A new report shows that paid search ads are the fastest growing way to advertise online for retailers. 

According to the findings from eMarketer, retail advertisers in the US will spend a combined $13.12 billion on search ads in 2019, up more than 20% from last year. 

In 2020, it is projected that spending will grow even more, to $15.65 billion. 

While search engine advertising is an effective advertising method for most industries, the report suggests that retailers benefit more than other sectors due to specific tools and features. For example, it cites how search ads may appear in Google Maps and show local stock of specific products, which can help drive real-world traffic and sales. 

Based on their data, the report estimates that 46.3% of digital ad spend from retailers will be used on search engine advertising, compared to the industry average of 41.5%.

Similarly, this rate is expected to grow even more in 2020 to account for 47.3% of total retail digital ad spending:

“Retail overindexes on search because bottom-funnel search ads are essential for driving ecommerce, and Google Shopping ads have become a go-to ad product for retail advertisers. Conversion rates for retailers using Google Shopping ads range from 1.1% to 3.1%.”

Part of this growth may be attributed to new burgeoning opportunities outside of Google’s search ecosystem. For example, the report identifies Amazon search as a potential driving force for future retail advertising.

Google’s highly-anticipated “gallery ads”, which were first announced back in May at the Google Marketing Live conference, are rolling out to advertisers in beta. 

The ads are stylish, image-heavy carousels with up to 8 images which appear at the very top of search results. 

Each individual image can have its own unique caption and brands can include a call-to-action button at the end of the gallery.

In the announcement, Senthil Hariramasamy, Group Product Manager at Google Ads, says advertisers “can showcase your brand with lifestyle imagery and bring visual content forward to the results page, helping you connect with consumers before they visit your site.” 

With such a visible design and placement within search engines, these ad units will likely be highly competitive. They may be worth it, though, if they lead to similarly high results. 

The ads are available to all advertisers in 11 languages, including English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Swedish, and Polish.  

Importantly, you don’t have to create specific campaigns for your gallery ads. Instead, you can simply use the new format to create new ads within your existing campaigns.

App ads on Google’s ad network will soon be eligible to appear in some very high-profile places as the ad platform is expanding app ads to both Google’s Discover feed and within YouTube apps. 

Currently, app ads are shown across a wide variety of apps in Google’s display network, as well as the Play Store, Google search results, and in select areas of YouTube. 

With the latest announcement, however, these ads will soon be appearing in a few more areas which could be highly rewarding to advertisers. 

Google Discover

 

Starting this week, app campaigns running in the US will automatically be eligible to appear within users’ Discover feeds when they are identified as being potentially interested in your app. 

Currently, Google says the Discover feed (formerly known as just the Google Feed) connects more than 800 million people with targeted content every month. 

Over the next few months, similar ads within the Discover feed will also be available to those in Malaysia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and Indonesia. The company also said it hopes to make the app ads available to all markets before the end of the year. 

YouTube 

In the same announcement, Google revealed that app ads are now eligible to appear at the top of search results from YouTube’s mobile app. Within the next month, app ads will also start appearing as in-stream video ads while viewing other YouTube videos 

Along with these announcements, Google says it is exploring the possibility of allowing ads to also display ads while loading content for users:

“Our new app open ad format allows you to show ads to your users as they wait for your app to load. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your app’s branding, this format gives you new ways to earn revenue while creating a good user experience. Reach out to your account manager to get started with this format in alpha.”

Google has started automatically adding a large “Request a Quote” button to eligible business listings in its local search results.

The button appears to be limited to just businesses who have opted into the Google My Business messaging feature, which would allow customers to directly message a company representative. However, it is unclear what specific industries the button is being added to.

With the new feature, users can now immediately request a quote from your company directly from the local search results – without ever visiting your website. 

While that means less traffic to your website – and potentially less informed leads – it also makes it more convenient than ever for potential customers to initiate the sales process.

While we can’t guarantee your listing will be given the “Request a Quote” button, we do know that being signed up for GMB’s messaging feature is a requirement for the new feature. 

To turn on messaging for your own listing, just follow these steps:

  • Download and open the Google My Business app
  • Log in with the credentials for the account associated with the listing
  • Open the location you’d like to manage
  • Tap Customers
  • Tap Messages
  • Tap Turn on

Once this is done, you will be able to receive messages from customers within the app. Users will receive their responses through their Google Maps app.

