Tag Archive | "Google"

Leaning into SEO as Google shifts from search engine to portal

How to prepare your company for Google’s new customer journey for search.



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Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Core Update News, Icons In Search Bar, Bing Bulk URLs, Google Conferences & My New Vlog

This week I am testing out a new camera, not sure if I will use it for this format but I will for the new vlog. Google finished rolling out the June 2019 core update on June 8th…


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Build your PPC campaigns with this mini campaign builder script for Google Ads

This script lets you build or add keywords to your Google campaigns following standard best practice.



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How to Guard Your Google Business Profile from Becoming a Running Joke

Posted by MiriamEllis

When customers walk into your place of business, phone you, or reach out to you via email or social media with a question that’s clearly a lead, you’d never, ever answer:

“Who knows?”

But it’s exactly this, and several related scenarios of absurdity, that have resulted from Google positioning itself as the dominant middle man between customers and local brands while failing to adequately communicate or enforce product policies.

Examples of Google Business Profiles gone bad are often comical, but it’s no laughing matter for your business to shed revenue for the sake of some jester’s joke. Then, spammers jump into the game, and that’s about as humorous as hitting your funny bone. And, sometimes, it’s even somebody on your own staff or a marketer you’ve hired who goofs.

Good local companies work so hard to develop exceptional customer service and a sterling reputation, and the Google Business Profile can brilliantly showcase both when carefully curated. But lack of vigilance over five key sections of this most visible online asset can cumulatively undermine offline goals.

Today, let’s look at some serious gaffes, get you set up to mitigate them, and put a watchdog mindset in your local place of business.

Naming nonsense

One of my favorite Local Tech Leads at Moz, Robert Reis, recently pointed out to me that Google’s sternest local guidelines actually reveal their greatest vulnerabilities. This is certainly true when it comes to Google not wanting brands to keyword stuff business names, because it so clearly appears to impact local pack rankings. Take a look at this all-too-common tomfoolery:

Credit: @DarrenShaw_

Then, there are other cases in which a business listing can be maliciously edited or hijacked by a competitor, an angry customer, or another third party. In this example, not only has the business name been edited, but the website URL has been pointed to ripoffreport.com:

Credit: @keyserholiday

What to do:

Customers may laugh, but certainly, they will not trust business names like these. If someone in your own company has been keyword stuffing, show them Google’s explicit guidelines regarding formatting names to match real-world business titles and edit the name to conform to the rules. Any other course risks losing customers and being reported by the public to Google for a violation.

If you suspect that a competitor’s high rankings are stemming, at least in part, from keyword stuffing, do a little research. Look at the name on their street signage in Google Street View. Take a photo in person if necessary. Look at the name on their website. Phone them to see how they answer the phone. Then, if you’re convinced that the guidelines are being broken, submit your evidence via the Business Redressal Complaint Form. There is no guarantee that Google will act on your report, but this is the main vehicle for seeking action.

If your listing has been hijacked and maliciously edited, I recommend starting by reporting the full details at the Google My Business Help Community. Ask the volunteers there to give you current steps for resolving the hijack. You can’t ever be totally safe from the possibility of hijacking, but do be sure you’ve claimed any GMB listing for your company. Some local SEOs also recommend making occasional null edits (hitting the submit button in your GMB dashboard without changing any of the listing data) as this activity might make your listing less prone to third-party edits.

Review roguery

I like to give business owners the benefit of the doubt for making a judgment call error when they review themselves. But it’s always embarrassing to see any company misusing reviews to sing their own praises, and particularly so when their family members point this out in public:

Credit: @ordacowski

More often, the business is the victim of review shenanigans. Google’s forum is continuously emitting distress signals from business owners who feel they’ve received one or more negative reviews from people they’ve never had a transaction with, as illustrated by this interchange:

And, the hard truth is that some entities have made a business model out of competitive sabotage via negative reviews. The problem has become large enough to make televised news.

