Welcome to the Weekly SEM Rundown, where I recap the past week’s major SEM news and provide insights.

The news for each week is broken up between:

SEO (search engine optimization)

Manual Actions not currently displaying in Google Search Console.
There is currently an error in Google Search Console that is preventing Manual Actions from being displayed. Sites receiving manual actions will still receive notice in the Google Search Console messages and in their email, but won’t see the manual action in the Manual Actions section. Unfortunately, this error is halting sites with approved reconsideration requests from being reindexed. John Mueller tweeted that the error was in the process of being corrected.

Manual Action Error in Google Search Console


Google Tag Manager now supports AMP.
Google announced that their Tag Manager now supports AMP pages. The AMP containers in Tag Manager also provide support across Google’s ad platforms. This includes Adwords and DoubleClick. Google Tag Manager received an update in its integration with Firebase. Mobile app containers can now tap into events that Firebase detects automatically.

Google Search Console AMP filter only shows Top Stories.
If you are tracking search analytics information for your AMP pages, John Mueller tweeted an important note. The AMP filter in the Google Search Console Search Analytics report only counts AMP pages in the Top Stories section. This means that any AMP pages that you now have showing in the core mobile results will not counted in the analytics report. Hopefully, Google will adjust this sometime soon.

Amp Tracking in Google Search Console


Google posts consumer data and advice for advertising in the Holidays.
Google has declared this holiday season the “Year of the Supershopper” in their new post. They also included some helpful consumer information for marketers prepping for the holidays. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  1. Last year, 50 percent of shoppers said they were open to purchasing from new retailers and 76 percent of mobile shoppers searching on Google changed their mind about which retailer or brand to purchase from. Brand Loyalty is continually diminishing.
  2. 64 percent of smartphone shoppers use mobile search to look for ideas of what to buy before going to a store. Users not only find new products but new brands to purchase from.
    3. Holiday searchers are looking for the best gifts that are both unique and cool. Last holiday mobile searches for “best gift” grew over 70 percent. Searches related to “unique gifts” grew 65 percent and searches related to “cool gifts” grew by 80 percent.
  3. Mobile searchers generally end up in store looking for what they searched. 76 percent of people who search for something nearby on their phone visit a related businesses within a day, and 28 percent of those visits result in purchase.
  4. Online conversion rates are consistently high throughout the holiday season and spike by 30 percent on Black Friday and 50 percent on Cyber Monday.

Google Stat Year of the Shopper


Google adds Surveys 360 to the Analytics 360 Suite.
Google has split its four-year-old Google Consumer Surveys into a new enterprise-level version in the Analytics 360 suite, and the current consumer-level surveys which has been renamed “Google Surveys”. The new Google Surveys 360 is all about speed as it lets marketers create a survey, find a specific audience sample, and generate statistically significant results in just a few days. You can find the new 360 tool here. The consumer-level Google Surveys is Google’s cheaper pay-as-you-go product. Google Surveys will see a design overhaul that will roll out over the coming months.

Yahoo posts better than expected earnings report.
Last Tuesday Yahoo posted its earnings report which included a total revenue of $1.305 billion, higher than the expected $1.3 billion. This is good news for Yahoo which is trying to close its $4.8 billion acquisition deal with Verizon, scheduled for Q1 of next year. In the report Yahoo highlighted its MaVeNS (mobile, video, native and social) ads, which saw a 24 percent increase to $524 million. However, Yahoo also had drops in other areas. Paid clicks were down by 22 percent compared to Q3 last year and Display ads were down by 5 percent. Some analysts had expected larger drops.

Bing improves its search results for radio stations.
Bing recently partnered with TuneIn to help users find online radio stations and where to stream them. Users searching for “online radio stations” in Bing will receive a carousel of links to streams of popular radio stations. Searchers who click on results will need to install the TuneIn app if searching from a mobile device. Bing says that this is just the first step into search for streamable radio stations. They justify the investment by pointing out that 93 percent of adults listen to radio every week.

Bing Radio Carousel


Google displaying Featured Snippets for site: searches
Google is now displaying featured snippets when users use the site: search function. Previously, Google was only displaying featured snippets for general search queries. Though a featured snippet displays with site: search, this does not mean that the featured snippet will display in the main search. However, this could be a useful tool for webmasters to see what their potential featured snippets look like.

Google launches a lot of algo updates at the end of the quarter.
During a conversation in a Google Webmaster Office Hours, John Mueller noted that Google teams try and complete project by the end of the quarter. This results in several algorithm updates being launched near the end of quarters.

Google prefers JSON-LD structured markup.
In response to a question during Google Webmaster Office Hours, John Mueller said that Google currently slightly prefers JSON-LD. In the future, Google may strongly recommend this format. John did go on to say that websites currently using microformats or anything else do not need to make the switch to JSON-LD. So if your schema markup is currently showing up in Google without issue, no need to switch for now.

