The first half of 2016 was rich in various digital marketing news and updates, from Google’s AMP project to the Pokemon GO phenomenon that drove the whole world crazy this summer. We decided to devote our new SEMrush Chat to the latest digital marketing news and discuss how these changes have influenced our lives.
We were very excited to have Barry Schwartz, a Search Engine Roundtable editor, a Search Engine Land news editor, and an international speaker and blogger, as our special guest. He and our other chat participants shared their thoughts on the latest industry news.
Q1: Google news: What's your take on the GKP update and have you seen any impact after the changes?
Recently, advertisers who don’t spend a lot on Google AdWords might have noticed a lack of data in their Keyword Planner accounts. Google announced that it was limiting access to Keyword Planner data for some of its users. According to Google, most advertisers will see search volume data in Keyword Planner, as usual. However, advertisers with a lower monthly spend may see limited data in their planner: “For example, you may see values such as 0, 1-100, 100-1K, 1K-10K, 10K-100K, 100K-1M, 1M+ in the average monthly searches column,” according to the official AdWords post.
We asked our chat participants what they think about this update.
Although this news is likely to upset the search engine marketing community, our special guest believes that, as always, Google will handle it and then move on.
ThinkTank made a good point, saying that from Google’s perspective, their latest Keyword Planner update is simply a way to increase companies’ revenue, since this is a major goal for any business.
Andrew Epperson agreed that Google’s latest move can be explained by the potential financial benefit it could bring to the company. But the more important question is what impact could it have on third party tools.
Many of our chat participants suggested that the Keyword Planner tool update is likely to affect small businesses rather than large companies. At the same time, it could benefit Bing: “It might make Bing Ads a better deal for companies with limited budgets,” said Ecreativeworks @ECWseo.
Some experts don’t think that this change will cause marketers serious problems, since not everyone is absolutely satisfied with Keyword Planner data.
“[We may also see] find people using more third party tools to get additional and more accurate data,” agreed Andy Drinkwater.
You can also find Bill Slawski’s observations on this news in article: “About Those Changes to the Google Keyword Planning Tool.”
In a nutshell, people haven’t seen any impact from the changes to the Google Keyword Planner tool yet. However, our guest experts assumed that they might affect small companies and SEO specialists.
Q2: Moz news: Was it a good move for the company and what, in your opinion, might Moz look like in a year?
The news about Moz’s doubling down on search has overwhelmed many people in the industry. On August 17, Moz announced changes to its overall strategy. What surprised most of its audience is that the company is going to ask about 28 percent of its staff to leave.
We also couldn’t ignore this news and asked our chat guests to share their opinions.
Barry Schwartz said that he cannot judge for sure if it was a good or bad move. Lots of people lost their jobs, but even more people might be out of a job later. Nevertheless, he thinks that if things go as planned for Moz, it should make the company stronger, which will also help its SEO community.
Indeed, a large number of people were devoted users of the Moz Content and Followerwonk tools. Therefore, social networks were flooded with various comments on the topic right after the news was released. People seem to have mixed feelings.
Unfortunately, there are some things we can’t change. Many companies go through mass layoffs, restructuring or hiring freezes, whatever the reason may be. There’s absolutely no use in guessing why it happens. What we can do is to learn from these life lessons and our experience.
Andy Drinkwater suggested that Moz has investors to think about as well. Obviously, various factors influenced their decision making.
It’s probably too early to say whether or not Moz’s move was the right decision. Only time will tell.
ThinkTank believes that one company’s loss can be another company’s gain. “Not only did competitor's tools move on, but other communities have formed too – such as this one,” said Dawn Anderson @dawnieando.
We all hope that those who were once a part of the Moz family land on their feet successfully and grow stronger.
Let’s sum up!
Whatever the reason is, we can assume that this move was necessary for Moz. One door closes, another door opens.
Q3: New in SERPs: AMP and carousel tests. Have you seen any changes and what impact might these tests have?
We have already mentioned Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project, which was launched this February. AMP was designed to allow publishers to easily improve (their mobile site’s) speed and user experience. Also, Google is testing a new format for sitelinks on mobile – this time they have a carousel-like look. We asked our guests if they have already seen any changes.
Last month, Google released a case study for the AMP website based on the Washington post stats. The case study highlighted increase in mobile search users who return within a week and improvement in load time for AMP content, as opposed to traditional mobile web. However, Barry Schwartz checked this website's Google Search Console data and noticed lower click-through rates from its AMP version. You can check his other findings in his article: “Google Releases AMP Case Study But Here Are My Results.”
Barry also pointed out that the AMP Carousel – especially its news section – can actually send a surge of traffic to your website. Google’s AMP news carousel is currently live in only 12 countries. For now, there’s no information about when it will be available in other regions.
