SEO Articles

Google introduces three new travel products for hotels

Hotels looking to book new travelers and capitalize on this summer’s travel frenzy will soon discover a much easier way to manage and change their rates.

What’s new. Earlier this week Google announced three new features to actively open the onboarding process for hotels wanting to list their rates or provide booking links through Google. 

Update 1: Industry-standard protocols. Google will support industry-standard protocols for bringing hotel rates online. These protocols are created to help different hotels remain consistent with booking, uploading new rates and making changes. 

Update 2: No more spreadsheets. Hotels will no longer be required to upload complicated spreadsheets and files to add rates to their Google Business Profile. Instead, Google is simplifying this process by allowing to directly input their rates into their profiles. This change should make it easier for hotels to keep up with demand and change rates quickly, without getting technology providers or partners involved. 

Update 3: Open access to Hotel Ads. Soon, hotels will no longer need a Hotel Center account to run campaigns. This means that any Google advertiser can search for and run campaigns for any hotel’s website. When asked whether they would phase out Hotel Center accounts altogether, Google stated “We will not be phasing out Hotel Center accounts. Current hotel advertisers with existing Hotel Center accounts will continue to operate and serve ads as usual.”

Launch date. Google is actively supporting industry protocols and allowing hotels to input their rates into Google My Business. However, there is no word yet on when the Hotel Center account requirement will be lifted. 

What Google is saying. In regards to the reason for the changes, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land: “We’re streamlining this process to help more advertisers utilize hotel ads, and activate them more quickly. This is part of our overall efforts to help more hotel businesses get online.”

Travel on the rise. Google indicates that searches for passport appointments increased 300% over the first four months of 2022.

Earlier this week Snapchat also announced the introduction of Dynamic Ads for Travel. The new feature allows brands such as Booking.com to create catalogs and serve to audiences based on travel intent. The focus on travel-related products should give us an early indication of where the industry is headed.

The good and the bad. Adding rates to a hotel’s Google Business Profile allows them to appear in search, maps, and YouTube. Those free booking links will also direct users to book on a hotels actual website – not a third party. Which means more revenue for the hotel and less for sites such as Booking.com or Hotels.com. Hotels are also not allowed to add multiple rates for different room types, minimum stay restrictions, or discounts for multi-night stays. 

Official announcement. Read the complete announcement and current setup documents here.

Why we care. Travel is bouncing back and consumers want an easy streamlined process for booking hotels directly, as well as real-time room prices. These updates should help advertisers and hotels managing the listings stay ahead of the competition by being able to change rates directly on their Google Business Profiles.

The post Google introduces three new travel products for hotels appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Chrome’s Topics API test going public July 1

“A small percentage of traffic” will soon see the initial testing of Google Chrome Topics API go live on July 1. The new feature will enable users to enable interest-based advertising without having to track the site a user visits. 

Interest-based advertising. According to recent developer documentation, “IBA can help advertisers to reach potential customers and help fund websites that cannot otherwise easily monetize visits to their site purely via contextual advertising. IBA can also supplement contextual information for the current page to help find an appropriate advertisement for the visitor.”

The Topics API. The Topics API has three main tasks:

Maps website hosts to topics of interest. For example, a yoga website would be categorized under “Fitness”Calculate the main topics for a user based on their browsing historyProvide a JavaScript API to help select appropriate ads based on the user’s interest

Review the official developer’s documentation. You can find the entire developer’s documentation on the new Topics API test here.

What Google is saying. Google states that this initial test is to validate that their systems are operating as designed, and no revenue or performance impact is expected. But advertisers who prefer not to be included in the initial test can opt out using Chrome’s Permissions-policy header. 

Why we care. When Google announced the API trial in January, advertisers were less than enthused. Marketers from various agencies raised concerns around the 350 topics outlined not being sufficient enough to provide relevant targeting. Less topics means more competition around less targeted ads, which is a problem for everyone involved. Google may already be aware of the issue, but unless they have significantly improved this list in advance of the test, we may not see a change advertisers opinion or projected outcome. There is no word on how long the trial will go on.

The post Google Chrome’s Topics API test going public July 1 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Yandex CEO and founder resigns following sanctions

Arkady Volozh, Yandex’s CEO and executive director, resigned from his position, the company announced today.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Volozh personally. Yandex has not been sanctioned by the EU, U.S., or UK. Volozh had a 45.3% voting and 8.6% economic interest in Yandex.

Why we care. Yandex is generally regarded as Russia’s Google, even though Yandex pre-dates Google (Yandex launched in 1997). Yandex’s share of the Russian search market is estimated to be at 48%, behind Google’s 49%, according to StatCounter – but Yandex says it owns 61% of the search market. So this development, as well as others below, mean it’s worth keeping an eye on the state of the company if you work on any sites that rely on Yandex organic traffic.

What Volozh said. “While I consider this decision to be misguided and ultimately counterproductive, I do not intend to give any instructions to my family trust as long as sanctions are in place. During this time the trust will vote in line with the recommendations of the Board. While I will continue to support the team wherever possible, this decision is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders.”