Google has a bunch of original source detection algorithms.
John Mueller responded to a question about original content detection by stating that Google has a “bunch” of algorithms dedicated to content source detection. However, he also said that sites that steal your content and then add to it can potentially outrank your site, because of the higher relevancy score, due to the additional content. I am not so sure how reliable Google’s “bunch” of algorithms are in original source detection.

Sitewide or Blogroll links not necessarily bad.
John Mueller responded to a question regarding site wide links, specifically in blogrolls. He explained that links to your site from blogrolls or other site-wide links are not necessarily poor links and their removal or disavowal is not always necessary. Be careful when performing a link audit that you do not cut too deeply, even on site-wide links.

Exit Interstitials won’t be penalized by Google.
John Mueller explained, during a recent Webmaster Office Hours, that sites using exit interstitials will not lose their mobile-friendly boost in the upcoming Google Interstitial penalty. However, exit interstitials have become notoriously spammy and are considered poor user experience.  

Keep 301 Redirects up for at least a year.
During a Webmaster Office Hours, John Mueller explained that 301 redirects should remain up for at least a year, preferably longer. For webmasters who need to remove the old 301 redirects they should first check if there is any traffic coming from the old domain. If there is, check if you can update the old links to the new domain URL, by reaching out to webmasters with the links pointing to the old URL. If you are unable to update the backlinks or keep your 301s long-term, it could result in Google not crawling old backlinks and treating your new domain like a new site.

Hackers hiding their URL with AMP.
Because AMP pages are hosted by Google itself, hackers can disguise their URL. This prevents users from identifying a hacker site from the unusual URL they often use. If you receive suspicious emails or see odd links on a webpage, be wary, even if the URL has the google AMP TLD.

AMP Hackers


PPC (pay-per-click) ADVERTISING

Bing rolls out Expanded Text Ads globally.
Bing’s beta of Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) has ended and the format is now rolled out globally. Advertisers can create ETAs in the Bing Ad Editor, the Bing Ads UI or through the Bing Ads API. Bing added recommendations to their announcement which include running variations of Expanded Text Ads, taking advantage of the additional ad copy space, and reusing existing campaigns and ad groups to maintain current ad extensions.

Bing updates its campaign creation process.
Bing’s updated campaign creation process makes it easier for advertisers to set up their campaigns. More options are made available in setup and performance estimates are provided to advertisers during the process. Bing now also allows advertisers to copy the the settings from an existing campaign. The improved workflow is live and Bing is looking for feedback in its forum or on Twitter.

Copy Campaign Setting in Bing Ads


Forecasting and trend data added to existing keywords in Google Keyword Planner.
Within the Keyword Planner Google has added an option for getting “forecasts for campaigns or keywords from your account”. The new addition provides performance forecasting and search volume trends when advertisers import their existing account. Advertisers can also see how bid changes can potentially affect the performance of their keywords or campaigns. There is a quality indicator displayed that is based on the data available in the account. Search volume trends show overall average monthly searches and can be broken out by device and location. Advertisers can also see forecasts for additional keywords or mixtures of new and old keywords.

Adwords rolls out Affiliate Location Extensions.
Google announced that they have pushed live their new Affiliate Location Extensions. These extensions can be used by manufacturers to guide customers to third-party retail locations that carry their products. Google has posted a help document on getting the extensions setup.

Adwords Locations Affiliations Extensions


Google showing all shared reports in Adwords by default.
Google announced that all shared reports within the reporting section under an account will be shown to all users by default. Users in the Reports tab will be able to see all reports created by other account users, in addition to their own reports. There is a checkbox for users to “Show my reports only” in the top right of their Reports tab.

Google Adwords Report Sharing


IAB Tech Lab releases standard for dynamic content ads for comment.
The IAB Tech Lab has developed a standard for dynamic content ads and has now released it for public comment. The schema standard works to improve the relevancy of ads, creating numerous ad variations customized to the viewer’s location, gender, language and weather. The new standard functions across different devices and screen sizes and in several ad types including: display, audio, native, video and social. Public comments on the schema can be sent up till November 28, 2016 at dynamiccontentads@iab.com.  Comments will be used in making revisions to the markup before its final release.


Google tests ‘Write a Review’ in Local Knowledge Panel.
Google is testing a ‘Write a Review’ call to action inside the Local Knowledge Panel. The call to action only displays in mobile when users have reached the Local Knowledge Panel after clicking through a 3-pack.

Google Updates UX of Maps.
Google has updated the functionality of their map results. Users in maps will notice that the local results on the left of the page update dynamically as the user moves around the map with the mouse cursor. The dynamic updates also occur on the next button click. The functionality can be turned off by unchecking the option on the bottom left of the page: “Update results when map moves”.


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