What to do:

Falsifying reviews is illegal and has resulted in multi-million-dollar FTC fines in the United States. If you own or market local businesses, adhere to the Consumer Review Fairness Act and read the guidelines of any online platform on which you are receiving or writing reviews. Don’t review your own business or have past or present staff do so. Don’t review your competitors. Don’t incentivize reviews in any way, or post reviews on behalf of anyone else. Don’t hire any marketing firm or use any review management software that violates guidelines.

If your business becomes the subject of a review spam attack, screenshot and document all of the fake reviews, then flag them from inside of your Google My Business dashboard via the three little dots associated with each review. After three days, contact Google through their online chat option to follow up.

Google will make the ultimate decision on whether to remove the reviews and they are quite strict about what they view as negative vs. fake. If Google doesn’t remove the reviews, I would suggest two things. First, I would report the reviews to ReviewFraud and then, if the sentiment in the reviews is damaging enough, you might need to contact an attorney to see if further steps can be taken to prompt removal.

If you suspect a competitor is trying to boost their own rankings with review spam, document what you see and report it via the Google My Business Help Community.

Fatuous photos

“I cannot for the life of me believe that you would allow a normal user to upload photos to my business listing without my approval and you do not give THE OWNER OF THE PAGE the ability to delete them!” – from Google’s Forum.

The above quote typifies the frustration business owners feel regarding yet another element of their Google listing that is open to public contributions. Brands often think of these listings as belonging to them, when, in fact, they belong to Google. Images are considered to be a strong factor in CTR, so it’s particularly aggravating when user-uploaded photos either misrepresent or embarrass the business.

I’ve been shown cases in which people have mysteriously uploaded images that have nothing to do with a business. More often, though, I see photos like the following which highlight some aspect of the company that has disgusted or angered customers:

When something goes wrong with photos, like a bug on Google’s end, failure to size images correctly, or possibly the owner removing images that were previously there, this public warning symbol is definitely not a good look:

Google can also pull random images from website pages into your profile, resulting in your business being represented by something like … melted ice cream?

Credit: @tomwaddington8

Claire Carlisle recently documented Google’s penchant for pointing European users to Google Image Search instead of the photo section of listings. There is some reason to suspect this may happen in the US in the future, which could result in all kinds of strange optics popping up in association with brands.

What to do:

If an image accurately represents a lack of proper management at a location of your business, fix the issue or such imagery will continue to surface. You can then try flagging the photo, identifying yourself as the business owner, and explaining what you’ve done to correct the problem. However, unless the photo violates Google’s guidelines, it’s unlikely to be removed. Barring removal, be sure you are adding as many high-quality photos as possible to your listing to lessen the impact of a single image.

If the image violates Google’s guidelines, click on the name of the person who uploaded it and copy their profile URL. Then, report the user via the Google My Business Help Community, requesting that the profile be removed for failing to adhere to the guidelines.

If you see something like the warning symbol appearing instead of a photo you’ve tried to upload, check the above forum for reports of known bugs. You can always remove your own photos via the trash can symbol in your Google My Business dashboard.

Hours of inconvenience

“This is not a sustainable way to treat a business or customers.” – A reviewer experiencing unmanaged hours of operation

When customers feel that it’s your business playing a joke on them, they’re unlikely to return. This collage of 1-star reviews captures the collateral damage of neglecting to properly manage hours of operation on the web:

What to do:

A consistent theme in these damaging reviews is that customers are checking multiple places on the web to be sure an establishment is open on a given day. We’ve all come to depend on websites and business listings to provide this information, and it’s truly inconvenient when these assets mislead us. Few businesses can afford to let multiple customers down and no business can survive customers sensing they’ve been tricked!

The good news is that the fix for this is quite simple. Google’s tutorial for setting special hours if foolproof, and it will only take you a few minutes each year to ensure your profile displays correct information every day of the year. And, of course, update your website to reflect this data, too.

There are no dumb questions, but…

Sorry to say it, but there are actually some answers that are far from smart. I’ve saved for last the most extreme example of real-world businesses becoming the butt of online jokes.

Google Q&A is beginning to have all the earmarks of an experiment gone astray, and if you’re not actively managing this feature of the Google Business Profile, chances are good that your customers are experiencing a bizarre substitute for customer service.

