automating internal linking

The use of automation in SEO is all the rage these days. 

You can’t throw a rock and not hit an article that covers how just installing the correct plugin or using one specific AI tool is all you need to take your SEO to stunning new heights.

For example, if you are a WordPress blogger, the plugin Link Whisper is a very popular internal linking option. However, you cannot use it to automate your link building, or you will spam your own blog.

The paid version can be horrible in both the sheer volume of its suggested link targets and the less-than-descriptive ways it warns you to link within those targets.

In general, I’m against all automated internal linking for the following reasons:

Again, I’m all for working smarter, not harder. However, when it comes to internal linking, a slow and steady approach is always better than automation. I guarantee it.

Mistake 7: Internal permalink redirects

It’s not uncommon for sites that have existed for years to change their URLs at some point. 

Sometimes, those changes are simple, like slightly changing one URL to add or remove keywords. Other times, they’re more detailed, like removing dates from your URLs and changing your entire sitewide permalink structure.

Google has been clear for years that changing URLs should be avoided, especially if all you are doing is adding or removing keywords.

But one of the biggest reasons to avoid changing URLS is that this creates internal permalink redirects. These extra server hops can reduce the flow of PageRank through the site and even impact page speed at scale.

For example, links to https://example.com/2022/02/sample-url.htm can be redirected to https://example.com/sample-url/ and links from https://example.com/sample-url can be redirected to https://example.com/sample-url/.

The problem with the above is that most site owners fail to do a “find and replace” and remove all the old internal links (with the previous URL permutation) to the new URL internal links (without the previous URL permutation).

This can result in dozens, if not hundreds, of internal redirects, which can greatly reduce a site’s bottom-line quality.

To fix this, contact your host and have it scan your site to fix it at scale. You can also install a plugin like Search and Replace and do this yourself.

Mistake 8: Overlooking link placement 

Not every link is equal. 

It’s generally understood that an in-content link, higher on the page, is the most powerful form of link for SEO purposes.

Sure, you can have links on the sidebar, footer, in a links list, a breadcrumb, or as an image; all of those links have value. But the in-content link, placed higher on the page, is usually the winner.

Why is this the case?

Google crawls a page from the top to the bottom: first, the header, then the body, and everything else after that.

Google then renders the page and runs any JavaScript it finds at this time. This is also why it’s important not to have a ton of JavaScript on the page to slow things down, especially pushed-out client-side.

Further, as far back as 2016, Google has said that in-content links within the primary area of a page are always treated as more relevant than those in the header, menu, footer and sidebar.

For internal linking purposes, it’s always a good idea to link naturally from the top of the page to the bottom. But placement absolutely matters.

Mistake 9: Orphaned content pages

An orphaned content page is an internal page that has no incoming internal links.

Fixing orphaned content pages is the epitome of low-hanging fruit for any site owner looking to improve their topical discoverability with Google and their bottom-line SEO.

As a general rule, I recommend pages have a minimum of 3-5 unique incoming links from related content and in many cases, much more.

Finding and fixing orphaned content is not difficult. Orphaned content linking reports are built-in to most site auditing suites, including Semrush, Ahrefs, Sitebulb, Moz and more.

You can also use the Link Whisper plugin mentioned previously in this article. It has a simple ability to scan the entire site and then sort all your content by the number of incoming links.

Finally, you can use the Yoast plugin (premium required), the All-In-One SEO plugin or even RankMath (premium required), all of which have built-in tools to scan and surface orphaned content pages and posts.

High-quality internal linking is a confidence vote for you

My late good friend Bill Slawski used to talk a lot about link confidence

He was a big believer that internal linking done correctly was imperative for search engines to understand the relationship between links, entities and user satisfaction. 

This link confidence was necessary to rank your site and content competitively.

In the wake of relentless core, spam and HCU updates, along with the rise of AI Overviews, ranking a site effectively has never been more competitive than right now.

