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Justice Department homing in on Google Ad Manager in antitrust probe

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The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) is talking with multiple publishers and ad-tech companies as it scrutinizes Google’s third-party ad tools, as part of the DOJ’s antitrust investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Companies the DOJ has reached out to include the New York Times, Gannett, Condé Nast, Oracle, Yelp and DuckDuckGo among several others.

Focus on Ad Manager. The reported focus of the investigation is Google Ad Manager. Google Ad Manager is the combination of DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which were rebranded in 2018. Google acquired DoubleClick in 2007 for more than $3 billion.

The core inquiry, according to the report, revolves around two related issues:

  • Google’s integration of its ad server and ad exchange
  • Google’s decision to require advertisers to use its own tools to buy ad space on YouTube

Google says server-exchange merger creates ‘better experience.’ Some of Google’s rivals contend that the company has too much power “over the monetization of digital content,” as the WSJ put it. Google counters that the merger of its exchange and ad server created a better advertising infrastructure and experience for customers and that the market for advertising technology and programmatic media is highly competitive.

This past week, DOJ Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim was compelled to recuse himself from the inquiry because he advised Google during the DoubleClick acquisition in its negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission.

Selling the DoubleClick tech? The WSJ also reports that Google executives are discussing whether to sell the technology behind Ad Manager, although Google explicitly denied to the publication this was being considered. One of the reported challenges of divesting the third-party ad technology is its integration into the broader Google ads infrastructure.

Ad Manager falls under Google Network Members’ properties, which generated roughly $6 billion in Q4 and $21.6 billion in full year 2019. Google’s total 2019 revenues were $162 billion. Google Network Members’ properties thus represented about 13.2% of total 2019 revenue (16% of total ad revenues).

Why we care. While much of the DOJ’s scrutiny focused on the publisher side of the Ad Manager tech stack, the WSJ reports attention has turned to the “buy side” of the business in the past two months. “The investigation puts the agencies in a delicate spot, as many of them use Google’s tools and rely on Google as a major advertising client,” the article said. The deep integration of Google’s buying and measurement tools make it easy for agencies and in-house media buyers to transact across Google’s owned and operated properties, including its ad exchanges.

Google’s focus on its Network business has waned in recent years, however. Ad revenue for that segment grew by just 8% year-over-year in 2019, compared to 17% growth for its own properties. The company highlighted this shift on its quarterly earnings call this week in discussing the drop in traffic acquisition costs (TAC). “Total TAC as a percentage of Total Advertising Revenues was down year-over-year,” said CFO Ruth Porat, “reflecting once again a favorable revenue mix shift from Network to Google Properties.”

This article originally appeared on Marketing Land.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.



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Google Search Console now lets you export more data

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Search Console users can now download complete information (instead of just specific table views) from almost all reports, Google announced Wednesday. Data can be exported as a Google Sheet, Excel or .CSV file.

Source: Google.

Why we care

Being able to export your Google Search Console reports makes it easier to analyze and manipulate the data using other tools. It also provides you with the option to join datasets, perform more advanced analyses or just visualize the data a different way.

More on the news

  • Downloaded Enhancement reports include the list of issues and their affected pages, a daily breakdown of your pages, their status and impressions from Google search. When downloading a specific drill-down view, details describing the view are also included in the exported file.
  • All Performance data tabs (Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search appearances and Dates) can now be downloaded with one click. The data will include an extra “Filters” tab that shows which filters were applied when you exported the file.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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Google Images to replace dimensions overlay on image thumbnails

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Google Images will soon replace the dimensions information you see in the image search results, as you overlay your mouse cursor over a specific image thumbnail. Google will replace the dimensions information with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels based on the query.

What is changing? Here is a screenshot highlighting the dimensions section of the image thumbnail in Google Image search:

By the end of this week, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, the image size dimensions will be replaced with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels.

Google was unable to share a screenshot of the new change. We will update this story when we see the new labels show up in Google Image Search.

Why the change? Google said this will help searchers find visual ideas and get more done directly from the image thumbnail. Images that are licensable, will likely show the license label in that overlay. Images that come from videos, will show a video label. Recipe photos will show the recipe label and so on.

Why we care. If this does indeed work as Google expects, more engaged searchers will help increase clicks on your images and hopefully traffic to your web site. This gives us even more reason to make sure to add the various markups to our images when applicable.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.



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What happens if you stop doing SEO?

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Often, businesses want to stop and start SEO. 

Some feel that taking a break won’t cause any issues. 

But when a client suggests taking a break, you can explain the details of what will happen.

If you stop posting content correctly 

When you stop publishing content, the following things happen:

  1. You stop targeting new terms consistently. This results in fewer new keyword rankings and new traffic. 
  2. You stop creating new pages that can be linked to, and the number of links you earn goes down.
  3. You stop capturing new visitors to add to your remarketing audiences, email list and push notification list.
  4. You stop generating content that can be used to create hub pages, which are master pages that link to all other pages on the topic. These often rank very well.
  5. You stop generating content that gets shared on social media, and thus, generates social media shares and traffic.
  6. You stop encouraging people to return to your website for new posts. This reduces your branded searches, which are an indicator of quality to Google.