Omi Sido said that he has noticed an increase in the amount of traffic that his site receives via AMPs since the AMP project was launched.
And some of our chat participants haven’t noticed any changes to their accounts yet, and they are still looking forward to seeing what all these updates bring.
AMP is a way to build webpages for content that render fast. Andy Drinkwater shared his concerns about AMPs, saying that they can badly affect web forms.
Finally, Bill Slawski assumes that Google’s AMP project is designed to get people back to ads faster, rather than attracting them to these accelerated mobile pages.
As you can see, most of our chat participants haven’t seen any major changes related to Google’s AMP and Carousel testing. Nevertheless, some of them are excited about forthcoming changes, and are keeping a close eye on the news.
Q4: Google goes from Hangouts to YouTube Live: Why and what are your predictions?
Two weeks ago, Google announced that Hangouts On Air will move from Google+ to YouTube Live on September 12. This means that after this date users won’t be able to schedule a new Hangouts On Air via Google’s social network. Instead, they will have to use YouTube Live’s built-in event-scheduling feature.
We asked our chat guests to share their thoughts on this change and their predictions for how it will impact marketers’ lives.
Our special guest assumes that Google is gradually eliminating its social network by moving different features off Google+.
Barry Schwartz suggested that Google can’t shut Google+ down instantly, because it would look too messy. Therefore, Google is simply allowing its social media network to die a slow death.
Although Google+ experienced quite a strong growth in its initial years, today it looks like a ghost town. According to Eric Enge’s study, while the “active” profiles on Google+ amount to 111 million users, only 6.66 million users have 50 or more public posts ever, and only 3.54 million have published 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.
Therefore, many people believe that Google’s decision about its Hangouts On Air make sense. It’s moving from a struggling social media service to the second most popular search engine.
Joe Martinez agreed that YouTube is indeed a massive search engine. We don’t know whether declining participation and interest in the service prompted Google’s decision to move Hangouts On Air to YouTube Live. Google so far has offered no explanation for its apparently sudden decision.
Some experts believe that the future belongs to livestream videos. Indeed, today live videos are on the rise. We all still remember how quickly the Twitter-owned platform Periscope, a livestreaming service, gained huge popularity. During the first year after it was launched, the app was used for more than 200 million broadcasts. Some experts believe that Google is moving towards livestreaming.
David Rosam suggested that by moving Hangouts On Air to YouTube Live, Google was attempting to respond to Facebook live videos, real-time video posts that appear in your News Feed from friends and public figures that you follow.
It seems that everyone considers this move another symptom of Google+’s imminent death.
What are your thoughts on Google’s decision to move Hangouts On Air to YouTube Live? Let us know in the comments!
Q5: Has your "KWs not provided" count increased recently? What was the best solution you found?
In early 2011, Google announced some changes to Google Analytics. To make searching more secure and to protect users’ privacy, the company changed the way it collects data from search. It encrypted searches made by users logged when they’re logged into their Google accounts. Because of this encryption, organic searches performed by these users do not show up on the Analytics page of website owners. In other words, the search term is no longer passed to the destination website. Instead, users see the “not provided” token.
Barry Schwartz noticed that the “not provided” count has gone from 92 percent to over 98 percent for many of the websites he tracks. He suggested that this increase can be explained by the fact that Google has implemented HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) on its www.google.com domain. This means that if you’re trying to go to HTTP, you will be forced to go to HTTPS.
Our guest expert recommended using the Search Analytics Report in Google Search Console.
Reva Minkoff also said that the “not provided” count has been increasing for a while; she agreed that checking the data that Search Console provides can be very helpful.
Some of our chat participants believe that by combining Google Analytics and Search Console statistics, you can get a good set of keyword data. “I try to correlate Search Console (GWMT) and Google Analytics data,” explained Andrew Epperson @eppand.
Metric Theory provided a few solutions. You can check Search Query data using Google Webmaster Tools, use paid keyword data, and extract the “not provided terms” using Landing Pages report.
You can also find more on the topic in Claire Broadley’s article that she posted on Kissmetrics: “How to Unlock Your ‘Not Provided’ Keywords in Google Analytics.”
Finally, Andy Drinkwater pointed out that, once again, Google is making our lives difficult: “Google once again doesn’t want to make things easy for Joe Public.”
As we can see, some people have noticed that their “keyword not provided” count has increased recently. Nevertheless, you still can use Google Search Console to get keyword data.
That’s it for today!
Thanks to Barry Schwartz and our other chat participants for their great tips! I hope their insights will help you better adapt to the constantly changing landscape of the digital marketing world.
Hope to see you at our next SEMrush Chat!