Google’s Latest Local Algorithm Update

Google’s Latest Local Algorithm Update

Last month, it became clear that Google had rolled out its biggest local algorithm update in years, possibly its biggest since the “Possum” update in 2016. If you or your local search marketing provider noticed fluctuations in your Google Maps rankings, this update was to blame.

“Possum” emphasized user proximity as the most important local search ranking factor; the more recent update did the same, according to analysis by Search Engine Land and several local SEO communities. In other words, any rankings drop you experienced probably isn’t related to the quality of your Maps listing, so urgent changes won’t reverse your fortunes.

“I never suggest making sudden, rash changes as a result of an algorithm update,” local search guru Joy Hawkins said in the Local Search Forum. “I think it’s important to learn what we can and adapt ongoing strategies if needed. Often I don’t find much about our strategies ever change as the result of Google updating their algorithm.”

Local search marketing experts expect to see more spammy Maps listings in the wake of this update. When user proximity outranks other quality factors, illegitimate local listings can sometimes take precedence over established businesses. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google Mapes carries roughly 11 million fake listings. Google cracked down on the problem in response, but the new update may once again encourage shady practices. There is also a chance that paid search may become more competitive if businesses can’t secure real estate on Maps.

As a Google Premier Partner digital advertising agency with significant experience in local search marketing, GrowthEngine Media can help you rank for local queries and get noticed by customers in your region. For more information about our local search, paid search, SEO, social media, web development, and other services, don’t hesitate to reach out today.

How Early Do Advertisers Develop Holiday Digital Marketing Strategies?

How Early Do Advertisers Develop Holiday Digital Marketing Strategies?

If you feel like the holiday season starts earlier every year, you’re right! Think with Google Canada released statistics last month that show Canadian consumers now start their holiday shopping earlier than ever. They also continue shopping well past the traditional end to the season, which means your holiday-season digital marketing strategy should cover everything from early November to early January.

According to the research, nearly 40 per cent of Canadian consumers will be finished holiday shopping by the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Black Friday, in case you somehow weren’t aware, is tomorrow, which means many consumers are at the end of their buyer’s journey or have already completed it.

In fact, most Canadian consumers have begun the search and research phase of their buyer’s journey by the start of November, and as many as 11 per cent begin thinking about holiday shopping in the summer! Half of holiday shoppers conduct research before they make purchases, and 60 per cent begin that research online. In other words, consumers are researching and making purchases throughout the extended holiday season, including during Boxing Week and into the New Year.

“If you’re hoping to reach these always-on consumers, you may want to redefine your holiday timelines and extend your marketing efforts beyond the big days,” Think with Google reports.

The holidays are a critical time for businesses of every size. Last year, Canadians spent $50 billion during the month of December, alone. That’s a big pie, and every advertiser in the country is fighting for a slice. As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with unique insights into Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is equipped to help you set targets, develop a strategy, and implement that strategy in time for a busy holiday season. Reach out today for more information.


Image credit: 松林 L/Wikimedia Commons

How Do Reviews and Ratings Affect Conversions?

How Do Reviews and Ratings Affect Conversions?

Savvy online shoppers rely on customer reviews and ratings, which makes those reviews an important part of many digital marketing strategies. A recent study by Uberall set out to understand exactly how important: the study compared data from the first halves of 2018 and 2019 for more than 60,000 online listings and broke down the findings into three categories: small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs); enterprise locations; and global brands.

“By focusing on review star rating and reply rate, brands can massively impact their overall conversion rates,” Uberall’s SVP of Marketing, Norman Rohr, said in a company release.

The research found that companies with a 3.7 star rating on Google receive significantly more conversions than companies with a 3.5 star rating, for example. It also found that enterprise locations that replied to at least 32 per cent of reviews achieved an 80 per cent higher conversion rate than direct competitors and SMBs that replied to just 10 per cent. In other words, digital marketing agencies should actively optimize and update listings where reviews can be aggregated.