Brace yourself for this collage:

What to do:

A quick study of the public responses to real consumer questions shows the state of total confusion surrounding this GBP feature. For example, one customer has mistaken it for a “discussion board” not associated with the business; this is incorrect. Others are proclaiming that they aren’t associated with the brand and don’t want to “lead people”, despite responding. Still, others are steering potential patrons away from the brand to a competitor (yikes!).

But, predominantly, we have wags replying to questions without having any information to share. “IDK” and “Why don’t you call them yourself?” typify this ridiculous behavior. Why would anyone waste time doing this, you might ask? We can put it down to two things: the old adage about idle hands and Google’s still-new program of perks for participation. Note how many of the individuals in our collage have achieved Local Guide status for giving out these useless answers. Raise your hands if you’re not impressed.

But now, put your hands back on your keyboard for a little work. Unlike the review medium in which guidelines forbid you being an initiator, Google Questions & Answers invites businesses to post and answer their own FAQs. All you have to do is spend a few minutes populating this area of the Google Business Profile with common questions and responses. Then monitor this feature on an ongoing basis so that customers are receiving a helpful, authoritative response to questions. Q&A is a lead-generating asset and conversions are totally within your control.

Adopting a local watchdog



All five cases of Google Business Profile hijinx share the requirement of vigilance for prevention and mitigation. Manually checking on multiple features week after week is a serious drain on local business owners’ limited time. Businesses with multiple locations are especially prone to becoming distracted from or worn out by the effort.

Putting a devoted watchdog between pranksters, spammers, and your vital Google listings is the smartest thing you can do to maintain them as an influential source of truth about your brand.

Adopt the new and improved Moz Local at your place of business and feel secure knowing:

  • If a third party edits your business name, our software will recognize the change and override it with the authoritative data you’ve provided.
  • Moz Local continuously alerts you to incoming Google reviews so that you can catch any emerging reputation problems quickly and respond to them.
  • You’ll be alerted every time a user-uploaded photo gets added to your Google listing. This is tracked in a continuous feed in your dashboard, and you can even set up email alerts if that’s easier for you. Either way, you’ll be the first to know if someone is uploading images that violate Google’s guidelines.
  • You aren’t disappointing customers anymore with inaccurate hours, because you can set them up well in advance in the Moz Local dashboard. We recommend setting special hours at least 7 days in advance of a known closure.
  • You’ll see all incoming Q&A queries in a continuous dashboard feed, facilitating fast, authoritative responses from your business instead of “IDK”s from random users.

Moz Local is the faithful companion you’re seeking to ensure you’re publishing trustworthy business data, taking maximum control of your online reputation, and maintaining a high level of spam awareness, all in an intuitive, organized dashboard.

Everybody likes a good joke, but your Google Business Profile isn’t the place for one! Ready to put a serious watchdog at your place of business? Learn more about the new Moz Local!

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How to Automate Keyword Ranking with STAT and Google Data Studio

Posted by TheMozTeam

This blog post was originally published on the STAT blog.


We asked SEO Analyst, Emily Christon of Ovative Group, to share how her team makes keyword rank reporting easy and digestible for all stakeholders. Read on to see how she combines the power of STAT with Google Data Studio for streamlined reporting that never fails to impress her clients.

Why Google Data Studio

Creating reports for your clients is a vital part of SEO. It’s also one of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks. Your reports need to contain all the necessary data, while also having clear visuals, providing quick wins, and being easy to understand.

At Ovative Group, we’re big advocates for reporting tools that save time and make data easier to understand. This is why we love Google Data Studio.

This reporting tool was created with the user in mind and allows for easy collaboration and sharing with teams. It’s also free, and its reporting dashboard is designed to take the complexity and stress out of visualizing data.

Don’t get us wrong. We still love our spreadsheets, but tools like Excel aren’t ideal for building interactive dashboards. They also don’t allow for easy data pulls — you have to manually add your data, which can eat up a lot of time and cause a lot of feelings.

Data Studio, however, pulls all your data into one place from multiple sources, like spreadsheets, Google Analytics accounts, and Adwords. You can then customize how all that data is viewed so you can surface quick insights.

How does this relate to keyword reporting?

Creating an actionable keyword report that is beneficial for both SEO and your stakeholders can be a challenge. Data Studio makes things a bit easier for us at Ovative in a variety of ways:

Automated data integration

Our team uses the STAT API — which can be connected to Data Studio through a little technical magic and Google Big Query — to pull in all our raw data. You can select what data points you want to be collected from the API, including rank, base rank, competitors, search volume, local information, and more.

Once your data is collected and living in Big Query, you can access it through the Data Studio interface. If you want to learn more about STAT’s API, go here.

Customization

Do you care about current rank? Rank over time? Major movers – those that changed +20 positions week over week? Or are you just after how many keywords you have ranking number one?

All of this is doable — and easy — once you’re comfortable in Data Studio. You can easily customize your reports to match your goals.

“Our team uses the STAT API — which can be connected to Data Studio through a little technical magic and Google Big Query — to pull in all our raw data.” — Emily Christon, SEO Analyst at Ovative Group

Custom dashboards make reporting and insights efficient and client-facing, transforming all that raw data into easy-to-understand metrics, which tell a more compelling story.

How to build your custom Google Data Studio 

There are a myriad of ways to leverage Google Data Studio for major insights. Here are just a few features we use to help visualize our data.

Keyword rank

This report gives you a snapshot of how many keywords you have in each ranking group and how things are trending. You can also scroll through your list of keywords to see what the traffic-driving queries are.

One cool feature of Data Studio when it comes to rank is period over period comparisons. For example, if you set the date range to the previous week, it will automatically pull week over week rank change. If you set the date range to the previous month, it pulls a month over month rank change.

At Ovative, we do weekly, monthly, and yearly keyword rank change reporting.

Keyword look-up tool

If you notice that traffic has declined in a specific keyword set, pop down to the keyword look-up tool to track rank trends over time. This view is extremely helpful — it shows the progress or decline of rank to help explain traffic variability.

Campaign or priority tracker

To support newly launched pages or priority keywords, create a separate section just for these keywords. This will make it easy for you to quickly check the performance and trends of chosen keyword sets.

What’s next? 

Google Data Studio is only as powerful as you make it.

The STAT API integration in Google Data Studio represents one page of our typical client’s reporting studio; we make sure to add in a page for top-level KPI trends, a page for Search Console keyword performance, and other relevant sources for ease of use for ourselves and the client.

Want more? 

Want to dive deeper into STAT? Got questions about our API? You can book a demo with us and get a personalized walk through. 

You can also chat with our rad team at MozCon this July 15–17 to see how you can go seriously deep with your data. Ask about our specialty API — two additional services to give you everything a 100-result SERP has to offer, and perfect if you’ve built your own connector.

Grab my MozCon ticket now!

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Search Buzz Video Recap: Google June 2019 Core Update, Domain Diversity Update, DailyMail Slammed, Rich Results, Bing Bribes & DOJ

What an insane week, we first recapped the changes over the last month with Google for webmasters. We then talked about the big Google June 2019 core update that began rolling out on Monday…


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Campaign-level conversion actions now live for Google search, display campaigns

Campaign action sets are also available to optimize campaigns for multiple conversion actions.



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Google search update aims to show more diverse results from different domain names

Another Google search update has rolled out this week, this one deals with domain diversity in the search results.



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Early data around the Google June 2019 core update shows some winners, losers

This Google update that began rolling out on Monday seems like it was pretty big and the scary part, it isn’t done rolling out yet.



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June 2019 Google Webmaster Report

It is always nice to look back at the month and see how much has changed over the last 30 days, that is why I like doing these monthly Google webmaster reports. This month was super busy as well with a confirmed core update with many unconfirmed updates – and Google hinted there was a Medic update. Evergreen GoogleBot launched, we had more indexing issues, a new quality raters guidelines was published, more structured markup and Search Console features were released. Oh yes, and the Favicons redesign that is getting a lot of attention.


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