Welcome to your monthly roundup of industry news from Distinctly. Below you’ll find the latest stories on developments and rollouts in the worlds of PPC and SEO this month, as well as other articles of interest.
Merchants on ecommerce platform Shopify will now be able to create shoppable video ads using the social media giant TikTok, in the latest of a growing list of social partnerships for the company that includes Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Users can download a TikTok channel app from Shopify that links to their TikTok for business account, allowing them to automatically generate video ads for their chosen products based on a range of set templates – which then drive viewers straight to the merchant’s Shopify checkout. The update has rolled out across the US and is expected in Europe early next year.
Search Engine Journal has unveiled its predictions for the coming year, following an extraordinary twelve months for the industry. Among the biggest trends it expects is the continuing obfuscation of data by Google at the expense of advertisers, meaning that they must adapt to using imperfect and incomplete data, and finding alternative ways to target campaigns. In addition, platform automation will proliferate, testing will become an ever-more important aspect of campaigns and all PPC professionals will need to diversify their skillset beyond Google Ads.
As Google pushes ahead with its plan to limit terms appearing in search query reports to those that have been searched by “a significant number of users”, the move appears to be part of a wider effort to roll out automated features, expand machine learning and limit advertiser control. With data suggesting that 27% of spend comes from queries with just one impression, pre-empting queries with bulk negative keyword lists is an increasingly important and efficient way to maintain quality traffic and leverage what data you have.
Users of Smart Bidding in Google Ads will start seeing new Recommendations for switching to broad match. Explaining the move, Google cites the success of two advertisers who have done so, and says that leaving keyword-to-query matching up to its algorithms “means you no longer need to anticipate and manage every potential search”. The idea of using broad match keywords has been met with some scepticism among PPC marketers who have seen poor intent matching by Google’s algorithms in the past, but the pairing with Smart Bidding distinguishes it from what has gone before by adding additional signals and filtering factors.
The constantly evolving nature of Google’s algorithm can make it difficult for businesses to predict what small changes might adversely affect SEO performance. Any change to NAP information including your phone number can have a negative impact, but preserving consistency is key. Taking the time to revise all local directory listings, notifying customers well ahead of time and even switching to a digital communications system that enables call tracking like VoIP can help to preserve the all-important trust in your brand that can be lost with a single unsuccessful phone call.
Following the recent announcement of passage-based indexing, Google’s John Mueller has clarified in a recent Hangout that the new algorithm – which is expected to affect about 7% of search queries, is not a core update and not something that necessarily needs to be specifically optimised for. Responding to a question about how conversationally written blog posts will be affected, he said “it’s more about ranking these passages from existing pages rather than indexing them individually… it’s not that there’s a separate passage index or anything like that.”
Adding FAQ schema: SEO split testing lessons
Questions around the effectiveness of FAQ schema have long divided SEOs, so SearchPilot has performed a series of tests in an attempt to establish some definitive parameters. Its results have shown an uplift in traffic to commercial pages of between 3% and 8% where FAQ schema markup is used, but what is less clear is whether non-transactional queries can be pulled through from a SERP to a page just by adding links to the text, where the snippet itself answers the question anyway. In addition, the relationship between a page’s existing ranking and its likelihood of winning an FAQ snippet remains unknown.
How to get the most out of Google’s Product Knowledge Panels
Search Engine Land has compiled an in-depth explainer on product Knowledge Panels, which are the first thing many shoppers encounter when searching for a product. They are compiled from a variety of sources and, unlike local or brand Knowledge Panels, they cannot be claimed by a business. However, each panel provides an opportunity for retailers to attract users to their product detail pages, and there are a number of ways to ensure it is accurate, influence its content and make the most of the exposure it offers.
Moz’s “Whiteboard Friday” blog offers practical tips on improving your internal linking strategy, as well as demonstrating how it can drive up traffic, session duration and pages per session – in addition to significantly reducing bounce rate.Thinking about user engagement when deciding where to place links (rather than simply adding them for the sake of it), striving to stay as topically relevant as possible and keeping every link unique rather than over-optimising can have a powerful effect, as can regularly cutting out low-value links that aren’t generating clicks.
Digital PR & Content Marketing
Splitting long-form content into a set of smaller topic-based pages, linked together and organised by hierarchy in a Topic Cluster, appears to have a major impact on page views. SEO blogger Samuel Schmitt explains how to structure one based on user intent and clearly defined sub-topics, how to create effective internal links within it and how to update existing copy in order to make the most of it, as well as how to make the most of Google Search Console data to inform the restructuring of your content.
4 billion people are now using social media platforms globally, with 2 million more joining daily. On average, people are now spending 15% of their waking hours using them. The new way of life we’ve adopted in 2020 has seen total social media adoption jump by an extraordinary 12% since this time last year, and Instagram has seen the fastest growth, adding 76 million users during Q3 2020 alone. Hootsuite and We Are Social’s in-depth report gives valuable insight into this and much more data, as well as explaining what it could mean for marketers in 2021 and beyond.