Interestingly, conversion rates decreased for SMB and global brands at five stars compared to 4.9. Overall, Uberall found a correlation between the size of a business and the importance of ratings and reviews.

“SMBs, more so than bigger brands rely on customer reviews to drive brand awareness and visibility,” Rohr said. “As a result, they are performing better than the enterprise and global brands, who typically have lower review rates and lower reply rates. To outperform both larger and smaller businesses in the area, SMBs need to be focused on replying to a large majority of reviews and keeping their rating above the third star rating benchmark of 4.4.”

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing and local search agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is equipped to attract reviews and ensure your My Business listings are comprehensive and responsive. For more information about how we can help run your digital listings, feel free to reach out at any time.


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Facebook Introduces Paid Search Ads

Facebook Introduces Paid Search Ads

Facebook has introduced a new paid social advertising tool for businesses to “reach and connect with audiences” who are in the “discovery mindset,” according to a company release. Ads in Facebook Search Results will display when users search for products in Marketplace, Facebook’s platform for buying and selling items in your area, and in general search results.

A full rollout of this ad placement type has been a long time coming. Facebook began testing paid social search ads with select advertisers in early 2019 before expanding the test in late July. Search Engine Land called the full rollout “a boon for any advertiser running a product sales or conversion-focused campaign.”

Search results ads will be automatically included in new campaigns that use Facebook’s Automatic Placements tool; advertisers that don’t use Automatic Placements can manually select or de-select the option.

“Internal Facebook research showed that opting-in to Facebook News Feed and Marketplace generally results in a lower cost per incremental lift for mid-funnel brand metrics than News Feed alone,” Facebook said in its release. “This research also showed that consumers’ perceptions of brand favorability and brand quality remained neutral or positive.”

As Search Engine Land’s Amy Gesenhues noted in an October 18 article, the new placement option also creates opportunities for businesses that are new to Facebook advertising.

“As Facebook’s ad inventory becomes even more saturated,” she wrote, “new ad placement options – such as search – give advertisers an upper hand by allowing them to run their ads in areas of the platform not yet overrun with competitor advertising.”

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with significant experience in paid social media advertising and social media management, GrowthEngine Media can help you plan and execute an efficient social strategy that bolsters your online brand and gets you found by your target audience. For more information about our full suite of digital marketing services, feel free to reach out at any time.


Image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker 

Amazon is Rising in the Paid Search Field

Amazon is Rising in the Paid Search Field

Google has dominated the paid search ad market for as long as PPC has existed. In the constantly-evolving digital world, this sort of longevity is remarkable – but how long can it last? In October, eMarketer reported that Amazon is slowly eating away at Google’s paid search supremacy. A changing of the guards is a long way off, but Amazon’s rise should be on the radar of ever digital marketing professional.

“The US search ad market overall will grow nearly 18% this year to reach $55.17 billion,” eMarketer reports. “Google will obtain a 73.1% share translating to $40.33 billion. But, while Google will remain the dominant player for the next several years, its share is dropping. By 2021, it will capture 70.5% of the market.”

Amazon’s paid search platform, meanwhile, is booming. eMarketer predicts 30 per cent year-over-year growth, translating to roughly $7.09 billion in revenue, and market share growth from 12.9% today to nearly 16% by 2021. The bulk of the growth is attributable to Amazon’s product search supremacy.

“Amazon’s ad business has attracted massive increases in spending because advertisers can reach consumers during product queries, a time when they’re ready to buy,” said eMarketer principal analyst Nicole Perrin. “Amazon has also rolled out better measurement and targeting tools, making it even more attractive for advertisers.”

For advertisers in the retail business, Amazon’s paid search platform is an opportunity to keep an eye on. Combined with Google Ads, an Amazon advertising campaign could expand your reach and improve overall online visibility.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with significant experience managing paid search campaigns, GrowthEngine Media can help you maximize ROI on Google Ads while advising on the viability of alternative digital marketing avenues. Reach out today to learn more about Google Ads’ latest features or to discuss social media, display advertising, Live Chat, and other online advertising options.