If you struggle to focus on where to put your SEO efforts in 2024, internal linking should be top-of-mind. Doing so helps you communicate your site more effectively to Google.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




TikTok ad spend growth slows amid ban talks

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

tiktok

TikTok’s advertising momentum is slowing as uncertainty over a potential U.S. ban looms.

By the numbers:

Between the lines. Advertisers are shifting their focus on TikTok from brand awareness to more performance-driven ROI goals.

Why we care. Despite the uncertainty that the potential ban brings and some slow growth, the platform still shows strong engagement metrics, which advertisers should keep considering in their media mix.

Stagnating numbers. TikTok’s user growth is stagnating, particularly among younger demographics.

The big picture. Despite concerns, advertisers still find value in TikTok’s massive user base and engagement rates.

What to watch. How advertisers and users respond to ongoing discussions about TikTok’s future in the U.S. market.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Search Engine Land Awards Early Bird rates expire this week… enter now!

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

Blue background with white Search Engine Land logo and a woman in a blue dress holding a trophy.

Your opportunity to earn industry-wide recognition, boost company morale, generate new business, and showcase your company’s outstanding achievements is here: Enter the 2024 Search Engine Land Awards now!

Early Bird rates expire at the end of this week… submit your application by Friday, July 12 at 11:59pm PT to save $200 off final rates (per entry!).

Join the esteemed ranks of past winners, including Tombras & Orangetheory Fitness for Best Integration of Search into Omnichannel Marketing, Wpromote and REEF for Agency of the Year – PPC, Amsive’s Erin Rooney Doland for Search Marketer of the Year, and many more. Check out the full list of 2023 winners here – and all of the available entry categories.

And last, but certainly not least, say hello to your 2024 Search Engine Land Awards judges!

Winners will be announced on October 21 in exclusive coverage on Search Engine Land – the industry publication of record. Don’t miss this opportunity to earn international recognition, boost company morale, generate new business, and showcase your company’s outstanding achievements.

Remember to get your application in by this Friday, July 12 at 11:59pm PT to save $200 off final rates (per entry). Begin your entry now!

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Google Ads makes broad match default for new search campaigns

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

6 steps to improve your Google Ads campaigns

Google Ads made broad match the default setting when creating new Search campaigns, a departure from its previous default of having broad match turned off.

Why it matters. This change could significantly impact campaign performance and budget spend if advertisers aren’t vigilant.

Key details:

Between the lines. This move aligns with Google’s push towards more automated, AI-driven campaign management, potentially simplifying campaign setup for novice advertisers.

Yes, but. Experienced advertisers may need to be more cautious when setting up new campaigns to avoid unintended broad targeting. With broad being the most inefficient of the match types, this just adds an extra layer of check advertisers will need to take into consideration when setting up their campaigns.

First seen. We first were alerted to this update by Thomas Eccel on LinkedIn

What to watch. How this change affects campaign performance, especially for advertisers who prefer to start with more precise targeting using phrase or exact match.

Bottom line. Advertisers should double-check their match type settings when creating new Search campaigns to ensure they align with their intended strategy.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




Google pauses opioid painkiller policy update

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

Google indefinitely paused its planned Healthcare and medicines policy update that would have allowed certified advertisers to discuss opioid painkillers without promoting or selling them.

Why we care. This reversal affects advertisers in healthcare, public policy and addiction treatment sectors who were preparing for new advertising possibilities.

Key details:

What they’re saying. Google stated:

Between the lines. The implementation challenges hint at potential complexities in verifying and monitoring certified advertisers.

The big picture. This policy shift and subsequent pause reflect the ongoing challenges in balancing public health discussions with responsible advertising practices.

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What’s next. Advertisers should continue to follow existing policies, which prohibit ads promoting or selling prescription opioid painkillers.

Bottom line. While the pause maintains the status quo, it also delays potential opportunities for legitimate discussions about opioid issues in advertising.

Courtesy of Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing




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