A recent study from BrightLocal highlights exactly how powerful Google My Business is for helping local companies get found by local consumers and increase their sales. 

The findings are the result of research from 45,000 businesses using GMB from 36 different industries from 4 countries. 

Based on the findings, it seems that GMB not only helps improve search engine visibility, but phone calls, store traffic, and more. 

GMB Gets Your Business Found Over 1,000 Per Month

On average, the study says an individual business gets found in Google My Business listings in 1,009 searches each month – or approximately 33 times a day. 

Importantly, more than 80% of those searches are “discovery” searches which seek out a business category rather than a specific business name. 

The findings also revealed that three-quarters of these searches were done using Google Search, while the other 25% was done on Google Maps. 

5% of GMB Listing Views Convert

Local businesses receive an average of 59 actions each month from their Google My Business listing, according to the report. 

When you compare that with the 1,009 views each month, that suggests roughly 5% of GMB listing views directly lead to a website click, call, or direction request. 

Compared to BrightLocal’s findings from 2017 to the most recent study, that is a 25% improvement in conversion rates – rising from 3.87% to 4.83%.

Specifically, businesses received approximately 29% more website clicks from their GMB listings and 22% more calls. 

Other Findings

The study noticed that listings with more images received more views compared to those with fewer photos. 

Overall search volume also increased from 2017 to 2018, with direct searches up 38% and discovery searches rising by 6%.

To see the full report on the performance of GMB listings, click here.

If you have claimed a short name for your Google My Business listing, you may want to be on the watch for a new bug which is causing some GMB listings to be suspended. 

Short Names for GMB were first introduced back in April as a way for businesses to create unique URLs for their Google My Business listings and easily differentiate individual locations in search results. 

However, a wave of reports suggests that some who claimed a short name for their legitimate listings are being suspended and removed from search results entirely. 

It is important to note that the issue does not seem to be affecting all Google My Business listings with short names. Still, the issue is widespread enough for many agencies to be sounding the alarm. 

Specifically, Joe Youngblood started alerting others about the issue last week, including sharing screenshots from a Facebook group where those affected were speaking out. 

As you can see, the issue only affected 2 of more than 10 listings the person above manages, with other listings using short names being entirely unaffected. 

The initial reports of the issue began early last week, but new cases are still being reported this week. SEO professional Lily Ray says one of her listings was suspended yesterday, almost immediately after adding a short name to the listing. 

While Google has not officially confirmed the problem, many say they have been able to get their listing successfully reinstating when notifying the search engine. 

With all this in mind, you might consider holding off on adding a short name to any of your Google My Business listings until the bug is fixed. If you already have a listing with a short name, it would be worthwhile to check that it is still properly showing in search results and has not been suspended.

Shelling out extra money on search engine optimization (SEO) can be a scary move for any company, but a new study suggests it pays off. 

Findings from a survey of business owners found that those who pay above the average for SEO services were more likely to be satisfied compared to those who paid less. 

According to the data from Backlinko, the average amount small businesses in America pay for SEO services is $497.16 per month. 

However, those that spent more than $500 per month were 53.3% more likely to say they were “extremely satisfied” compared to those who spent less than that. 

What Business Owners Say About SEO

The responses come from a larger study conducted by Backlinko, which included surveying 1,200 business owners across America about SEO-related issues. 

It found that most small businesses see online optimization largely as a way to drive referrals and reviews, as well as improving Google search performance. 

Through these goals, they also see SEO as a way to bring in new customers and increase sales. 

Unfortunately, many of these businesses aren’t getting what they are expecting out of their SEO providers.

Just 30% of business owners said they would recommend their current service provider. 

Disappointed With SEO

The biggest issues were simply that businesses were not satisfied with the results and some search engine optimization service providers delivered poor customer service or responsiveness. 

Part of this may be that some businesses choose to work with freelancers. The results showed that those who worked with agencies were more likely to be satisfied than those who hired freelancers. 

More likely, though, is that many SEO agencies and service providers are likely overselling what their low-level services can accomplish. While any search engine optimization is better than none, many promise that low-cost options will lead to major gains.

Based on the findings, they are more likely to be satisfied by diving in and truly investing in their online optimization, rather than only dipping a toe in the water.

Today is International Small Business Day, and Google is celebrating the day with a new hub full of marketing resources for small business owners and marketers.

Many of the tools and features included were developed as part of the ‘Google for Small Business’ initiative and were created using feedback from small business owners around the world. 