Overall, if you stop creating content, it says to Google that your website is no longer as active as it was and thus beginning the process of dying a slow death.

If you don’t watch for technical issues 

Those without web experience often don’t understand that from a technical perspective, things often break for no real reason.

I’ve never seen a website that did not have at least a handful of technical SEO issues.

If you don’t monitor the technical aspects of your site, issues such as the following could arise:

  1. You block your website with robots.txt.
  2. You generate duplicate content.
  3. You accidentally push your development site into the index. 

You can read more about common technical issues here.

When you don’t monitor these things and fix them consistently, they start to add up. Think of it as a garden – it takes maintenance, or it starts to become overgrown.

It is incredibly important to stay technically correct, especially with new developments such as mobile usability, page speed, AMP and more.

If you don’t, you are sure to have an error at some point that will cost you down the line. Similarly, your tech stack will become so out of date that you can no longer compete in the market.

If you stop refreshing pages

When you refresh a page correctly, traffic will generally increase to that page 10% to 30%, sometimes more.

The reason for this is because Google sees the new text and the value it provides and wants to rank it higher.

Now, there are many ways to go about doing refreshes. Some of those include:

  1. Adding FAQs to the page
  2. Adding links to other articles
  3. Updating facts
  4. Updating dates 
  5. Making the text longer 
  6. Adding schema
  7. Changing a page template 
  8. Etc.

Lately, the most important thing to look for when refreshing a page is whether or not it matches search intent, and if the page in question is better than the #1 ranking page.

My process includes doing a search, categorizing the query based on intent, analyzing the top pages, creating a new strategy for the page we are trying to get ranked, and refreshing as a result of that.

If you stop building new pages 

Building new pages are harder for some industries than others.

For example, when I worked with a few firms in the outsources accounting space, the lower funnel terms were minimal. If you compare that to a large e-commerce site like Amazon, its terms are endless.

While that is the case, I believe websites should always be targeting new terms and organizing them by segment. Those segments should be prioritized based on business goals and tracked in a dashboard.

But if you stop building new pages, you’ll lose keyword growth momentum.

I highly recommend creating these pages for SEO, but additionally, these new pages can be excellent landing pages for paid search and paid media, in general.

As a website grows, it’s a great idea to create more landing pages that target specific keywords and audiences. This will improve quality score on the page side and conversion rates all around.

If you stop this process, you’ll lose your competitive advantage. The people who win in the future of the web will be the ones converting traffic for less.  

If you stop watching out for bad links

If you stop doing SEO, your backlink profile can get out of control.

Lately, spammy links are worse than ever before.

When you watch your backlinks, you will see the following happen:

  1. People scrape your website content and keep the links in by accident. 
  2. You get Google alerts from sites hacked by malware. 
  3. Competitors try to do negative SEO on your site.

If you don’t update your disavow file once a month, you are putting your website rankings at risk. Lately, we have been doing it weekly for clients in competitive spaces.

If you stop watching out for stolen content 

Go to your top landing page on your website right now.

Copy a block of text about three sentences long.

Put that text in quotes and search for it in Google. What do you see?

I’ll bet some of you will see other websites coming up for that content. Some might have even stolen from your website.

Now, think about the impact that can have if it happens across multiple pages on your site. Honestly, it can be devastating. Many times we find others have wholly duplicated a website, stolen key pages, or taken individual sections of a page.

When this happens, you need to address it.

  1. Rewrite the content on your site.
  2. Ask the other site to take it down. 
  3. File a DMCA on them if needed.
  4. Consider sending them a cease and desist.
  5. Sometimes, you can contact the hosting company and ask them to remove the site.

Regardless, if you stop watching for stolen content, it could have an extremely negative effect on your business and rankings. This is something you need to catch right away.

Bottom line: Why you should not stop doing SEO

Obviously, you’re not going to stop doing SEO. We all know it is an amazing asset to improve search ranking and help your business grow. The work you do to create and update content along with the technical issues that are easily solved if they’re on your radar, all improve your bottom line. But you also need to ensure you are compliant with privacy regulations if you wish to remain on top.

The ugly truth is that it’s hard to reverse momentum once a website starts going in the wrong direction. I am a firm believer that all things online should be scaled as the business grows, SEO included.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing agency and an Inc. 5000 company. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top marketing experts in the industry. He has been a recipient of the Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of the Year” award, named the #1 SEO consultant in the US by Clutch.co, most admired CEO and 40 under 40. Lincoln has written two books (The Forecaster Method and Digital Influencer) and made two movies (SEO: The Movie and Social Media Marketing: The Movie) on digital marketing.



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