Go deeper. On March 22, Wired published Is Russia’s Largest Tech Company Too Big to Fail? The article details how everything Volzh helped build over 20 years began crumbling in 20 days.

Timeline of Yandex turmoil. Here are some significant Yandex stories since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24:

Feb. 28: Nasdaq suspended trading of Yandex shares. (Nasdaq)March 3: “We believe that our current data center capacity and other technology critical to operations will allow us to continue to operate in the ordinary course for at least the next 12 to 18 months. In the event of any prolonged suspension of supplies of hardware, software or other technology used in our business or offerings, if we are unable to secure alternative sources, our operations could be materially adversely affected over time.” (Yandex)March 7: Esther Dyson and Ilya Strebulaev resigned from Yandex’s board of directors (Yandex).March 15: Yandex Deputy CEO and Executive Director Tigran Khudaverdyan, who had been sanctioned earlier in the week, resigned. (Yandex)March 16: Yandex rumored to be in negotiations to sell its media division (news and Zen). (TechCrunch)April 27: Yandex’s Q1 financials were released. Yandex reported an adjusted net loss of 8.1 billion roubles ($110 million). The company said it experienced continued stable operations and strong growth across most of its businesses until Feb. 23. (Reuters)April 28: Yandex announces sale of news and Zen to VK (Yandex)May 18: It was reported that Yandex was exploring selling search and mail and moving its headquarters to Israel. (Data Center Dynamics

The post Yandex CEO and founder resigns following sanctions appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Ads shares three automation best practices

Google has released a Search Ads Automation Guide that shares some best practices on how to use automation to reach customers. The guide is long overdue for some marketers who have an unfavorable opinion about automation in general. According to a recent Search Engine Land article, adoption of automation and recommendations is overwhelmingly positive, while satisfaction is low, with over half of users reporting a negative experience.

This new guide attempts to answer users questions and concerns around automation and ease the anxieties most advertisers have around letting go of control of their keywords and bids.

Best practice 1: use a broad match keyword strategy. Historically advertisers that used broad match keywords found wasted ad spend and irrelevant clicks. It seems like there haven’t been any new features or updates around broad match. But Googles is attempting to help users better understand why they should use them, and with what bid strategy they feel will have the biggest impact for their account. Google states “Broad match keywords work best with Smart Bidding because it ensures you only bid on searches that are expected to perform for you.” 

Best practice 2: using smart bidding strategies. Google says that evolutions in automation and machine learning will allow us to simplify how we setup and manage campaigns. The guide goes into great detail on why a smart bidding structure is best to use with broad keywords. But veteran advertisers know that making too many account changes at once, especially moving toward a hands-off automatic approach, can be detrimental for performance. Testing smart bidding strategies are a great idea in general, but be cautious of spend, conversion changes, and general advice around this topic from your Google rep.

Best practice 3: use responsive search ads. Google advises to “use multiple headlines and descriptions to automatically build and serve relevant ads for every query based on auction-time signals.” This is one strategy we can get behind. Responsive search ads allow a level of automation, but within the parameters you define. You maintain control of your ads by creating multiple headlines and descriptions, and allowing Google to show the most relevant combination to your audience

The guide. All info is taken from Googles guide “Unlock the Power of Search: Inside Search Automation with Google Ads.” The guide is long at 28 pages and likely makes for great bedtime reading. The guide features a promising but generic case study from Tails.com (a pet food company for which Nestlé Purina Pet Care is their biggest investor), but provides no insight into their (what was likely a large) budget and ad spend, which is information most businesses would be interested in knowing.

Read the guide. The full PDF can be downloaded here.

Why we care. Google’s efforts at getting their users to understand automation is likely an attempt to get more people to not only adopt the best practices they define, but to leave those campaigns running long enough to see results. For many advertisers, this is simply not possible. If you have a large budget, go ahead and test these strategies and best practices. But as far as letting your campaigns run on autopilot, or firing your agency, we’re not there yet.

The post Google Ads shares three automation best practices appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google updates its title algorithm for multi-language or transliterated/scripted titles

Google has introduced a new “algorithmic improvement” for how it selects titles for the search result snippets for multi-language or transliterated titles or where the title element is written in a different language or script from its content, the company announced.

Google said this algorithm update is “based on the general principle that a document’s title should be written by the language or script of its primary contents.”

What is changing. Google said it will try to find the best title link (not sure why Google doesn’t mention the name “title link” in its announcement) for the search result snippet when the title is written in a different language or script from its content.

(1) When multilingual titles repeat the same phrase with two different languages or scripts. The most popular pattern is to append an English version to the original title text, Google said. The example Google gave was the title “गीतांजलि की जीवनी – Geetanjali Biography in Hindi.” Google said in this case, the title consists of two parts, divided by a hyphen, and they express the same contents in different languages, both Hindi and English. Since the document itself is written only in Hindi, Google will change the title to just be in Hindi and remove the English. So “गीतांजलि की जीवनी – Geetanjali Biography in Hindi.” will be just “गीतांजलि की जीवनी.”