In the announcement, Product Management Director at Google described the initiative as a personal effort to help businesses save time and grow their business more effectively:

“I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many small business owners and the challenges they face. Most of them tell me that they need help saving time at work, or that they need easy tools to help them promote their business.”

In the new Google for Small Business hub, you will find:

  • Personalized Plans: By completing a few quick questions about your business and your current goals, you will receive a customized step-by-step plan you can follow to accomplish your goals.
  • In-Person Workshops: Stay up-to-date with any upcoming free Grow with Google workshops happening in your local area.
  • Latest News: Stay updated with the latest news about tools and services for small businesses.

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation has landed Google once again in the hot seat as the report claims Google Maps is filled with millions of fake business listings. 

Over the course of the article, reporters say they found some Maps search result pages where more than half of the local results included fraudulent or misleading information characteristic of a fake listing.  

For example:

“A search for plumbers in a swath of New York City found 13 false addresses out of the top 20 Google search results. Only two of the 20 are located where they say and accept customers at their listed addresses, requirements for pushpin listings on Google Maps.”

In some cases, the fake listings are simply phantom businesses with no real purpose or to misdirect customers. However, the Journal believes others are designed to scam potential customers out of large amounts of money. 

As you would expect, all of these practices are expressly forbidden by Google, but the Wall Street Journal says the policy is poorly enforced. 

In fact, the report says hundreds of thousands of fake listings are appearing monthly:

“Hundreds of thousands of false listings sprout on Google Maps each month, according to experts. Google says it catches many others before they appear.”

How This Hurts Businesses

The fake listings do more than cause consumers unnecessary frustration or potentially scamming customers. They also hurt businesses who are pushed out of the top search results by fraudulent businesses.

Getting your business into the organic local results without paying for ads is already a gamble that can involve hours of hard work optimizing your website and listing. Adding fake competition just makes the arena even more competitive and encourages more businesses to spend money on local ads instead. 

How Google Fights Fake Listings

Google openly acknowledges that it has an issue with fake business listings, though the company says it is already taking extensive steps to fight back. 

In an article on the company’s blog, Google explained:

“It’s a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems. But we can’t share too many details about these efforts without running the risk of actually helping scammers find new ways to beat our systems—which defeats the purpose of all the work we do.”

Specifically, the search engine says it has removed more than 3 million fake business profiles over the past year – 90% of which were removed before they could ever be seen by users. 

Approximately 85% of these profiles were removed by Google’s automated internal systems, while around 250,000 fake business listings were reported by users and then removed. 

Google may be making significant efforts to fight the problem of fake business listings, but The Wall Street Journal makes it clear there is still much to be done.

Thanks to its high-level of adaptability, JavaScript (JS) has been in use in some shape or form for more than 20 years and remains one of the most popular programming languages used to build websites.

However, Google’s Martin Splitt, a webmaster trends analyst, recently suggested that webmasters should begin moving away from the coding language to rank most quickly on search engines.

In an SEO Mythbusting video exploring the topic of web performance and search engine optimization, Splitt and Ada Rose Cannon of Samsung found themselves talking about JavaScript.

Specifically, they discussed how using too much JS can drag down a site’s performance and potentially drag them down in Google’s search index.

How JavaScript Holds Content Back

One of the biggest issues that arise with overusing JS is when sites publish content on a daily basis.

Google uses a two-pass indexing process to help verify content before it is added to the search index. In the case of a JavaScript-heavy page, Google first renders the non-JS elements like HTML and CSS. Then, the page gets put into a queue for more advanced crawling to render the rest of the content as processing resources are available.

This means Java-heavy pages may not be completely crawled and indexed for up to a week after being published.

For time-sensitive information, this can be the difference between being on the cutting-edge and getting left behind.

What You Can Do Instead

Splitt offers a few different techniques developers can use to ensure their site is being efficiently crawled and indexed as new content is published.

One way to get around the issue would be to use dynamic rendering, which provides Google with a static rendered version of your page – saving them the time and effort of rendering and crawling the page themselves.

The best course of action, though, would be to simply rely primarily on HTML and CSS for time-sensitive content.

Splitt takes time to explain that JavaScript is not inherently bad for your SEO or search rankings. Once they are indexed, JS-heavy sites “rank just fine.” The issue is ensuring content is crawled and indexed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you can always be on the cutting edge.

The discussion gets pretty technical, but you can view the entire discussion in the full video below: