What will you find in March’s edition?
Google Change Core Web Vital Thresholds
Total Number of Backlinks Don’t Matter
Google Expands Phrase Match to Include Broad Match Modifier (BMM) Traffic
Google Ads: Responsive Search Ads Are Now the Default
Google Updates Attribution Reports
Google Removing Showcase Shopping Ads on 1st April
New content to get stuck into
Getting creative & client wins: Wines with Stories
Google announced that the thresholds for the ‘good’ ‘needs improvement’ and ‘poor’ ratings for LCP (largest contentful paint), FID (first input delay) and CLS (cumulative layout shift) in search console would be changing.
Taking FCP (first contentful paint) as an example; previously for a URL to be considered ‘good’, it would need to be under the 2.5 second mark. With the new thresholds, it could be 2.5 seconds or less (this is true of the other three metrics). This will mean that sites which had URLs which were on the borderline of being considered ‘good’ for any of the three metrics may now pass.
Koozai Tip: Check your Core Web Vitals scores in Search Console regularly so you can stay on top of any URLs classed as poor or needing improvement.
In an Office Hours Hangout on 19th February Google’s John Mueller said that the total number of backlinks a site has ‘doesn’t matter’. Mueller made it abundantly clear that quantity of links is irrelevant and that what matters is in fact the relevance of each link:
“We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all”.
Koozai Tip: This shouldn’t be news to most SEOs; quality and relevance should already be the focus when it comes to acquiring links.
In the 25th February Office Hours Hangout, John Mueller spoke about 404s, stating that if 30-40% of URLs in Search Console are 404s, it’s not an issue.
Mueller said that URLs will still be crawled periodically by Google, even if they’re several years old, and have been returning a 404-status code for all that time. He also said it’s fine to simply ignore these URLs.
He said the only issue that may arise with 404s is if the homepage of a site returns a 404;
“The only time where I think 404s would start to look like something problematic for us is when the home page starts returning 404s. Then that might be a situation where we go: “oh, I don’t know if this site is actually still up”.
Koozai Tip: While 404s aren’t inherently ‘bad’, it does make sense not to internally link to 404 pages or have them in the XML Sitemap. If you have any 404 pages that have external links, it can pay to redirect them to the next most relevant page so you can benefit from those links.
In a recent update by Google, they announced that they’ll be consolidating BMM and phrase match keywords, with the former being phased out completely by July. But the return of phrase match is not as we once knew it as the new phrase match V2 will encompass some of the searches that would have otherwise triggered our BMM keywords to show.
The change will be rolling out in the next few weeks, but thankfully we won’t need to change anything in our account as both phrase and BMM keywords will automatically switch over to the new match type. To find out more about the removal of BMM keywords, head over to our blog post.
On the face of it, this is a big update. However, in reality, not much is changing. It’s more of a change in approach rather than a complete change of strategy. For years, the preferred structure of accounts has been to have exact and BMM match types. However, this will now pivot to exact and phrase match, although the new phrase match keywords will trigger some queries outside of phrase match’s remit. This hints at more control from Google as they’ll use their machine learning and ‘choose’ which search terms are and aren’t relevant and when our ads will show for these ‘BMM queries’. We should still be adding top performing search terms as exact match keywords and continue to exclude irrelevant searches, those that we can see through our search query reports.
There’s been another big change in Google Ads, with responsive search ads (RSAs) now being the default ad format for search campaigns, though expanded text ads (ETAs) can still be created.
We’re now looking at further machine learning, so where RSAs allow advertisers to input multiple headlines and ad copy variations, Google Ads will now use AI to determine which variations are the best to use. It will do this by comparing the different variation to what people are searching for, before testing the variations to see which combinations perform best. You’ll be able to look at and understand how to improve RSAs through the Ad strength score. Find out more about this change on Search Engine Land’s post.
As the article states, some companies have stringent approvals processes, therefore getting multiple headlines and descriptions signed off can be a tricky task. However, we can still create ETAs, it’s just that RSAs are the default. That’s not to say that this won’t change in the future though. Perhaps this is the first step for ETAs to be phased out.
“Google has added Display ads to its Google Ads attribution reporting as an open beta. Last year, the company streamlined its attribution reporting and included YouTube ads to it, also in beta. Eligible advertisers can opt-in to Display ads in attribution reports by going to the Measurement > Attribution section of Google Ads. After opting in, Display ads will be shown in all attribution reports, along with search ads (including Shopping), and, if they have opted into it, YouTube ads.” Read more at Search Engine Land.
Display campaigns are typically used for awareness and don’t have the best last click conversion rate. Because of this, it’s sometimes difficult to prove the worth of display campaigns and truly understand how they are performing. Thanks to this update to Google’s attribution reports, we can see if our display campaigns play a part in the conversion path and make better decisions on what to invest.
A quick one to wrap up our Paid Media updates for you. As of 1st April, Google be removing showcase shopping ad groups so they will no longer be served. Advertisers will still have access to performance data for removed ads and ad groups in their account reports but will be unable to create any new ones.
Showcase shopping ads have predominantly been used for top of funnel, generic searches. The idea behind them is for brands to ‘showcase’ a selection of relevant products to give the user an idea of the types of products that they sell. For example, when a user searches for ‘bedroom furniture’, it isn’t clear if they want beds, wardrobes, drawers, or all 3. Showcase shopping could show images for all relevant products. You can read more about showcase shopping ads here.
With these ads now being stopped, there may be a gap in some accounts where showcase shopping would have picked up these top of funnel searches. We’ll need to wait and see if standard or smart shopping campaigns pick these more generic searches up, but our recommendation is to check the performance before and after the 1st April to see if there’s any noticeable changes.
We’ve always got some new blog content to cast your eyes over. Our Koozians have been busy putting blog content together so you have a great source of information for any SEO, Paid, Content or PR queries and questions. We’ve recently published the following:
Remember to keep checking back as multiple new posts go out each month.
When this artisan wine company became a client we were chuffed – who doesn’t love a glass of wine on a Friday night? We were tasked to use Google Ads to help them boost their sales, and that’s precisely what we did. We helped Wines With Stories achieve a 312% uplift in revenue, with a 515% increase in transactions! To find out more about how we did it, check out the full client case study.
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