(2) With Latin scripted titles with transliteration, when content is written from one language into a different language that uses a different script or alphabet. The example Google gave is “jis desh me holi kheli jati hai”, consider a page title for a song written in Hindi but transliterated to use Latin characters rather than Hindi’s native Devanagari script. In this case, Google’s systems tries to find an alternative title using the script that’s predominant on the page. So Google will change “jis desh me holi kheli jati hai” to “जिस देश में होली खेली जाती है.”

Why we care. Google is recommending that you provide a title that match both the language and/or the script of the page’s main content. Do not use different languages or scripts for your title that you do not use in your page’s content.

If you notice changes in your click through rates or changes to your titles and you use multilingual titles or scripted titles, this is why.

Don’t forget the big title link changes Google made in 2021 that had us navigating how we make titles going forward.

The post Google updates its title algorithm for multi-language or transliterated/scripted titles appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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When and how to analyze UX metrics to improve SEO

There’s an abundance of SEO strategies available to improve website performance. However, most strategies focus on increasing sessions.

What happens once these users land on your website?

As David Freeman explained back in 2017, UX is pivotal to the future of SEO and “what is good for the consumer is good for organic search performance.”

By analyzing user interactions on website navigation menus, measuring scroll depths, button clicks, engagement with form fields and even JavaScript errors, we can see potential barriers to conversion. 

User experience (UX) metrics can be easily tracked via free and paid platforms such as Microsoft Clarity, Hotjar and other platforms.

How to measure UX with Microsoft Clarity

Before signing up to a UX tracking platform, check to see if it is GDPR and CCPA compliant, if there are traffic limits, if data sampling or sharing of data with third parties occurs and the pricing model.

As Microsoft Clarity satisfies all of these criteria and will forever be a free service, it is a cost-effective tool for measuring UX.

Sign up with Clarity by using your Microsoft, Facebook or Google account. Then, once logged in, create a new project for your website.

You will need to add the Clarity tracking code to your website, found in Settings > Setup > How to install Clarity. This installation can be done by manually adding the code to your webpages or via third-party platforms such as Google Tag Manager.

Allow for up to two hours before data appears within your Clarity project.

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When to analyze UX metrics 

Before analyzing the data provided by Clarity (or any other UX measurement platform), remember to consider:

The timeframe of the data to be analyzed (days, weeks, months) Potential seasonalityThe influence of other marketing campaigns (offline and online)The amount of data you’re analyzing (for statistical significance)

Depending on the daily average of total sessions on your website, it may take two weeks or 10+ weeks to gather enough data as a baseline for future analyses and testing. The more data, the better!

Learn from Benny Blum when the right time to start analyzing data is and when data can be deemed statistically significant (p-value of 5% or lower).

How to analyze UX metrics

Using Microsoft Clarity as the example, start by watching session recordings with JavaScript errors and these abnormal user behaviors:

Dead clicks. These occur when a “User clicked or tapped on a page with no effect,” which could be users clicking on an unlinked element such as a button, in-text reference or navigation item.Rage clicks. These occur when a “User clicked or tapped in the same small area,” which could be due to a slow website response from a link click or users highlighting text content seeking more information.Excessive scrolling. This happens when a “User scrolled through a page more than expected,” which could be users unable to find the information they need within the content.Quick backs. This happens when a “User navigated to a page then quickly returned to the previous one,” which could be considered a page bounce due to an accidental click or irrelevant content.

By watching these recordings, you can get insights into unknown technical issues, how to improve internal links and ideas for page design changes.

You can also save (favorite) recordings that show interesting user behavior, for quick rewatching at another time. You can share recordings via a link (which expires after up to 30 days) or in an email.

By using the filters, you can find the recordings of interest to you. For example, filter by mobile devices in the last seven days of users from Australia that entered the site via a URL that starts with x (to include UTMs too), with the session lasting longer than one minute, to see how users are engaging with your localized landing page.

Analyzing heatmaps also provides insights into how users are engaging with content and which call-to-actions are most effective. See which elements of a webpage have the most clicks (on PC, tablet or mobile) and if that element is a video, a button, an in-text link, a drop-down navigation option or a footer link or any other area of the page.

If the key call-to-action on your page is not getting the most clicks, test a change in its design such as making it a floating button, a larger element or using different content around it.

How far users are scrolling down the page (on average) on PC, tablet or mobile can also vary depending on your page design and device responsiveness. See how far users are willing to scroll to find the information they seek and if important content is being missed.

If only a few users are scrolling to the footer and there are low numbers of clicks and engagement, test changing your page layout and adjusting your content, headings or multimedia.

Start collecting data today

Don’t miss an opportunity to improve your websites with data-driven UX insights. Set up an account, implement the tracking code and start measuring today.

The post When and how to analyze UX metrics to improve SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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